Why get a doctorate?
Think earning a doctorate means becoming a college professor? “This is a common myth,” says Ruby Rouse, PhD, a marketing consultant and an instructor in the University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies (SAS).
“People think there is only one flavor of a doctorate — a PhD,” which trains people in academic theory and research, she notes. In addition to PhDs, the University also offers many other advanced degrees, including Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), Doctor of Management (DM), Doctor of Education (EdD) and Doctor of Health Administration (DHA).
“These are practitioner degrees,” Rouse explains, which can offer suitable courses of study, depending on one’s goals. “Practitioners are scholars and leaders who solve problems by putting theory and research into action.”
Here’s what a doctorate can give you:
The years you spend studying for a doctorate can lead to new discoveries about yourself and the world.
“Earning a doctoral degree shapes, sharpens and expands thinking skills,” says Elizabeth Johnston, EdD, a public school administrator and SAS online instructor. “[Doctoral] graduates think differently, and some think radically differently. Many graduates report that the change in thinking was the most valuable aspect of the doctoral degree.”
This pursuit of advanced knowledge has benefits in itself, says Anthony Kortens, PhD, a SAS instructor, who explains, “We can keep developing and expanding our minds throughout our adult lives, and that alone is a compelling reason to consider an advanced degree.”
The broader perspective gained through advanced study can also help you see opportunities others don’t, he says, which can be an asset in the business world.
“You [can] help organizations navigate change across disciplines,” Kortens asserts, noting that his former doctoral students have applied their degrees to jobs in health care, nonprofit organizations and the federal government.
Rouse says some of her former doctoral students have helped manage disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, find ways to reduce medical errors in U.S. hospitals and develop programs to improve breast cancer screening in the Middle East.
Advanced knowledge is a doctorate’s immediate payoff, but the degree can pay unexpected career dividends later, says Heath Boice-Pardee, EdD, an online instructor in the University’s higher education administration program.
“I pursued a doctorate because of personal motivation,” he explains. “At the time, I didn’t realize the doors that my doctorate would … [open] for me.” He notes that many of his students are pursuing doctorates primarily for personal enrichment.
In addition, selling your services in a knowledge-based economy often requires professional credibility — and doctorates provide that, he believes.
“Possessing a doctorate … implies a level of accomplishment, skill and knowledge,” he says, that especially benefits entrepreneurs, such as high-level business consultants. Kortens adds that obtaining a doctorate can help you gain access to a community of high achievers who might be potential future clients for your entrepreneurial ventures.
High-level job opportunities
If you work in health care, education or government, you’ll likely need a doctorate to attain the most senior-level positions.
“A doctoral degree is a requirement for most administrative jobs in K–12 [education],” such as superintendents or curriculum managers — especially in larger school districts, Johnston notes. Boice-Pardee stresses the same holds true for jobs in higher education.
Former SAS students have advanced- to executive-level positions at NASA, the National Institutes of Health, the Institute for Healthcare Communication and in academia, Rouse points out.