Skip to Content
Resource Articles //

Is a PhD Worth It?

A doctoral degree can open doors to an impactful career.

Earning a PhD requires years of effort and a significant financial commitment. Is it worth the time and cost? The answer depends on your specific career aspirations, personal goals, and financial situation, but a PhD can provide you with the credibility and knowledge to make a positive impact on society—while expanding your professional skills in the process. You’ll have the opportunity to pursue new research, add to the body of knowledge in your discipline, and potentially publish your findings. If you’re debating the lasting impact of getting a PhD, here are three reasons to consider it.

Is a PhD Worth It?

1. Expand Your Career Opportunities

In past generations, PhD programs tended to assume their graduates would go on to become university professors or full-time researchers within the halls of academia. That’s no longer the assumption today, and many programs focus on preparing doctoral candidates for professional roles in industry or public administration. If you’re already a working professional in your field, earning a doctorate can expand your career opportunities—and increase your paycheck. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, doctoral degree holders earned a median weekly salary 27% higher than those with a master’s degree.1

2. Develop Professional Skills

As a doctoral candidate, you’ll invest ample time honing skills that will serve you well in future roles in industry, academia, or public administration. PhD students can spend three years researching and refining their dissertation or doctoral capstone. They must present their findings to a committee along the way, and write everything in a final, carefully crafted paper replete with evidence that backs their claims. Finally, they must defend the dissertation before their doctoral committee, utilizing skills in public speaking and logical presentation. Once the dissertation is approved, they can also seek publication in an industry journal. All of these experiences—managing a large project, seeing it to completion over a span of several years, and defending your findings before a group of skeptics—translate well to other professional roles.

3. Make a Positive Impact

While earning a PhD can increase your salary and boost your employability, it can also increase your opportunities to influence the people, communities, and systems around you. As a doctoral degree holder, you’ll be in possession of specialized knowledge that others may seek out, offering you the chance to make a greater impact on society.

If you’re interested in pursuing a doctoral degree without abandoning your professional role, an online PhD program could be the right choice. Walden’s online doctoral programs enable students to engage in specialized research, interact with world-class faculty, and become part of a global community of scholars in their discipline. “My doctoral degree has increased my ability to make the impact I actually wanted to see,” says Dr. Crystal Francis, a graduate of Walden University’s PhD in Public Policy and Administration program. “Organizations seek you out to work with you and leverage your published knowledge and expertise.”

An accredited institution, Walden offers a wide range of online PhD programs in areas that are leading social change such as criminal justice, health services, public policy and administration, social work, and more.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,