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Why do you want a PhD?


blucat

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Self-explanatory; why do you want a PhD? Most, if not all, interviewers ask this question and I'm wondering what kind of responses you guys give (and also what your real reasons are). Is it an actual burning passion for research? Do you just want to keep your student VISA? Are you afraid to enter into industry, maybe because of the economy or weak programming skills or insecurity, for example? Are you doing it because it seems like everyone else is? Do you feel you have to prove yourself, that PhDs are what smart people do or are you still under the yoke of feeling pressured to perform well in a school? Do you feel safest in the academic environment? Are you rich and you want to do it just because? Just curious what everybody's reasons are. I have a hard time believing that so many students fresh out of college would be going for PhDs purely because they are passionate about research in a certain field; this is a relatively new trend so there have got to be other reasons. We all know that a PhD in computer science isn't really necessary for most of us, and in most cases will box us in in terms of career choices in the future. So why are you doing it?

For me, I'd say 70% of the reason is I actually want to do research; the rest is a combination between all of my friends are doing it and I'm afraid of the economy, which is irrational, since I'd probably make more in industry, period. Anybody else?

:rolleyes:

Edited by blucat
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Self-explanatory; why do you want a PhD? Most, if not all, interviewers ask this question and I'm wondering what kind of responses you guys give (and also what your real reasons are). Is it an actual burning passion for research? Do you just want to keep your student VISA? Are you afraid to enter into industry, maybe because of the economy or weak programming skills or insecurity, for example? Are you doing it because it seems like everyone else is? Do you feel you have to prove yourself, that PhDs are what smart people do or are you still under the yoke of feeling pressured to perform well in a school? Do you feel safest in the academic environment? Are you rich and you want to do it just because? Just curious what everybody's reasons are. I have a hard time believing that so many students fresh out of college would be going for PhDs purely because they are passionate about research in a certain field; this is a relatively new trend so there have got to be other reasons. We all know that a PhD in computer science isn't really necessary for most of us, and in most cases will box us in in terms of career choices in the future. So why are you doing it?

For me, I'd say 70% of the reason is I actually want to do research; the rest is a combination between all of my friends are doing it and I'm afraid of the economy, which is irrational, since I'd probably make more in industry, period. Anybody else?

:rolleyes:

Hi!

I am doing my PhD for career advancement. I did my MA a couple of years back and managed to land a research and teaching position in a university which I enjoy very much. But it started to suck when I realized that I'm not going anywhere - no promotions, no research funds, no job security. It sucked even more when I did the research, the write up, etc only to get a by line (if I 'm lucky and the POI liked me) in the research paper! So I had enough and applied to grad school. During my admissions interview, when I was asked why I wanted a PhD, I was honest with my reasons and told my interviewer that the PhD is a gateway for me to do more research in my field, get the required funding and most importantly, credited for it. My brother told his med school interviewers that he was in it for the money. The panel was surprised by his candor, laughed and admitted him. I think the admissions panel have heard loads of different versions of the "burning passion" line and sometimes they appreciate when one is honest with them! :D

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Very nice response and a good reason to go. Other good reasons to go would be wanting to become a professor or a leader of a research team, or whatever else; I didn't mean to imply that the only worthy reason to go is loving research itself. I also didn't mean to imply that everyone applying to a PhD in computer science is fresh out of college. I just wanted to clarify because I reread my post and realized it sounds a bit like I'm accusing newly graduated college students of aimlessly swarming PhD programs for no reason. I'm really just curious what everybody's reasons are.

What motivated my question are a couple of things. First, there is a very high output of students who apply to PhDs from my undergraduate college, so it makes me think that some people are applying because that's what their peers are doing. Honestly I'm guilty of this; being the first in my family to attend college I didn't ever think grad school was a possibility for someone like me until I saw everyone else was doing it. Second, I personally know of a couple of my classmates who are now in PhD programs and they don't know how they got there. They don't like their research topics and they feel they were 'pushed' into grad school by an unknown hand, and they are not happy. So I'm really wondering if this stuff ever crosses any of your minds, i.e., why am I really trying to do this?

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Getting a PhD would allow me to ultimately become a professor. The only two careers I've ever been able to picture myself in is in teaching and in scientific research, so getting a PhD would allow me to do both. I've been out of undergraduate for a few years now, and always had in the back of my mind that I should go back to graduate school but was just waiting for the right timing, and hopefully that time is this fall.

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Well, i'm actually reasoning this out for the first time and i'd say that it's a lot of factors:

- I want to leave a legacy and what better way is there to do that than by adding to mankind's knowledge

- My interests are terribly varied

- I dislike the notion of working a 9-5 desk job programming someone else's ideas.

- dad is a PhD(tho he left academics after that) and sister's a doctor so i want the doc tag too :D

- i like the thrill of solving very tough problems(research)

- other than as a researcher, i can see myself only as a video game designer or an engine programmer for video games that would be my backup plan i guess as it involves graphics as well :D

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Well... I think every person has its own unique reasons. In my case there are many factors: (By the way, I am applying for theory)

1- I don't like to code someone else's idea. I like to make my own and smart algorithms and it is very pleasant to know that if it works, it is because YOUR idea works fine, and not because you just translate an idea into code.

2- I worked on industry and most of the times it was very boring. You lose most of your time debugging, coding design patterns, and dealing with technical difficulties (integrating different languages), reporting results, making documentation. And the only interesting thing for me is to think a clever algorithm and coding it. This is much more about research than working on industry.

3- I need a Phd to advance in my interests. If someday I would go back to industry I would like to be able to solve problems in smart ways and understand the latest papers on the topic. This is very difficult if you have not done some long and hard research before, like the research you do while you are doing a phD.

4- It could be interesting to apply your knowledge to solve new problems that could eventually finish in making your own business. I think that (in software industry) there is a lot of things to improve. Many ideas and tools that are commonly used can be improved if some people dedicate enough time to research about the topic.

5- I can't avoid to imagine the happiness of being involved in a big research project with hundreds of researchers trying to change the world in some way (i.e. looking for a cure to cancer, or to aging, or to solve global warming, etc.)

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