Author Topic: Chemical Engineering and a Masters Degree  (Read 4265 times)

chuckaluck

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Chemical Engineering and a Masters Degree
« on: November 18, 2014, 05:01:37 PM »
I know this forum reaches many folks from all fields and I am hoping to learn from the comments of engineers in general and chemical engineers in particular.   Here is the information: My son is in the second year of a 5-year chemical engineering program.   He will soon have have to make a choice to complete either 3, 6 month co-ops (job experience) to receive his BS degree or 2, 6 month co-ops to receive his Masters degree.  (The time saved by reducing the number of co-ops from 3 to 2 would be used for the extra courses required for the masters).  Regardless of the decision, the cost will be the same and is therefore not an issue.  My question is, is there a big (or any?) advantage to getting a masters in the chemical engineering field?  To me it seems like a "no brainer"; that it is in his best interest to get the masters.  But is it really because he will be trading six months of job experience for the masters? My specific question is, what would make him more attractive for his first employer post-graduation?   Any information would be helpful at this point.  Thank you in advance.

pzxc

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Re: Chemical Engineering and a Masters Degree
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2014, 05:05:23 PM »
I am a software engineer that attended a university with a variety of engineering majors, including chemical engineering.

The difference between a bachelor's and a master's degree is MUCH GREATER than the difference between 1 year on-the-job experience and 1.5 years on-the-job experience.

For only six months difference, DEFINITELY get the better degree.

greenleaf

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Re: Chemical Engineering and a Masters Degree
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2014, 05:25:30 PM »
I'm not a chemical engineer, but I have a STEM PhD, and have hired a few STEM grads too.  I say get the Masters.  For me looking at resumes, the difference between 2 and 3 coops wouldn't seem nearly as significant as the difference between a BS and a MS. 

MDM

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Re: Chemical Engineering and a Masters Degree
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2014, 05:32:13 PM »
It depends on what he does in that 3rd co-op. 

If nothing special, then the Masters is likely better.  Also, companies may pay a higher starting salary due to the degree alone.

But if he does something significant then the "for example" he can use in an interview will be worth more (in terms of getting a job offer) than an extra few classes on the resume.


Blindsquirrel

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Re: Chemical Engineering and a Masters Degree
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2014, 05:56:28 PM »
 The masters will be better long term I think. The difference between 2 or 3 co-op terms is of small import, after 3 years it will matter not at all but he will have the masters degree all his life. Great degree to get.

coope01s

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Re: Chemical Engineering and a Masters Degree
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2014, 07:33:02 PM »
It would depend on the co-op experience and the field your son wants to go into.  I am a chemical engineer in Houston, and I can say that a master's degree has little added value to what I do (technical service and sales in the oil industry).  Most of the time, work experience is more valuable than an extra piece of paper, though I do know of coworkers who had a slight bump in starting salary because of their master's degree.  It may be of greater value if he's going a pharmaceutical route or specialty chemicals (I cant speak for the entire industry of course) but in my field, experience always trumps more education.  You learn the skills you need to do your job effectively while doing the job.  And believe me - that first year he's going to realize how much he didn't learn in school and how many things he didn't need to know.  I've spent the last 6 months checking a freshly minted PhD's work and I only have a bachelor's degree with a double major in chemical engineering and chemistry.




Exflyboy

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Re: Chemical Engineering and a Masters Degree
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2014, 08:09:18 PM »
As an engineering manager before I FIRED I can definitely say that job prospects are better for higher level degreed grads in engineering.

This does not mean your Son will be a better engineer with a Masters, fact if it takes him longer then hen the extra year of WORK experience is far more valuable, but in terms of money in his pocket he will likely be ahead.

Of course the cost of the Masters has to be factored in too.

If he intends to go into any kind of infrastructure work then he will likely need his PE license, This means make sure he does the FE (fundamentals) exam BEFORE he leaves school.. I did mine 2 years after I graduated and it was BRUTAL!

Good luck

Frank

coope01s

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Re: Chemical Engineering and a Masters Degree
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2014, 08:20:45 PM »
Frank definitely has a point about the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam.  Though the need for a Professional Engineers (PE) license is less prevalent in the chemical engineering field than some of the others, it's extremely important in civil engineering and some design work.  For the FE test you definitely want to take it when the material is fresh (ie senior year of college) so you could take the FE exam after a couple years (with the caveat that he worked under an already licensed PE during that time). 

Exflyboy

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Re: Chemical Engineering and a Masters Degree
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2014, 10:45:42 PM »
Oops  typo.. I did the FE exam 25 years after I graduated..:)

As to chemical PE's.. depends where you work. Our experienced chemEs in the infrastructure group of a very large silicon chip manufactuer were most definitely required to have a PE license.

Then again I know in some chemical manufacturing organisations nobody will have a PE license by choice.. Namely having "P.E." after your name is a great was to be held liable for the incompetence of your employer.

Frank