Saturday, February 8, 2014

Stop Telling Us We Can Do Anything with a PhD

Thought-experiment:

Take a sample of undergrad neuroscience majors with similarly high GPAs and GREs such that they could all get into grad school.  Send half of them (Group A) to grad school, and let the other half (Group B) do whatever they want.  Five years later, put half of each group (Group A1, Group B1) into a research postdoc, and the other half (Group A2, Group B2) at a position with a consulting company.  Now assess their job performance one year after that.

My prediction? A1 >>> B1 ; A2 = B2

And that's why reading stuff like this is so frustrating:


Doing a PhD mostly prepares you for a career in academia.  Stop telling us we can do anything with a PhD if we could have done anything without one.

5 comments:

  1. It depends on the PhD. There's a big difference between the life sciences and, say, engineering.

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    1. very true, in the sense that any industry job that's basically a postdoc will render a PhD useful (at least for the first year or so - after that I think on-the-job learning starts to catch up).

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  2. ps yes I know the last sentence is too strong and there are exceptions. But surely we can't let nuance get in the way of a punchy closer, can we?

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  3. Does this apply to psychology phds? I ask because I intend to pursue one.

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    1. I would assume so, yes. Physics, engineering, geosciences all have industry jobs that require PhDs. Biomedical does too (pharma). Of course, they require PhDs because they don't want to spend money training people, not because there's something unique about the PhD that they couldn't do themselves. I don't know of any comparable industries in psychology but that may just be my ignorance. Does clinical work require a PhD?

      If you're looking to go into academia, a PhD will be required. Of course, you might not make it either, since there tend not to be that many jobs. Depends on how much you want it and what you want to do with your life I suppose. Good luck!

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