Does Having a Master’s Degree Make a Difference?

Hey Team FoodGrads!

Maybe you have this question, or maybe you know someone who’s having the same dilemma?

“I’ve completed my bachelors of engineering in food processing technology. I then did my advanced diploma in food science. Now I am confused whether I should continue my studies for Masters or I should go and find a job?  

Does having a Master’s degree make a difference?”

Our community of food and beverage professionals range from those who just graduated and recently started work to those who have been in the industry for years.

Their insight and feedback is HUGE!  I’m so grateful to have their support which I can then in turn share with the next generation of professionals.

Feedback from the Food & Beverage FoodGrads Community;

Here are the responses from our awesome FoodGrads tribe;

I would suggest going for the master’s degree. Even though it may not always be mentioned in the requirements of a job, it will definitely make a difference when a recruiter is looking through 50 job applications. It gives you a one up on other applicants. I am also finding that more and more job postings have Master’s degree mentioned in qualifications. Desiree DeSerrano

Ultimately, it depends upon your career goals. All the comments about gaining work experience in lieu of getting an advanced degree are certainly valid, but they may not jive with your career objectives.

The reality is that if you want to work for a major food manufacturer (General Mills, Kellogg’s, Nestle, Kraft Heinz, etc) with a Scientist title, you will not be considered unless you have an MS. Even with a couple years work experience.

The benefits of having that degree are evident not only in the salary difference, but also in the level of influence you are able to have on business direction. Right or wrong, the degree opens doors that may stay closed without it. Jason Robinson

One thing I’ve noticed is that by the time a person is done with their masters degree and applies for a position, a candidate of the same age will have two years of relevant work experience. It’s hard to choose which is better don’t you think? I find it interesting for sure and it presents a lot of frustrations for graduates my age, as some employers are looking for both! Alex Amann

Having just completed my masters in Food Science, I would say that is definitely worth it if you have a specific goal in mind. Don’t do it just to have another degree. Complete your masters to gain a more in-depth understanding of the subject you are studying, so you can specialize down the road.

A master’s degree does make a difference in salary for sure, but work experience is invaluable in a lot of positions in the food industry. Just because I have a masters, that does not mean I am more qualified to do a job than someone who has been training for that job for two years. Ultimately, getting an advanced degree has to align with your personal goals. If you are not sure what those goals are, I would suggest working for a few years and revisit the idea when you feel that it will help you in your career. Plus, a lot of companies will pay your tuition! Alex Amann

Whether or not it’s worth it is debatable, but you should apply to both. Apply to jobs and graduate school. You’ll gain valuable experience through both processes and have more options on the table.

Applying to Graduate school is difficult, but applying to a job is super easy and you can apply to like 10 in an hour once you have a system down. Where you are now, with no commitments, is the best time to apply to both Adam Yee 

(To listen to the Graduate School Series on My Food Job Rocks! podcast click here).

If you get the chance to work on a thesis/project that is highly specialized, advanced technology or upcoming process or technology, I would definitely recommend grad school. I’ve observed that food processing majors often get that opportunity more than other food science specialization and if you could take advantage of that, it will give you an edge! Shyamoli Gramopadhye

I would suggest pursuing a Masters degree only after you’ve decided a particular area of interest within food science. It need not necessarily be engineering/processing but can also be food chemistry or microbiology. Bottom line: YOU need to be passionate about it. Only then would you truly make a dent in the world of food science. Sudhir Kumar Pasupuleti

Definitely continue your educational experience by obtaining a MS degree . Obtaining a MS degree jumps you up to a broader level of future opportunities. Graduate school is an excellent opportunity to gain critical scientific thinking skills and build a network of colleagues that will enhance your lifetime career . It is difficult to go back to school, but not impossible, after you start full time work. Internships are a great way to gain industry experience while you are still in school. Margaret Lawson, CFS

In my personal experience, hands-on work within the field and job/internship experience outweighs the clout that schooling and in-classroom work would have. It is never a bad idea, though, to get the MS degree. Liang Hou

My suggestion is to work first so you gain experience and save enough money for your masters . This way you can exchange ideas and experience once you are in the classroom arena in your MA degree.

It will be very beneficial for you to compete with others and share points of view in all subject matter, but especially in your chosen field of specialization. Dr. Emelita Pesigan

You have to decide what is your preferred final career destination – industry or academy. If it’s industry then you have to choose and understand what’s more valuable for your future employer – 2 years of industrial experience as a food engineer or a M.Sc. degree.  

From what I’ve seen the industrial experience wins unless the M.Sc. is closely related to the industry job you’re aiming for. If it’s academy then the industrial experience is a “nice to have” asset in the majority of cases but could be very helpful if it’s closely related to your research area. Anton Slavkin

If you have the means and are able to do the Master’s, I would absolutely agree that it does make a difference in salary and position, and if not the first, then the second or advancing in either position. It is a valued degree and should be seriously considered. Ellen Powell

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