What are the Advantages for Earning a Doctorate Degree?

Continuing your education to earn this advanced degree opens many doors which lead to a career as a researcher, innovator, and leader in your field.

Are you considering earning a doctorate degree? Do you ask yourself what are the advantages for spending the time and money to earn this advanced degree? Fortunately there is more than one answer to this question, because the advantages are numerous. Two of these benefits include recipients of doctorate degrees receive median annual earnings of $80,860, along with enjoying only a two percent unemployment rate in 2008 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, 2008).

Beyond these two benefits, you may still be asking yourself – What are other advantages for earning a doctorate degree? Some of these include the opportunity to advance in your career field, carry out intellectual activities and challenges, and opening doors to leading or participating in cutting edge research. In addition to these, holders of doctoral degrees are routinely in the forefront of finding and developing solutions to some of the world’s significant problems.

Continuing Education for Professional Growth: Career Aspect of a Doctorate Degree

Professional growth through continuing education is achievable after earning a doctorate, because you now educational ahead of the masses in your career field. Although some graduates have a calling in higher education, many pursue occupations in other professions. They become leaders in the business community, public sector, and non-profit organizations. Recipients of doctoral degrees stand out from others because of their professional abilities and becoming an expert in their field.

The demand for anyone willing to devote the time necessary to earn the degree, along with the desire for new knowledge and challenges, is increasing. The number of doctorate degrees earned in all career fields increased by 103 percent from 1970 to 2007, there were 60,616 doctoral degrees awarded in 2007. This number is expected to increase another 22 percent by 2018 to 75,000 doctoral degrees awarded annually (National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2008).

Additional advantages for pursuing a doctoral degree include the opportunity to build professional learning networks with well known professors and leaders influencing your career field. These connections and expertise gained from successfully earning the degree adds credibility to your work. You now become someone others seek for advice, validation of their work, and even write a book or an article concerning a specific aspect of your area of expertise.

For those who have decided to take the step along the path leading to a doctorate, financial support becomes an issue. This leads us to the next step, funding your graduate school continuing education.

Funding Your Doctoral Education: Financial Aid for Continuing Education

Doctoral students typically fund their continuing education through a combination of financial aid resources. These resources include fellowships, graduate teaching assistantships, graduate research assistantships, grants, loans, and tuition waivers. According to National Center for Education Statistics (2007 – 2008 Post-secondary Student Aid Study), approximately two-thirds of all doctoral students receive financial aid averaging $19,377 a year.

Funding for doctoral education is achieved by spending time researching and applying for available financial aid resources. The last thing anyone wants is to drop out of graduate school due to lack of financial support. The following are three organizations willing to fund doctoral students:

  • National Science Foundation Fellowships – provides graduate research fellowships for those seeking a doctorate in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Fellowship awards include three years of assistance including $10,500 for education costs and a $30,000 stipend for living expenses.
  • Smithsonian Institution – offers fellowships, research assistantships, and internships for doctoral students to conduct research related to their museums and programs.
  • American Education Research Association Fellowships and Grants – offers fellowships and grants in collaboration with the American Institutes of Research and the Educational Testing Service. The association also offers minority dissertation fellowships in education research.

These are just sampling, there are many additional sources of financial aid which make a doctorate degree affordable for anyone who is self-motivated to learn. The most important point to remember when applying for these or other forms of funding is to know application deadlines. Late applications, even by one day or less, are rejected.

Making Connections: Putting it All Together

What are the advantages for earning doctorate degree? As you can see from the information provided above, benefits abound for anyone considering continuing their education to pursue a doctoral degree. Everyone considering this path must be problem solvers, enjoy participation in cutting edge research, and have an eagerness to learn.

Earning this degree also places recipients in the approximate one point three percent of the total population of the United States who hold a doctorate (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, 2008). Taking the step to enroll in a doctoral program is the first along the path leading to professional success.