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February 8, 2019, by Katy Johnson

Why do a PhD?

Kirstin Barnard, Senior Careers Adviser

Making a commitment to undertaking a PhD is a big career decision. The more time you take to explore what it involves and what you have to offer; the more likely you are to make an informed, realistic decision.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when making this decision.

1. Three good reasons to do a PhD

  • “I have a real passion for the subject area, and feel that I want to commit to the research for the next three-plus years of my life”

Having that commitment to your area of research is fundamental and will really drive you in the future.  Talking this through with a supervisor or colleague is important, to make sure it is the right PhD for you.

  • “I know what I want to do in the future and I need a PhD to get there”

This is great, and once your PhD is underway you can then focus on your career planning.

  • “I enjoy research work and feel that I have strengths that would support this”

It is really important to consider the skills, behaviours, and experiences you have as this will make you a successful and productive researcher.

2. Three not so good reasons to do a PhD

  • “It’s going to buy me more time to consider my long term career plan”

This is not a reason to undertake a PhD, think about your career direction at the same time as exploring whether a PhD is right for you.

  • “My tutor thinks I should do a PhD”

This is very flattering and you should seriously consider it, but is this the right thing for you?

  • “My family want me to do a PhD”

Perhaps they didn’t get the chance to do it or maybe they are trying to give you the confidence to achieve something you are capable of.  Whatever the situation the message is the same, stop, research what is involved and whether it is really what you want to do.

For more information on why to do a PhD please have a look at the top ten tips for doing your PhD or Should I Start a PhD

If you want to talk to someone about your decision, book an appointment with one of our careers advisers

Posted in Careers Advice