Do I Need a Ph.D.? Four Signs It’s Time To Go Back To School

A PHD is not for the faint of heart: It’s an expensive, stressful investment that tests the will and commitment of students across the world. After receiving their master’s degrees, some students consider heading back into the ivory tower for another few years. The most common purpose for obtaining a PHD is to become a researcher, so if that’s of interest to you, then a PHD might be worth your consideration. Keep in mind, however, that much of what you’ll be focusing on is experimentation, research, and interpretation, so before you decide whether or not you’re dedicated to your field, ready to work very hard, and okay with receiving very little pay ­– remember those points! For those of you who are on the fence about pursuing a PHD program, here are four signs that a PHD might be the right avenue for you.

You can’t put your curiosity to bed

There are some people who are born with an innate, childlike curiosity about the world and all the things in it. Do you have a love for a particular field and desire to learn as much as possible about it? If you feel you were born to be a researcher of a particular subject, then a PHD is definitely a viable option for you. People who are suited for research usually have difficulty embracing a routine-driven career, so the typical 8-5 job with few challenges and surprises probably isn’t right for them. If you feel a propensity to explore, learn new things, and research a particular subject, then a doctorate is a great choice.

You have a vision

Many of the PHD students and PHD graduates I know have a vision about their future. They aren’t complacent and want to work towards extraordinary goals and achievements in their field. No, I’m not saying that people who don’t get PHDs aren’t ambitious; I’m saying they usually believe they can attain their goals without research. PHD students tend to feel the need to delve deeper and deeper into knowledge and research, while others generally believe hard work, patience, and seniority is what counts most. If you’re ambitious enough to spend years researching a particular subject to achieve a vision or goal, then a PHD is the way to go.

You’re not fulfilling your life’s purpose

Some students are destined to pursue a doctorate. If you have an insatiable interest in research, reading, and knowledge, then that might be an indication you’re supposed to pursue a PHD. Furthermore, if you working at a job that you know isn’t suited for you or your passions, make a change! Believe me, life is too short to stick with something that doesn’t make you happy or fulfill your passions. A PHD isn’t the answer to all your career problems, but it’s definitely for people who feel a thirst for more knowledge. If any of this sounds like you, see if you can find a doctorate program that fits your needs and wants and go ahead and chase your life’s purpose.


You have an interest in teaching

PHD graduates are a special breed of workers. They aren’t designed for a typical job or career; oftentimes, they’ll end up teaching at a college or university after completing graduation (although there are some graduates who don’t end up in academia). Keep in mind that university jobs are becoming increasingly difficult to come by these days, due to the large increase in PHD graduates in the past few years. And if you’re hoping to end up with a tenured job right away, be prepared to look far and wide – since those positions are diminishing more and more as the years go by. As a PHD graduate, you’ll most likely end up as a university professor, researcher in a laboratory, or independent consultant. If you feel that teaching students might be the right course for you, then a PHD is most definitely a great choice.

Pursuing a PHD is a big decision to make, so before you get too impulsive and jump to any decisions, consider these four previous points.

Melanie Foster writes about education, government, and PHD programs for  Melanie is interested in the way the future of education and how it will shape the next generation of learners. Feel free to send Melanie any comments or questions you might have.