5 Things to Consider Before Doing a PhD
It's Not All Sunshine and Rainbows...
It is no secret that a PhD is undoubtedly one of the most difficult tasks a person can do. So, before thinking about pursuing a doctorate, it is essential that you first understand everything it involves to ensure that it is for you. In fact, there are many reasons why it needs to be seriously considered - some of which you may not even be aware of.
This article sheds light on five of the most important aspects you should consider before deciding to return to university as a PhD student.
PhDs – The Pinnacle of Academic Achievement
We often consider a PhD the pinnacle of academic achievement, because it is the most advanced degree offered by universities, gives you the prestigious ‘Doctor’ title and leads to a CV that any employer would fight for, but only if you do it right.
Prior to a doctorate, you are expected to have a lot of knowledge and experience in your field, which is reflected in the fact that you need to have the right qualifications, the appropriate mindset and be the right type of research student. Of course, you need to make sure that the degree you are going to earn is accredited, but you also need to find out if there are other requirements that you need to meet to be eligible. For example, as shown in DiscoverPhD's application guidance page, some countries require certain qualifications, experience or visas to be admitted to their doctoral programs. Therefore, you should take time to understand what your options are before going any further.
1. PhDs Focus on A Wide Range of Subjects
Doctoral programs are becoming increasingly popular because they bring many benefits, from increased earning potential to the opportunity to change specialisation. Because of this, many people want to study in different disciplines and get their PhDs in STEM subjects such as mathematics, astrophysics, machine learning, microbiology, chemical engineering, and so on.
In addition to different subjects, there are also different areas of focus that you can choose; for example, you may be interested in teaching or would like to become a researcher in a particular subject. Ultimately, it is up to you and the university you have chosen. It may also be a good idea to find out if there are certain subjects in which you are not particularly good or interested in to help you narrow down your choices.
Once you have determined what area of study you are interested in, there are a few other things to consider before deciding on a doctorate. Find out what kind of laboratory you want to work in and how many years it will take to complete your studies.
2. Choice of Universities
There are several schools that offer doctoral programs, including private universities, public universities, and even online universities. Although online universities have been shunned in the past, you should know that there are many advantages to doing your degree online. First, you can attend school without having to be present in person, which is a practical option for many people who have codependents to look after. Second, since there are no classes you need to attend or professors you need to interact with on a daily basis, you can tend to work at your own pace. Note, however, that an online degree typically takes a few years longer than a traditional on-campus degree. With this in mind, one of the first decisions you have to make before doing a doctoral degree is which program format is most appropriate for you.
As a rule, a university has many different schools and faculties that are affiliated to it. To find out which university to attend, please visit the university website. A university may have a specific program or faculty in the area you are interested in. There may also be a list of accredited universities where you can see what type of courses you can take at the universities that are accredited.
3. PhDs Require A Lot of Hard Work
A PhD involves several years of intensive research, followed by the submission of a thesis, also known as a dissertation, and an oral defense, also known as Viva. In addition, you may be expected to teach undergraduate students, assist your doctoral supervisor and other advisors in their research, and publish several scientific papers alongside your own studies.
In short, PhDs are a lot of hard work. Therefore, you need to make sure that you are passionate about your subject and are fully committed to the idea of studying for another four years because if you change your mind halfway through, you will end up with nothing to show for it.
4. PhDs Are Expensive
While most things to consider before doing a PhD are related to what topic you want to do research on and which university you want to go to, the cost of going back to university for a few more years is just as important. A good university can cost a lot, and you want to make sure it is affordable for you to avoid future financial problems.
Doctoral degrees are usually associated with high financial costs. If you want to repay your student loans quickly, you should consider securing scholarships, grants or bursaries. These can help cover your tuition fees and living expenses and make your next few years much less stressful, as you can focus on your research and not on how you will finance it all.
Many people choose to work during their studies. This can be an excellent choice, but you have to think about whether you can realistically manage a job alongside an advanced graduate course, which many cannot!
5. Type of Career
Many people throw themselves headlong into a PhD without thinking very carefully about what they hope to do after graduation. For example, a PhD in education could be great for your future career, but there may be a better option for you if you have no intention of becoming a teacher. If in these cases you are a more research-oriented person, consider a PhD in a science subject instead. This will enable you to pursue a research-oriented career, whether in consulting or in a laboratory.
With all these things in mind, it will be easy for you to find the right place for your education and become an expert in your field. Remember that it is not difficult to achieve your goals as long as you know what you are doing.