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Reasons why a PhD is way better than any other professional degree—no bias of course

PhD candidate Katy Van Hook's latest post from the OHSU StudentSpeak blog

Kathy Van HookI’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback over the past few weeks in response to my last post about why getting a PhD takes so long (and thank you so much for that) but in reviewing it I’ve decided that I need to swing the balance a bit more toward center with regards to the grad school good. So in response I’ve decided to write this week about the reasons why getting a PhD wins the professional degree wrestling smackdown.

First lets talk about the obvious—YOU GET PAID! I am sitting across from a 4th year medical student friend of mine right now and she informed me that when all is said and done she will have spent about $250,000 on her degree—wow doesn’t really seem to cover it. Compare that with the fact that I don’t even know what my tuition is and I’d say I’m getting a screaming deal on my education. There is of course the fact that her income will dwarf mine in the future and that my stipend doesn’t by any means have me hobnobbing with Oprah, but when all is said and done it is downright fantastic to get a paycheck for going to school.

You simply can’t beat the flexibility. Have a doctor’s appointment? Need to take your dog to the vet? Want to visit a friend in Botswana? During the latter half of grad school you’ve got the freedom to make your own schedule and work the time of day that suits you. This of course comes with the caveat that you can’t abuse your privileges, there will always be weeks you come early, stay late or work the weekends, and that–oh yeah–you want to graduate someday but I’d choose my schedule over a hectic 4th year dental student’s any day.

Two words: job security. It seems like a weird thing to think about but my “job” as a student is all but guaranteed once I’m accepted into the program. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule but even if my boss is eating ramen noodles by candlelight my status quo isn’t going to change. That’s been a pretty great thing to depend on over the past couple of years in this country.

I could also mention that there aren’t any laborious internships, fellowships, or residencies following my degree, no licensure hassles, I will be immediately employable, and I’ll be free of formal continuing education testing forever, but that would be bragging. I’d like to end by apologizing in advance for the massive in flux of grad school applications we will no doubt be getting as a result of my post and for the exodus from other degree programs on campus. Have a great week everyone!

- Katy Van Hook, PhD candidate

Pictured: Student blogger Katy Van Hook

About the OHSU StudentSpeak blog

The School of Medicine has recently launched an OHSU student blog, called StudentSpeak (OHSU user ID and password required). This blog provides a first-hand experience of the ups and downs of student life, and helps readers understand just what it takes to become tomorrow’s scientist, physician or health care professional. The blog is currently visible on the OHSU Intranet, but will be launched externally during the spring.

Our current bloggers include: Kyle Ambert, PhD candidate; Yassar Arain, MS3; Andy Dworkin, MS1; Rae Seltzer, MS4; and Katy Van Hook, PhD candidate

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