Is a Ph.D. Worth It?

Carolina Brown

Apr 14, 2021
is-a-phd-worth-it

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The highest degree that a student can attain in the world of academia is the Doctor of Philosophy, commonly known as Ph.D. Many students, whether they just finished college or haven’t been to school in years, strive to learn and research to earn this title. 

A Ph.D. takes effort, dedication and financial commitment. Some people go through the years of work, only to regret getting their Ph.D. Others love to learn and get Ph.D.s in multiple fields of study. If you’re considering a Ph.D., you might be thinking, “Is a Ph.D. worth it?”

You’ll get different answers depending on who you ask. There’s no right or wrong answer, and it depends on what you’re pursuing if it is worth it in the end. 

Considerations Before Embarking on a Ph.D.

Before embarking on a Ph.D. or to see if it’s worth it for you, you should consider a few things. Putting serious thought into these aspects of your life and your future if you pursue a Ph.D. will help you figure out if getting that degree is worth it.

Money

You’ve likely already spent money to go to undergrad. If you pursue a Ph.D., you’ll be paying more money to get another degree. For some, this may be financially feasible. Other students might be scraping by, though. While you may be in debt for those years of studying, you’ll eventually make up for it in job earnings. 

Time

Getting a Ph.D. also requires anywhere from six to eight years of your time. A Ph.D. offers you no real breaks. It’s like a typical 9-to-5 job, and then you add even more time. You’ll constantly think about your work and have to use most of the free time you have to work on other parts of your Ph.D. If you’re up for that sort of commitment, then you should go for the degree!

Location

Perhaps there’s a dream school that you would love to work at for your degree. However, you have to make sure there’s an area of study available that you’re passionate about. The prestige of a school overall doesn’t matter — the department’s reputation does. Plus, you will have a life outside of studying, so make sure you’re in a location you can truly be in for four or more years.

Benefits of Getting a Ph.D.

There are many benefits of getting a Ph.D. Here are some of them: 

1. Advances Your Professional Skills

Completing your dissertation takes skills beyond the average human being. The level of critical thinking and problem-solving you develop while earning your Ph.D. put you above other job applicants.

2. Provides You With More Job Opportunities

Employment opportunities expand when you have a doctorate. Some positions may require this level of education, which only a small percentage of people have. 

3. Grows Your Confidence

As you research and study, you’ll gain confidence in your knowledge. There aren’t many or any other people who are studying exactly what you are, which gives you a boost of self-esteem knowing that you’re trying to solve a problem or gain insight that the rest of the world may not have access to yet.

4. Stretches Your Learning

If you love to learn, you’ll highly enjoy your time as a grad student. Your brain will be stretched in so many directions. While all of the research can be draining, you’ll learn new skills to obtain knowledge.

Drawbacks of Getting a Ph.D.

Knowing some of the disadvantages of getting a Ph.D. will help you make a more informed decision as to whether you should pursue the degree.

1. Stresses You Mentally

As you’re going through graduate school, you’ll be living, breathing and thinking of your research all the time. It can be overwhelming, especially if you are trying to rest and your studies pop into your mind. 

2. Costs More Money

Although it depends on the degree, you will have to pay more money in order to earn your doctorate. There are grants and scholarships you can apply for, but it may not be worth it for your finances. It will take time to start making money long after you get your degree. 

3. Doesn’t Guarantee a Job

Many who pursue a Ph.D. one day hope to be a university professor. It can be challenging when hundreds of others who have their doctorate are going for the same profession. Plus, if you go outside of your field of study, you may be under-experienced. 

4. Leaves You Feeling Behind or Left Out

You’ll likely see friends exceeding beyond you career-wise who only have a bachelor’s or master’s degree. While you’re studying, they’re advancing in their profession. Plus, since most of your time is dedicated to research and study, you may not be able to spend as much time with your loved ones as you wanted.

It’s Worth It — As Long As You’re Committed

You have to fully commit to a Ph.D. to make it worth it. If it’s something you’ve dreamed about for years, go for it. If you’re still unsure, take more time to think about all of the aspects of getting the degree. It’s really up to you to make the experience worth it.

Looking to learn more about Ph.D.s? Check out these top picks from our reading list:

How to Get Your PhD: A Handbook for the Journey (Amazon) by Gavin Brown

Hooded: A Black Girl’s Guide to the Ph.D. (Amazon) by Malika Grayson

Putting the Humanities PhD to Work: Thriving in and beyond the Classroom (Amazon) bt Katina L. Rogers

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