To Ph.D. or not to Ph.D? That is the question.

posted 2 years ago in College
Post # 2
Member
4029 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

jwdesiree:  I guess the biggest thing to consider is whether or not getting your Ph.D. will improve your career opportunities or if it will not change much. If the outcomes of getting a Ph.D. make you more marketable, secure better positions with better pay and benefits, then it may be worth the extra student loan costs. If, however, getting will not do much to further your career, why subject yourself to thousands of dollars in student loans? I’m a teacher with a M.Ed. Getting a Ph.D. will do pretty much nothing (except move me on the salary schedule some) except cost me more than my yearly salary. However, if I decide to teach at the collegiate level or pursue administration (principal or district level) then yes, it would be worth it. 

Post # 3
Member
721 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

Personally, I don’t believe in carrying a lot of school debt so I’d advise paying off most, if not all of it before pursuing an even more advanced degree. I also wouldn’t pursue a Ph.D. unless I had a really crystal clear career path mapped out, with experience, mentors, specific people to make as contacts, etc. The end goal should be to have a great professional career – not become a “career student”.

Post # 5
Member
2264 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

jwdesiree:  I’m currently a PhD student and I’m not going to lie, it’s very challenging at times. Not only are student loans a challenge, but seeing all of your friends buying houses and settling into jobs/locations can be really emotionally tough at times!

As far as finances go, I wouldn’t accept any offers from schools unless they come with full scholarships and living expense stipends.

Post # 6
Member
4029 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

jwdesiree:  May I ask how long you’ve been teaching (or doing whatever you do within education)? The only reason I ask is I had several instructors during undergrad (not so much in grad school as they were experts) who had barely spent any real time in the classroom or in schools before moving on. To be frank, we found them a lot less credible than instructors who had spent a decent amount of time in schools before pursuing another advanced degree and teaching at the college level. I am only going into my third year so if I do end up pursuing a Ph.D. (more than likely I wouldn’t even do that, but earn an Ed.Specialist degree instead) it will be several years down the line. 

Post # 7
Member
45 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: November 2014

As someone who is 3 weeks away from handing in her dissertation and being done with the PhD for good- I would say if your career needs/will be significantly advanced by the PhD AND you are passionate about your topic, then go for it. Otherwise, it’s not worth the (HUGE) effort. 

Post # 8
Member
96 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

Agree with @katiepi. I teach in higher education and my college actually preferred a masters + 10+ years teaching experience to a PhD. Getting a PhD in my field would mean almost $40k in debt for a salary increase of about $2k a year–not worth it. Also, if you want to teach in the social sciences/humanities, prof jobs are VERY hard to come by (PhD or not), so you risk paying off debt without any job at all. Just some things to think about.

Post # 10
Member
4029 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

jwdesiree:  Good luck to you! I hope you figure out which way is best for you!

Post # 11
Member
3250 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

It really depends on what you want to do with the degree. I have a PhD and in all honesty I wouldn’t do it again. It was a long time being underpaid, overworked and in my field the prospects for a job were not ( and still are not) great. As a result I’m either over qualified or not competitive for most jobs. If I had it to do again I might go with a PharmD degree. 

Post # 12
Member
96 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

Just my experience, but I would not spend $$$ on a phd in English. In my area, you’re looking at 100-150 applicants per full-time job, and that’s at the community college level. For universities, the ratio is 200+. If you can get a scholarship or a fellowship, it would be worth it, but I know several unemployed English PhDs. Definitely look into the market in your area before spending the money, or maybe consider a related field (like ESL) where the job market is better. 

Post # 13
Member
96 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

Oh yeah and check out the forums on the Chronicle of Higher Education. The posters there are very helpful re: the job market, grad school, etc.

Post # 14
Member
2018 posts
Buzzing bee

jwdesiree:  A Ph.D. is a research degree and you will not be accepted at any credible program that will prepare you for a job teaching at a college or university in the USA unless you show that you are committed to a research program.  I don’t see you discussing any interests in literary theory, etc. in your previous posts.

Also, under no circumstances should you ever pay for a Ph.D. in the humanities in the USA.  If you are not offered tuition remission and a stipend of some sort, then the odds are that the program is not very serious about you (note that some programs only accept fully funded students).

Given what you have said so far, I would not recommend a Ph.D. for you at this time.

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