Is Obtaining a Ph.D. Worth It?

hand-patrick capriolaThe number of scientists to obtain PhD status is growing. It is a sign of academic accomplishment which invites a group of elites together. Some countries hold memberships to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, where the number of PhD holders has hit 34,000. Overall, a growth of 40% has taken place between the years of 1998 and 2008. The increase in numbers of PhD scholars in science is largely due to the positive effect it has on the economy. This benefit has led to the strengthening of systems for higher education. However, graduates of these programs may still be missing out on the full potential benefits of their education.

A central problem that emerges has to do with a lack of jobs suited for those with high level accolades such as the title of PhD. The academic sector is failing to keep up but providing academic jobs for those who have made the time and financial investment toward their education. PhD scholars rarely end up without employment, however the roles they acquire may be less than expected for their accomplishments. The United State has exhibited these struggles, but other countries have found ways to avoid them. Germany has seen great success in resolving the issue through gearing PhD education toward upper level job preparation and not just academic research.

Japan is one of the worst countries in which to finish with a PhD. Academia is rejecting the recent graduates, when previously young bachelor’s earners were highly sought after. There is an ongoing struggle to find the bridge between companies and postdoc. In 2010, only half of those finishing their doctoral degrees had full-time positions set up before graduation. Unfortunately, only half of them were in the field they studied. As a result, the numbers of those entering PhD programs in this country has dropped significantly.

To learn more about the state of the PhD today, visit Nature.com here.

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