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Grad School: Industry vs Academia


Going to grad school but not sure what type of research to go into? This article highlights some of the differences between industry and academia research to help you decide what is right for you.

Grad School: Industry vs Academia Research

Differences Between Industry and Academia


For academia, according to Industry vs. Academia: Which Road To Take? your responsibilities will consist of needing to find grants, mentor students, publish your own research, and look over finances.

For industry, your responsibilities will be focused on developing the product and company goals.


For academia, there is more flexibility as you create your own work schedule and work environment. In academia, being able to time manage well is an important skill to have.

For industry, there are set work hours and structure. Reflect upon whether you prefer to work with a structured schedule or having freedom in your hours.

Work independence

In academia, there is more intellectual freedom due to the lack of short-term deadlines. Individuals can choose what they want to spend time researching with little restriction.

In industry, work is done quickly and driven by business goals. Work may have clear direction and more direct, immediate impact due to the fast pace and business specific goals.


Industry researchers typically make more than academic researchers. This can vary between 1.5–2 times more, according to Industry vs. Academia: Which Road To Take?.

Workplace culture

Academia is highly research and study focused and oriented on long-term goals. In academia, you need to advocate for your own work and deal with the continuous pressure to publish research.

In industry, the pressures are deadline driven. Work is based on project deadlines and is more fast paced in comparison. In industry research, it is critical to work as a team.

How to Determine What’s Right For You

Steps to determine what type of grad school research is right for you.
  • Determine your priorities: Reflect on what your personal priorities are from salary, intellectual freedom, flexibility, etc.
  • Know your strengths: Know whether you are proactive and able to manage your own work or would prefer a structured work environment. Do you like working independently or as a team? Are you comfortable with self promotion? Do you like publishing research papers?
  • Keep your options open: Think about the long-term and what you want to be doing in 10 years. Explore your options and think about what you would want to invest your time in doing.

The answer to the question ‘academia vs industry?’ varies from person to person and there are valuable experiences to be gained from both options. Take time to reflect on what you enjoy doing and how you want to spend your time.

If you are ever looking for more advice, check out the More Resources section below. Feel free to contact YNCN on social media or email for any other questions!

More Resources

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YNCN (You’re Next Career Network)

University of Toronto's largest student club dedicated to providing students with professional development opportunities & connecting companies with top talent.