Things to Know Before Pursuing Your Doctorate Degree

 If you are going for your doctorate degree, you might want to think about a few things before you take that giant leap. Having just received my doctorate, I have found that maybe I should have taken a second look at things before I made the commitment. I would have probably not gone through with it if I knew the hidden costs and the time required to get the Dr. in front of my name.

First is time. Time is precious because of family and your career. Though you would think that your career would benefit from such an endeavor, many times it does not. Sometimes you can educate yourself out of a job because someone is not willing to pay you the amount that most doctorate earners make. Many times you will not get promoted and you will not get a raise. You may have to find another job to get those benefits and sometimes you might have to find another career.

Secondly, the cost of the program will usually outweigh the projected return when dealing with student loans. A $50,000.00 program will cost $700.00 a month in student loans for twenty years. The raises or promotions that you might get from your job may not compensate for the delayed expectations of a student loan and other expenses.

Another reason is that other expenses are a hidden cost. Besides paying for tuition and books, there are hidden costs associated with your research. If you are pursuing quantitative research, you may have to hire a statistician which can cost in the thousands. If you are doing qualitative research you will have to pay for people to interview or to do surveys for. This also can set you back a lot financially.

The process of earning your doctorate degree is very hard and very expensive. The time you take away from your friends and family is tremendous. You have to have strong relationships to keep them from following apart during the process. Is it worth the time and money? Sure, but the title Dr. takes you only as far as you push it. It is not an automatic doorway to more money and honor. Those are still things that you have to work for and sweat to achieve.

Before starting a doctorate program, look at all the pros and cons. I have listed some negative aspects through experience. I am sure there are good reasons and even more bad reasons for getting a doctorate degree. You just have to do the research and make the choice that is right for you.

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Doc Snow profile image

Doc Snow 6 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

A few comments based upon my experience:

1) The only indispensable quality for obtaining a Doctorate is persistence. Brains, preparation, and social skills are all useful, but you can't be a quitter and get a Doctorate.

2) Sometimes you can avoid the expense by virtue of Assistantships; that's what I did. I received a stipend which (almost) paid my living expenses, and tuition was waived, so I graduated debt-free. But you have to shop around for the best deal, and the trade-off may be school reputation--I don't mean that disreputable schools will offer such deals, but that the most famous and desirable don't need to. (Some do anyway, but of course they are also tough to get into.)

3) The economics of the degree are mixed, and heavily dependent upon the area of study. I've been underemployed for most of the time since I finished, albeit sometimes at a higher pay scale than without the "Doc." And I do think that it makes some "McJobs" almost impossible to get, which can be a drawback in emergency situations.

4) Despite #3, I don't regret my studies at all.

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