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Programs Questions about Phd's

  1. Jul 14, 2006 #1
    Getting a Phd in some field has always been a really long term goal for me, but I was wondering a couple things about it.

    What exactly do you have to do to earn a Phd?

    What are the benefits of having a Phd? (besides being called Dr. instead of Mr. which would be really cool).
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2006 #2
    The exact requirements vary from school to school and field to field, but to make a long story short, you'll need to 1) take a bunch of courses, 2) pass a set of qualifying exams in your field, 3) write a dissertation (a paper, usually almost book-length, describing a piece of original research) and defend it in front of a committee of experts in your field.
     
  4. Jul 14, 2006 #3
    Sorry, I forgot to answer the last part... this isn't really much of a benefit, since most of the people you'll end up working with usually have Ph.D.'s too. :smile:

    The usual benefit of more education is that you'll find yourself doing more interesting work with more interesting people usually for a bit more $$$ than you would be making in the same field without a Ph.D.
     
  5. Jul 16, 2006 #4
    The main benefit of a Phd is that you can work for the government or university. You can also apply for and get government grants.

    The government needs a way to determine who to hire and who to give grants to. If they didn't have a objective way to determine this, Senator Sam's Uncle Joe (the high school drop out) would get all the science money even though he is a moron. A Phd is a good objective way to determine if someone is qualified. A Phd at least can write and think clearly enough to get through school.

    It is also a good way to kick start a career in industry, but the return on investment (time and money) isn't very good there.
     
  6. Jul 18, 2006 #5

    mathwonk

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    the biggest change it meant to me was an eye opening experience of what research really meant. i learned that i really did have a lot to learn about doing math, that it was much harder to make meaningful new progress than i had thought, and i went from resentment to gratitude that my professors and advisors held me up the best standard they thought i was capable of.

    it was sort of like having an intellectual personal trainer. I set lower limits for myself than my advisors were willing to accept, and from their confidence and support i was able to reach higher than i thought possible. what a privilege.
     
  7. Jul 18, 2006 #6

    mathwonk

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    a more accurate answer to what you must do is this:

    1) technically: original non trivial research.

    2) realistically: don't give up.
     
  8. Jul 19, 2006 #7
    Absolutely! I've always said that Ph.D.'s are people who don't know enough to stop banging their head against the wall when it starts to hurt... :smile:
     
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