So you read my blog for the past few years and now you are asking yourself” What should I get a PhD in?” This is totally normal after being convinced by me that getting a PhD is 100% worth it. But finding the right PhD and in what is quite a journey. So today I want to help you find out the right right PhD for you and answer the question “PhD in what?”
Ask yourself a few questions
Before you start the search of what you’re PhD will be in, ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I want to devote the next few years of my life to one very small research problem?
- Will I be willing to give up good paying jobs in order to devote this time to grad school?
- Do I even like school lol?
- What value will getting a PhD get me?
- Will I be ok with failure?
- Do I really want to do this?
If you answered yes to every one of these then congrats! You are officially insane lol. Just playing. I am very excited that you have come to the conclusion that grad school will help you in your life and bring value to whatever endeavors you have in the future. This is when the fun begins.
Get a PhD in what you are passionate about
After you answered all of those questions, it’s time to really sit down and see what you are passionate about. For me, I was passionate about water so I got my PhD in water systems, focused on Pb solubility in drinking water pipes. You might find yourself liking something like “Medieval jousting and it’s repercussions on the economy of Germany in the 16th century”. Heck, there is probably someone that will take you on just for that. Getting a PhD in what you are passionate about is the key to success because if you choose something that doesn’t interest you then you will find it very difficult to get through the program.
Get a PhD in what you want to find out
Another way to go about choosing what you want to get your PhD in is finding a subject that has very little knowledge about it and focusing on that. This is especially good to do if your intent is on going into academia afterwards as you’ll be an expert in a very niche field. I did Pb research, which has quite a few papers on the subject, so an academic tract wasn’t really going to happen, unless I brought some crazy innovative research to the field. For those wanting to get into academia, a good way to produce a ton of papers prior is getting into something that has an impact, but very few people focus on it.
An example of this was a few years ago when PFAS was showing up as a major contaminant (it still is), but people were just finding out about it and how it was affecting the environment. If you were to see that prior to grad school and jump on that research then you’d be getting offers all over the place as soon as you graduated. Everything written by you would be novel and that would really draw a ton of attention towards you.
Get a PhD in what the world needs
Sometimes you need a PhD to get a position in a company that will change the world, or at least help it. Getting a PhD doesn’t just prepare you for research but also for upper level positions where you will be required to hold a high ranking among those in the industry. One reason that i started my PhD was to be open to these possibilities and have a say in the world. People will respect you much more if you have a PhD, trust me. Those three letters behind my name really carries weight and it will help you get to positions where you might be in charge of saving the world. Getting a PhD in what the world needs, whether that’s in science, politics, human rights, or everything in between. Go for it, be the change we desperately need.
Lastly, get a PhD in what you just want to know more about.
Getting a PhD is about finding the answers to some very difficult questions that only a handful of people may ever ask. If you want to just know the most about something, go get a PhD in it. If you want to know everything about jousting in Germany, go for it. Make sure you answer those questions at the beginning of this post, then apply. Life is so short and if you are truly interested in something then who cares what the world says to do, go get a PhD in what you want to know more about.
Getting a PhD was the best thing that I ever had the courage to do. It was very difficult to make that decision and leave a stable career to go pursue something that 50% of people fail. But look at me now! I am a doctor. I am a research scientist, and I absolutely love it.
If you are having a hard time with what you want to do in a PhD program, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to help out. And no, I won’t charge you anything lol. I feel like people think that most bloggers are just trying to make money. I honestly just want to help out and knowing people read this and trust me is worth more than gold. This blog is for you guys, for those on the fence about grad school and those neck deep in the stress that is grad school living.
Anyway guys and gals, I hope that you found this article interesting. If you do, leave a comment or a like to show you enjoyed it. If you absolutely hated it, well, comment that you hated it lol. Feedback, no matter how rough it is, is always welcome. Anyway, I hope you guys have a great summer, and I will see you in the next one. Peace.