The decision to go to graduate school can be a hard one. Is it the right choice for you? Should you get a masters degree or a PhD? What’s the best choice for you?
When I was considering my options, a PhD student I was friends with said to me: “Don’t get a PhD unless you absolutely have to for your career.”
As a reminder, graduate school is HARD. Its draining physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you don’t have a concrete reason (or multiple reasons) for pursuing a PhD, chances are it’s going to be even harder for you to stay interested and motivated.
So here are 10 reasons you might chose to pursue a PhD level degree. If some of these don’t fit for you, maybe it’s time to consider another path. Remember, educational journeys are personalized and one is not inherently better than another. If a PhD isn’t the right path for you, thats ok!
1) Your career of interest requires a PhD - this is a big one! If you know that you definitely want a career that requires a PhD, then this should be a no brainer.
2) You love research - participating and conducting research is a HUGE part of a PhD and could be the deciding factor in choosing between a PhD or another degree like a Master's or PsyD that involves less research work.
3) You want to become an expert in your field - your time in your PhD program is the time to deep dive into your interests and reach expert status. If you're interested in knowing everything you can about one particular topic, the PhD may be for you!
4) You're interested in higher pay and ok waiting a while to get there - Statistically, individuals with PhD's do tend to earn more than their counterparts. However, it's a long road to get there and you may need to wait a bit before bringing in the big bucks
5) You're interested in learning more about your interests - Maybe you know the niche you want to study but not exactly the particular kind of research. When I started my program I knew I was interested in the impacts of early adversity on neurocognitive development, but I've since found particular interests in cortisol and memory specifically.
6) You enjoy scientific writing - Let's face it, if you don't like reading and writing scientific writing you won't last long in your PhD.
7) You enjoy teaching and academia - Many students will teach at some point in their program. While teaching doesn't have to be your main passion you should enjoy the culture of academia somewhat before pursuing your PhD.
8) You're interested in flexible hours and not afraid of a heavy workload - PhD's have a lot of flexibility in their schedule but they do work a ton of hours. The schedule is great for people who don't mind working evenings or weekends.
9) You want to develop transferrable skills - your time in your PhD will also build communication, organizational, interpersonal skills and more.
10) You want to challenge yourself - PhD's are hard. If you're not up to the challenge, consider another path.
Until next time,