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Currently I am in my third year in engineering - applied mathemathics. I have been thinking about what I would want to do after I get my master. I have concluded that I have 3 options.

  • Work as an engineer.

  • Study one year pedagogics, then work as a high school teacher.

  • Apply for a PhD.

In my country you can, if you have a master in engineering - applied mathematics, study one year where most of the studies are pedagogics, and then be considered as any other high school teacher (in math). You will have a master in Teaching.

Since I am not sure of what I really want to do, all three options are "exciting". I want to have as many doors opened as possible.

So, for example, I could get my engineering degree, then a teaching degree and after that either work as engineering/teacher or apply for PhD.

Therefore I would like to know if it is an advantage in terms of admission, when applying for a PhD, if I have studied pedagogics for one year (right after I have finished engineering school and right before applying). Or would it be preferable to go direct from engineering to PhD, if that is what I want to do.

My location is Sweden. I have not given any thought to which university I would want to do my PhD, but the country would be in Sweden or Germany.

  • Can you include your location and where you want to do your PhD? – Mad Jack Jun 1 '16 at 23:05
  • My location is Sweden, and if where aims at country, then it would be Sweden or Germany. If where aims to universith, I do not know yet, is that a problem? – Olba12 Jun 1 '16 at 23:13
  • I forgot to make a @ @MadJack – Olba12 Jun 1 '16 at 23:24
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    I can't answer for Sweden or Germany, but in the US the answer in terms of admissions to PhD programs is that prior experience as a high school teacher in a different discipline will not provide any significant benefit. – virmaior Jun 2 '16 at 9:02
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    Similar question (NA there vs Europe here): academia.stackexchange.com/questions/69705/… – virmaior Jun 3 '16 at 7:47
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While I have little familiarity with Sweden or Germany, for most technical fields I would see taking a year off to study pedagogy and teach high school would generally provide no advantages and perhaps even be a slight disadvantage for PhD admissions. I see how it could be an advantage if you want to pursue a PhD in education for example as it gives you relevant practical experience and perspective, but not for most subjects as the primary goal of a PhD program is to train you to be a researcher.

As such, for a PhD, you want to demonstrate passion and dedication to research. Pursuing another career path first may make some professors question this, and indeed from your question it sounds like you are not totally committed to the research track. Of course, applying for a PhD program right after a master's doesn't guarantee commitment either and many great researchers got their PhD's after doing other things first. Pursuing teaching next may be the right thing for you if it helps you figure out what you want to do, but I would not recommend it as a way to help you become a PhD student.

  • I agree with your answer, but some PhD positions include significant teaching duties and for such a position having studied pedagogics might be seen as an advantage. – Roland Jun 2 '16 at 15:21
  • @Roland I'm in the US in math which probably involve (at some schools) as high amount of teaching as happens in just about any PhD program, and I don't view it as any advantage for admissions. Part of our program involves training the students to teach (and at in my department they have to take some sort of pedagogy course). Provided there are no red flags, our only real concern for applicants is that they is how they will do in courses and research. While there may be exceptions, my guess is this is typical of STEM departments. – Kimball Jun 2 '16 at 16:34
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Practical teaching experience combine with an actual knowledge of teaching methods and learning theories is a priceless asset for anybody who is planning to study for a PhD. This is because earning a doctorate often leads to teaching in some form or another. In addition, studying teaching will provide you with insights into how you learn and think and should help you to improve in your own skills as a student.

There are many brilliant scholars who have not truly studied the art of communicating complex ideas in a simple way that actively involves the students. Instead, they wonder why their students "don't get" when there may have been issues with the instructional design and assessment. Having any exposure to concepts found in education at all will benefit you in an academic career. I have personally seen friends giving teaching opportunities during their doctoral studies because they had prior teaching experience at the high school level.

If children can understand you and are engaged with the learning experience, you should not have major issues with adults understanding you and being engaged when you are teaching grad courses at a later stage in your career.

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