Career advice

Should I Do a PhD?

3 min read · By Academic Positions

Are you contemplating a PhD? Earning a doctorate can be incredibly rewarding and lead to new opportunities, yet at the same time, it will consume several years of your life. It’s a big undertaking and you don’t want to rush into. If you’re wondering if you should do a PhD try asking yourself these four questions:

Why do I want to do a PhD?

This is the biggest question you have to ask yourself before deciding to do a PhD. Doing a PhD isn’t easy and it will be hard to maintain the necessary motivation over the several years it takes to earn the degree without a strong answer. Most people with a PhD will tell you that their passion for the subject, love of research, and desire to contribute to the academic conversation were major drivers in their decision to do a PhD. But what about you? Maybe you love the academic environment. Maybe you want the freedom to manage your own time that doesn’t come with a 9-to-5 job. Or maybe you’re chasing the title of “Doctor”. But think hard about this one. It will be key to getting you across the finish line.

Am I interested enough?

PhD students must dedicate themselves to a single topic for several years, which is a big commitment. This topic will also influence what they work on after earning their degree so it’s important to choose wisely. What research topics are you interested in? Do you think your enthusiasm for them will sustain you for the length of a PhD? How engaged are you with the current literature on the subject? When you read do you absorb the information or also start to formulate your own responses and rebuttals? It’s important to consider that—unlike in undergrad—you won’t just be expected to learn everything about this topic, you will also be required to produce an original piece of research about it that will contribute to your field.

What are my career goals?

What do you see yourself doing in the future? A PhD is the de facto qualification to work in academia and research, but it doesn’t guarantee any specific career path. If you’re unsure whether to do a doctorate and think about what your career goals are. While a PhD isn’t required for many jobs outside of research and academia, PhD students do gain widely-applicable transferable skills in the course of their degree including critical thinking, problem-solving, strong writing and analytical abilities, and project management. Will these skills help you reach your career goals?

Am I prepared?

There are also some logistics to consider before deciding to do a PhD that will require a little research. Depending on where you’re thinking of studying, a Master’s degree and a certain degree classification/minimum GPA might be required. It’s also a good idea to take inventory of your current skill set. Are you a good self-motivator? Do you work well by yourself? How do you handle stress? Can you work without someone telling you what to do? These are important skills for a PhD student. Do you have them or can you learn them?

If after asking yourself these questions you’re still unsure, take some more time to mull it over. But if this article was the final push you need to start looking for PhD programs, here are hundreds of available PhD positions.


By Academic Positions  ·  Published 2018-05-29

Discover similar employers

University of Luxembourg Belvaux, Luxembourg 124 open positions
KU Leuven Leuven, Belgium 94 open positions
ETH Zürich Zurich, Switzerland 70 open positions
Ghent University Ghent, Belgium 67 open positions
University of Nottingham Nottingham, United Kingdom 51 open positions
More employers
Career advice

Accelerate your academic career