Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is getting a PhD a waste of time?

An article entitled "The disposable academic" caught my eye. It appears in the Dec 16th edition of one of my all-time favorite magazines, The Economist. I recommend it to my fellow students and anyone interested in embarking on the Philosophical journey. The full article is (here).

The point of the article is that there's a glut of PhDs. Applying the basic law of supply and demand, too many PhDs makes the next marginal PhD less valuable. There are already more PhDs than there are jobs requiring the degree, says the author. Costs for obtaining the degree are going up and the return may be flat or going down.

Not mentioned in the article is the fact that many for-profit PhD-granting institutions (Phoenix, Capella, Argosy, and my own, Walden) are under intense scrutiny. The contention is that some schools allow under-performing students linger, collecting tuition from them while they rack up debt they cannot repay. A Washington Post article on that subject is (here)

Bottom line: I am already among the hundreds of thousands that start a PhD each year. I intend to be among the 64,000 who graduate each year. I am incurring huge debt, but I intend to make the investment worthwhile. Rather than get in line for an existing job, I intend to create new work that grows out of my degree and my passions in life.

Dream big dreams.