What are the benefits of getting a PhD in statistics over a MS in statistics (other than being a professor)? Do people with PhDs in statistics earn significantly more than people with MS degrees in statistics?

More generally, does a PhD in a quantitative field provide a salary advantage over a MS in a quantitative field?


2 Answers 2


Actually, this greatly depends on where you get your degree from. Sometimes people who have done just MS are able to get to the bottom of the thing and can use their knowledge of statistics on a practical level. It depends on how solid your concepts are. Once you are in some position earned through your sound academic record you can grow quite fast.

So, if you have good record (not just grades but grasp), you may be able to get to the same level of salary as a PhD would. This is because statistics is an applied branch and is in demand.


Well, there's something different to consider. As a MS student you pay to study. As a PhD, you are paid to study. I know that depends between countries but where I am, a MS is terribly expensive.

The only reasons I see to do a MS instead of a PhD is when someone doesn't have good enough grades to get into a PhD or because they want to shift their area a lot: for example, a chemist taking a master in Biochemistry because he wants a PhD in Cell biology.

  • They are different tracks and pursuing one doesn't mean you failed or would fail at the other. You have to pay for an MS. But, money shouldn't be the motivation for a PhD. An MS, from my understanding, earns a comparable salary in industry and most people in industry earn more than academics. Well, "earn" in some ways. :-)
    – mac389
    Aug 25, 2012 at 1:03
  • Yes. Doing a PhD for money is bound to be terrible experience indeed ;) But someone that goes to university already has some passion for learning (or should) and his question suggests that money is important at the moment. About the "earning", it's no good earning more money earlier, but start in debt. Assuming that he can get the same position after doing a MS or a PHD, unless what he earns in the 2 years difference between MS and PhD minus the cost of the MS, is more than what he gains as PhD, he still loses money in the end. And that's assuming that he can maintain a debt.
    – carandraug
    Aug 25, 2012 at 1:18
  • Perhaps my cynical bias and personal experience makes me think that attending college is not tightly correlated with intellectual curiosity. I imagine, then, that working in industry with an MS is the best financial option.
    – mac389
    Aug 25, 2012 at 1:22

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