Regulatory Open Forum

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  • 1.  Postgrad degrees: pros and cons

    Posted 22-Jan-2024 16:03

    Nearly two-thirds of the respondents to the most recent RAPS Global Compensation and Scope of Practice Report have a postgraduate degree, including 20.5% with a doctorate. 

    What do you think are the benefits of entering the regulatory profession with an advanced degree? What might be a benefit of entering without one? 

    Ryan Connors
    Social Media and Communications Specialist

  • 2.  RE: Postgrad degrees: pros and cons

    Posted 23-Jan-2024 07:44

    I have a bachelor's degree in Biology/Chemistry. I have been in CMC Regulatory for 32 years and the lack of an advanced degree has not affected me at all.

    Arvilla Trag RAC
    Principal Consultant
    CMC Compliance Services
    Iron River MI
    United StatesCMC Compliance Services LLC

  • 3.  RE: Postgrad degrees: pros and cons

    Posted 23-Jan-2024 08:48

    In my opinion, don't spend your time in grad school, spend it in the workforce. Work experience is far more valuable than any grad school degree. Yes I have a PhD, that's why I give this response.

    David Jensen PhD, RAC
    Senior Regulatory Affairs Scientist
    Durham NC
    United States

  • 4.  RE: Postgrad degrees: pros and cons

    Posted 23-Jan-2024 08:58

    David Jensen – I agree 100%. My first job out of college was in a pure research tissue culture lab. The only thing I learned in college that was useful to my job was how to calculate molarity and molality for solutions. College taught me nothing about using isotopes (hence the 7mCi P32 episode that resulted in me hiding au naturale in my boss's office while my colleagues sought non-radioactive clothing for me), or anything about several other topics that would have been very useful to know. Without the BA I would not have been considered for the job, but after getting the job it had little utility.





    "If it isn't documented, it didn't happen."


    Arvilla Trag, RAC

    Principal Consultant

    CMC Compliance Services LLC


    258 Section 16 Rd

    Iron River MI 49935

    (m): 781-460-4357


  • 5.  RE: Postgrad degrees: pros and cons

    Posted 24-Jan-2024 07:10

    Work experience and evidence of job effectiveness outweighs the benefits of a degree per se. Transitioning from a non-regulatory job into a regulatory position within the same company provides the applicant internal validation - somebody already knows and vouches for the applicant's capabilities. The general advantage of an advanced degree when entering the regulatory profession from the outside is that it suggests evidence of the ability to think critically.

    I do think also that there can be value in investing in the many kinds of Certificate and Master's programs in special areas to opening new avenues for career opportunity and advancement.

    Glen Park PharmD
    Burien WA
    United States

  • 6.  RE: Postgrad degrees: pros and cons

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 24-Jan-2024 09:10
    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous

    On average, though not in every case, I see better critical thinking skills in employees with advanced degrees. I don't know if they learn it in school or if that's just the type of person who's attracted to masters/phd programs.

  • 7.  RE: Postgrad degrees: pros and cons

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 24-Jan-2024 09:10
    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous

    I entered the regulatory profession with a Masters in Library Science, which has been particularly helpful in the areas of regulatory intelligence and management. Before I went to library school I was good at research and analysis, but coming out my skills were much more precise.

    I could see a law degree or an MBA also adding some value.

  • 8.  RE: Postgrad degrees: pros and cons

    Posted 24-Jan-2024 09:04

    Hi Ryan

    This is an interesting question. 

    If you want to be competitive in any field, including Regulatory, I think you need to demonstrate competence. Competence is a mix of education, skills, training and experience. 

    Education is always an asset, particularly post-graduate education, but it is not sufficient. 

    As others have pointed out, you can compensate for an advanced degree through relevant experience. 

    My personal view is that we are living in a rapidly changing regulatory environment, which is kind of lagging behind the technological change happening in our industry. You need some kind of specialization to focus in a specific area where you can make a significant impact in a short period of time.

    This requires a lot of critical thinking and problem solving skills, with a never ending desire to keep learning.

    Working on a graduate thesis, whether in a MS or a PhD program, definitely helps you build these skills.

    In the end, it also depends on an individual's perspective. Sure, you can get a job without an advanced degree; but you have to ask can you stay competitive in the long run?

    Best regards

    Naveen Agarwal, Ph.D.
    Problem Solver | Knowledge Sharer.
    Let's Talk Risk!

  • 9.  RE: Postgrad degrees: pros and cons

    Posted 25-Jan-2024 07:59

    Hey Ryan.

    When I first started in regulatory about 25 years ago, the masters degrees in Regulatory were just starting out and the few that were out there were all in person and usually as a subspecialty of something else (e.g. I believe St. John's University in New York had a subspecialization in their toxicology program for drug regulatory).

    I have always found that the more important piece as many here have stated is being able to show an understanding of what you are going to do, what sorts of issues/questions you are going to deal with, and solid skills to manage that work.  An advanced degree will sometimes help you to prepare for items 1 and 2 above.  But number 3 truly requires some level of real world experience.  That doesn't have to be in regulatory per se (most of the regulatory folks that I knew when I was starting out had prior experience typically in one of the quality or legal roles).  But you do need to be able to discuss what/how you are going to do the work that needs to be done and be prepared for the "How would you handle" situational questions on interviews.

    Just for full disclosure - I did go back to get my MS in Regulatory Science from Johns Hopkins via their online only program about 12 years ago but by the time I got my degree I already had significant experience in the industry both on the consumer and B2B side of the equation.  It does help and often can provide different perspectives which is what I found the most valuable aspect of getting my degree.

    Hope this provides some perspective from a slightly different angle on the question.

    Victor Mencarelli MS
    Global Director Regulatory Affairs
    New YorkNY
    United States

  • 10.  RE: Postgrad degrees: pros and cons

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 25-Jan-2024 09:20
    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous

    I have a law degree because it took me some time to figure out what to do with my life and career. However, I typically hire employees without a graduate degree with a few exceptions. PhD programs instill terrible writing skills that take years to unlearn. Regulatory specialty degrees don't provide any real benefit, and I'd rather hire someone who has a year in an unrelated medical device role than no work experience with a regulatory masters. Give me someone smart and proactive any day over an advanced degree.