Uses for a PhD


I've recently started a PhD (but haven't done much work as yet). The PhD is not really relevant to my research interests but as a topic it's OK. If I take the view that I'm getting paid to do a job I feel I could complete it (I was unemployed before the PhD and I'm not prepared to go there again) but would be happy to save some money and leave with an MPhil (but this could prove difficult). I've no interest in lecturing, quite like research but don't really want be a full-time researcher until I retire. What else can you do with a PhD?

Also how easy is it to move away from your PhD topic? I'm more doing this topic because it's funded but it's not where my interests are. I feel passionately about other areas of research and would feel happier if I knew it would be relatively easy to move on.


What you can do with your PhD depends on your discipline. Some PhDs offer little value outside academia, while others do. What field are you in?


Wow, you're brave! I'm not sure I could commit to 3+ years of stress and crushingly hard work researching something that I wasn't passionate about. I guess so much of it does depend on your area and what type of research you are involved in as to how easy it will be to diversify.


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The PhD subject is interesting enough and I've had to spend time doing much worse jobs! I'm very fortunate to have gotten funding. Being unemployed is what causes me stress. Much happier than I was only 4 months ago!


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That's good to hear :-) Yes you are lucky getting funding, and yes, it is far better than being unemployed!


like has been said before: what you can do with a PHD really does depend on your feild. outside researching and lecturing, there isnt a lot you can do with a PhD that cant be done with just a degree

it kind of sounds like you may well have some serious motivation problems in the coming years if you are asking what use your PhD might be to you after only starting a few months ago? and just out of interest how would you go about being a researcher when you retire? ( arm chair researching?)

I suspect a lot of people this year in particular will jump on borad PhD programs because of the credit crunch. I'm on an msc course at the moment and one of the professors in my department joked that he expected to see a sharp increase in PhD applications as people are finding it hard to get jobs.


Sorry, my post was badly worded. I meant I don't want to be a full time researcher during all my working years, unless I can work in specific areas (can't detail these as I want to remain anonymous).

I've given motivation careful consideration and believe me the thought of being unemployed will keep me motivated. I feel confident that I could at least happily complete to MPhil level but feel that for the sake of another year it might be best to stick with it for the PhD. Certainly, if someone came forward with a very good offer of a job I would consider taking it but it's extremely unlikely to happen where I live (and I can't move).

I just want to know what options, if any, are open to someone with a PhD (social sciences) who doesn't want to be an academic. I actually enjoy research but don't like publishing and am not at all competitive.


The PhD is relevant to psychology and I am aware of other training options in psychology but would the PhD be useful for anything else?


Well it depends. Psychology is a field that is highly competitive so getting anywhere in it (even with a PhD) will be hard. I am a psychology postdoc, and lecturer jobs are hard to find, but so is making the jump to other fields of psychology. It also depends on which area of psychology you are in as the harder qualitative/ cognitive/ biological psychology end translates quite well to medicine/working for clinical trials, working in numerate areas etc, whereas the more social psychology/quantitative tends to have fewer choices and has to be a bit more imaginative in their career choices (thats just my observation).

From my team one of the post docs here has left to try to get a clinical training place but she hasn't been successful. Another ex RA is doing writing for a medical company, and another has gone into IT. That said, I know of someone who finished their psychology PhD when I did and worked in a consultancy with his friends, but I am not sure of what exactly he does (except he seems loaded now). I think much of this field is about who you know and you connections, as well as how much you know.Some of my undergraduate friends are in graduate training programs, teaching and advertising (which are paths you can still do with a PhD).


Thanks BHC. I'll definitely not be gearing my career towards academia (which will ease the stresses of the PhD). I think I'd rather retrain than go down that route. On a very postive note, the PhD topic would be directly relevant to another career path and this alternative career would interest me. I would just need to find a way to fund more study.