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Pursuing Higher Education

Hello,
I am interested in pursuing a doctorate. I am currently pursuing my masters in health policy and management but am considering furthering my education. I do not know if pursuing a doctorate with a specialization in health or public policy is right for me however I do not want to stray away from what I am currently pursuing if I do choose to pursue one. What questions do I need to ask myself to really figure out if pursuing a doctorate is right for me? I know that I may want to professionally teach at some point but am unsure if the time and loans I will be investing will be worth it or not. Although there are more full ride opportunities available to cover tuition costs for doctorate programs than there are for masters programs I do not want to spend the rest of my life paying off student debt which is a particularly hard dilemma for millennials now a days. Please help! #july20


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Caroline’s Answer

Hi Julie. I had the same thoughts when I was pursuing my Master's Degree. I loved my program and knew that I wanted to be a lifelong learner in the field I was studying. My advice, go with what your heart is telling you to do. After thinking through everything, if you are still not sure, I encourage you to work in your field of study for a few years prior to pursuing a PhD. For me, a PhD was a thought of achievement, but not a degree that would take me further along in my career than a Master's Degree. Many colleges and universities will let you teach undergraduate classes without a PhD. I suggest maybe looking into this as an option. After a few years working, you may find doors opening you didn't previously expect. This may provide enough for you to fulfill your life goals.

Caroline recommends the following next steps:

Research college and universities that allow teaching opportunities.
Search the internet for opportunities in your field of study that do not require a PhD.
Join a professional networking group within your field of study to network with those in similar fields.

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Kishore’s Answer

Hi Julie,
If your main question is - "Should I pursue a PhD in my field of study?" - then, I would suggest networking and talking to people from your current university or industry who have taken that route and understand what their motivation was in doing so. Ask them the pros vs cons of doing a PhD and doing so immediately after the Master's degree which many people do.
If your main question is - "Do I want to stay in the field I am currently in and study further and teach in the future?" - then, I recommend actually pursuing a career, trying it out for a few years, maybe in more than one company to get a feel for different work cultures and work types. This will give you perspective on what really drives you and what gives you joy within your job function and industry. Maybe you will want to change functions but be in the same industry or maybe you will want to change industries too!

When I was finishing up my Masters degree in Computer Science, I was not sure what exactly what I wanted to do next. I knew a PhD was not for me but after working in the IT industry from 11 years, I realized I wanted to get an MBA and grow in Engineering Management. However, during the program I realized that I am more interested in corporate strategy and product management so switched my job function within the company and team I work for.

Change is the only thing constant and I wish you the best of luck in your journey!

Kishore recommends the following next steps:

Talk to as many people as you can who have PhDs and who do not in your industry.
Talk to people in the industry via meetups or industry events in your university if available.
Interview with companies and see if the work they do interests you.
This should give you sufficient data points to move forward.

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