Is a Ph.D. Really Worth It?

Is a doctorate the right option for you? This infographic may help you make up your mind.

Key Takeaways

  • Think about why you wish to do a Ph.D. Although the return on investment is a reason many people choose to pursue a Ph.D., it may not be the right reason.
  • A Ph.D. will eat up large chunks- up to 5 years- of your life (in the UK; often longer in the US).
  • Not everyone is cut out to do a Ph.D. As the infographic shows, you will need specific skills if you are to succeed, particularly discipline and stamina.

Other Considerations

  • The decision to go through the trials and tribulations of a Ph.D. is not one should be made lightly, and many who make the decision in haste often regret the decision. Finding themselves completely unprepared for anything but academia, with the constant rejections they receive from employers in favour of those with bachelor’s degrees. Usually because they are either overqualified or inexperienced.
  • In the US alone, around 64,000 Ph.Ds are cranked out each year – which is a whole lot of Ph.Ds. And the dropout rate is quite high: according to one report, in the US, less than 6 out of 10 students obtained their Ph.Ds a decade after enrollment.
  • It’s also worth remembering that not all PhDs are created equal: some can be extremely solitary affairs (e.g., humanities). Sitting in front of a computer all day may not be your idea of a stimulating experience. So if you are planning to do a Ph.D., choose a subject that will hold your interest for the duration of the programme.
  • It is noteworthy that, according to one article, the only Ph.D. worth getting is an economics Ph.D. Still, should you decide to pursue your Ph.D., in whatever subject you choose, it’s important to opt for a course that supports your future career.

The drop-out rate would be reduced, and much misery avoided, if prospective students possessed a more balanced view of the challenges, as well as the joys, of the PhD.” Daniel K Sokol, PhD

Difficulties aside, there are those for whom the decision to undertake a Ph.D. was a well considered one leading to the reaping of many fruits. If you’re keen to push the frontiers of knowledge in your subject, make your mark in your field, have all the required Ph.D. ‘skills’ mentioned above and money is not your prime motivator, then a Ph.D. may be right for you.


So what will you do? Let us know in the comments box below.

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