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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-19-2007, 03:48 PM   #61
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Re: anyone with a phd?

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My suggestion: earn a bundle outside academia, and then enroll in the PhD program of your choice once retired and research to your heart's content without worrying whether your advisor or review committee agrees with you as you struggle to support a family.
This reminds me of TromboneAl's advice:
"Jazz is a career you have to save up for..."
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-20-2007, 01:32 AM   #62
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Re: anyone with a phd?

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Originally Posted by Jeffrey
Basis for my opinions: both my wife and I have PhD's in the humanities from Ivy/major universities. We both had tenure track academic jobs but left to go to private industry 8 years ago and wish we had left earlier.

An ER forum is a very strange place to ask about getting a PhD in the humanities. It is perhaps the worst possible route to ER I can think of other than community theatre acting. Our net worth went from near zero to 3 mill in the 8 years since we left academia. My suggestion: earn a bundle outside academia, and then enroll in the PhD program of your choice once retired and research to your heart's content without worrying whether your advisor or review committee agrees with you as you struggle to support a family. I believe the ex-CEO of IBM is earning a degree in Chinese Archeology once he retired from IBM.

I have to ask: why do you want a PhD in the humanities? Do you wish to teach at a university? That is the only real reason to want one. What do you think university teaching in the humanities is actually like?

The reason that PhDs in the humanities typically take 6-10 years now, is that the publishing requirements to get a tenure-track entry level job interview now rival those needed to get tenure 30 years ago. It takes the extra years not to get a mere thesis, but a sustained body of reviewed and published work, that can enable you to even get an interview at a legitimate university. (I know several academic theoretical physicists, and it is the same there.) The reason has nothing to do with intelligence, and everything to do with the dearth of tenure-track jobs in those areas.
thanks for the info jeffrey -

i know it's a huge stab at the ER plans - which is why i needed to ask and get spanked but getting it was always somewhere in the "future" - i imagined in a much greyer state of being. not sure i'd ever have the type of $ the ibm ceo has!

recently had a terrible terrible bout with work and made me reevaluate my plans - but i am looking at a wide spectrum of options like masters programs - some more technically focused than a humanity one...at this point other jobs in my field don't seem very promising, but i could be wrong about that and just need to give myself some space.

the good thing is that this process has made me realize i do have more options and flexibility than i had previously let myself consider - like a somewhat lesser paying position that has a better fitting job description...and opportunities for me to flex my other skills, besides the ones i currently utilize...

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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-20-2007, 01:51 AM   #63
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Re: anyone with a phd?

I really enjoyed my time in grad school. DW and I worked for a couple of years after getting our undergraduate degrees, so we gave up a significant income stream when I went back for graduate work. She went back to school to get an engineering degree on a coop program at the same time. We lived in a hovel in a high crime neighborhood in Raleigh, NC without air conditioning. I worked long hours studying and doing research for a small research assistant salary, but I loved it. My research colleagues from grad school are still among my best friends. My experience in grad school involved far less politics than my later jobs as a professor and in industry. I realize not everyone has as positive an experience with graduate school as I did, but it was great for me.

If you decide to pursue a PhD, I hope you have as enjoyable and valuable an experience as I did.
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Re: anyone with a phd?
Old 05-20-2007, 03:27 PM   #64
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Re: anyone with a phd?

I have a PhD, I'm a tenured prof at a research school, and for the last year I've been the director of my department's PhD program.

I think there's been a lot of good feedback in this thread, and most of what I'd say in response to the inital post has already been written by Robert the Red and Grep, so I won't repeat it. There's just one thing I'll add, that I didn't notice in any of the earlier responses. That is to really think about WHY you want the PhD - i.e., what you want to do with it afterwards - and make sure the school(s) you apply to have those things as goals for their graduates.

Different schools have different expectations for what their students will do after finishing the PhD. Likewise, they provide different kinds of training. For example, in my department, we have one goal in producing PhD students: we expect them to go on to tenure-track positions at major research universities. NOT to go to teaching schools. NOT to become consultants or work for industry. If we can tell from someone's application that they have one of the latter goals (or any goal other than to be a researcher), we will not accept them into the program.

Similarly, when we are hiring junior faculty we will only look at people who have their PhDs from schools that have a good record of training students in research. If you get your PhD from a "teaching school," your job options afterwards will be more limited.

So, if you decide to pursue this, make sure there is a match between your goals and the training/goals of the school(s) you apply to.

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Old 06-01-2007, 04:02 PM   #65
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Personally I see a PHD as giving up on ER. At least in my field, experiance is more valued, and in the mean time I could make an extra $500K. I would rather put that money towards ER.
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Old 06-01-2007, 04:47 PM   #66
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I have a friend with a Ph.D in English/Gender Studies from a tolerably good university who recently spent the better part of a year homeless because he couldn't find an adjunct job that year. This past year he got an instructor position that paid his expenses and not much else. If he doesn't get a new contract there or elsewhere for the fall, he's going to be back to homelessness--though he did manage to buy a car while working this year, so he'll probably be living in that instead of couch surfing. He's 46 years old. I grant you he's an extreme case, but it is within the realm of possibility. Needless to say, I would suggest you think very hard before taking the plunge, and pay attention to all the good advice above.
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Old 06-02-2007, 11:11 PM   #67
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we expect them to go on to tenure-track positions at major research universities. NOT to go to teaching schools. NOT to become consultants or work for industry. If we can tell from someone's application that they have one of the latter goals (or any goal other than to be a researcher), we will not accept them into the program.
Where do industries get their PhDs?

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Similarly, when we are hiring junior faculty we will only look at people who have their PhDs from schools that have a good record of training students in research. If you get your PhD from a "teaching school," your job options afterwards will be more limited.
I thought most of the teachings at research universities are performed by TAs. It's ridiculous to pay big $ to attend a research university for an undergraduate degree other than a piece of paper from a top research university.
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Old 06-03-2007, 09:20 AM   #68
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Where do industries get their PhDs?

I thought most of the teachings at research universities are performed by TAs. It's ridiculous to pay big $ to attend a research university for an undergraduate degree other than a piece of paper from a top research university.
Although I used to work in academia, I now work in industry. Four PhDs report to me. None of them ever worked as teachers or professors. They were hired by us after they completed their doctorates at their university. That's where industries get their PhDs: from doctoral programs at universities.

I think it depends on the research university that one attends whether teaching is done by TAs or not. In my undergraduate days, I had only one single course taught by an older mathemaAtics grad student. All my other courses were taught by professors (including a future Nobel laureate).

One's opportunities may depend on the research university as well. I was able to begin research at the end of my sophomore year and publish a couple of papers as an undergraduate. This helped me get into a great research university for my doctorate, which helped land a great post-doc, which helped land great academic job, which helped me reached financial indpendence.
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Old 06-03-2007, 09:29 AM   #69
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I'm amazed at the number of PhDs on this forum. Obviously a smart bunch!

I know one individual who completed a PhD in 3 years at age 24 and whose research led to a startup company that is expanding in leaps and bounds. OTOH I know another individual in her 50s who has spent the last decade working on her PhD, away from her family. Now she's in poor health and ready to retire. Financially, a significant net loss, and ten years of sacrifice for the satisfaction of learning.

I looked for hard data on the return on investment. According to this site Will Getting an Education Pay for Itself? : Education Advisor a doctoral degree has an NPV of $617,900 and a FV of $4,818,400 compared with a bachelor's degree. However, I see that earnings also peak at a later age. So if you are thinking of a PhD as a financial strategy, do it early in your career. It certainly is not the most logical path to FIRE. From a purely financial POV, skill related courses probably have a better payoff for much less commitment. Of course, money is only one factor.

Disclaimer: I don't have a PhD. I have a doctoral degree (MD) and a masters (MBA).
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Old 06-03-2007, 09:47 AM   #70
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Although I used to work in academia, I now work in industry. Four PhDs report to me. None of them ever worked as teachers or professors. They were hired by us after they completed their doctorates at their university. That's where industries get their PhDs: from doctoral programs at universities.
Thanks for the info. Obviously these PhDs did not graduate from eyeonFI's research university. Admittance should be based on merits and the topic of research but not whether the candidate wants to pursue a tenured track. Most of the people at work receive their PhDs from top research universities, MIT, Standford, Minnesota and UW-madison. As you said, none of them worked as a professor.
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Old 06-04-2007, 10:09 AM   #71
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I'm amazed at the number of PhDs on this forum. Obviously a smart bunch!

I know one individual who completed a PhD in 3 years at age 24 and whose research led to a startup company that is expanding in leaps and bounds. OTOH I know another individual in her 50s who has spent the last decade working on her PhD, away from her family. Now she's in poor health and ready to retire. Financially, a significant net loss, and ten years of sacrifice for the satisfaction of learning.

I looked for hard data on the return on investment. According to this site Will Getting an Education Pay for Itself? : Education Advisor a doctoral degree has an NPV of $617,900 and a FV of $4,818,400 compared with a bachelor's degree. However, I see that earnings also peak at a later age. So if you are thinking of a PhD as a financial strategy, do it early in your career. It certainly is not the most logical path to FIRE. From a purely financial POV, skill related courses probably have a better payoff for much less commitment. Of course, money is only one factor.

Disclaimer: I don't have a PhD. I have a doctoral degree (MD) and a masters (MBA).
Have you ever read "millionaire next door"? His findings that the wealthy in america where usually those fanatical savers who started saving in their early 20's.

My take was that an early fantical saver will be so much farther ahead, that by the time an MD get out of residency, pays off student loans, pays off a practice it is almost too late. Even then many feel like they deserve the BMW.

One of my sisters friends barely graduated from high school. He then went to start a landscaping company. While I was still in college, he owned his own home, had 20 employees, and spent the winters in belize.

Save early, save often.
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