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Why Do Grad School?

You want to be a university professor
If you want to be a prof, you need a Ph.D.

Being a teaching assistant can give you a taste of the other side. If you always thought you could be a better teacher than those profs you had, then this is your opportunity to prove it. You may discover that you really enjoy teaching or that it is not for you.

You want to have some fun while learning
Graduate school is very different from your undergraduate program. There are fewer courses to take. Most courses are less structured and there are lots of opportunities to explore new ideas while taking the course.

Once you start to work on your thesis project, then what you get done depends on the time you want to spend. You can even allow yourself to be distracted and work on some other things that may be of interest. Perhaps you want to learn more about how our computer system works. You can volunteer to help our system administrator keep the place running and learn valuable skills at the same time. Sometimes, a number of students will get together and build some project that they think is fun, but it is not their thesis. There are many opportunities to learn things and few barriers to doing so within the available resources.

You want to work on your own ideas
If you work for a company, then you have to make money for them. There are very few companies that allow you to work on whatever you want.

If you are entrepreneurial, then you can use the opportunity at graduate school to work on some idea, and benefit from all the fancy equipment and facilities available that you could not afford yourself. Of course, you better keep in mind the university's policy on intellectual property, which is quite fair to start with.

You want to work with the latest and greatest technologies
Your average job in the working world would not let you play with the latest toys.

You want to prove your ability to work independently
By working on your own project, you can claim ownership to something that you did yourself.

You want to learn more
The world of computer and electronic design is advancing rapidly and to work with the leading technologies, you need to know a lot more than can be taught in a typical four-year undergraduate program. By working on an interesting project, you can also develop additional skills and knowledge that makes you even more valuable.

You want to expand your opportunities
By doing a graduate degree, even an M.A.Sc. degree, you will have done an interesting project, developed more advanced skills, and shown that you can think. The opportunities for more interesting employment are enhanced.

You aren't in a hurry to get rich
If you are considering a graduate degree in computers or electronics, then you should have no difficulty finding a job right now. As a graduate student, you will likely have a lot more money than you did as an undergrad, but it is unlikely that you will receive financial support at the level of the jobs that are currently available to you. Therefore, there is an opportunity cost to consider.

If you think you would be happy with any job that pays a reasonable salary, then stop reading now, and surf some other sites.

If you worry about brain rot and need to be constantly stimulated, then do not settle for that job offer you have now. Graduate school will keep your brain fed and give you many more opportunities in the future (see previous item). Of course, there are always exceptions. For example, a new company is forming and you will be right in there living or dying with their new product.

In fact, many of our Ph.D. graduates get job offers (usually not in Canada) that pay more than their supervisors. Even some of our M.A.Sc. graduates get paid more than some of our newer faculty members. If you wanted to be a prof, do you still?

next up previous
Next: Why Do Graduate School Up: Applying for Grad Studies Previous: What is Research and
Paul Chow 2005-11-03