Getting a PhD is definitely challenging – not only in terms of how much studying and research it requires, but also financially, as the cost of doing your PhD in the United States can vary anywhere from $28.000, to as much as $40.000 per year. Due to all this, you might be questioning whether a PhD is really worth getting and whether you should even bother about it.
The answer is YES. Why exactly? Well, that’s something we will be focusing on in this article, so let’s just get started.
PhD or Doctorate?
Now, before we get into why getting a PhD is a good idea, we need to establish one thing, that for many people can be quite confusing — PhD is not the same as a professional doctorate. So, PhD vs doctorate – what’s the difference?
Contrary to PhD, a doctorate rarely revolves around original research – it’s more about gaining knowledge and hands-on proficiency in a given skill-set. The dissertation doesn’t require the student to conduct any original research, but rather it’s proof of what they have learned during their degree, and their ability to analyze the research that has been already conducted in the past. A doctorate refers mainly to physicians and lawyers, who need to have a license to work professionally.
Now, going back to the subject – why is it worth getting a PhD? There are several reasons, here are a few that we believe to be the most convincing.
If you have ever felt excitement when working on a project during your undergraduate studies, there is a possibility that you will also enjoy doing significantly more in-depth research in the field of your interest – mainly due to your intellectual curiosity.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to be a contributor to advance knowledge in a given area? If your findings are relevant and strong, other experts in your field may cite and reference your work, as well as use your discoveries in teaching their students.
Long-term Career Goals
If you wish to pursue a career in academia and continue your research as well as teaching university students, then a PhD is essential.
During your degree, you can always try to gain some teaching experience by giving seminars and lectures to undergraduate students.
Gaining Important, Transferable Skills
Many PhD students manage to find funding for their degree and end up being hired by the companies which sponsored their course. However, even if they don’t, the skills they learned during their PhD can be extremely valuable in other industries.
Some of those skills include:
- Effective time management
- Independent work
- Prioritization of activities
- Communication (writing, public speaking, presentations)
- Ability to solve problems
- Ability to find relevant information
Enjoyment of the Subject Matter
Many people enroll in a PhD program because they truly enjoy the subject, and want to explore it more. Keep in mind that a PhD is a challenging program, as you will be conducting your research and writing your thesis for a minimum of three years – so before you decide to commit to it, make sure that you actually enjoy the area of your research.
Demonstration of Determination
According to the article “PhD Attrition: How much is too much?” published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, 50% of doctoral students leave graduate school without completing their degree.
Completing your PhD shows that you can finish what you started, no matter how bad or how good it is – because, let’s be honest, a PhD is not rainbow and sunshine. No one is forcing you to do it – it’s your motivation and determination that gets you through the project. Nothing else.
Shift In Thinking
A PhD will make you look differently at several things – it will let you see the bigger picture, and question the details. Also, doing a PhD will encourage you to find the best approach, even to the little things in life.
The Bottom Line
Even though a PhD is definitely the most challenging step in your academic journey, there are several reasons why you should consider getting it.
It allows you to express your passion and interest in the area of study. It helps you in achieving your long-term career goals and teaches you skills that you can later on use in your professional life. It also shows your determination, as half of the people who start it, never finish it.
These are only a few reasons. However, if you are still questioning whether it is really worth it, try talking with some people who have completed their PhDs – they will be able to tell you about their experience, both during and after their degree, as well as make you more familiar with the whole organizational structure.