REASONs to do a phD

”Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.”- Leonardo da Vinci

People do PhD’s for various reasons. It’s often highly personal, sometime purely professional. However, there are trends. See if any of these reasons resonate with you.

But first, 7 things about a PhD nobody told you about

Personal and Professional Transformation

You love problem-solving.

Research is in its essence an exercise in problem solving. This is possibly the best reason of all—to learn what rigorous research involves as well as how to do it.

The outcome is to transform yourself from a consumer of knowledge, which is a wonderful experience, to a producer of knowledge.

Creating new knowledge is a craft in itself and learning how to do it has to be a passion that you want to pursue. Sometimes, showing that a problem cannot be solved is often a lot more interesting than finding a solution to a problem.

Professional Expertise

Becoming an expert in your area follows the previous point and it is almost an inevitable consequence of working for three to four years exclusively on a specific topic. You are the expert on your particular topic (once it’s done) and not your supervisor.

Through your research you could be considered a world leader in your field.

This opens doors to step through like the opportunity to regularly contribute to websites, magazines, and books with your insightful analyses.

You could also become a major contributor in pioneering the way for new ideas and help influence the future within your chosen field.

It fits you

Some people are better equipped intellectually and personality wise for a doctorate.

Perhaps you ended up having done countless little ‘research projects’ as hobbies. Or you might have a natural thirst for knowledge or an insatiable appetite for reading books on a particular topic.

Also, if you had a life-long fascination – even obsession – about a specific topic – a PhD might be for you. If these ideas resonate with you, and you can tailor a doctorate to suit your particular outcomes, then you’ll love it.

Dr Who?

Yep- being called “Dr!”

Nothing wrong with some positive attention-getting or a wee bit of vanity.

Developing Important Transferrable Skills

The most obvious ones are:
• Problem solving
• Critical thinking
• Complex problem solving
• Sourcing relevant information or data
• Independent work or as part of a team
• Communication skills (writing, presenting orally and multi-media, public speaking)
• Meeting deadlines
• Time management and how to prioritise your activities
• Specific technical and computational skills
• Project management


Employment Flexibility

This benefit applies particularly to developing countries like South Africa. Whereas in other contexts your PhD may limit you to an academic career, it can open doors for employment (and well paying employment at that) in the private sector, government and other non-for-profit organizations.

Belonging To A Global Community of Peers

A PhD provides you access to a pool of researchers who help you remain critically sharp and keep my grey matter in check. This community enhances your levels of expertise and improves your value within your research discipline (often on a global scale). It will eventually result in global recognition of your contribution.

International Employment Scope

A PhD could make it is easier to get an employment visa in another country, especially if it is in an area considered as a scarce skill.

Credibility Marker (still)

The rest of society still attaches great trust to the title Dr. This may stand you in good stead should you want to branch out in a different field or start a company


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