PhD: A Tale of Immigration, Slave Labor and Joblessness

Did the title of this post catch your eye? Well it should. If you are a graduate student in the sciences (or any other discipline for that matter), you should be asking yourself whether it is all worthwhile.

According to an article written in The Economist earlier this month, while pursuing a PhD may be a noble pursuit, it is fraught with tales of dropout students, slave labor and poor job prospects upon completion. Furthermore, statistics show that in several disciplines, earning a Master’s degree may actually net you a higher salary in the job market than a PhD! And if you are a postdoc, don’t think that you are immune. According to The Economist, the average postdoc earns a similar wage to a construction worker. Remember, this is after 4 to 7 years of post-graduate training!!!

The article also presents the side of the pro-PhD crowd relating that:

Academics tend to regard asking whether a PhD is worthwhile as analogous to wondering whether there is too much art or culture in the world. They believe that knowledge spills from universities into society, making it more productive and healthier.

Not everyone pursues a PhD with the hope of a better job and higher pay. But what happened to sacrificing today for a better tomorrow? Shouldn’t our hard working students at least expect an academic position upon completing their hard-earned degrees?

What are your thoughts?

For further reading see The disposable academic:Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time

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