Will getting a PhD improve my job prospects?

This week’s advice from Lauren Weiner, Director of Wittenberg Weiner Consulting, LLC, a firm specializing in contracts with Government Agencies.


While I’m a huge believer in higher education, I don’t think a Ph.D. is a great way to increase your marketability or earning potential.  A Master’s degree, especially a marketable one like an MBA or MPP (or a targeted one that will move you forward in a chosen career field, like an MSW or a Masters in, say, speech pathology), is usually the right level to target for marketable job skills.  A Ph.D. is generally useful only if you want to go into very specific career fields—science, medical research—or if you want to go into academia.  According to this article in The Economist,  http://www.economist.com/node/17723223  overall a Ph.D. only adds about a 3% premium over a Masters.

The big elephant in the room, which few in the military-affiliated community seem to acknowledge openly, is where you get your degree.  I would absolutely much rather see a Masters degree from a solid school than a Ph.D. from a university that is known for being a diploma mill—regardless of if the course work at either type of university was on-line or on-ground.  (See this NY Times article about the problems at one for-profit university   http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/11/education/11phoenix.html).  As a small business owner,  I have a few major reasons that I hire people with advanced degrees :

  • They have shown the perseverance to start and finish a degree.
  • They have (hopefully) been taught critical thinking skills that are necessary for success in a knowledge-based employment culture.
  • They have learned to write and speak effectively.

While some students at these non-traditional universities may have the skills I’m looking for, their educational experience doesn’t signal that to me at all.   There really is a difference between the education you get from a more traditional university—even in an on-line program, many of which have stellar fundamentals, instructors, and curriculum—and a university focused on their quarterly earnings targets.  As a military spouse, I know it is difficult to get a degree from a more traditional university, and we’re going to be working in the coming months to identify quality programs that will allow military spouses to participate effectively.

In Gear Career Partners with eMentor

We are pleased to announce that In Gear Career is actively partnering with Millitary Spouse Business Alliance Partner – MilSpouse eMentor to help our members get the support they need.  In addition to finding mentors in your Community of Practice, you can enroll in the eMentor program to find professionals who have volunteered to help you.

The program allows you to enroll as a mentor and/or as a protégé.  As a protégé, you can view mentors’ profiles and select someone you identify with based on industry, skill sets, life stage, etc.  Once you have identified a mentor, you send them a request and begin a relationship through the online portal.  How the relationship develops is up to the pair, but will typically be a 20-30 min commitment each month.

In addition to being user-friendly, one of the aspects that we really like about the program is that it connects you not only with other successful military spouses, but also with corporate professionals – enabling you to expand your professional network.

You can sign up for the eMentor program on their website: www.milspousementor.org

Stay tuned as we collaborate to bring you a great program!