1. Jul 14, 2006

### Universe_Man

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. Jul 14, 2006

### TMFKAN64

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.

3. Jul 14, 2006

### TMFKAN64

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.

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.

4. Jul 16, 2006

### interested_learner

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.

5. Jul 18, 2006

### mathwonk

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.

6. Jul 18, 2006

### mathwonk

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

1) technically: original non trivial research.

2) realistically: don't give up.

7. Jul 19, 2006

### TMFKAN64

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...