6 MIN READ | Academia

Ellen Diamond

Here’s a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing to Study for a Doctorate Degree

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Ellen Diamond, (2021, November 26). Here’s a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing to Study for a Doctorate Degree. Psychreg on Academia. https://www.psychreg.org/comprehensive-guide-choosing-study-doctorate-degree/
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Essentially, a doctorate degree, otherwise known as a PhD, is the highest academic qualification one can obtain in the US and throughout the rest of the world. 

There are many reasons why an individual chooses to acquire a PhD in their chosen field of study. One of the most common is the fundamental desire and acquisition of an academic qualification awarded by the relevant experts to prove that they are knowledgeable and fully qualified. 

Is a doctorate degree an option for everyone?

A doctorate in philosophy is a highly renowned academic qualification that is the absolute highest level of academic recognition that an individual can possess and demonstrates – among a plethora of other things – outstanding academic and research excellence, a hunger for the advancement of knowledge, and the demonstration of particular talent and aptitude in the chosen area of study. 

People who successfully obtain a doctorate degree are amongst the highest echelon of academics within the country and, for that matter, internationally as well and graduates with such a high level of academic qualification and skill are amongst the most employable people of them all. 

Contrary to popular belief, there are a limited number of fields of study that a doctorate degree is available in. Therefore, it is important to know and understand the advantages of doing so when assessing whether you are ready to undertake the grueling and intense nature of a doctorate. 

Skills, qualities, and attributes recommended for PhD study

Naturally, the intensive and all-encompassing nature of studying for a doctorate degree requires a certain set of skills, qualities, and attributes that are, although perhaps not overtly necessary, but are certainly recommended for an individual deciding whether to pursue a Ph.D.

Such personality attributes and skills include, but are categorically in no way limited to:

  • A passion for intensive and thorough research. Doctorate degrees obviously require a high level of research techniques and papers, and as a result, it is certainly not merely enough to be able to carry out objective research. You should be passionate about discovering and learning as much as humanly possible about the subject.
  • The ability to work in small bursts of productive energy, rather than attempting to dedicate entire days to the learning and advancement of one’s studies
  • The ability to feel confident and properly able to approach one’s lecturers, colleagues, and advisors if you are encountering and dealing with a problem that you feel you either don’t know the answer to, or you are unsure how to proceed
  • The pre-existing, vital skill of effective time-management. If you would consider yourself to be not particularly adept at effective and productive time management, it would be strongly prudent to either personally work on a way to improve or seek help in this area. The sheer voracity and intensity of studying a doctorate degree in any discipline requires the individual to make the best possible use of any and all time they have to dedicate to their studies.
  • The ability to maturely take constructive criticism on board and apply any guidance, changes, and general advice on the direction your research is taking in good faith and, again, with humility. As with any other worthwhile undertaking, when studying for a doctorate degree, you must prepare yourself for imminent failures and reach proverbial ‘dead-ends’ with more than a few lines of research you will start. Conversely, if you feel particularly and vociferously passionate about a line of inquiry or a discovery that you are working on, keep in mind the bottom line; that this is your doctorate, your name on the top of the paper, and no new discoveries were ever made by ‘playing it safe.’
  • The willingness and capability of networking, approaching people whom perhaps you are in awe of within your field of research and the building of bonds and connections with peers, scholars and experts alike. The more different and even contrasting opinions and points of view on a particular subject within your doctorate degree that you, if not actually take on board, but that you certainly consider, the more accurate, detailed, and, crucially, well-balanced your final research paper will be.
  • Patience. A simple word, but one of the topmost important qualities one can possess when studying for a postgraduate or doctorate. The most definitely underrated skill of being able to wait patiently in the middle of a frustrating, stressful, and incredibly intense time will stand you in incredibly good stead for the undertaking of a PhD. 

Other personality attributes and skills that are certainly considerably helpful to the successful acquisition of a doctorate degree in your chosen area of study include, but are categorically in no way limited to:

  • The understanding of the changing political landscape
  • The ability to successfully negotiate with business partners
  • The administration of a variety of projects
  • A cultural respect and understanding
  • Strong leadership and impressive managerial skills
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Natural curiosity
  • Persistency and perseverance 
  • A genuine passion for the research area

Key elements involved in studying for a doctorate degree

Essentially, although different academic institutions obviously vary in terms of the specific subject matter, the areas of further education that are best suited to the acquisition of a professional doctorate degree can be broken down into five key areas: 

  • Technology enhanced learning
  • Assessment, equity, and curriculum
  • Literacy and language
  • Youth studies and childhood
  • Educational development, leadership, and management

Breaking down the intensive research element of a doctorate degree

PhD students, regardless of subject, should be able to undertake a fairly standard and obviously incredibly intensive set of tasks to successfully complete the degree. 

Naturally, the starting point of a PhD is to come up with an interesting research question. Ideally, you want a wholly unique question and, to the best of your knowledge and extensive studies, has either not been answered professionally or academically before and provides a rich area of discussion and research. 

After the research problem or question has been posted, it needs defining, and the difference between the hypothesis, questions, and research problem needs to be clearly stated. The general body of research materials and literature that is wholly relevant to the research problem needs to be defined, and such literature should be critically reviewed and analyzed, specifically the design of said literature and the different interpretations. While you are working on defining and differentiating the different elements of your research question, you should use the online and physical library to locate, refer to, and use specific parts of the literature within your research paper. 

After you have executed the preliminary necessities of the research problem or question of your specific doctorate degree, it is then time to thoroughly examine the sheer range of all different available modes of inquiry you are able to access. Next, a PhD student would identify the appropriate perspective on the research problem itself and state the range of research options for that problem and how you intend to proceed.

What do I need to study a doctorate degree programme?

 

Professional doctorate academic programs are specifically created and designed for individuals who are intent on developing their professional career path and simultaneously people who want to challenge themselves personally.

Also, the purpose of a professional doctorate is for the student to make a valuable and genuine contribution to their chosen field of study and research and will afford them the respect and feeling of personal achievement and fulfillment in the process.

Naturally, before you can undertake a doctorate, you must first successfully complete an undergraduate bachelor’s degree in your chosen field of study. For example, suppose you’re wanting to get a degree in the medical field. In that case, one of the most effective, relatively affordable, and exceedingly beneficial ways to obtain your bachelor’s degree is to enroll in a second degree nursing program

What is it like studying for a professional doctorate degree?

From the moment you enrol, you will be plunged into a highly intense yet rewarding and fulfilling programme that will positively impact not only your professional career and its future but also your personal life as well. 

As with every other academic pursuit, there will be times when you don’t just feel physically exhausted but mentally and emotionally strained as well, and this is why it is absolutely crucial to either have a sturdy support base of peers, family, and friends alike or else make doubly sure that you yourself can carry the weight of responsibility on your shoulders and yours alone. 

The fundamental nature of studying for a PhD is that you alone are solely responsible for your own learning and subsequently how much, or how little, benefit you will get from your studies. Initiative is, therefore, one of the primary prerequisites for academic study at such an advanced level, and it is important to engage with your peers and lecturers not only when you require their input, and that you reply on your own motivation to complete work. 


Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.


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