Is a PhD worth it?

PhD programs infamously take over half a decade to complete. If you were to simply focus on the financial gains of getting a PhD over an MS, which typically lasts 2 years or less, the justification for the added time begins to pale.

For most majors, the median salaries, in the US, are comparable between the two levels. In some cases, like in Industrial Arts, it actually has a negative margin. So you study more to earn less. Incredible! But of course, this claim lacks the in depth study into region, specialization, university and skills that each individual student develops. The best way to evaluate the ROI of your PhD would be to talk to alumni, study the job prospects in your field and understand your future requirements.

The situation with academic jobs in the US is worrisome. On the plus side, the scene in India is somewhat different. According to latest data from University Grants Commission, Central Universities have nearly 38% (or about 6,000) vacant faculty positions, waiting to be filled.

But the reality here is that most universities have a rather lengthy and drawn application process, sometimes taking more than a year to fill a single position, if they advertise at all. On top of that, there are age caps (usually 35 years) to consider. So, unless you somehow have a genius gene and the favours of the constellations, to wrap up your PhD and enter the job market, you may only get to face a hiring committee a day before your 35th birthday!