5 Signs You’re Ready to Earn that Ph.D.

confused5. No one in your family bothers to ask you what you’re studying anymore.

The longer you spend in a Ph.D. program the more opportunities your family has to ask you what you’re doing in school. No doubt, you’ve spent the first couple years of graduate school going to family functions and trying to explain to your grandma what a molecule is. She will eventually come up with an explanation of what you are doing that she can share with her friends. Her description of your work may or may not be correct, but she’s not going to bother trying to understand it anymore. “Good for your honey, you’re so smart!”

4.  Your former life as a bartender or grocery store clerk starts to sound really appealing. Continue reading “5 Signs You’re Ready to Earn that Ph.D.”

Would You Remove Your Ph.D. Degree from Your Resume?

Let’s say that you just spent the last 8 years of your life earning a Ph.D. in biology, chemistry or physics, including 5 years devoted to graduate study (i.e., school) and 3 years devoted to postgraduate study (i.e., postdoctoral work). Let’s say that you are now looking for work outside of the academic realm, and perhaps even out of your field of study. Most corporations do not require a Ph.D. for entry-level positions. After a few interviews wherein you are asked why you are applying for a position outside of your educational level and realm of expertise, and after which you do not receive any job offers, you start wondering if perhaps you should leave your Ph.D. off of your resume. Does this sound crazy or just a case of career savvy?

For over a month now, I have been following a LinkedIn discussion about whether or not scientists should remove their doctoral degree from their resumes. The discussion, termed “PhD degree… include or remove from resume?” has 193 comments posted so far. This discussion is arguably one of the more popular discussions on LinkedIn, generating not only thoughtful answers and solutions but also some heated debates. Continue reading “Would You Remove Your Ph.D. Degree from Your Resume?”

The Ph.D. Glut: Do We Have Too Many Ph.D.s?

“Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one’s living at it.”

-Albert Einstein

While still a lowly graduate student, I recall how my own mentor, who was a seasoned postdoc with several high impact publications, applied for many university faculty positions to no avail. He struggled for two years until an assistant professorship finally came through. I also recall how another postdoc, who was brilliant scientist in the laboratory, meekly accepted the daily abuses piled on by his mentor. When asked why he didn’t just quit and find another job, his response was “Where am I going to go?”

Something is seriously amiss in the postdoctoral world. In a recent Nature (2011) article, Cyranoski and his colleagues report how the number of newly-minted Ph.D.’s increased by 40% between 1998 and 2008 in countries that are part of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). According to the National Science Foundation (NSF 10-308, 2009), United States academic institutions awarded almost 32,827 science and engineering doctorates in 2008, as opposed to 24,608 in 2002. That is an increase of over 33% in just 6 years. Doctorates in the life sciences accounted for the majority of the degrees awarded (16%) and also had the highest rate of increase across these years (8.6%). Continue reading “The Ph.D. Glut: Do We Have Too Many Ph.D.s?”