PhD or Masters to work in biotech/pharmaceutical industry

posted
11-Jun-15, 17:56
Avatar for rabdelhaq
posted about 3 years ago
Hi!

Im currently a rising senior at Brown University looking to apply to graduate schools either this year or next year. My ultimate goal is to get a job in the biotech or pharmaceutical industry doing something along the lines of research and development. I do enjoy working at the lab bench but I think having a career that offers a bit more flexibility in terms of the jobs I would be doing would be much more fulfilling. Alongside my research I would love to get involved in marketing strategies and developing/overseeing clinical trials to test novel drugs.

Up until now, I was pretty much set on getting a PhD thinking it would help me land a position in industry that would allow me to take a leadership role within the company. However, Ive been hearing mixed reviews from the postdocs and graduate students in my lab as well as graduate school forums online. Ive heard many people say that getting a PhD makes them overqualified in the eyes of many hiring companies and often limits their career opportunities. Other people say that people with a masters will never reach top positions within a company, will always have to answer to a scientists with a PhD, and wont be offered the chance to lead their own research projects.

Knowing that I am not interested in going into academic, would it be better to get a one-year masters in research and then apply for a job in industry rather than spend 5-7 years of my life working towards a degree that might not be worth it in the end for me? I also want to go into industry straight away without getting a post doc after my PhD.

Thanks!
posted
13-Jun-15, 11:43
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 3 years ago
yeah why don't you do a MSc, go into industry, see how you like it and then if you find that you need a PhD you can do one then? I think that makes a lot of sense. I know someone who just had a BSc plus experience and then got a $60k biotech job.
posted
13-Jun-15, 12:28
edited about 11 minutes later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
It is not true that a PhD makes you overqualified. The truth is, there is only a limited amount of positions in companies that require a PhD. Therefore, people with a PhD have to apply for positions that does not necessarily demand a PhD, get rejected and then say that they were overqualified. On the one hand true, but on the other hand not true, as they were just applying for the "wrong" position.

The dilemma is that everybody wants to be a leader and a great career, so 70-80% make a PhD and apply for maybe 30% of the positions. Some of them make it into a company. Some obviously don't.
With a master degree you have a lower level of education and it is true that you probably never get the head of a research team (at least in big companies you have no chances). On the other hand you sometimes have much more jobs to choose from, which limits the risk of unemployment or inappropriate work. In my opinion, it is a trade off between career and security.

It also strongly depends on the country and the subject you study. Just look for positions and check if there are a lot of positions demanding a PhD or if a master degree is just fine.
posted
13-Jun-15, 12:41
edited about 24 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
yeah why don't you do a MSc, go into industry, see how you like it and then if you find that you need a PhD you can do one then? I think that makes a lot of sense. I know someone who just had a BSc plus experience and then got a $60k biotech job.


I think it is not everywhere as easy to re-enter academia as it is in the UK. Especially as they apply more and more barriers in terms of age restrictions.
posted
13-Jun-15, 12:53
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 3 years ago
Yeah but I don't think a couple of years in a biotech company is going to limit anyone's chances and that's enough time for someone to assess job opportunities and whether they require a PhD or not.
posted
14-Jun-15, 06:11
edited about 3 seconds later
by RinaL
Avatar for RinaL
posted about 3 years ago
A colleague of mine was overseeing clinical trials - even without a MSc. She made her path the hard way by starting working in a hospital, then taking responsibility for the organisational part in clinical studies and from there she switched to a clinical studies contractor and worked her way upwards the ladder.

So it IS possible, although I got the impression that most people expect you to have a MSc./Phd at this level of responsibility.
posted
02-Nov-18, 04:49
edited about 19 seconds later
Avatar for Pharmaceutical
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hello,
In my opinion long-term you would benefit from a PhD, although competition is tough at all levels in pharma.
Without PhD you might land a job faster (for example in small biotech) because you cost less. However, progression will be slower and it will be very difficult to do a PhD later on.
This is what prompted me to a PhD...if you don't do it when you are young it is hard to get one later in life, although not impossible.
Thank you

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