‘Dear Graduate Students' - Ph.D Programs Don't Help Advancement

Discussion in 'Education, Teaching and related degrees' started by Studious, Dec 8, 2022.

  1. Studious

    Studious Member

    Dustin likes this.
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Within the closed loop of academia, he might have a point. But many PhD graduates find work outside that bubble.

    His point about an M.A. being as valuable as a PhD in getting government employment is wrong. For entry-level positions, a doctorate can qualify an applicant for two grades higher than a master's degree. That can shave off two or more years in one's climb up the ladder.

    My personal opinion is split. On the one hand, I've always felt that there only had to be one person selected for something, and that was me. (Of course, that didn't always happen!) On the other, there really should be a tighter connection between getting a PhD and getting an academic job. After all, unlike undergraduate programs, the PhD is designed with one main purpose: to get an academic position. Sure, many (most?) graduates go elsewhere, but that's happenstance. Colleges and universities could do a much better job of making this connection. But like the subject of the article said, grad students are cheap labor and puff up the prestige of the university, neither of which is in the short-term interests of the grad student.

    (Side note: I saw a similar situation when I was teaching Air Force ROTC. In our program every person who graduated was given a commission and served on active duty. Every one. We selected people before their junior years and, if you were selected, all you had to do was finish successfully and you had a position awaiting you. Over at the Army ROTC, that wasn't the case. They graduated a lot more officers than we did, but their cadets when through another selection process right before graduation, and only some of them were assigned to active duty. The rest were sent to the Army Reserve (weekend warriors). That was pretty cold-blooded, we thought. You work for 2=4 years to become a military officer, only to get sent to part-time duty. Brrrr.)
  3. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    PHD degree, can help to be promoted or hired as VP or Principal. Also teachers with advanced degrees can have higher salary, level 5 or 6.
    Some school districts have pay scale where each scale requires approved 15 units. For example a teacher with masters degree maybe at level 4 pay scale with many 3 to 5 units based on their masters degree degree.
    Over the years approved classes may be taken to earn additional units and once 15 units accumulated the teacher may get level 5. usually means 3 to 4 thousand $ added to their pay per year.

    Earned PHD from reputable university can enable one to compete for teaching positions in higher education.
    MaceWindu likes this.

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

  5. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    I know this was in jest but he's already a tenured professor so competition isn't really a thing for him anymore.

    I think that PhD programs in general should spend a lot more on concrete job-market applicable skills than they do.

    For example, the student with the Bachelor's in Economics completing the PhD in Political Science should be completing research reports, economic impact assessments, political forecasting, and other concrete portfolio-type projects to prepare them to pursue an analyst position at a think tank or in government.

    A lot of PhD programs are stuck in the mindset that the only job worth preparing for is the academy, when that hasn't been the case for most graduates in decades.
    Jonathan Whatley likes this.
  6. tadj

    tadj Well-Known Member

    I would much prefer that PhD schools provided the following message to all entrants: "Odds Are, Your Doctorate Will Not Prepare You for a Profession Outside Academe" (taken from Dr. L. Maren Wood)

    "Part of the problem stems from this common misperception about the relationship between doctoral education and nonfaculty careers — the belief that the former can lead you to the latter. In fact, there is no such relationship in most cases in the humanities and social sciences, and only sometimes in STEM fields. When Ph.D.s begin a career transition, they face that reality, and it is often a heavy psychological blow. They have been told that their doctorate will make them attractive to all sorts of employers. But outside of select engineering and biomedical fields, few employers outside academe base hiring decisions on an academic credential."

    "Those of us who have made a successful career transition out of academe have learned that the “transferable skills” we “developed in graduate school” are transferable precisely because they are the same skills that other professionals — equally smart and capable — are developing on the job in industry, foundations, or government agencies. Critical thinking, program and project management, qualitative and quantitative research, synthesizing evidence and data, data-informed decision making — none of those are unique to academe. They are transferable from academe precisely because they are already highly valued and cultivated in all sorts of labor sectors."

    "In my work now, almost nothing I do on a daily basis relates directly to my education as a historian [PhD in History). Please don’t send me an email or a Tweet telling me I’m wrong about that. I’m not. And I’m not just basing that assessment on my own experience but on that of hundreds of people I’ve interviewed and mentored..."

    The whole article is here: https://archive.is/epQkZ#selection-1337.9-1337.88
  7. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Neither of my doctorates have affected my career one iota as it relates to what I studied and what I researched. Not one little bit. But you can bet HAVING a PhD has mattered. A lot. It bifurcates my career.
  8. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    People should be prepared to conduct applied research after earning a master's degree, but there are some doing it with just a bachelor's degree and additional training.

    In the federal government, most of the time, a doctorate only shaves off one year. It takes one year to go from GS-9 to GS-11. The exception is the GS-12 position that is designated as "research," and there aren't many of those. To my surprise, many, if not most, of the scientist jobs in the federal government are not designated as research, so a doctorate will only get you GS-11. You have to weigh the benefits of getting a doctorate. Should you start at GS-9 and wait a year to get automatically promoted to GS-11, or should you spend 4 to 8 years in a doctoral program so that you can start at GS-11? While the doctoral student is still working on their degree, you could go from GS-9 to GS-13 or higher if the promotion potential goes that high. Keep in mind that the median time to completion for social science PhDs is usually around 7 to 8 years.

    The biggest boost is going from a bachelor's to master's. A bachelor's only qualifies for GS-5; you need additional experience or one year of graduate education to start at GS-7. You can complete a one-year master's degree and start at GS-9 instead of waiting two years to get from GS-5 to GS-9.
    Suss, Rich Douglas and tadj like this.
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    This is good information. However, it applies to new grads. People with experience can come in at even higher grades.

    I had a PhD when I entered government service. I entered as a GS-15, Step 10. The GS-15 because I was already working at the equivalent level in the private sector. The Step 10 because I made way more money than that already.
    Dustin likes this.
  10. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Similarly, the Foreign Service paygrade starts at FP-6/Step 5 but with a master's you enter at FP-5/Step 5-12 (the specific step being based on the step closest to your private sector pay in the previous 6 months) and with a doctorate FP-4/Step 5-14.

    Based on the FS pay scale (https://pathtoforeignservice.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2023-Foreign-Service-Base-Salary-Schedule-1024x241.png) that can mean the difference between entering at $52,504 but with a master's, $57,021 and a doctorate $70,370. And with private sector salary matching you could enter the Foreign Service making as much as $91,817. Still a pay cut for a lot of highly qualified professionals but better than $52K.
  11. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Most certainly, but if someone has the experience, then they don't need any education unless there's the rare positive education requirement. Outside of licensed fields, the positive education requirement is usually a bachelor's degree.
  12. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    Pay matching with the private sector might be going away. There's a call to prohibit the federal government from considering private sector salaries to set the federal salary because it's resulted in pay disparities by gender and race/ethnicity. Some agencies already have a strict policy of starting everyone at step 1.

    Edit: It appears to be imminent.

    Last edited: Jul 19, 2023
  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    My concern is that most people would not make these distinctions. I didn't want to leave them the impression that education was all it was about. We are in deep agreement on this matter.
    sanantone likes this.
  14. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    I get that it bakes in existing inequalities when you get a Step increase each year, causing you to be further behind your peers.

    As an alternative, I would prefer something like the military does in situations where someone is changing grades (like when you commission after enlisting.)

    If your new pay is lower than your old pay, you keep your existing pay (e.g. E-5 pay instead of O-1 pay) but continue to earn step and rank increases on paper until you're back on the payscale of the officer track.
  15. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    That exists on the civilian side when you're an existing federal employee. Within my agency, you retain your pay if you change positions and go down a grade. They will put you on the nearest step that won't result in a decrease. So, you can actually get a small increase in pay by moving down. When switching federal agencies, many, but not all, will retain your pay.

    The problem is that there are significant disparities in pay in the private sector due to negotiations (and some will say discrimination). So, when the federal government gives a higher step to a new federal employee based on private sector pay, it brings those disparities into the federal government. You'll have a woman hired at GS- 9 Step 1 and a man hired at GS-9 Step 10. They both had former jobs as private sector accountants with similar levels of complexity. The only difference is that the male new-hire had a higher salary. The only way to prevent this inequality is to ban salary history and hire everyone at step 1. Your grade will still be based on education and level of experience.

    For now, OPM is only planning to ban salary history for the GS and administrative judge pay scales.
  16. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Having been both an E-5 and an O-1, I'm struggling to imagine such a thing. Perhaps there are a few niche situations where this would apply, however.

    Setting aside housing allowances--which would be significantly different and skew this even further, it would be hard for an enlisted person to reach this dilemma.

    The top O-1 basic pay (for having more than 4 years of service) is $4577. In order to exceed that level as an enlisted member, one would have to be an E-6 with 18 years in. But this person would be excluded since the maximum age (with waiver) for a line officer is 35. An E-7 with 10 years would likely make it, but becoming an E-7 in 10 years is pretty hard (and nearly impossible in the Air Force). And an E-5 would never rise up to that level of basic pay. And any discrepancy would instantly disappear 2 years later when the officer was promoted to O-2.

    When I went to Officer Training School, about half my class of 200 were prior enlisted members. I was a staff sergeant (E-5); pretty run-of-the-mill. There were a lot of E-4s and a handful of E6s. There was one--just one--E-7. That's because those people have built enlisted careers and will likely continue on those paths; very few jump into the officer ranks that late.

    There was a time when PAs (physician assistants) were enlisted. Once you graduated with your (then) B.S. in PA, you were promoted to E-7, no matter what your prior grade was. E-8 and E-9 came along quickly. Then, overnight, the Air Force made them all officers. E-7s became 2nd lieutenants, E-8s became 1st lieutenants, and E9s became captains. Sergeants one day, officers the next. And huge pay raises for them all.
  17. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

  18. tadj

    tadj Well-Known Member

    Quote: "French PhDs also face considerable competition from the qualifications offered by grandes écoles, which are equivalent to master’s but tightly targeted towards specific professions in the public and private sectors. “We need to change the perception of the role of these degrees”

    “Compared to Germany, the PhD has no value in France,” said Christine Musselin, a sociologist specialising in universities at Sciences Po. Whereas many top civil servants in Germany hold PhDs, often in law, in France their counterparts tend to have attended grandes écoles..."
  19. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    I may be mistaken about the intent of this policy to prevent you from being paid less than you were when you were enlisted, which is what I thought. The specific pay rate is called Prior E pay or O-1E pay after the name of the paygrade (there is also O-2E and O-3E as you get promoted.) If you commission with more than 4 years TIS, you're credited for that time. So you get paid the O-1 rate with 4 years TIG, instead of the 0-2 years that a newly commissioned 2nd lieutenant normally would.
    Rich Douglas likes this.
  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Which is what happened to me when I was commissioned as a 2Lt.

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