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Second Master before PhD: Is it worth it?

Geel

Hello everyone,

I am 22, currently doing a master of architecture at KU Leuven; just finished the first year. I have a good background, a very high undergraduate gpa (9.6/10), a current 17/20 at KU Leuven (enough for a summa cum laude honor), several first prizes, 2 erasmus studies, Best Student Project of 2019 in DIA (dessau institute or architecture), a little work experience, currently working on a theoretical publication, and I was a winner of the Master Mind Scholarship last year. 

During my first year at KUL a professor has been interested to mentor me for my phd, and has encouraged me to start planning an application for a prestigious phd scholarship in Belgium. During these discussions, he has been very very confident that I should aim for a second master degree (1 year master after I finish this one), and during this year to prepare the application for the phd scholarship. For this master he is strongly suggesting me to aim for Bartlett, TU Delft or Ivy leagues (MIT, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and NYU). 

I am a little worried of the financial investment if I don't get a scholarship for a second master. Other than that, how much is this plan worth it (financially and time wise)? The teacher seems very confident that this is the right decision to have a more diverse background and increase chances for a phd scholarship. At the same time other people tell me that it might not be worth it. 

I definitely would love to study at one of these best schools, but it is a big investment so I am currently conflicted. Maybe some of you have some insights in such cases.

Thank you in advance!

 
Jun 26, 21 2:17 pm
Non Sequitur

Superfluous studies in architecture are not investments.  Don't go into massive debt for a glorified general arts degree(s) unless you fully understand the cost/repayment terms and how it will impact the next 10-20 years post graduation. 

Jun 26, 21 3:17 pm  · 
 ·  1
daer

This is the case of an academically gifted individual who has strong prospects ahead, and not a production BIM monkey like yourself. Therefore, the value of education he can distill from the above institutions is definitely not superfluous.

Jun 26, 21 3:58 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

I have no idea, or interest, in what daer wrote above. I can only assume it's a well research and intelligent comment instead of the usual obsessive nonsense.

Jun 26, 21 5:26 pm  · 
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daer

You clearly have an interest, otherwise you wouldn't comment again. I think that my comment here is especially useful to the OP as well as other forum members, as it shifts their perception away from the typical generalisations you make as a result of your shortsightness.

Jun 26, 21 7:57 pm  · 
2  · 
Non Sequitur

yawn... Maybe if you made an effort you would not be so sad & jealous and it's not worth my time to convince you why your assumptions are wrong. But you do you since chasing my comments is your favorite hobby.

Jun 26, 21 8:36 pm  · 
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daer

Noone is a
jealous of the pigeonhole you got yourself into. Again, CA and BIM doesn't equal architecture.

Jun 27, 21 6:51 am  · 
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archinet

hmmm that is a little unfortunate that he is pushing you to do another masters that is pricey, before applying for the phd. The reason he is doing this is because it is rather competitive to get a paid phd position and if you studied at the school you are applying to directly after your graduated your chances will be slim- no matter how well you did in your masters. The reason for this is because what phd programs are looking for is somebody who already managed to do things such as publish articles (by themselves), exhibitions or curate before applying to the phd programs, as a way to build up their academic profile outside of the institution they studied or went to.  So if you have your heart settled on Leuven and you are doing your masters there, you have two choices do another masters elsewhere or publish some articles, do some exhibitions etc. before applying. 

I am doing a fully paid phd and I only did an M.arch once. My mentor who helped me along the application process would refuse to let me do another masters at an ivy league school- he said I was beyond that. He offered to let me study for one year at the institution he is dean at for one year for free to help me out, in case any of my applications failed. Luckily that was not necessary. 

I guess every mentor is different but I would recommend finding a way to do the phd without having to go into any debt. Perhaps consider other phd programs not just Leuven, perhaps some in Scadinavia? Or Switzerland? Somewhere where they are fully funded. By the time you finish the phd you will be in your thirties and by then you need to also think about things in life outside of academia- like having children and/or owning a house. 


Jun 26, 21 3:38 pm  · 
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daer

OP, I would honestly suggest that you take the advice of people in your network over this decision, rather than relying on the opinions of people in these forums. There are not that many credible individuals on here. If you don't know someone to take advise considering reaching out to people you admire via LinkedIn or mutual connections l. 


You sound like a very worthy individual and I am glad you are considering continuing your education. I personally don't think that you will be too old for more education at 25. You have all your career ahead to work in offices. Also, if you consider universities like Delft or German TUs, the cost won't be high at all. Given your academic achievements, it's quite probable that you can get a scholarship too. So, don't quit on your aspirations! Best of luck. 

Jun 26, 21 4:16 pm  · 
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z1111

Do you want the same degree in the same subject?

Jun 26, 21 9:01 pm  · 
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natematt

The fundamental question that appears to be unanswered is: What does the OP want to do with these degrees? I don't know how anyone could weigh in on this with any real confidence without an answer to that question. 

Jun 26, 21 11:15 pm  · 
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midlander

this. in north america a phd is completely unnecessary in practice and very uncommon. within academia they're not universally necessary either and sometimes seen as a mark of someone with no interest in practice itself due to the time commitment. continental europe is different though and the phd much more respected.

Jun 26, 21 11:43 pm  · 
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midlander

but i would say generally having a bit more diversity in your academic background would be beneficial - going straight through master's and phd in one university isn't going to expose you to a broad network.

Jun 26, 21 11:45 pm  · 
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midlander

oh i see the phd is in belgium... still a small geographic range in that and none of them programs known to me in america.

Jun 26, 21 11:46 pm  · 
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Geel

Thanks a lot to all for the comments, they do help me in one way or another. In the meantime, I am also trying to contact specialists for their insights.



Someone asked a good question above, about what this whole plan means to me and what I would do with these degrees. For me that is simpler, and it is something I can figure out on my own. I am definitely convinced that stopping my education next year after graduation is out of the question. I am very confident in continuing my education; especially in doing the phd. I want to get more specialized in a field of architecture (i have different options here that interest me), I would love to teach one day, and I plan to work on research for a part of my career. At the same time, I would not like to let go of designing. I am currently 22 so I believe I can do both research and design in my future.




What confuses me is the decision I should make this year (starting applications). I am struggling to realize the pros and cons of taking another master, and investing time and money in it.


I thought of looking for phds in other countries as well, but I have a feeling that it would be harder to find a good mentor, or to create connections in that university... I have a feeling I might be very wrong here haha, I didn’t do enough research to see how this goes.  


I am reading all comments with enthusiasm. Thanks to all! 

Jun 27, 21 2:48 am  · 
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natematt

Do you know what sort of specialty you are interested in? I can't speak to Belgium, but if someone were to make this statement to me in the US, that is the question I'd ask. The reason I'd ask is that the only reason I'd ever think there was much point to do a second master's first is if their interests in specialty were aligned with program opportunities in non-professional Master's degrees.

For example, if someone interested in technology in construction and robotics were to ask this question, I would probably say yes, that could be valuable. In my mind  doing a 1 year degree that specializes in robotic construction and design at a high quality program would be valuable as a starting point for a PHD, and there are a number of these institutions around, and they may also be good places to look into doing a PHD.

Jun 27, 21 4:39 am  · 
1  · 
natematt

On the other hand, many specialties would probably be better to not get a second masters because either it would be a misallocation of effort, or there may not be worthwhile programs for it.

And if someone wanted to be a generalist, or specialize in something that was really more well established in the professional environment, I'd probably ask why they are even bothering with a PHD. 

Jun 27, 21 4:44 am  · 
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TED

Answer does depend on what Uni/programme you go for, what your research project will be and if you are comfortable doing a PhD in English. 

In the US your studies are 5 years - basically they embed a Masters degree in your studies as the first years are really course work and then you sit for exams to progress.  US you generally have to have speak/read/write a 2nd language for the purpose of research when I assume you have at least French/flemish.  

In the UK you can do a PhD in 3 years but that generally assumes you either are coming with experience, a project that you have worked on or a masters degree where you have undertaken research methods and have gained some expertise in a canon of knowledge.  

PhDs often touch 2 disciplines to demonstrate originality.  I know TU Delft requires your thesis has to include six or more statements of new knowledge.  US and UK do have good funding for PhDs.  in UK there is a 3+1 Phd Model where you do a masters then onto the PhD.  Funding in the UK is often tied to funding councils and specific research grants tied to supervisors.  

Have a look at https://www.jobs.ac.uk/search/... or https://www.findaphd.com/fundi... 

Jun 27, 21 6:21 am  · 
4  · 
randomised

Don’t put all your eggs in your teachers basket...

Jun 28, 21 2:15 am  · 
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randomised

I combine research with design and a little bit of teaching now and then, don’t have a PhD and probably never will because the pay for that here is shit and I can’t afford it anymore. You don’t really need a second master to apply for a phd, why not first try to land the phd you’re looking for and if they turn you down you could always get a second master’s to try again, if your first master’s  doesn’t align with your preferred research agenda. Like you said, you’re just 22, plenty of time for everything...just make that time count.

Jun 28, 21 2:25 am  · 
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It is an interesting/frustrating dilemma. The first answer from archinet seems from someone in a similar position to you and pretty informed as well. 

I did PhD in Japan which is entirely out of context for what you are going through. I can say that in Japan (and maybe in Europe as well?), the minimum requirement to teach is both a PhD and a license, preferably with a good amount of experience...so it is not odd at all to pursue a PhD, and not a waste of time either, especially if you are interested in doing more than a regular practice allows. Definitely do it when you are younger though, because it becomes harder to carry off later in life.

The need to go out of your school and come back is something I have heard a lot, and probably informs your professor's recommendation. Probably you have already talked with them about this, and honestly they will know better than anyone what it takes to make it through the process, so I would put some serious weight on their POV.

for what it is worth, with regards to doing PhD as well as being an architect, I can speak for myself and say it opens opportunities that otherwise will not come easily. It does not shut down access to practice, though it can make it harder without a bit of a hard head.

which is all a long-winded way of getting to the point that it depends on what you are planning for your career, and what kind of future you are aiming for. Debt is not a small thing, especially for an ivy. I'm kind of curious why your prof thinks this is a good idea...

Jun 29, 21 6:45 pm  · 
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