Why You Should Earn a Doctorate

Hazel N. Smith, PhD

The graduation cap of a female doctorate student

Earning a doctoral degree is the highest peak in academic achievement, and not many adults choose to take their education to this terminal level. Only 2% of adults in the U.S. over the age of 25 have a doctorate degree,1 making those who choose to follow this path more desirable in the job market than ever. There is no better time than now for those who have previously considered earning their doctorate to take action. 

Generally, people pursue a doctorate because of a personal and/or a professional goal. However, beginning this degree can be intimidating, and prospective students often shy away. The thought of taking three to seven years to complete doctoral-level studies is sometimes much more than most people are willing to commit to. Distraction or interruption of a full-time job adds further pressure, in addition to the possible financial burden. Why then should anyone commit to earning a doctorate? 

A Doctorate is the Highest Level of Education

For many individuals, earning a doctorate is a logical next step in their academic endeavors. They have an educational path laid out, and their academic goals end with earning the final degree. Students will have the opportunity to network with peers and connect with like-minded professionals while still in an academic setting, which can benefit them during and after completing their program. 

This degree provides professional credibility for those already in a field, and pursuing a doctorate can help you reach your career goals. Becoming an expert in a field of study opens doors and provides the ability to further contribute to your area of study. It shows commitment to the field and elevates you to a higher level of skills, knowledge and professional practices.

A Doctorate Can Help You Become a Leader

Doctoral degree programs don’t simply focus on content knowledge but provide a new pattern of collaboration with peers, emphasizing critical thinking and outstanding communication skills. These skills contribute to trail-blazing ideas that are needed to advance study, no matter the field.

In addition, the expert research skills acquired in the doctoral program add to problem-solving practices across disciplines by producing original research and providing forward-thinking ideas. Doctoral programs prepare graduates to embark on leadership positions and upper levels of professional opportunities.

A Doctorate Makes You Competitive

Holding a doctoral degree attracts more employers throughout the workforce. Hiring managers often hire candidates with doctorates before others because they’re considered to be “expert innovators.”2

For those who may think that their doctorate will make them seem overqualified and too independent in the job market, be assured that this type of degree is an asset. Do not be dissuaded by myths, rumors or misconceptions. Visit job sites and see for yourself what the hiring market looks like for individuals with doctorates. Earning a doctorate immediately places you in a highly recognized, marketable place.

A Doctorate Can Help You Achieve Personal Goals

For others, pursuing a doctorate can be a very personal journey. Students often get aspirational value from earning a doctoral degree. Additionally, many have found that the personal growth aspect of a doctoral degree program is equivalent to training elements in the workplace.3

Teachers who have pursued doctorates have stated they believe that earning this degree has the potential to change them, their students’ learning outcomes, and even their school environment.4 The experience of earning a doctorate is unlike any other and teaches students valuable lessons about how to contribute and lead in their field of study.

Inspiration and motivation can also come from family members of those who earn doctorates. They want to make their family members and themselves proud for reaching the peak in academic accomplishment. Family members are often the biggest supporters of doctorate students, so graduating with this degree is a thrilling moment for both the graduate and their family.5

Benefits of Earning a Doctoral Degree

If you’re still wondering if there are more benefits, both professional and personal, of earning any type of doctoral degree, the following chart includes many more reasons to earn a doctorate:

Professional Benefits Personal Benefits
  • Achieving a sense of accomplishment from meeting professional goals
  • Achieving a sense of accomplishment for oneself, family and friends
  • Increased recognition
  • Increased recognition
  • Considered an expert/researcher in the field
  • Respected by social community
  • Increased earning potential
  • Higher paychecks
  • Career flexibility and security
  • Financial family stability
  • Scholarly respect and opportunity
  • Social respect and opportunity
  • Leadership benefits
  • Potential to increase personal effectiveness
  • Becoming an independent learner
  • Changes in life view as a new researcher
  • Obtaining valuable academic higher-level skills
  • Improvement of social skills and networking
  • Impacting an industry or area of interest
  • Impacting the lives of friends and family
  • Developing advanced problem-solving skills
  • Developing advanced problem-solving skills
  • Potential to increase credibility and opportunity
  • Improvement and increase in social standing  
  • Gaining skills transferable across industries
  • Enhancing transferable skills
  • Contributing to the field and the knowledge base
  • Impacting inner circle as a role model
  • Continued development of marketable skills in analysis and synthesis of information
  • Accessing diverse professional networks and building personal relationships
  • Intellectual grit and learning demands in the field
  • Learning to keep an open mind and gaining self-confidence


Grand Canyon University’s College of Doctoral Studies is committed to helping you achieve your professional and personal goals. GCU offers a range of online PhD, EdD degrees online and more that can help you to advance your professional qualifications and personal sense of accomplishment. Click on the Request Info button at the top of the page to find out more about GCU’s doctoral degree program options. 


Retrieved from:

1US Census Bureau: Educational Attainment in the United States in June 2021 

2Nature, Why earning a PhD is an advantage in today’s industry job market in June 2021

3Taylor & Francis Online, To prove myself at the highest level: The benefits of doctoral study in June 2021

4Taylor & Francis Online, Teachers pursing a doctoral degree: motivations and perceived impact in June 2021

5The Journal of Stories in Science, PhD or Family? Does it have to be one or the other? in August 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.