Why You Should (NOT) Get A Doctorate (PhD / DBA) In Business AdministrationI was recently thinking about the advice that you get on PhD forums and university websites, and much of this advice is about why you SHOULD get a doctorate (i.e. PhD, DBA, etc). The problem with this perspective is that does not help you determine if doing a doctorate is right for you. I kind of think like an economist, and I always think that there are costs and benefits to every decision. Not every option is good for everyone, especially when thinking about pursuing a doctorate. There are a lot of costs that are associated with terminal degrees because they do take a long time, cost a fair bit of resources, and often have uncertain outcomes. Many people who start a PhD, do not complete it for many reasons that these websites about doing a PhD fail to mention. So, a couple of caveats about the ideas in this post:
- I want to work with the assumption that you do not need to get a doctorate to get many of the outcomes you want, but you want to think about whether getting a doctorate is for you. For example, if you want to become a management consultant, I would highly recommend that you just get an MBA. Or, if you want to teach in the business school, you often just need an MBA, and then you can teach as an Adjunct Professor.
- This is going to be rather focused on getting a doctorate in a Business School, like a PhD in Business Administration or a Doctorate of Business Administration. Why? This is what I know as I am an Assistant Professor of Innovation, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship.
- This is my own personal experience, and does not represent either my own institution’s position or other’s views. I am going to share my own experience to help others that were in a similar position as me. There were very few people in my family that went to university for a long time, nevertheless going into academia. I think I was the only one for a while, and I don’t know of any of my relatives that are university professors. Now, this is changing with a new generation. If you were like me, I really did not know many people who I can get honest advice from. I am sure that I am not the only one that is in that position.
- This is part of my r3ciprocity.com project. I built a sharing economy proofreading software, in which people can help others or you can help on your written work. The goal of the project is to motivate people to help others, and as well to scratch my own itch. There was not really anything on the internet that was like this system, and I often need feedback on my own written work, so I thought I could be the one to build the proofreading software. Crazy idea, I know. After I built the software, I realized that I needed to market it some how. My wife and I were bootstrapping the software out of our own personal funds, so I did not have a lot of extra money to do a marketing campaign. So, I thought the best way to market this platform was to give even more with YouTube videos about PhD life, and this blog. Was this a stupid idea? Probably. Being immensely open about my thoughts and who I am has given me some personal grief, but, I also think that if I just help one person make a better decision, I will be happy.
What Are The Most Obvious Reasons To Get A Doctorate (PhD / DBA)?There are many obvious reasons to get a doctorate, particularly in business administration.
- You do get a mild increase in social status. Being a ‘Doctor’ has a cool ring to it. Admittedly, when I was 23, my PhD attraction was largely due to this social status. Maybe I was vain, or maybe it was something else. I just wish we could prescribe meds sometimes. The only thing I can prescribe is a bad joke. 😉
- A PhD salary is generally ‘pretty’ good. What pretty good means depends on the beholder. Most PhDs have a decent salary, although this widely varies between disciplines and sub-fields / concentrations. I have heard of some disciplines that make $30 k per year, and others that make well over six figures. If you do a PhD in Business, a rough estimate for most countries is somewhere around $80-120 k per year, but this varies depending on many factors, like country, your academic rank (ie. Assistant, Associate, Full Professor) or institution. Some PhD disciplines (finance) might make quite a bit more. The wages of a PhD really just depends.
- One thing I wanted to point out that is really strange with salaries. You only get paid for 9 months of the year. The other 3 months are the summer months, and most schools will not pay your salary during that time. However, many PhDs get grants for the summer months.
- Also, many PhDs in Business experience a thing called salary inversion. This is where the people you teach (MBAs) make more money than you do. Its an odd thing that happens.
- You get to do work that you love, or at least tolerate. 🙂 I mean you can pick the skills and subset of skills that you want to specialize in. You can be the world’s expert at X. Seriously. It really is not all that difficult to be an expert at something if you pick a small of niche.
- Most people around you are very smart, and you can have sharp conversations. Don’t underestimate this aspect of a PhD. Talking to smart people can be quite a joy!