Why not just get a job?

As you graduate from college, there are many options for the next step in your computing career. Whether you go directly to industry, get a masters degree, or pursue a Ph.D. will depend, in part, on the aspects of computing you enjoy, any other personal constraints or goals you may have, and how you want to spend your time over the next few years.

If you’ve had some research experience and enjoyed it, or if you are excited by the prospect of exploring unanswered questions, pursuing a Ph.D. might be a great choice for you. Earning a Ph.D. will deepen your understanding of computing, let you contribute to the world’s understanding of computer science, and give you valuable experience and training in developing, implementing, and communicating technical ideas. A Ph.D. is an almost-universally required credential for a career as a professor at a college or university, or as a researcher in industry, government, or academia.

By contrast, regardless of what degrees you have, most work in industry typically focuses on the urgent, incremental problems of the organization you’re working for. It can be thrilling to solve immediate problems that affect real users. Many people enjoy the fast-paced development cycles of startups and cutting-edge companies, while others enjoy the more stable 9-to-5 style schedule typical of well-established firms.

You should also consider whether it is practical for you to pursue a Ph.D. While you will usually be paid a stipend during a Ph.D. program, a grad student stipend does not compare to the salaries offered in industry. So if earning money is an important motivation for you, then industry might be a better choice. If your financial circumstances change, you can always come back and do a Ph.D. or M.S. degree at a later time.