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Thoughts on BS, MS, and PhD in BME

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Karen Immanuel
(@karen-immanuel)
Eminent Member Registered

Hello all,

I was just curious as to what level of education is best before getting into industry.

My thoughts are that BS is good enough to employ you with basic skills and knowledge. Later, you can specialize once you get into industry. Downfall to that is that you have to get into industry through low-paying entry level jobs. In these cases, I feel like doing at least a masters is good as it is just a couple years more of education and you can start in a higher level and there is still an option of specializing. PhD, I think is that specialization that one can get after getting a taste of industry.

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Topic starter Posted : 09/09/2018 3:53 pm
ajm73
(@ajm73)
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From what I have seen, having a BS tends to be the bare minimum that an employer wants in an employee in terms of education level. Many around me where I work simply have their BS starting in entry level positions and have moved up through the ranks to more specialized roles after gaining years of valuable on-the-job experience. However, this is not to say that there is no merit in pursuing higher degrees (MS,PhD, etc.) The difference is where you can enter into the industry, and at what degree of specialization from the get go. One colleague I knew became a Principal Engineer at a certain engineering company promptly after completing is PhD with no prior work experience due to his course work, while his peers who got jobs in industry after the BS degree are in positions technically lower than his.
On another note, getting another degree while in industry has great benefit as well. My manager (before he became my manager) was an Operations Engineer, but once he completed his MBA he was fast-tracked to being a manager within the supply chain division. Depending on where you want to take the trajectory of your career, degrees can be pursued to shape your path. It's not a neccesity that one get a higher degree but it can be a VERY useful tool in where you want to take your career. It all depends on your goals and where you want to go.

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Posted : 09/09/2018 4:25 pm
Mattie718
(@mattie718)
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This is something I have also struggled with, as someone who is currently in the Industry and also working towards a Master's Degree (MS) in Biomedical Engineering. Specifically, I am working as a Co-op, which is allowing me to gain Industry experience while alsoing progress towards a higher level degree. I feel like a Bachelor's Degree will allow you to be considered for an entry-level job but I do not feel it does much more than that. Even after my first couple of graduate courses I realized the immense advantage I was gaining from them. It was the first time I felt I was gaining any real applicable knowledge. These are skills the engineers I work with already possess, so this allows me to take a sort of shortcut to make up for as much as several years of working experience in certain aspects.
Also, I can tell you from the maybe 20 different engineers I work with, probably half of them are either working towards or already have an advanced degree, whether it be in some type of Business or Management or Engineering. I feel it is an evolving standard because more and more people are going to college in the first place, so there will be more qualified candidates for any particular opening. That advanced degree distinguishes you from the pool of applicants.
As far as a PhD is concerned, I do not know much of the advantage of that other than being able to teach at the highest level. From my classes at NJIT I noticed that most, if not all, of my engineering professors had PhDs. I hope this does not prevent me from perhaps teaching towards the end of my career, but it is an interesting trend. Perhaps an MS degree and a history of accomplishment in Industry would substitute for that, but who knows?

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Posted : 09/09/2018 6:05 pm
es338
(@es338)
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Great topic!! I wish there were more responses because I am too (not to sound repetitive) very curious about this. I have been torn with the decision of MS versus PhD. I currently am working towards an MS and work in the medical industry.

Personally, I think it is about the industry you are intending on getting into and the amount of responsibility/salary you aiming to achieve. I have always heard a BS is the baseline for getting a career. Although, I have a few friends who have not attended college at all who are doing well enough to live on their own and are very successful in what they are doing right now. Depending on the job, they may or may not at some point want to strive for more due to having a less mentally challenging career or will reach a maximum amount of pay where more education will be necessary. I also know some people who have completed their BS, yet don't utilize their ungraduated degree in their current job - which in a sense may back up the thought of having a degree is an expected requirement/baseline for a resume. I think when it comes to no college, some college, an associates or a bachelors, it depends on the field of study, the industry, who you know, and how hard you are willing to work your way up. From my experience in the medical industry, I have heard of several people needing to continue for their graduate degree to gain more knowledge for their current position.

Where I am really torn is between MS and PhD. Once you are aiming for a graduate degree, in my opinion you are really trying to refine your career path. I have always heard PhD students are less likely to receive jobs because they are required to start at higher salaries, so companies typically hire MS students or students with experience. I currently am a MS student, but I love to learn and feel I could/would love to continue on towards gaining my PhD. And once you are in a company, you are highly respected and are able to obtain a lot more responsibility and authorization with a PhD.

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Posted : 09/09/2018 7:47 pm
pv223
(@pv223)
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In today's world and with the way we are advancing, having a BS isn't "good enough" anymore so to speak. In order to be successful and have a decent paying job it's almost as if having a MS or PhD is mandatory. As for how to go about it, one common piece of advice that I've heard is to work a few years in the industry and then come back for your MS. Not only does this give you a few years of real experience, but you have the chance of the company you work for paying for your MS so you aren't spending a ludicrous amount of money for another two years of school to help in your specialization. While going straight into your master's doesn't sound like a bad idea, especially with the BS/MS program here where it's just one extra year of school, having that work experience from the real world could be more valuable in the long run than going into the workforce with an MS with little to no experience, especially in a field like ours.

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Posted : 09/09/2018 7:54 pm
gsharma
(@gsharma)
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I think MS would be the most optimum option for anyone’s career track. But as far as the education or the number of degrees are concerned, the more the merrier. I haven’t seen a single person with PhD who does not have a good paying job. You just have to find a balance between your education, personal life and finances. I my case, I wish I would have finished my BS and MS back to back. Although I am saving money since my company pays for about 70% of my education, it is a hassle to manage school, work and personal life. But once you start working, you get a better idea of where you want to see yourself in next 5 years and you can plan accordingly.

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Posted : 11/09/2018 6:53 am
vcf3
 vcf3
(@vcf3)
Estimable Member Registered

I am neither in the medical industry right now nor do I plan to be. I am oriented toward the academic lifestyle. However, from what I heard talking with various engineers working in industry, each aspiring industry-driven BME student should strive toward a graduate degree. The reason being that having a Bachelor degree is considered a standard nowadays. Thus a graduate will first of all set, in addition, to providing you set skills of not necessarily acquired during undergrad education. Being a grad student right now, I have noticed how much little I actually learned in my undergrad years. The way the program was designed required you to memorize most of the time rather than actually gaining a clarity of thought in a topic. In that regard, graduate studies not only give boost your resume but also provide you with better critical analytic tools. In term of Ph.D., I would suspect you might be less likely to employed, rather than someone with the master degree and years of experience. First of all, the company would have to pay you more than someone with a master, which I highly doubt they would want to invest that much. Second of all, Ph.D. with minimal experience is that attractive compared to someone with the master degree and years of experience under his/her belt. Depending on your own interest and the highest pay for which you are aiming, I will suggest having a master degree, then work in industry for a couple years, while debating if indeed you want to pursue a Ph.D. Then, perhaps go for your Ph.D. You would have solid credentials at the completion of your Ph.D.

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Posted : 12/10/2018 6:45 pm
RyanRattazzi2
(@ryanrattazzi)
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I have been wondering this question for a while as well, of what the benefits and holdbacks are between a BS, MS, and PhD in Biomedical Engineering are. I graduated from NJIT with a BS in biomedical Engineering, and have decided to take that into pursuing my MS in Biomedical Engineering. I have been told that it shows you have a more refined and expertise-like knowledge over the subject as compared to a more baseline BS degree and will in turn open more doors in the future. I had been kicking around going for my PhD, but from what I think I know that is geared more towards if you know that you want to work in acedemia. Due to that I see myself working in industry rather than in a school, it is for that reason that I am pursuing my MS instead of PhD. What does everyone else think?

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Posted : 06/09/2019 9:27 am
nsam9295
(@nsam9295)
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Quick question for people who have gotten there Ph.D. and went into industry. I heard a rumor that once you get your Ph.D. since your thesis is on a very specific topic it actually limits your opportunity when it comes to getting a job. Would you say having a Ph.D. over qualifies you for the general positions hence closing some doors to employment? In addition, would the companies be worried that the job they are hiring for are too general for the Ph.D. student to the point where they will have preference over people with M.S. or even B.S. students? Also, in the industry would my time spent as Ph.D student become meaningless or would the company count that and honor it? My ultimate goal is to go into R and D in industry. However, I am worried that getting a Ph.D. might hurt me to get a job. 

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Posted : 06/09/2019 9:14 pm
JordanKayal
(@jordankayal)
Trusted Member Registered
Posted by: @karen-immanuel

Hello all,

I was just curious as to what level of education is best before getting into industry.

My thoughts are that BS is good enough to employ you with basic skills and knowledge. Later, you can specialize once you get into industry. Downfall to that is that you have to get into industry through low-paying entry level jobs. In these cases, I feel like doing at least a masters is good as it is just a couple years more of education and you can start in a higher level and there is still an option of specializing. PhD, I think is that specialization that one can get after getting a taste of industry.

In most cases, having a BS degree is enough to get your first job. Most of the learning you will do is on the job, so having an MS or PhD degree isn't necessary for most entry-level positions. Also, you can always go back to get your higher level degree once you have a better idea of the specific area of BME you want to focus on, which will allow you to take specific courses that are directly applicable to your job. Some companies will even pay for you to get your degree, which will save you a lot of money. The only downside to getting your MS degree while working is that you have to take classes part-time so it will take longer to get the degree than if you took classes full time.

On the other hand, having an MS degree looks good on your resume, and in most cases, you can leverage that to get a higher starting salary (though it may not be a substantial increase from the starting salary for a candidate with a BS degree). Having a PhD may actually over-qualify you for certain positions, unless you want to go into a specific area of research. 

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Posted : 07/09/2019 11:42 am
eh76
 eh76
(@eh76)
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Like probably most other students pursuing their MS in BME, I also considered taking on the PhD. I think I'm still considering it, but my view is that if you want to work for another company in their R&D department, there's a great chance that they are looking for someone with a PhD, especially when it comes to their higher level positions. I say this because I have been doing a lot of searches on Indeed.com (haha). But seriously, the main trend is that MS students are graduating and getting jobs in very similar positions as their friends who left school after their undergraduate degree. Sure, you do find better positions for people with Masters degrees, but I'm not sure there are any lead engineers in big tech or biotech companies who are just educated with an MS degree. 

Again, maybe I'm wrong; I really hope I am because I would like to think that a year from now I'll have all the education and qualifications I need, but I think I will still feel like I have a lot of growing in this field to do. 

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Posted : 07/09/2019 1:39 pm
Parth0796
(@parth0796)
Eminent Member Registered

I would say BS in BME builds a good foundation as a biomedical engineer and one could probably take up a job and actually explore the diversity of the field but from knowledge point of view just a BS degree in my opinion is not adequate enough for higher positions as a BS student may not have a deeper understanding with the on going researches that are being carried out and go about it. A Masters degree gives you a chance to have deeper learning about a specialization that you would like to pursue after completing your BS and earning a masters prepares you better for the area of specialization you would like to work in. Off course getting a PHD is a remarkable thing which means you’re an expert in your field and is quite crucial if you want to carry out research in the outside world

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Posted : 07/09/2019 4:10 pm
gokulravichandran
(@gokulravichandran)
Trusted Member Registered

Its one of the exploring topics as I would suggest many students do BS as their undergrad and search for a job position for a entry level. Some may think that working few years and getting experienced and pursuing MS afterwards would increase their paylevel. Some may be working in a different job irrelevant of their field interest and want to do MS in their destined way.On the other hand some may have financial crisis in fulfilling MS dreams. PhD as well, is where one tends to specialize more in detail of the field. But in every job we seek, sometimes PhD becomes unrecognized and overqualify the postings of the job.

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Posted : 08/09/2019 12:40 am
AniketB
(@aniketb)
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Yes, I also think a BS degree is good enough to start within the industry and you work your way up by getting your master's degree to get the rise in the payscale.
The advantage with this is that you know what you are interested in and then can choose your master's courses related to the domain you are interested in.
Also, you have an option of doing a Ph.D. after your MS degree if you are interested in research but, again you need to know if you want to do research or not which you will know only after working in the industry.

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Posted : 08/09/2019 4:18 am
sb2363
(@sybleb)
Trusted Member Registered

I agree with most of the replies that having a job after having completed your BS is a good idea. Once you have worked for a year or two you are most likely to know whether you want to work in the industry or in an academic environment. If you want to continue to work within the industry then it would be easier to decide if you are satisfied with the role you are currently working or what other role would interest you. Depending on that you could tailor your further studies on the track you are interested by pursuing a MS degree by choosing the courses that would help you the best in the field.

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Posted : 08/09/2019 5:14 am
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