Too many people with online DBAs and PhDs?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by RFValve, Jul 18, 2010.

  1. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I hope you're right. It would be nice to be certain. To me it seems a big risk - all that time and money just to be able to enter the lottery. But still, just like the lottery, you can't win if you don't play. At the same time, PhDtobe's stats about UCBerkeley seem irrelevant since this is a DL board and we're not talking about B&M Phds.
  2. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I think the risk can be minimized, if you do a PhD, do it in a field that can be easily transferred to a job outside academia. If you do a PhD in Accounting, Finance, Computer Science, etc, at least you can use it to make yourself more marketable.

    By the way, 60K is not much comparing to what regular tuition fees are at some of the B&M institutions. I just learned that a family member is doing a BS in a US University that will cost more than 100K and is not even a top school.
  3. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Yes and no, there are quite few individuals that have a PhD and make less than 40K that is the typical salary of a post doc. One could say that there is almost 100% employment for PhD graduates but many can barely survive with low paid adjunct and post doc positions. If one is happy with 30K, there are plenty positions at the post doc level that pay this much but if you calculate ROI you are actually losing money if you take into consideration the time and money you invested in your education.

    The problem with PhDs can also be age, by the time you finish your PhD you might be in your early or mid 30s and some even early 40s, after this you don't have much time to secure full time employment before age starts becoming an issue. I have seen people being rejected because of age, many believe that once you hit 40 you become slow and less motivated so prefer younger candidates. I know few PhDs in their 50s that cannot secure more than adjunct work because of age.
  4. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    The situations you described are more dire for candidates with less education. All the emperical research have shown doctorates have the lowest level of unemployment.

    You may be looking at only one side of the equation. In absolute numbers more PhDs than ever are being employed in academia. However, on the other, more PhDs than ever are not finding positions in academia. That is because universities are churning out more PhDs.
  5. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I am not arguing this, I am arguing that many of these PhDs are underemployed. The metric of "percentage of unemployment" is not the best performance measurement because we know that these people will find something almost for sure. A metric that would make more sense is the percentage of salary increase on average because the PhD. There was a study in Canada for this, it was found that on average a PhD only added 5K to your salary:
    CANADA: PhD offers little salary difference - University World News

    The study was conducted among accredited Canadian schools, it is a good assumption that if 5K is the average for a Canadian PhD from a B&M school, one from a DL institution or from a obscure foreign country is not going to be any more if not considerable less.

    We can argue forever the justification of an investment in a DL PhD from a low tier school, the reality is that for some this will work (e.g. those already employed in the education sector) and for some it will just money wasted for 3 more letters. There are no stats to back up the risk of getting one of these credentials but it would make an interesting study.
  6. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    The economists ran a story a few years about the earning power of a PhD. It was not that much greater than a master. Anyway, it look like in every metrics, the phd comes out ahead. Students have to be prudent on how they make their investment because a PhD is not a guarantee to higher income.

    Canada needs more PhDs
    Canada opens up immigration to foreign PhD students - Politics - CBC News
    Canada needs more foreign PhDs, according to CBC, "Canada will start accepting some PhD students to boost the country's science, technology and math sectors, the government said Wednesday. Gary Goodyear, minister of state for science and technology, announced the government is expanding the federal skilled worker category to include PhD students in certain streams, noting the country lacks people with expertise in science, technology, engineering and math."
  7. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    I will send this to my sister that has a PhD in Medicine from McGill University that has not been able to find a full time job in 3 years. She is on her third post doc year for the same reason, I guess she will find interesting this program that supposedly is there to cover a shortage.

    I had friend that had to work as a telemarketer with a PhD in Math, he found a limited term appointment after 3 years but he will be unemployed again next year.

    There are few interesting comments from readers of this article:
    "I have a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and I can tell you right now there are way more scientists than there are jobs. I don't what know this "shortage" the minister is talking about. All this is going to result in is more taxi drivers and pizza delivery people with advanced Ph.D. degrees in science"

    "I think what's more likely is that our country lacks people who will do what you want for the poor salaries that are offered. In Canada, research positions and postdocs are usually extremely poorly paid relative to other countries, especially since all of the previously tax-free portions of their salaries were made taxable in 2010.

    My personal experience is this: I have about 10-12 Canadians friends that did a PhD in math, and I'm the only one that stayed in the country. Everyone else left for the US, or for Australia or Europe, where the salaries are better and you get benefits with your job (basic things like dental coverage). If the government is really sincere about wanting to improve their scientific workforce, I suggest that they try to stop losing the people that they've spent money training, instead of bringing in new blood and hoping that they'll stay if you make them citizens."

    "As a PhD student in science at a Canadian school, I can tell you the problem isn't at the university level. Canadian universities have a vast number of talent PhD students, both Canadian and international a like. The problem is the job market in Canada AFTER the PhD. There is a serious lack of positions available in both academia alike. It is a serious challenge to get a good job with your PhD once you finish, and I know a number of international students who after completing their PhD and obtaining Canadian citizenship still had to leave to country to find employment. "

    Don't buy this shortage, it doesn't exist in my opinion, the bottom line is that the government is always trying to find ways to attract people that will not be on welfare. The government knows that PhDs will do something and will not fall in the welfare system.

    Anyways, there is no point in arguing, some people will pursue the PhD dream no matter what so let's put to rest this conversation.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 22, 2013
  8. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    It is a tough economic situation and I guess that there are a reduction of jobs across the board. How long is the question. In this country, PhD's (local citizenry) are given a full scholarship and sometimes a small stipend to help them live. The ROI is excellent. It may also be said it is highly competitive to get entry. The theory is that more R & D will create more opportunities down the track for the economy. Professional doctorate students pay their way through their course, PhD's do not.

    If they are churning PhD's in the US, what is happening to the research? How is that being picked up? There must be warehouses full of information (electronically of course) that could be turned into viable products or professional knowledge. Isn't this an economic issue? Maybe the issue is not the building of the research base by creating PhD's, but what is being done with the research flowing from it. If the US cannot or will not action it, then I am sure that it could be sold offshore. Might save China from stealing it through spying. The risk is, of course, that the PhD may also go with it. Exporting the research brains is never a real good idea.
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Right. You have it backwards. Your ratio implies more Ph.D. grads in academia than in non-academic positions. The article--and your citing of it--indicates fewer grads in academic positions than non-academic ones. (It even cited Berkeley as an exception.)
  10. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    The numbers don't support these contentions. First, unemployment is lowest for doctorate-holders compared to people at other educational levels. Second, their average salaries are the highest (except for 1st professional doctorates). Those two numbers are from the government at Education pays

    Third, the average age of graduates is really not an indicator--people who do their doctorate right out of undergrad school are a whole different breed than those who return to get a Ph.D. while mid-career (like the people who read this board). Those people have careers and are using the doctorate to enhance them.

    Anecdotes are interesting, but the data say something entirely different.
  11. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Hanging on to a point after it has been disproved repeatedly doesn't advance the discussion.

    I don't know of the ROI on earning a degree from a DL program is available, but it's a reasonable assumption that, given that people have been doing it for decades and that these programs have proliferated, lots of people have found them to be a good idea. If they weren't they would have waned. The opposite is true.

    Additionally, these situations are so individual that it is difficult to take broad assertions and apply them to individuals. Each person's mileage will vary.
  12. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    "All of your evidence is annoying, so here are a few (undocumented) anecdotes. There's no point in arguing--I keep losing."

    For others: it should be understood that one cannot take general statistics--or even undocumented anecdotes--and evidence that a quid pro quo exists between earning a doctorate and being shielded against low wages and/or unemployment. Of course that's the case. But you should also know that salary and employment levels are strongly correlated with education levels. The "I know a guy...." argument doesn't change that.
  13. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    Before trying to interpret the data, I propose keeping a few points in mind.

    1) Cum hoc ergo propter hoc = fallacy.

    If you want to attribute employment outcomes to acquisition of a doctorate, you need to present a whole lot more data than a simple correlation. Too many tertiary factors to name, but you can let your imagination run wild.

    2) What is a doctorate?

    There are users on this site who are 100% sure that MDs and JDs are doctorates and others that are 100% sure that they aren't.

    3) Not all doctorates are created equal.

    To put them all in the same boat oversimplifies the question. The same is true when comparing them to other categories of credential. If doctorates typically result in higher pay and employment rates than those with vocational/technical diplomas, it may sound great until you REALLY look at what is being compared. The plight of a locksmith is on average much better off than that of a medical biller, for example, making an average between them significantly lower than the locksmith's statistics viewed seperately.

    Lastly, the "high school only" category is completely meaningless because it lumps the legions of minimum wage retail workers with their much better paid bosses and guys like my grandfather who learned automechanics by looking at manuals and poking around under the hood.
  14. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    My point also was that, while education level correlates strongly with employment and salary levels, each individual situation varies. Getting a degree doesn't guarantee it. But one poster was generalizing in the opposite direction of the data, which I objected to.

    The Labor department's data treats first professional degrees (which include the MD and JD used as examples above) separately.

    Yes, lots of variance within each category.
  15. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    Sorry about that, the lower number was for those employed in academia. Nevertheless, employment for phd is not as bad as the anecdotal evidence presented here.

    As like any investment, one must manage risk and rewards in the persuit of a phd.
  16. Petedude

    Petedude New Member

    Well, here's my thought, which is somewhat in line with degree ROI calculators:

    How long will it take you to reach that next level in your career that you expect the degree to help you achieve, how much are you willing to give up to get there, and how big is the increase in pay involved? If you spend $8K for a midwestern B&M's master's degree and you get a $20K up, I'd say the degree has more than paid for itself.
  17. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I agree whole-heartedly, and I really support the notion of doctorate-holders plying their practices outside of academia. Too many times, IMHO, we read on these pages people who talk about getting a doctorate so they can teach. (Usually as adjuncts, but sometimes they're considering joining academia.) That's a tough road to hoe, even for adjuncts. Also, it understates tremendously the transformative nature of the doctorate; it changes who and what you are. You don't go through that and just qualify to teach some online class a few times a year. It changes one, and candidates should really consider what they want to become overall, not just the ROI of it.
  18. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I doubled my salary in one year after taking the Ph.D. It paid for itself, therefore, in one additional year. The other 9 have been gravy.
  19. Manunkind

    Manunkind New Member

    Whilst many of the professionals in my sector don't even bother with a PhD, they have the terminal certifications(CFA). But, back to the PhD mills. I remember one of my professors in my undergraduate having an MS from a decently ranked school, but then getting a DBA from 'mill' just so he could get tenure. All he needed was the piece of paper to secure him(or at least that is what he told us).

    On my personal views, I cannot imagine spending that much money on a degree that will not have any return(or even worse, mocked).
  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Would you provide an example or two of such degrees, in your opinion? Which schools issue degrees that would "not have any return (or even worse, mocked)"?

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