For professionals, thinking about doing a PhD, these are six of the benefits that you can expect. Do any of these resonate with you? Would they make the journey worthwhile?


Completing a PhD improves your credentials. You have one more degree to add to your CV and, to the extent that this credential is valued by employers, this may lead to better employment prospects in more interesting, challenging or well-paid positions. You may also find yourself with greater choice when it comes to employment. Of course, these benefits depend on where you live. If you are in one of the countries that is experiencing a glut of PhD graduates, then your PhD may not be all that important. If, however, you live in a part of the world where a PhD is still a rarity then it will certainly set you apart when job-hunting.


In doing a PhD you personally will gain knowledge, and you will also contribute original knowledge to your chosen academic discipline.

What you add to the body of knowledge by conducting your own research benefits your research community and the world at large. Your research may be used to change the way that your profession operates, but more realistically you will have contributed just a small piece of a puzzle. There is an old joke that says that PhDs are read by your supervisor, your examiner and, if you are lucky, your mother. In a sense this is true. Unless you go on and publish your work as papers or a monograph, it may do no more than take up shelf (or digital) space. If, however, you do research that you know is needed in your profession, you can be more confident that the results will be valued.

Your own increase in knowledge, including self-knowledge, may be of more benefit. It will change the way in which you view and engage with the world; it will change you as a person. Knowing more about your field may enable you to be more effective, to approach problems with greater breadth and depth of understanding and so perhaps to arrive at better solutions to problems.

New skills

You will learn a range of skills during the PhD. The extent to which these skills will be valuable will depend on what kind of work you do and whether academic modes of thinking and communicating are valued in that context.

You will leave with research skills that will stand you in good stead in evaluating knowledge in all spheres of life. You will have learned to think critically and to ask “How do we know that? What is the evidence?” If you go on to do research work, you will be able to design and execute research projects independently to arrive at reliable results.

You will have gained academic professional skills in participating in the academic research community and will be able to set up a programme of ongoing research for an academic career, publishing your work to build your reputation as an academic researcher. You will also have learned about supervising and be able to apply those skills in supervising students. You will have a better understanding of how academia works and how to function within it.

You will also have gained generic skills that you will be able to apply to different kinds of work. You will have learned to read more carefully and critically. Your writing skills will have moved to a new level, being able to structure an argument, present evidence and express yourself more clearly and accurately. You will have learned how to present research orally and to debate the details of your research.


A PhD opens up the possibility of an academic career. It establishes you as a researcher and enables you to get promoted to more secure and better-paid positions. It also means that you will be able to take on your own postgraduate students and thus establish and grow your own research agenda. Access to research funding is easier if you have a PhD since many sources of research funds are only available to PhD graduates. Of course, it does not guarantee you an academic position. In many countries it’s really hard to get an academic appointment without completing a post-doctorate and developing a good publication record, but the PhD is definitely the first step.

Completing a PhD is also an opportunity to get involved with international networks by attending seminars and conferences and by corresponding with others researching in your field. This can open up opportunities to travel and work in different parts of the world. For those in professional disciplines there are often conferences that combine academic and practitioner tracks. These conferences can be good ways to network in your profession. If you are considering a career in consulting, these kinds of networks can be invaluable for improving your understanding of your field and in widening the impact of your work.


There is no doubt that there is prestige attached to having a PhD. You get to use the title ‘doctor’ and, in circles where such things are valued, people may look up to you as someone knowledgeable. In these circles, being a PhD graduate will mean that people take you seriously, listen and give more weight to what you say. These kinds of benefits depend a lot on the environment that you live and work in; they are not guaranteed.

Personal satisfaction

Many PhD students that I have spoken to do PhDs for their own satisfaction, a kind of a personal challenge, to see if they are able to grapple with knowledge, submit to the discipline and succeed. For people who are motivated by overcoming personal challenges, a PhD definitely provides the right kind of challenge. Getting to wear the red gown and walk across the stage is satisfying, but the more long-term benefit is knowing that you have been able to overcome another significant challenge. For some, the enjoyment of the process will be reward enough.

Do any of these resonate with you? If so, A PhD might just be in your future.

For a fuller picture, have a look at Is a PhD for Me?