After I earned my Master of Theology in Christian Ethics, I asked my mentor for advice about pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree. Dr. David W. Jones was honest about the rigors of a PhD program since this terminal degree is the highest level of achievement in the academic world. May the advice he gave coupled with my own wisdom help you determine if this the right academic path for you.
3 Realities To Consider:
For those of you are thinking about pursing your PhD, here are three realities you should consider (two are my explanations of Dr. Jones’s wisdom and I have added the third):
- Ability — Do you have the ability to read and write on this type of level? Any PhD program is academically rigorous by design. You will be required to read thousands of pages and write thousands of words for each seminar (class) you take. It is important that you examine yourself to ensure that you can truly think, read, and write at this level.
- Desire — Do you have the desire to earn a PhD? There are some people who have the ability, but do not have the desire to put themselves through this type of academic rigor. Why would someone who has the ability not have the desire? The reasons are numerous, but I have heard that highly intellectual people might get bored with this type of program.
Out of the two–desire and ability–I think desire is the easier of the two to spot. The reason is that we know if we desire to earn a PhD because it comes down to our “want.” In other words, “do you want to do this?” That answer is a simple “yes” or “no.” Assessing our ability, that is more complicated because it makes us examine ourselves more accurately. The reason this is the more difficult reality or self-assessment is due to the fact that we tend to think more highly of our ourselves than we ought. Thus, you should spend time seeking advice from your mentors and accountability partners by asking them to be open and honest with you about your ability to handle this level of academia.
- Perseverance — Do you have the discipline and work ethic to get through a program like this? This is my own adaptation of Dr. Jones’s guidelines. This program is like being a mule carting people up the Grand Canyon. You have to carry heavy amounts of academic work while, for some, earning an income and balancing family life. Yet, you have to make sacrifices to get everything accomplished before each seminar and when writing a dissertation. You have to be disciplined to not only finish, but also to put in the time and effort to do the work. The question you have to ask is, “Am I willing to put in the work and make the necessary sacrifices to complete this program?
Make A Wise Choice
If you answered, “yes,” to all of these realities, you are ready to begin your academic journey towards the highest terminal degree possible. If, however, you are hesitant on any of these traits, perhaps praying, waiting, and seeking more advice would be your best option before jumping feet first into a PhD program. The choice is yours, and I’m not telling you what decision to make. I am simply providing you with some key information before you decide to embark on this academic journey as an individual who has been through it.
As always, if you have any questions or would like to know more about my experience in the PhD program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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