Why would anyone in mature age do a Doctorate degree program, like I did?

A speedometer shows the various levels of college degrees

Doing a PhD/Professional Doctorate  can be intellectually challenging, physically tiring and emotionally draining.

Is starting a doctorate degree motivated by love for knowledge, dreams of joining the intellectual elite or financial gain?

One of the hardest things to do in the world in educational terms is the PhD/Professional Doctorate, but the rewards are amazing. The self-fulfillment and satisfaction you achieve from it pushes you to go through all the hard work and toil.

PhDs/Professional Doctorates are an essential part of the knowledge economy. Completing a PhD/Professional Doctorates is all about creating fresh knowledge, discovering new things and developing new skills.

The variety of employment sectors that currently target the recruitment of PhD/Professional Doctorate graduates is staggering. All areas of business, industry, research and development, teaching, government and the public sector play host to PhDs/Professional Doctorates, particularly where a concentration on the production of knowledge is required.

PhD/Professional Doctorate graduates can also act as a bridge between universities and industry, helping to promote technology transfer and a knowledge flow in both directions.

From Technical College to The University of Melbourne, the long way around. – 45 years …..Bruce D. Watson

Extract from: The PhD Application Handbook. (Open University Press) by Peter Bentley

You have to be a little strange to want to do a doctorate. You’ll be giving up the chance to earn some real money in a steady job, for several years of little or no money. You’ll be losing the simplicity of regular hours and a boss who tells you want to do, for the complications of setting your own agenda and planning your own work. Why do you want to do a doctorate? No, really. Why?

You need to be very clear in your mind what the reasons are. Thankfully, there are some very good reasons why a normal, sane person would choose to do a doctorate. If any of these make sense to you, then you are on the right track:

Good reasons to do a PhD / Professional Doctorate

…To achieve something significant

Those who have ambitions to make money should become entrepreneurs. But if you are ambitious in that you wish to challenge yourself, push yourself to new heights or achieve a difficult goal, then a doctorate may be for you.

…To discover or learn something new

Those who never lose their childlike curiosity of the world make great researchers. If you feel a driving force pushing you to explore and learn new things, then you may love research, and find a doctorate is perfect for you.

…To improve yourself and your life

Doing a PhD for the sake of a pay rise is not a good reason. But if you want to improve your abilities to understand and solve problems, increase your confidence, make yourself a better communicator and gain skills that may lead to a better job, then a doctorate may be right for you.

…It fits you

Some people are made for a doctorate. You might have grown up doing countless little ‘research projects’ as hobbies. You might have a natural thirst for knowledge or an insatiable appetite for reading books about a particular topic. You might have had a life-long fascination – even obsession – about something significant. If this sounds like you, and you can tailor a doctorate to suit your particular needs, then you’ll love it.

Considering a PhD/Professional Doctorate

by QS Staff Writer, Why a PhD is Worth it!, November 07, 2011, http://bit.ly/1IPAG6w

Considering a PhD/Professional Doctorate? It could be the best decision you ever make, both in terms of your career and personal development. Here’s why…

Okay, let’s start with the arguments against. First: who wants a PhD/Professional Doctorate degree when you can earn a six-figure salary with an MBA or a professional degree in much less time? Imagine watching your friends drive off to work in their expensive cars while you’re still stuck in the library or lab.

Let’s accept it, doing a PhD/Professional Doctorate  can be intellectually challenging, physically tiring and emotionally draining. So, why should anyone do a PhD/Professional Doctorate? And is it worth the effort?

Join the knowledge economy

To begin with, PhD/Professional Doctorate  are an essential part of the knowledge economy. Completing a PhD/Professional Doctorate is all about creating fresh knowledge, discovering new things and developing new skills.

It is a degree meant for those who seek greater depth of knowledge in a specific area. With a PhD/Professional Doctorate , ‘one can make a difference’, says Professor Paul KH Tam, Pro Vice Chancellor and Vice President (Research), University of Hong Kong. “A PhD/Professional Doctorate  is about pursuing knowledge for the passion of acquiring knowledge. If one is fortunate, one’s discovery/invention may even change society,” he adds.

Although academia is considered to be the most obvious path for any PhD/Professional Doctorate  holder, the degree also paves way to a career in industries centered on research and innovation.

“In developing countries, where there is a gap in higher-education sector, but where government as well as society realize and pursue a policy to develop knowledge-based economy, there is an across the board need for increased PhDs/Professional Doctorates  both in academia and in industry,” says Prof Tam.

Diverse range of research roles

He adds that PhDs/Professional Doctorates  are required for the discovery of new drugs to satisfy the health needs of an ageing population, to continue making communication technology (iPhone, iPad) as one of the major driving forces of economic activities in modern society and to develop the understanding of humanities as society faces the challenges of coping with the side-effects of science and technology.

“Areas with high demand for very specialized and high level research skills demand PhDs/Professional Doctorates. In the current economy, these areas may be biotechnology, information systems and medical and environmental engineering.

“That said, a PhDs/Professional Doctorates  in liberal arts discipline is likely to be a passport to employment in any number of areas from media to political advising to independent research work,” says Dr Emmaline Bexley, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Sectors such as manufacturing, scientific research and development, health and social work and business activities all welcome PhD/Professional Doctorate  holders.

Transferable skills

Besides this, a PhD/Professional Doctorate degree helps you develop valuable transferrable skills, which are held dear by the employers. The very nature of the degree teaches candidates to be team players, problem solvers, have great presentation and communication skills apart from having an analytical mind and perseverance.

“Employers value the transferable skills which PhD/Professional Doctorate  candidates bring to the table and they take on PhD/Professional Doctorate  holders from a variety of disciplines. The process of doing a PhD/Professional Doctorate is often recognized as a training in creativity, critical inquiry, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence,” says Dr Nathalie Mather-L’Huillier, Postgraduate Recruitment and Admissions Manager (Research), University of Edinburgh.

Dr Harry Kelly, Chemistry Operations Manager, GlaxoSmithKline, says that many view a PhD/Professional Doctorate  as an excellent means to acquire theoretical as well as practical skills. He says, “Together with high levels of innovation, creativity and ability to solve complex problems…PhD/Professional Doctorate …enhances transferable skills such as communication skills and the ability to work in a team, both of which are critical to the achievement of our drug discovery programmes.”

Gain some ‘gravitas’

Doing a PhD/Professional Doctorate is not as much about ‘patience or persistence’ as much it is about ‘quality and preparation’ according to Professor Richard Anthony Strugnell, Pro Vice Chancellor (Graduate Research), The University of Melbourne.

That is why those who earn the degree are held in high esteem. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that a PhD/Professional Doctorate degree gives gravitas to one’s social standing. “In society, a PhD/Professional Doctorate in any field still stands for something,” says Professor Thomas Vogel, Pro Rector for Doctoral Studies, ETH Zurich.

However, it is also a degree to be pursued by only those who are truly driven to do something original, create a new knowledge base and be prepared to discover the unknown. “One of the hardest things to do in the world in educational terms is the PhD/Professional Doctorate, but the rewards are amazing. The self-fulfilment and satisfaction you achieve from it pushes you to go through all the hard work and toil,” says Prof Andrew George, Head of Graduate School, Imperial College London.

But he also adds, “You should only do a PhD/Professional Doctorate if you are really interested in it, not if you can’t think of doing anything better.” Point taken!

Who employs graduates with a PhD / Professional Doctorate qualification?

The obvious answer is universities and colleges all over the world. In many university systems it is routine for new academic appointments only to be offered to those candidates who hold a PhD/Professional Doctorate degree already.

Career academics will almost certainly have to be in possession of a completed PhD/Professional Doctorate, or one that is close to completion, at the point of appointment.

However, this is not the whole truth; the variety of employment sectors that currently target the recruitment of PhD graduates is staggering. All areas of business, industry, research and development, teaching, government and the public sector play host to PhDs/Professional Doctorates, particularly where a concentration on the production of knowledge is required.

Karsten Vandrup, Manager of Strategic Planning at Nokia, explains why PhD/Professional Doctorate graduates are particularly important to the ICT industry: “We are dependent on innovation. We look for specific skills when recruiting, rather than qualifications.”

“PhD/Professional Doctorate graduates can also act as a bridge between universities and industry, helping to promote technology transfer and a knowledge flow in both directions.”

My doctorate thesis:

Rethinking Organisational Learning. 2002

Six years part-time candidature, The University of Melbourne.

https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/handle/11343/35234

 

 

 

 

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