Monday, November 30, 2009

Thinking about a Ph.D.?

Over the holiday weekend I spent a little time reading and reflecting.  I came across the following blog post by Professor John Stackhouse who teaches at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. 

I post this essay because in the last couple of years I have encountered numerous young people with stars in their eyes about earning a PhD.  Some are currently serving as pastors, others are students or graduate students.  Most seem idealistic, if not naive about the entire matter.  Here is a brief summary of his advice on the topic. 

1. Do I have what it takes to do a Ph.D.?

• Do I have a consistent “A” average (3.7 GPA or higher) in my graduate courses? Is my previous academic record strong, or is there a good reason why it isn’t?
• Have I won any academic awards in undergraduate or graduate work?
• Has a professor ever told me that my academic work is outstanding or publishable?
• Has a professor, on his or her own initiative, ever approached me to suggest that I seek a Ph.D.? (If not, then ask the professors who know your work best to give you a candid answer as to their estimates of your abilities in this occupation. And don’t settle for a polite, but vague, reply!)

2. Do I want to do a Ph.D.?
• Do I find delight in long hours of intense, extended, solitary study?
• Have I found some of my greatest satisfaction in researching and writing long research papers? Would I like to write more?

3. Have I counted the cost of doing a Ph.D.? Have I thought about the following particulars?
• The Ph.D. is an independent project and I should not expect significant help or personal interest from my supervisor.
• This will take up at least three, and as many as ten, years of my life.
• These will be years of lost earnings and financial insecurity.
• It is still very difficult to get an academic job, even with a Ph.D.

Click on the link below to read the entire post. If you know of anyone considering a PhD program I would strongly suggest forwarding this entire essay to them.

Thinking about a Ph.D.? « Prof. John Stackhouse’s Weblog

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