WHY GET A MASTER'S DEGREE?
1) Entrance into a PhD program is very competitive; and students who have a Master's degree significantly increase their chances of getting into the PhD program of their choice.  The research experience, laboratory skills and course work you complete here at New Mexico Tech will significantly increase your chances of getting into a premier PhD program. Additionally, most of the graduate credits earned here at Tech can be transferred to a PhD program.

2) Not sure what field of biology you want to study? A Master's program can help you find what sub-discipline is right for you.  Five faculty members of the Biology Department at Tech got their MS degree before getting their PhD.  Here is some of what they got out of their MS experience:
Dr. Tom Kieft:  "A master's program enabled me to learn that I actually liked going to school (something I was unsure of from my undergraduate studies), helped me to find a subject area that fascinated me (and still does -- microbiology), and gave me important skills that helped me in my PhD studies and beyond."
Dr. Kevin Kirk:  "For me, getting a Master's was an excellent introduction to being a graduate student, a much different experience from being an undergraduate student.  It was a chance to think independently and learn actively.  Using other graduate students as examples, I conducted research of my own design.  I read the scientific literature, found an interesting unanswered question, and designed new methods to answer the question.  I completed most of my research during one intense summer. 

I remember the 'Look what I found!' feeling when my method first worked.  After completing my degree, I moved on to a PhD program at a much better school than I could have got into without my Master's experience.  I published my Master's research in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.  I've been a science nerd all my life, but I became a scientist while getting my Master's."
Dr. Rebecca Reiss:  "As an undergraduate, I found my first Genetics course difficult but fascinating.   After completing my Bachelor's degree at the University of Colorado, I entered a Master's degree in genetics at the University of New Hampshire.  At that point in my life, I was ready for the challenge of pursuing an advanced degree and thought I was ready to get out and experience another part of the country that I had never even visited.  Graduate level courses were easier than I anticipated, doing independent research was fun, but the real challenge was the being away from home in such a different environment.  Once I completed my Master's in Genetics, I found myself with a choice of positions; including a research technician in the Northeast and an Instructional Associate position in the South.   I choose the instructional position in Houston, Texas partially because I wanted to experience yet another environment.  A Master's degree provided the time and mentoring necessary to solidify my interest in Genetics and provided the credentials I needed to get a rewarding, full-time job."
3) A PhD isn't for everybody.  A Master's degree in biology will increase your employability and the compensation that you will receive in the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industry.  For example, the Biology Department at Tech has an ongoing training program with Genzyme which is one of the world's foremost biotechnology companies, with annual revenues exceeding $2 billion and nearly 7,600 employees.  The salary for a technician at Genzyme is significantly higher for those with a MS degree compared with someone that only has a college degree.  Also how high you can climb the corporate ladder is also facilitated by having an advanced degree.

4) Didn't get into medical school?  Earning a Master's degree in biology can significantly increase your ability to get into medical school when you re-apply.  Our graduate program will also allow you to explore other career options in biology e.g., bio-medical research, teaching, and employment at industrial, governmental or non-governmental organizations while you earn your graduate degree.

5) We will pay you to earn your Master's degree!  That right, you get paid to go to school.  There are two types of stipends, Research Assistantships (for which you are paid to work in a research laboratory) and Teaching Assistantships (for which you are paid to teach an undergraduate laboratory class).  This teaching experience can be one of the most rewarding aspects of the graduate student experience.  Many of our graduate students have found they have a knack for teaching and decide to teach at the primary, secondary or university level as a career.  Having a Master's degree will increase your employability as a teacher and given that the "No Child Left Behind" law requires teachers to eventually earn a Master's degree, you might as well do it now.
Published by the Biology Department, Jones Annex, New Mexico Tech, 801 Leroy Place, Socorro, NM 87801 (575) 835-5612