PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy. It refers to the academic or professional degree that, in most states or countries qualifies the degree holder to work in a specialized position in their chosen field of study or teach their chosen subject at University level.
The word “Philosophy” is developed from the Ancient Greek “Philosophia” which means ‘love of wisdom’. The word was originally used to describe an individual who had achieved a comprehensive general education in the basic issues of the modern world. Today, the Doctor of Philosophy still employs a love of wisdom. However, today, it is used to describe people who have pursued knowledge in a much-specialized field.
A PhD is a postgraduate academic degree that is awarded to candidates that have performed extensive research in a field of study. Usually, the program takes about 4-6 years. Also, doing a PhD program has many requirements apart from its original research (To do or not to do a PhD). They include:
- A thorough literature review
- Defending your dissertation (Things to avoid in a PhD dissertation)
- Writing your dissertation
Earning a PhD degree can be a daunting task. Nevertheless, it is a significant achievement that earns one great benefits especially in the career path you choose or field of study. Below are some of the benefits of getting a PhD:
Professional and Personal Development
Earning a PhD will enable you to grow as a person as you complete the program. You will also learn some personal qualities like maturity, independence and perseverance, which will be developed through your dedication to fulfilling all the requirements the degree demands.
You will also learn how to efficiently manage your time, organization and problem-solving skills that are important to completing a PhD. program. These skills will go a long way in your career.
A PhD program is an invitation to other professional and academic networks. Academic events, as well as, conferences are great places for creating a network of contacts. These networks will go on to become very important and necessary for your professional and social life after you complete the PhD program.
Getting a PhD degree can be a herculean task. The degree should take at least three years, sometimes stretching to four or even six years. We will now look at some of the most common problems PhD students encounter in the course of their study. If you are only starting your PhD or you are considering starting one, reading about these difficulties will help in overcoming them. Also, knowing that these challenges or difficulties are frequently experienced will help provide some comfort.
A lot of PhD students rely on external funding to support themselves during their study. This can be a source of concern. The reason is due to the fact that the funding at times can be insecure. According to research, students who rely on external funding can have their funding reduced while still in the middle of their study. This can be a very difficult situation, especially given the fact that securing new funding can be very difficult.
Stress and Isolation
Isolation is one of the most common problems PhD students encounter while trying to earn the degree. This is mainly because they work alone, have few and sometimes no other person on their project. This is while they watch their friends working in offices and teams, and also enjoying a far more social life. This can sometimes lead to loneliness, lack of motivation and belief that no one can relate or perhaps understand their situation. If you ever find yourself in this position, it is advisable to contact a graduate student or other PhD, students. This will help you to alleviate negative or disruptive feelings.
Having impending deadlines, big projects, and a huge amount of personal investment spent; all these things can make PhD extremely stressful. This is compounded with fact that you are the only one pulling all these heavy strings together. According to research, it has been found that PhD students have high levels of mental disorders. This is likely a result of the high levels of stress they have to endure.
Conflict with Supervisor
This is another common problem, usually arising between PhD students and their supervisors (Choosing a PhD advisor). Supervisors are part-mentors, part-boss and the occasional friend. It is a strange combination, the balance of which can be hard to maintain sometimes. Having the right or a healthy relationship with your supervisor is paramount to your PhD success (Dealing with a demanding PhD advisor). However, this is not always the case. Some of the problems encountered with supervisors include:
- Absence: Supervisors can be frequently unavailable which in most cases is a result of other research commitments.
- Conflict: If your research is an interdisciplinary one and you’ve been allocated two leading supervisors, you might run into some problems. This is because the two supervisors may give you conflicting advice and in the worst-case scenario, they might not like each other. If you ever find yourself in this position, meet them separately and whatever you do, don’t take sides.
- Leave: In some rare cases, supervisors may change universities, go on sabbatical with little notice or even retire.
During your study, you will find yourself in situations where you have so much to do and little time to complete them. The only way you will cross this bridge is by learning how to prioritize and discipline. Set enough time in your day to do the things you need to do and learn to push things that can be pushed. Keep in mind that it is always better you do a few things well rather than do a number of things badly.