Why a Doctorate?  Part 2 – Pros and Conclusion

Why a Doctorate? Part 2 – Pros and Conclusion

By Dr Lonny Ness


In Why a Doctorate – Part 1, the reasons not to pursue (cons) were covered; however, if earning a doctorate is your passion (or requirement) and no sacrifice or challenge is too great, then I trust that this list of reasons (pros) to earn a doctorate will encourage you.

Part 2 - Pros

Here are some of the pros when considering a doctorate. Are there others? Let us know!

Company-sponsored educational benefit. No/low cost. Many professionals work for a company that offers tuition aid/assistance as a way to improve employee skills, promotion, and retention. This was true for my employer (before switching careers to online teaching and coaching) and I was able to take full advantage of the opportunity by paying a minimal amount out-of-pocket (although I needed to pass courses for reimbursement). Unfortunately, according to Berman (2018), approximately 90% of mid- to large employers offer some type of educational assistance; however, only 10% of employees take advantage of this benefit. Have you checked your employee benefits? If offered, financial assistance may make your decision to pursue a doctorate much easier.

Career. Promotion or new job along with increased earnings/income. Earning a doctorate provides the highest earning potential over any other degree, with potential side benefits of security and career flexibility (What Are the Benefits of Earning a Doctorate?, 2019). For me, earning my PhD allowed me to leave my corporate job (after learning that my job was going out-of-state), and switch to teaching at online universities. The career switch also improved flexibility to the point that my motto/criteria for accepting job opportunities became “I will only accept jobs that I can do from a cruise ship”. While this may sound fun, yet simplistic, it really has worked well for me. 😊

Prestige. Being recognized as "Dr." the rest of your life. According to Segesten (2012),

Harking back to a time when these diplomas were reserved for a minuscule segment of the population, the doctoral degree is seen as a prestige marker, the recognition of one's exceptional talents and the certificate of belonging to the intellectual elite. The non-material rewards that a PhD is supposed to bring, at least theoretically, are connected to social standing; PhDs can be used as a vehicle for upwards social mobility, and for the fulfillment of personal and family ambitions.

While intangible, there is a certain pride and self-esteem that comes with both completing a doctorate, as well as the title earned, whether PhD, EdD, DBA, and others, but in all cases, Dr. When students and clients ask what to call me, I joke (not really though) that they can call me anything as long as it begins with “Dr.” 😊 What is your primary reason for earning a doctorate? Is prestige one reason?

Knowledge and Self-Actualization. Fulfilling a life-long dream and/or transforming from practitioner to scholar. Again, according to Segesten (2012), “PhD students are those with a high degree of personal motivation that stems from their natural curiosity and love of intellectual pursuits.” Possibly the greatest outcome and realization of my own doctoral achievement was the recognition that I had become more scholarly and able to critically analyze research, as well as construct knowledge via my own research of reliable and peer-reviewed sources. I’ve received similar feedback from many mentees during their oral defense – reflecting on their doctoral journey and achievement.

In conclusion, there are several reasons for and against earning a doctorate, which vary for each individual. For me, the pros far outweigh the cons – mainly due to our children being grown and having the benefit of a company tuition reimbursement program. Plus our middle son was accepted to a prestigious university’s doctorate program and I wanted to join him in this pursuit (honestly, I wanted to be the first!). Also, as I am the first in my family to earn a higher education degree, there was certainly a level of prestige involved. How about you? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Are you ready to pursue your doctorate? Stay tuned, as upcoming blogs will address selecting a doctoral-granting institution, then on to the doctorate process and dissertation.


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Berman, J. (2018). Companies help employees pay tuition—but few accept the offer: Why do less than 10% of workers at companies that offer tuition subsidies use them? Retrieved from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/companies-help-employees-pay-tuitionbut-few-accept-the-offer-1528682580

Segesten, A. D. (2012, May). Not for love or for money – why do a PhD? Is starting a doctorate degree motivated by love for knowledge, dreams of joining the intellectual elite or financial gain? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2012/may/03/phd-doctorate-higher-education-love-money

What Are the Benefits of Earning a Doctorate? (2019). Retrieved from https://education.seattlepi.com/benefits-earning-doctorate-3037.html

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