On Masters and PhDs

Diagram of the gown, hood and bonnet used in g...
Diagram of the gown, hood and bonnet used in graduation/presentation ceremonies of Ph.D’s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I’m three years out of my undergrad and I keep getting asked if I have done or will soon be doing my Masters or PhD. One of my beloved aunties, who’s like my grandmother, even went so far as to say she wanted to see me get my PhD before she died. She’s 90.

And as much as I’d like to doctor myself post-haste to gratify my beloved adopted gran (and a few other relatives who shall remain unnamed!), I’m faced with the dilemma that I think many 20-somethings (and even 80-somethings!) are faced with: what discipline, field, area, do I want to master, or doctor myself in?

For me, a Masters or PhD is not just for kicks. It’s too expensive, too time-consuming, and if you’re lucky, too valuable to your career to rush into or do just to say you have one. I don’t know if I’m taking it too seriously, but it’s not much less of a commitment than a relationship or a marriage. When you make that investment, you want to be in it for the long haul.

Now I say this, and at the same time one of my best friends has two graduate degrees already and has had about three careers, and she’s only 41. She got her M.Sc in Developmental Neurobiology, and then made a rather abrupt transition to getting her J.D. in Law. She then switched to business, and is contemplating her MBA.

God bless her. But I’m not sure I have that kind of stamina – either for the degrees, or for the funding applications! So I’d like to just get the one Masters/PhD that will stand me in good stead professionally. The rest, I think, can be supplemented by continuing education courses.

And still I remain with this lingering question: what the hell do I want to do? I’m lucky, I’m told, because I know my love and my passion – the performing arts and writing. For sure. But when it comes to specific advanced degrees, there are so many subfields and areas I could concentrate on. Performance Studies. Theatre. Acting. Arts Administration. Film. Arts in Education.
And there are a dozen countries I could study in, though the four I’m looking at are the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and sweet sweet T&T. (Though let me tell you that having to take the GRE or GMAT, and reuniting with high school math in any way, shape or form, is a major turn-off for going to the U.S.)

And then do I want to do just the Masters, or the PhD one time? Distance education, or traditional learning? Intensive programmes (shorter) or conventional length ones?

And do I even NEED a Masters? Let alone a PhD? Will it be for my own edification, an escape from the banalities of the working world, or a concrete step toward a higher pay grade?

I’ll be damned if I know.

What do you think?

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