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Anyone here working on their Doctorate?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by N.F.A., Aug 8, 2012.

  1. N.F.A.


    Jun 25, 2009
    In a blue funk
    I am making some tentative moves to get into a local Doctoral program. (A STEM degree. STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.)
    If I get into the program it will mean little to no bass or any other activities outside of work and school, for the next three years.
    Just wondering how it is working for anyone else on here?
  2. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
    Not me but plenty of Ph.Ds here. There have been similar threads in the past, if you care to do a search.
  3. N.F.A.


    Jun 25, 2009
    In a blue funk
    Thanks colcifer, I will do that.
  4. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    BTDT. How much music you can work into life depends on you, your class load and your family commitments. The faster you do the PhD, the less time you will have.

    A note - I've never heard of an actual "STEM" degree - I've only heard that term used to describe classes of programs. Make sure that it relates to the academic discipline you want to move into. We don't have any STEM departments at our university - we have the discrete disciplines. Even in Education, there are no graduate degrees with the acronym STEM in them.

    Normally, the only reason to get a PhD is to teach and do research at the university level. Make sure the degree fits into your career path and isn't an ugly duckling.
  5. N.F.A.


    Jun 25, 2009
    In a blue funk
    The STEM thing is both an endorsement on a teaching license and a degree path, through our local curriculum and instruction department. I am definitely looking to change careers after nearly 30 of teaching children. I'm wanting to go into curriculum development and design. Teaching at the collegiate level would also be fun. I did that for a short bit many years ago and loved it. I also teach adults massage and anatomy/physiology now at a local massage school.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    I was giving it serious thought after completing my M.A. last year. Unfortunately the GRE is not a test I would excel at. For most Ph.D. programs the GRE score is the make or break of an application.
  7. I've considered it numerous times. Currently, I'm in more of a "screw that" mindset. The programs are outrageously priced, and my field (Counseling and Psychotherapy) is horribly underpaid.

    I still may, however. I really miss school since finishing my M.S.
  8. I don't think that's true, Kev. If you excelled in Grad School, and have a good portfolio of professional experience, I really don't think a standardized test (which many do poorly at) would be a real deciding factor.
  9. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I'm three courses away from being completely ABD. I'm currently talking to faculty members about being on my committee and just planning out the completion of my degree.

    I have two pieces of advice. First, you need to have a legitimate thirst for knowledge, and this thirst must motivate you. You HAVE to be an autodidact to succeed in a doctoral program.

    Second, start anticipating your dissertation as soon as possible. Even if you don't have a firm topic right away, always be thinking about it. And also be realistic with something you can complete. There are a lot of interesting topics of research that you can spend time on when you're a tenured professor somewhere and you have three graduate assistants to help you, but those projects may be biting off more than you can chew at this juncture in your career. The main thing is to have something pretty solid by the time your done with your courework. You'll be way ahead of the curve if you start working on your dissertation as soon as possible. You don't want to finish your coursework, have any comp/qualifying exams done, and say, "Gosh, I guess I have to write this little book now."

    All programs are different, but I did exceptionally mediocre on the GRE (I was just shy of 1000 for verbal/math, though I had a 5.5 or something like that on the analytical) and they let me get a PhD. I had a 3.97 GPA from my undergraduate and never dropped below a 4.0 in my Master's program, so obviously I had the academic ability to succeed. Plus, I had written a good Master's thesis that I submitted as a writing sample, so it was also evidence that I could do graduate-level research (aside from perhaps a methods or stats course, most candidates who are admitted into my program don't have real research experience prior to doing their doctorate). My coordinator and others have been very frank about the selection process with the program, and GRE scores are really just one part of a whole list of things they consider. My application package was pretty extensive, with GRE scores, all undergraduate and Master's transcripts, a professional or academic writing samples, three letters of recommendation, and a CV.

    An economist once told me that if you build a regression model looking at success in graduate school and only have GRE scores as the independent variable, the R-square value is really low. In other words, GRE scores aren't incredibly predictive of success in graduate school. I really don't know any of the research regarding that, but if what he says is true, it's pretty funny that graduate psychology and sociology programs put much of any weight on GRE scores; if anyone understands concepts like criterion and construct validity and how they relate to assessment, it should be those people. Out of all the standardized admissions test, the LSAT is the only one that actually has face validity. It measures your ability to think abstractly about information and arguments, which is a big part of what lawyers do for a living. The verbal section of the GRE measures your ability to know a bunch of strange words that the average graduate student, let alone the average person, probably doesn't know. The math section measures how many backdoor ways you know in order to solve what should be simple problems. :meh:

    My guess is if you put things like GRE scores, GPA, and other things into a regression model, you'd get some major collinearity. But again, I don't really know what the research says about the GRE. I just know that it seems to lack some serious face validity.

    BTW, my university actually has a doctoral program specifically for curriculum.
  10. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Nah. Like anything else, it's a factor, but not that important in of itself. If you have other attractive factors on your resume and have a defined interest, it'll go way, way further than an aced GRE.

    That said, why do you think you wouldn't do well on the GRE?
  11. N.F.A.


    Jun 25, 2009
    In a blue funk
    In my case I took the GRE when I entered my Master's program years ago. I believe they will still take that score. My hope is to receive some sort of tuition assistance via STEM program funding.
  12. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Most places accept scores if they are under five years old.
  13. The degree classification system is different over here, you generally need at least an upper second UG (equivalent to a B) and more often you also need a masters. Obviously need better grades for prize scholarships.

    All that aside, the most important things are:
    1) having a supervisor with which you get on with.
    2) a field you are interested in, it will be most of your life for a few years.

    I'm doing a PhD in Physics, optimistic plan is to submit my thesis at the end of March. Also do a fair bit of outreach work with the STEM ambassador program over here. You will be busy, you will be consumed by it, but you will still have time to enjoy the finer things in life, at least in the earlier years!
  14. gttim


    Dec 12, 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    My gf has her Ph.D in neuroscience. She actually is the sustainability field now. Dealing with various schools in her work, the Ph.D certainly has helped her even though she has changed fields. Plus, she can always go back and tech if it comes down to it.

    She got wear her academic regalia when she performed a wedding over the summer! There were a ton of Ph.Ds at the wedding, so it was like a big inside joke only Ph.Ds have.

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