Is a PhD losing its value?

Discussion in 'Universities in Nigeria' started by ItuExchange, Jan 20, 2017.

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    The question is not to offend current PhDs. But I have observed many low-ranking and poor research institutes offer PhDs just for their rankings and statistics. Is it not a threat to those who sincerely are contributing to science and technology?


    There are a few issues here...

    In my field, computer science, back in the 1980s, a PhD from a good school used to give you a very good shot at getting a faculty position in at least a decent school. Jobs at the very best universities have always required something special, but the field was young and fast-growing, and a lot of schools were trying to build up their core faculty. Now CS is more mature, and most departments have a lot of tenured faculty and are growing more slowly, if at all. I think that a lot of other technical fields have a similar temporal profile.

    The good news is those geezers from the 1980's will be starting to retire soon, and industry is hiring some senior faculty away, creating openings.

    Post-docs in CS used to be pretty rare, but now there is a large pool of people doing post-docs, waiting for a shot at a faculty opening. So even if you have a good PhD, you may have to wait in line for a while, and won't be earning a lot while you're in the holding pattern. So the PhD itself is worth less in this respect: if you do get a faculty job, it may not be immediate, and you've lost a few years of high earnings.

    There seems to be less real, long-term research going on in companies these days, and my impression is that a lot of companies would be happy hiring mostly people with masters degrees. A few still put a premium on a PhD degree, but maybe not enough to make the added years of research apprenticeship worthwhile. A lot of the action is at startups that mostly couldn't care less about whether you have a PhD degree.

    Finally, as you mention, there are more lower-tier universities churning out PhDs. In the academic world, these degrees have never been worth much, and now they are worth even less -- supply and demand. Of course, if you do some great research, you can overcome the poor reputation of the school that granted your PhD, but you will have more to prove. That degree, by itself, won't open a lot of doors.


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