In this day and age, is a PhD useful? Is it true that having a PhD puts you at a huge disadvantage?

Updated on : January 17, 2022 by Julio Mathis



In this day and age, is a PhD useful? Is it true that having a PhD puts you at a huge disadvantage?

I think it depends on how you frame it, how you use it.

It's worth it? As others mention, a PhD is a big time commitment, a monetary commitment, an emotional psychological health commitment… You don't need a PhD to be successful and happy in life. So people need to introspect why they would want to go through with this.

Some jobs require it. Academy, certain research positions. If that's your thing, it's obviously helpful. But what about other careers? Does it put you at a disadvantage?

Having a PhD basically means that you can do independent research. The fundamental formation that g

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I think it depends on how you frame it, how you use it.

It's worth it? As others mention, a PhD is a big time commitment, a monetary commitment, an emotional psychological health commitment… You don't need a PhD to be successful and happy in life. So people need to introspect why they would want to go through with this.

Some jobs require it. Academy, certain research positions. If that's your thing, it's obviously helpful. But what about other careers? Does it put you at a disadvantage?

Having a PhD basically means you can do independent research. The foundational training that goes into this confers very specific skills that can be generalized to a variety of different roles and fields. Making the PhD advantageous outside of common PhD professional contexts is about being able to apply, show, and sell these distinct abilities to potential employers.

One story that might illustrate the things I'm talking about. I had a student who already had a PhD in humanities but came back to school for an MA (learning technology.) They reported having a very very hard time in the job market. To paraphrase, they thought employers didn't want them because of their field and that a PhD priced them out of the market.

But my opinion, based on my interactions with this student - I didn't think the PhD was the issue. It was that they couldn't communicate effectively how their PhD training in humanities could help them solve problems for XYZ company. I know this student could have been great even without coming back for the MA. Even though their concentration was very different from ours, in the way they thought about and approached problems, analyzed them, the nuance they had in their thinking and logic - was way deeper than someone with more MA level experience in our field, but without that doctoral training. They had the tools to solve all kinds of problems.

The happy ending to this story is that I think going back for mastery made them realize how powerful their previous training and acquired thinking skills really were. I'm sure this person will continue to do great things.

So in short. Is a PhD useful? Yes, if you get what it is intended to be. Necessary? It depends. Is it disadvantageous? In terms of opportunity costs (time, money, health), it may depend on your circumstances. Is it professionally disadvantageous (outside the usual doctoral contexts?). It could be if you can't translate it well. It could be a great advantage if you figure out how to communicate it effectively.

Whatever route you take in life (ie professional, personal, social, etc) the return on time for taking that route is going to be contingent upon you. Much of your pursuits are what you make them. This implies that your are pursuing an interest for the correct reasons. A Ph.D is no different.

A Ph.D is extremely useful and as some other posts have mentioned required in most cases for conducting research. A Ph.D. is designed to teach you skills necessary for working on complex problems over a long period of time. As J. Madsen mentioned, a Ph.D is disadvantageous for individuals who got it for

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Whatever route you take in life (ie professional, personal, social, etc) the return on time for taking that route is going to be contingent upon you. Much of your pursuits are what you make them. This implies that your are pursuing an interest for the correct reasons. A Ph.D is no different.

A PhD is extremely helpful, and as some other positions have mentioned, it is required in most cases to conduct research. A PhD is designed to teach you the skills necessary to work on complex problems over a long period of time. As J. Madsen mentioned, a PhD is disadvantageous for people who got it for the wrong reasons.

There have been some comments that emphasize the institution you attend and reason that a Ph.D. in industry it is only important since you attended school X. These statements are somewhat wrong. Sure there are some institutions that prefer people from specific schools, but this is not the majority. First you have to question the existence of the best universities. How is it possible and what does this notion really mean? (Also the Ivy League is an athletic conference)

For example, calculus taught at a classified university is no different from calculus taught at an unranked university. No institution has an esoteric means of differentiation or integration. This means that the topic is the same. So what differs from one university to another is the environment. The environment is made up of teachers, peers, and the learning process as designed. Therefore, it is plausible that the classification of institutions is a better way to classify teachers than students. Sure there is a reflective relationship between the quality of teachers and expected student performance, but this relationship is not linear. Since the information is constant in all universities, especially given the greater degree of accessibility online now than at any time in history before, a student's ability to learn is likely to be less correlated with a specific university, but more closely associated with their ability to do so with less guidance. . Some people may receive little guidance and have the inherent ability to solve problems and thus may learn at an unranked university in the way expected from a top university with experts as professors. Some people need to be in an environment where they receive more guidance and work with world leaders in a field. There is nothing wrong with any situation. Some people may receive little guidance and have the inherent ability to solve problems and thus may learn at an unranked university in the way expected from a top university with experts as professors. Some people need to be in an environment where they receive more guidance and work with world leaders in a field. There is nothing wrong with any situation. Some people may receive little guidance and have the inherent ability to solve problems and thus may learn at an unranked university in the way expected from a top university with experts as professors. Some people need to be in an environment where they receive more guidance and work with world leaders in a field.

Relative to the Ph.D., given that it is a research degree, at the end of the day what matters is your research. If an individual makes ground breaking discoveries from an unknown institution, no one is going to say that their discoveries don't count because they didn't attend an Ivy League. Sure working alongside pioneers in a field is great but it really doesn't disadvantage those who aren't, at least not in the long run. The reason is that top researchers publish their work. Individuals not directly associated with these individuals are still able to learn from them and at a cheaper price point.

Relative to employment, if an individual who didn't attend an Ivy League has better publications and experience than someone who did, a real employer, someone interested in production, is going to hire the person with real results. There are a multiplicity of individuals who hide behind their pedigree. However, this can only take you so far. At some point, you must be able to produce. Naturally, the pressure to do so varies from field to field. For example, in finance, no one cares that you have a Ph.D from XYZ top school; if you can't generate alpha it means nothing. Sure you can employ some sophisticated methods and pontificate complex ideas, but if you can't make money, that means nothing; And in some regards, the fact that you have a Ph.D but can't produce is degrading rather than prestigious.

In short, you must determine why you are interested in doing a Ph.D, and anything else for that matter. You must determine if your reasoning is congruent with the actual purpose of what you are pursuing. Society was built on results. Companies want results. If you can produce results as a product of having a Ph.D. then great. If you have a Ph.D from a prestigious university but can't generate the results requisite to the position you seek, the fact that you have said Ph.D means nothing. No matter where you obtain your education (ie formal, informal, top school, unranked school) given that results speak louder than words, if you can produce, and do so competitively, then finding employment should be the least of your concerns.

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