In Do You Really Need a Ph.D. ?, Arie Spirgel warns against starting a doctorate. program if your ultimate goal is not to become a teacher. Spirgel writes,
As stimulating as the notion of an alternative academic path is, deciding to pursue a doctorate. when the career you want doesn’t require a doctorate may not be the best choice. In his recent memoir Eat a Peach, chef and restaurateur David Chang’s first piece of advice to aspiring chefs is this: If there is something else you can do for a living, then do it. It is my wish that Chang’s advice would be appropriate for the PhD-curious as follows: Unless the only career you can imagine having properly requires or values ââa PhD, I strongly advise against getting one.
Like many things that seem obvious, however, the doctorate. the story is more complicated.
A word of warning first. Anyone considering a doctorate may not want to listen to the advice of anyone with a doctorate, us included. PhD graduates are notoriously bad at this kind of advice, often exaggerating their history into a singular universal experience.
They can also be unintentionally condescending (i.e. I will prevent you from having the same terrible experience that I had or I know you will never be able to have what I have, so I advise against try). This can lead to well-intentioned but often short-sighted advice.
That said, it’s also very true that the college job market is atrocious, and finding a job in your field may very well be the academic equivalent of winning the lottery (regardless of your education and experience).
Nevertheless, we would like to propose a friendly amendment to Spirgel.
If a PhD is a life goal in itself for you or what you want to do in life is work in higher education at increasingly higher levels of responsibility, then you would do well to consider getting a Ph.D. or Ed.D.
The less obvious fact of a doctorate. or Ed.D. is that this disciplinary knowledge is only part of the value. In addition to the disciplinary knowledge you acquire, earning a doctorate means saving time, gaining experience, and investing deeply in a stimulating project.
Each of them can have a meaning in itself.
Having the time to learn can be one of the most meaningful experiences for any doctoral student. Student. Time of course allows for more work, but it can also encourage creativity and give rise to serendipity. Time is perhaps the most important element of any educational experience, from Kindergarten to Cycle 3.
The experience gained in a doctoral program can be invaluable. It can be teaching experience, lab experience, or work experience that gives you insight into aspects of higher education that are often invisible to undergraduates and even master’s students.
And working on a long-term difficult project shows commitment, courage and a sense of thoroughness that demonstrates to future employers your ability to perform complex, high-level work.
These are all incredibly valuable aspects of pursuing a doctorate.
What could you do with this diploma? Well, here things get interesting.
If your goal is a long-term university position, then Spirgel might be right. You should ask yourself if you’ll be glad you spent time on a graduate degree that probably won’t get you that job.
If, however, you are ready to pursue a career as an educator, you would do well to consider the doctorate.
Note that we are replacing âteacherâ with âeducatorâ.
In 21st century higher education, these two roles need not be synonymous.
One of the biggest stories in higher education is that teaching has evolved from solo practice to team sport.
What is standard in high quality online education – and is becoming increasingly common in residential / co-ed courses – is for faculty teachers to collaborate with non-teaching teachers on course design. The past year of the pandemic has demonstrated for many the importance of well-supported education.
We need to think more broadly about what it means to be a post-secondary teacher in the 21st century beyond the traditional faculty journey.
And we must recognize the ways in which to obtain a doctorate. prepares for a career as an educator in the new world of higher education.