Pursuing a doctoral degree presents an opportunity to join a community of scholars who share your passion for knowledge. By working with faculty mentors and publishing a dissertation, you gain valuable research skills and establish yourself as a respected scholar. Earning a doctorate is a lifelong source of pride that sets you apart. Less than 1 percent of all adults living in the United States hold a doctorate degree, according to the University of Delaware. Additionally, a doctorate can enhance your résumé and increase earning potential.
Opportunities for Research
One of the best reasons for enrolling in a doctoral program is to discover new knowledge about a subject that fascinates you. The doctoral curriculum includes coursework in theory and methodology; most programs also encourage students to work with professors on research projects. You’ll likely have an opportunity to engage in original research under faculty supervision. The American Psychological Association suggests that doctoral education is a good fit for students seeking to fill gaps in the research and to make a meaningful contribution to the discipline’s corpus of literature.
Few things compare to the intense sense of satisfaction that comes from earning a doctorate, as reported in a June 2012 article in “U.S. News & World Report” by Don Martin, a former admissions dean. The degree connotes intellectual ability, dedication and perseverance in the face of obstacles. Further, there’s the satisfaction that comes with knowing you challenged yourself, worked hard and honed your skills in preparation for a satisfying career. Having a doctorate can also bolster confidence and feelings of self-worth.
Expanded Career Options
Earning a doctorate open doors to career opportunities in many fields. For example, it’s possible to teach at a community college with a master’s degree, but faculty positions at four-year universities generally require a doctorate, especially for tenure. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates a doctorate in psychology is required for most psychologist positions. And a doctorate is needed for the best jobs in certain health-care fields, such as pharmacy and physical therapy.
Earning a doctorate can be a smart financial investment and offer job security. For example, a 2011 report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that individuals with a doctorate earned $3.3 million in wages over a lifetime compared to $2.7 million in lifetime earnings for bachelor’s degree holders and $1.3 million in lifetime earnings for workers with just a high school diploma. Further, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that during the 2013 recession, the unemployment rate for doctorate degree holders was only 2.2 percent, lower than any other group of wage earners.
- University of Delaware: Doctoral Hooding
- American Psychological Association: Are You on the Right Path?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Postsecondary Teachers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Psychologists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Pharmacists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physical Therapists
- Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce: College Pays Off
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment Projections
Dr. Mary Dowd is a dean of students whose job includes student conduct, leading the behavioral consultation team, crisis response, retention and the working with the veterans resource center. She enjoys helping parents and students solve problems through advising, teaching and writing online articles that appear on many sites. Dr. Dowd also contributes to scholarly books and journal articles.