Why a PhD?


Admit it, we all fancy a Dr as a prefix to our names and the thought of doing a PhD, has even if vaguely crossed our minds at some point in time. But then again, the numbers of years a PhD takes to be completed, of books in a library and writing a thesis bogs down most of our enthusiasms for a doctorate. Most students look at education as a means to earn a good living and when a bachelor’s degree gets them a reasonable job, they take it up. Also many students feel that an MBA / job experience may help them more in the long term compared to pursuing a doctorate. Having said this, the number of Indians now enrolling for doctorates is on the rise. According to trends in higher education, creation and analysis of a database of PhDs in India according to a study conducted by an Associate Professor the number of PhDs awarded (In India) has doubled in the last decade.

Why do a PHD?

Of course the first reason would be that it is the highest level of an academic degree one can pursue in India and most other nations. A PhD is an option you should consider if you are dynamic self motivated and wish to contribute to the nation’s development. A country’s progress has many a time been directly linked to the research scientific economic and even humanitarian undertaken there. People pursuing their doctorates not only study past trends but delve deeper into contemporary trends and problems and come up with relevant solutions while creating new knowledge.

A common misconception that stops most people from doing a PhD is that it is a degree to be taken up if you want to get into academics.

Doctoral graduates in other fields such as humanities are in demand in NGOs and research firms. Apart from academics doctoral graduates can pursue successful careers in a variety of areas including journalism broadcasting, education, public administration , law, medicine, finance, consultancy , IT, science engineering and technology, as well as in the charity and NGO sectors. The industry hires PhDs to spearhead their research activities. In most research labs, a significant fraction of the work force is employees with PhDs.

Among the popular IT employers of PhD graduates include IBM, Infosys and Wipro. Additionally PhD graduates working in both the corporate as well as the education sector, get frequent opportunities to travel abroad on various research oriented as well as visiting / guest faculty assignments. Graduates can expect to earn a salary of Rs 50,000 or above in such positions.

According to a PhD Survey – Student’s Perspective on Doing a PhD in India, conducted by IITD on students from IITD, IITB and IITK significant percentage of students shied away form doing a PhD in India because they believed that doing a good PhD in India is not possible as research work here is poor.

Communication as an academic discipline is at a very nascent stage in India whereas in the US communication as a discipline emerged in the 50s, so the bank of knowledge there is much more advanced than in India. Apparently then pursuing my PhD in the US was a better option.

Total number of students who enroll for a PhD only 50 per cent end up completing their thesis. Thus, it is important that you make a thoughtful decision before enrolling for doctorate. Students many a time want to go up another notch on the qualification ladder and expect it to happen fast and have direct employment benefits. This is totally wrong. When you are doing a PhD, you need to be sure about why you are dong your research and keep in mind that there can be no set time limit for completing it.

Choosing a good mentor / guide for your PhD is the most crucial factor in the successful outcome and timely completion of your thesis. Make sure your guide is equally passionate and well versed in the topic you choose to research upon. Faced with innumerable obstacles, logistic problems, lack of funds, opposition, critical reviews from peers and experts, the only thing that keeps you going is the deep rooted passion and unshakable conviction in your research and its direct or indirect benefit to the society at large.


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