Motivation to Pursue a Doctorate

Motivation to Pursue a Doctorate
The decision to pursue a doctorate does not come easily. The time invested in obtaining a doctorate is twice as long as acquiring a bachelor’s degree, master's degree' and some professional post-graduate degrees. The cost associated can set you back a few years if you do not qualify for financial aid, work for a company offering a tuition reimbursement program, or have other financial means. Nevertheless, millennials are finding themselves on the path toward pursuing a doctorate.

I remember when I contemplated pursuing a Ph.D. My first concern was age. I recall questioning myself, “Am I too old to consider a Ph.D. Program?” realizing the long-term commitment involved. However, my philosophy in life is this: Take each day as it comes. Setting long-term goals is essential, but try to find some pleasure in each day despite your goals. That philosophy can be applied to your doctoral journey as well if you have a passion for your area of research. I have had an extensive career at the Boeing Company, and the majority of organizations I worked for seemed to place a very high value on higher education. In my personal life, I had a passion for specific areas of IT and marketing, and IT also happened to be part of my daily work life, so pursuing a Ph.D. in information technology seemed like the next logical step.

Nevertheless, as in any other degree program, there will be coursework that does not interest you. The advantage of a doctoral degree is that you can incorporate exciting research into those courses you find less desirable. Each class will offer you an opportunity to conduct further research in your area of interest. While studies show an average 50 percent completion rate for students pursuing a doctorate, those who are successful tend to have strengths in perseverance and both oral and written communication. If your writing skills are weak, take a series of writing courses before beginning your doctoral journey. Most universities provide prerequisite writing courses to help improve your skills. Make no mistake; researching and writing will be the majority of the work, particularly during the dissertation phase.

Many universities offer online courses, online degree programs, and online graduate degree programs. Online doctoral programs can be quite challenging, especially when the dissertation phase of the program begins. The majority of online postgraduate programs require participation in a one-to-two-week on-site residency or colloquium, which is a great way to meet fellow students and professors. These residencies are long days filled with workshops, assignments, presentations, and peer-review opportunities. Take advantage of these meetings to compare your doctoral journey with other students and seek guidance from professors. Coursework is required before attending, and you will be expected to make several presentations regarding your area of study, so be prepared. Also, expect to be exhausted towards the end of the residency knowing you will walk away with a wealth of information and connections to rely on for help down the road.

Before committing to a doctoral program, make sure you have a strong desire to explore a specific research topic. That’s right; passion for an area of study will be the fuel that drives you through the finish line of a doctoral path. Understanding this will not only create motivation but also make the journey much more enjoyable. The doctoral journey will merely become part of your daily life, a challenging yet rewarding journey each step of the way.

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This content was written by Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Dr. Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger for details.