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32 Things You Didn’t Know About Studying PhD


There is a conventional belief that having more advanced education like a masters degree and a PhD increases your earning power, and also boosts one’s reputation in the industry. But is that really the case? What are some of the things about studying for PhD degree that most people don’t know about?

Today, we bring you 32 things you probably didn’t know about studying for PhD. Some of them are interesting; some are thought-provoking while others are a little surprising. Numbers 5 and 10 will leave you shell-shocked!

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  • PhD is Free in some European countries

It’s true, several European countries like Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Finland do not charge tuition fees for their PhD programmes. Though conditions may apply in some cases. But a PhD without fees isn’t the same as a funded one. You’ll still need to cover your living costs for three or more years.

  • PhD does not guarantee Higher Income!

Without a doubt, many PhD holders get amazing job offers, but this is not the case for the majority. With the dynamics of today’s job market, getting that additional doctoral degree will not guarantee more income.

  • Studying PhD is hard and long

You got that right. They are freaking hard. The hardest part of it is maintaining your motivation for 3 or more-odd years. If you are considering doing a PhD, think really hard whether you want to do the same work over and over for 3 years or more. If you say yes, then think once again.

  • You can get paid to study for PhD

It’s not uncommon for European PhD researchers to be classified as staff rather than students. In fact, this is the standard approach in Denmark, the Netherlands and a few other places.

Being defined as a staff member usually means you’ll receive a salary and other employment benefits, in return for some teaching and administrative responsibilities.

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  • In some countries you can go for PhD without Masters Degree

Yes! In the US for example, in some cases, you can skip the masters degree after your bachelors study and go for a PhD degree. But there are exceptions and conditions.

  • PhD requires Passion

It takes a lot of discipline and dedication to stick with one thing for 3 to 4 years, even more. Make sure you are passionate about your chosen research field before taking it to PhD level. And by passionate I mean really passionate.

  • There are no real breaks

In a stereotypical “9-to-5” job, when the workday is over or the weekend arrives, you can generally forget about your work. But in a PhD program, your schedule becomes “whenever you find time to get your work done.”

  • By completing your PhD, you’ll develop several Professional skills

By the time you’ll have finished, you ‘ll have to right to include essential skills to your CV such as time management, organizational skills, prioritizing workloads, attention to detail, writing skills, networking, presenting to an audience and resilience, to name but a few.

  • The highest paying PhD degree is in Information Assurance

Information assurance is a discipline just recently brought to prominence by the massive amount of data and information held in computing devices and networks. The top 10% of jobs for Ph.D.’s in information assurance bring in $259,000 a year or more, making information assurance the highest paying Ph.D. in 2018 ranking.

  • PhD in Economics is the second highest paying doctoral degree

While early career earnings are quite solid for those with Ph.D.’s in economics, those moving into consulting roles or finance can command much higher salaries.

  • You can actually change the world with PhD

No doubt, most PhD research is aimed at insular academic circles rather than the real world. But it will interest you to know that many groundbreaking discoveries such as MP3 and GPS technology would never have happened were it not for PhD research.

  • The US has the highest number of PhD holders

According to an OECD report, the US has more than twice as many PhD graduates as Germany, its nearest rival. India has the fourth highest number of PhD holders, behind the UK. While South Africa takes the lead for the highest number of PhD holders in Africa.

  • Germany invented the PhD

You probably think that students have been researching projects and writing theses for as long as there have been universities. Well, the modern PhD originated from Humboldt University of Berlin founded in 1810. Previously academic experts had focused on gaining mastery of existing knowledge and worked towards a Masters degree. The new PhD reflects a focus on adding to knowledge through original research.

  • Most PhD Holders end up working as college and university lecturers

May be it’s because there are not enough jobs in the industry for PhD holders or due to their long association with the higher institutions in the cause of their research. It just turns out that most PhD holders end up in academia

  • Studying PhD could rob you of your social life

If you hold your social life so dearly, and if weekend night-outs with the crew means the world to you, then you need to rethink your decision to do a PhD. The study-schedule is deliberately tight and often hectic, such that there is little time to even work, or catch regular fun trips.

  • If you think that you are done with math, think again

People who do not like arithmetic are often excited at the prospect of moving on to a field of study that for once, does not involve mathematics. Well, that assumption is not true. PhD often involves math and complex arithmetic, especially for data analysis and sample generation.

  • It is hard to stay motivated during your PhD program

Roughly 50% of PhD students drop out before completing their thesis; though this number varies from course to course and from country to country. The pressures of deadlines and workloads can be neck-breaking, and some eventually either quit or fall into depression.

  • PhD is a research program, not a continuation of your undergraduate and masters program

For the love of books, lectures, assignments and coursework, some people just plunge head-on into a PhD program without deciphering what it really entails, and whether they are properly equipped for it. This step requires thoughtful decision.

  • You have to present details of your research

PhD-level research MUST be disseminated to the general public, especially when you are on a funded program. So, if you prefer to keep your research to yourself, then maybe PhD is not for you.

  • Failure to cultivate an online presence during your studies could hinder your progress after graduation

Many people shut down their social life and social media activities due to school. This seems logical, but could be counter-productive. In this present age, people bag massive opportunities by simply talking about their work on social media, as they progress overtime.

  • There are no limits to what you can study at PhD level

Your field of study at PhD level shouldn’t necessarily be defined by your former course of study. It is normal for medical science graduates to study a PhD in Organizational Leadership, for instance!

  • Many people do not work with their PhD degrees

A case study somewhere in West Africa revealed that quite a number of PhD graduates responded to job adverts requesting the services of truck drivers for a manufacturing company. Yes, truck drivers. Before you commence studies, ask yourself: “DO I REALLY NEED THIS?”

  • Location and Context are critical

Imagine, an individual with a PhD in genetic engineering, looking to work in a war-torn, third world country with little infrastructure or basic social amenities. The odds of success will be totally against this PhD holder!

  • A PhD qualifies you to be a consultant

Having a PhD in a certain field is enough proof of your knowledge and competence in that field, especially when you have published your research and have written a couple of papers and articles. This opens you up to opportunities for consulting, speaking, and training.

  • The quality of your supervisor determines the quality of your work

You need a good supervisor who will guide you in the right direction from start to finish, and also help you with whatever unexpected issues that may arise. Before you choose a supervisor, look at their academic and professional profile, publications, and if possible, get in touch with people who have been supervised by them before.

  • You will become a writer by default

This doesn’t mean you will take up a side-gig as a freelance writer. The point is that you will have to write a lot: peer reviews, letters, emails, proposals, projects, term papers, and so on. You cannot escape it!

  • PhD gives you community recognition

Once you are able to complete PhD study in a relevant field and your research presents something novel, you will get recognized for it. It gets better for you if your research helps to solve a long-standing problem in the community.

  • PhD also gives you global recognition

If your research leads to a groundbreaking innovation, or resolution of a long-standing global issue, you will most likely receive an international recognition for your work. Depending on the level of impact, you may even receive a Nobel prize.

  • Get opportunities for global travel

Several agencies fund international travel for research activities. If you are a PhD student and you love to travel, this is a big plus for you. You get to travel to several places, conducting research and attending conferences and seminars on paid trips.

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  • You access advanced equipment and infrastructure

As a PhD student, you can be among the privileged few to have premium access to novel machines and infrastructure, just because you are a PhD researcher.

  • You can become over qualified

Have you ever applied for a job and were told, “sorry, you’re over-qualified for this job. We cannot hire you”? Adding your PhD qualification to your CV will repel a lot of employers. You’ll have to look out for more established companies and organizations to accept you.

  • Your primary aim is to publish peer-reviewed papers

Being a PhD holder signifies that you are an expert in your field. If you want to finish studying your PhD and be ascribed as ‘Doctor’, you must publish peer-reviewed papers and articles.

Now these reasons are not meant to deter you from pursuing PhD studies, but to only inform you of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Studying a PhD is a great thing, and graduating with that doctorate degree is a prestigious achievement. However, you must be sure it is the right direction for your career!

1 Comment
  1. Tallo Hillo says

    I am very interested to join your university for PhD program please give me a chance to join

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