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PonderingSoc

Should I do a PhD in Soc?

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I am so happy I found this forum! I'm new here, just signed up so it's nice to "meet" you all :) For the last 7 years of my life, I have been dead set on becoming a lawyer. I have been in all the forums, asked all the questions, but after working with a lawyer this past summer, I realized that law simply isn't for me. This was quite hard to take because it had been my plan for years. However, I had always known that my true passion was studying sociology. I did my honours in sociology and although I always wanted to take it further, my long-time plan to be a lawyer just made me think that I shouldn't pursue sociology. I finished my UG honours degree at StFX in Canada. My GPA is about 3.88/4.0, which is ~ 87% average for my honours. So, First of all, are my grades high enough to give me a shot at doing an MA and then PhD? My first year wasn't super great so that makes the GPA look worse haha!

As much as I love the discipline, I know how hard it is to get a steady teaching job as a professor now. I am therefore interested in something outside of Academia. My favourite area of sociology has to do with the media and the ways in which sociology can help us to understand how societies are persuaded and essentially manipulated by things like social media. Are there any jobs I could do pertaining to this? Something that I also love is business.. So I had thought that perhaps if I became an "expert" (so to speak) in media influence and things of that sort, that businesses could perhaps hire me to help them advertise their products/services in such a way that it is most likely to tap into the gold mine of social influence? 

 

Maybe this all sounds naive haha! I sure hope not... Anyways, if anyone could give me some advice that would be awesome:) One more thing, what other high paying jobs can one do with a sociology PhD outside of academia? 

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2 minutes ago, Quickmick said:

1. The grades seem fine.

2. Depends on how you define high paying.

Thanks for the answer :) I suppose 100K + is, quite objectively speaking, pretty "high pay." So perhaps that would be a good reference base? 

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You should only pursue a PhD program in sociology if your intention is to become an academic (e.g., sociology professor) in the future.

Also, the median pay for Assistant (Sociology) Professors with tenure-track is around $60k the last time I checked. This will probably rise to around $80-100k+ once you get to a full professor, but that takes at least about 10 years after starting an AP position. Meanwhile, outside options for sociology PhDs are not great, with not a lot of demand unless you are trained in quantitative methods (in which case there is probably a decent amount of demand and pay). But it sounds like you want to do media-related work, so that doesn't seem to apply to you.

So from what you posted, don't pursue a PhD in sociology. Do it only if you really want to become a sociology professor.

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2 hours ago, PonderingSoc said:

I am so happy I found this forum! I'm new here, just signed up so it's nice to "meet" you all :) For the last 7 years of my life, I have been dead set on becoming a lawyer. I have been in all the forums, asked all the questions, but after working with a lawyer this past summer, I realized that law simply isn't for me. This was quite hard to take because it had been my plan for years. However, I had always known that my true passion was studying sociology. I did my honours in sociology and although I always wanted to take it further, my long-time plan to be a lawyer just made me think that I shouldn't pursue sociology. I finished my UG honours degree at StFX in Canada. My GPA is about 3.88/4.0, which is ~ 87% average for my honours. So, First of all, are my grades high enough to give me a shot at doing an MA and then PhD? My first year wasn't super great so that makes the GPA look worse haha!

As much as I love the discipline, I know how hard it is to get a steady teaching job as a professor now. I am therefore interested in something outside of Academia. My favourite area of sociology has to do with the media and the ways in which sociology can help us to understand how societies are persuaded and essentially manipulated by things like social media. Are there any jobs I could do pertaining to this? Something that I also love is business.. So I had thought that perhaps if I became an "expert" (so to speak) in media influence and things of that sort, that businesses could perhaps hire me to help them advertise their products/services in such a way that it is most likely to tap into the gold mine of social influence? 

 

Maybe this all sounds naive haha! I sure hope not... Anyways, if anyone could give me some advice that would be awesome:) One more thing, what other high paying jobs can one do with a sociology PhD outside of academia? 

Hi there and welcome!

First, the GradCafe has a great little primer regarding asking about your 'chances'. This often boils down to fit, more than strictly numbers. I will say that that appears to be a solid average and a shaky first year or two often isn't too bad if you're displaying an 'upward trend', which it sounds like you are/did.

Second, I would encourage you to read the recent Conference Board of Canada report regarding where Canadian PhDs are employed. It doesn't give a discipline-by-discipline breakdown (so, can't ascertain where sociologists specifically end up), but you can look at trends for social scientists. I would particularly encourage you to look at the section on Earning Premiums for PhDs (page 28-29). Your last question that prioritizes 'high paying jobs' (and your stated baseline for this) post-PhD alarms me a bit, because you should know that you forgo a lot of earning potential/time when you take the PhD route. A PhD is a huge endeavour that usually takes longer than your funding package allows, and it's often during prime earning years of your life, so if the marker of success for you is earning potential, you might be despondent about the reality - the return on investment can be a very long game in this context.

Third, if you pursue the MA/PhD, you're going to have to frame your research interests such that you can articulate how your pursuit contributes to the scholarly conversation/community. So, I wouldn't try to 'pick' research topics for their employment potential. No matter what research topic you pick, it will likely be preoccupied with the minutia of the area and will be framed in terms of scholarly worth, not employment application (which isn't to say that these are mutually exclusive or that there aren't great debates in the applied/public sociology realms regarding what our research 'means' to the world beyond academia). It's possible to pick a research area and make solid connections through that that you can use for employment later (I know someone who studied addictions and did some work through CAMH, and now they work for them), but yeah, your actual topic is going to be framed as a scholarly contribution. What you might think about/focus on instead are the skills you'll build during the PhD and whether/how those translate to jobs that appeal to you beyond academia post-PhD: qualitative and quantitative methods training, research/presentation/teaching skills, stuff like that. I know people who leveraged strong research skills (both qual and quant) skills who now work for StatsCan or private/governmental consulting gigs or think tanks and policy development or NGO advocacy, as just a few examples.

I think it's wise to consider options outside of academia, as this is in line with labour realities. But I think it would be a long haul to enter in to the PhD with the strong preference for a non-academic job - the more successful candidates I've seen have engaged in what has been called 'parallel planning', where you accrue/articulate skills and networks that you can frame/leverage for either an academic job or an alt-ac/non-ac job.

All THAT being said, an MA in Canada is a stand-alone degree that typically only takes a year or two and is often funded, so I don't see the harm in applying to MA programs to get a sense of whether or not graduate studies will help you attain a job/vocation that is feasible/in-line with your priorities.

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