By Sopheap Chak
Even while struggling with MA degree?s thesis writing, I joined today Roundtable Discussion with International University Japan?s faculties members concerning on student?s future plan for pursuing Ph.D. It was a great experience sharing and recommendation for those who intend to go further for higher education and career plan. The IUJ faculties members includes:
- Cooray, Nawalage S.: Associate Professor of International Peace Studies Program
- Oh, Jinhwan: Associate Professor of International Development Program
- Mori, Masaki: Associate Professor of International Management
- Shinoda, Tomohito: Professor of Graduate International Relations
- Siddique Zafrul Quadir: Assistant Professor of International Development Program
- Sugai, Philip: Professor of International Management
About 30 Students attended this event which only few students raised their hand while asking if they would continue Ph.d. It seem they are considering about all the recommendation from the professor (or it seem they are being discouraged ;-)).
Here are questions being discussed:
- Should I go on to a Ph.D.?
- How Should I choose a program?
- What should I consider in Preparing for a Ph.D. and What should I avoid ?
- How can I fund the studies?
- What was your program like and would you recommend it?
- What career are open to those with a Ph.D. in your field?
Here are main key messages from all the professors which i think it worth to share:
Ask ourselves the reason why we want to continue Ph.D.
It is an important question because we have to understand the necessity of Ph.D. investment to our future career life. Ph.D. is both financing and time consuming investment. Before going to Ph.D, we have to find out what is our future career plan. For example, if we intend to be businessmen, Ph.D is apparently not so important since many firms (the case of Japan) would not value Ph.D so much. But if our career is shaped to academia, then of course Ph.D is a value added and some university (the case of western once) would required Ph.D level.
Preparation to attend Ph.D and Financial issue
Think of program and research interest that we are going to work for Ph.D. dissertation. This is crucial since we have to pursue it for the whole Ph.D program and it can be difficult for us if we choose the topic that we are not interested as well as it will shape for our future career and speciality.
Also we need to be careful with financial issue since no scholarship is guaranteed for the whole Ph.D program and period. Some scholars may take up to 5 years or 10 years to finish their Ph.D (though some who can complete in 3 year period). So, we have to make sure that our financial support are well secured by acquiring different sources of additional fund or make sure the school or program we are applying will be well-supported.
Program and School Selection
We have to be careful in selecting the school. We need to look at the Global Scale of Opportunity meaning the school reputation and recognition will be important for your degree and future careers. (Some professors recommend US schools rather than Japan since Japanese Ph.D degree is limited in term of value and labor opportunities outside of Japan).
Things to Do and Avoid:
Do not pursue Ph.D for just title (Being called Dr. sound nice, but it should not be the only ultimate goal).
Do not value Ph.D goal with monetary term, the reward to gain Ph.D is more beyond this monetary value.
Apply cost-benefit analysis for our Ph.D pursuance decision.
Ph.D is mainly training people to be researcher and well-discipline.
If we think of non-business career, going for Ph.D is encouraged.
Need to aware the different between Ph.D degree and Doctoral Degree. It is recommended to go for Ph.D rather than Doctoral degree since it is more valued in academia.
Be persistence since Ph.D pursuance is quiet stressful and lonely during dissertation writing. (for married scholar, the spouse can be also stressful together, said Gretchen, the IUJ alumni and manager of Student Service Office)
After all the discussion and recommendation, it seem Ph.D level is quiet a tough job and considering Ph.D is not an easy decision making process. Will you apply for Ph.D?