Should I get a PhD?
I have heard a couple of people say it was their dream to get a PhD, but I cannot say I am one of them. When I did it, I just wanted to continue research which I had come to enjoy after my Master’s degree. I enjoy teaching, so I also wanted to get into academia at the time, so it was obviously a no brainer.
Also, my parents are in academia so, there was this subtle influence to stay in education.
P.S: Education doesn’t start and stop in academia.
Because my reasons for doing a PhD isn’t very “grand” or “inspiring”. My reply to the question “Should I do a PhD?” is usually:
- Do you want to work in academia? — In most cases, academia requires you to have a PhD to rise up the rank, so it is definitely a non-negotiable.
- Do you have funding/scholarship? — I will always recommend not paying for your PhD yourself. I know it can be really tedious, but try as much as possible to be funded. PhD requires a lot and you don’t want the additional burden of thinking about payment of fees/consumables (which can be quite expensive) and publication fees.
- Do you mind not being paid as much as your counterparts in the industry?- A PhD is more prestige than rewarding financially, especially if it is in academia. You can easily be earning a lot more in industry at this point with benefits like pension and health insurance. I do not understand why this is like this, but this is what the world today has chosen for it to be.
- Are you self-motivated?- This is the what will determine if you will be completing a PhD for 4 years or 10 years (not in all cases). PhD can be very unstructured so you will need to find the drive and also pray you have a great mentor/supervisor to support that.
- Can you handle criticism and failure?- If you are on the path to doing novel research, you will definitely fail a couple of times and though it can be very depressing, it is also up to you have to find solutions. I also don’t know where professors get the skill, but that criticism is something you will deal with countlessly. It is usually to help your work get better, but it can still be difficult sometimes.
- Can you work independently? — Dissertation; that’s all I have to say here.
- Most importantly, why do you want a PhD? — Once you can answer this, you have it half figured out.
If you can answer all these questions, you should know if you need to get a PhD or maybe pursue other interests in the industry.
Feel free to add additional answers or questions you have for me.