Is a PhD really worth pursuing?

The world is changing rapidly nowadays and the value of Ph.D. isn’t what it used to be even 10 years ago. It has less prestige and doesn’t guarantee high salary anymore, but it became a requirement in many fields. Here is a brief breakdown across fields from an economic perspective:

  1. Social sciences. If you are in the field of psychology, economics, or political science, your chances to get a job in your field without a Ph.D. are slim.
  2. Computer science.Not now. Programming is in right now. It is booming and flourishing. Ride the trend and milk the industry while its booming. Once the software sector cools down, your salary drops, or you get laid off, go back to academia and get your Ph.D. then. It will make you more employable as you age.
  3. Biology and related. Depends on whether you have a good job offer lined up upon graduation. You probably know plenty about research from your undergraduate studies so you won’t learn as many new things in the Ph.D. program. If you don’t land your dream job out of college AND have an opportunity to get a Ph.D., go for it.
  4. PhysicsDepends on whether you have a good job offer, like Biologists. But it also depends on whether you actually want to work in the field of physics. Physicists are highly coveted in many adjacent fields like engineering, programming, etc.
  5. MathematicsProbably no, maybe later. Mathematicians are needed in virtually every field and every business. Given the difficulty level of undergraduate mathematics programs, a Ph.D. in mathematics will not add as much value to a mathematician, who is probably already scary smart with numbers. On the other hand, industry experience will give you much needed social skills. A mathematician with developed social skills is a treasure for any tech company.

Also,

  • If you are not from the US, Canada, UK, or Australia, get a Ph.D. It will open the world for you. Your employment opportunities will increase 100-fold.
  • If your undergraduate degree is from an average/ low-level university, lean towards getting a Ph.D. It will give you an edge in the job market.
  • Interdisciplinary PhDs, especially with a reach into social sciences, will help you understand the world better and make you a happier person in general. Much of the research nowadays is interdisciplinary so you can really go into what interests you’re the most, crossing boundaries between fields.
  • If you find yourself unemployed at any point in your life and you have an opportunity to pursue Ph.D., go for it! You will not lose any potential income and upon graduation, you will most certainly find a job.