Best PhD for Working Professionals

Jun 01, 2020

Working professionals are already employed in their career field. When looking at PhD programs in particular, we're more focused on the doctoral programs that will assist those who are already working professionals and who want to advance their career or knowledge. In this article, we'll look at some of those options.

PhD Programs for Professionals

One thing to keep in mind about PhD programs is that these are typically research-based and geared toward improving on existing theories or developing new ones. It has been said that you can think of a PhD degree as the ''why'' degree, learning to look at the reasons why each field does what it does. PhDs are also the best degrees to become professors at universities.

PhD in Law

These programs often correspond with a Juris Doctor (JD) degree for lawyers. With a PhD program, you'll learn how to be legal scholars and professors. These programs typically include a dissertation, which requires a lot of research and writing. Leading up to this point, you'll study many research methodologies and scholarly law canon. This program works well for professionals because some colleges require you to already have your JD degrees. If you would like to study law and policy, there are online law programs available that allow you to continue working while you study.

PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences

The pharmaceutical sciences PhD often offers several concentrations to choose from, including toxicology, medicinal chemistry, and industrial pharmacy. Some courses you may come across during this study include:

  • Pharmaceutical sciences
  • Biostatistics
  • Pharmaceutical analysis
  • Biopharmaceutical chemistry

These PhD programs often include a residency to gain hands-on experience working beneath a pharmaceutical scientist. Some dissertations for graduation will include researching and completing a laboratory or clinical investigation. It's important to note that these degree programs can be accessed with either a bachelor's or master's degree, so this is a good way to advance your professional career, no matter your current education level. This will change the number of required credits for graduation, however. Some programs in this area may be offered as hybrid programs, which allow some work to be conducted online.

PhD in Biomedical Sciences

For those working in the medical sciences, a PhD in biomedical sciences will allow you to advance your position further with research or academia through online or on-campus study. Though a Doctor of Medicine (MD) is often associated with the doctoral level of medicine, this program will get you behind the scenes, looking at ways to improve health and healthcare rather than helping diagnose and treat patients. Sometimes, these programs are combined with other degrees, like a Master of Business Administration (MBA), for a dual degree program. This can allow you to advance your knowledge and understanding even further depending on your undergraduate degree. On top of this, many programs include concentrations in specific medical areas, such as immunology, virology, molecular genetics, translational therapeutics, or cellular physiology.

PhD in Finance

Finance is one of those degree areas that can open doors for many careers. For instance, if you are already a financial manager, you may have a bachelor's degree in finance or economics. By earning a PhD, you can advance your career opportunities to become a chief financial officer or move into academia as a college professor. Typically, you must have at least a good background knowledge in math topics, like statistics, probability, calculus, and algebra. Many of these programs will include a practicum or a teaching requirement for graduation, as well as a dissertation. Some financial programs are offered through online formats, allowing working individuals the chance to study at their own pace. Some of the course topics you may see in a PhD in finance degree program include:

  • Empirical asset pricing
  • Financial markets
  • Micro/macroeconomics
  • Auction
  • Econometrics
  • Asset pricing theory
  • Household finance

Differences in Pay

Now that we understand that a doctoral degree will provide you new knowledge in research and writing in your field, let's consider what this could mean for the working professional. Here, we've listed a few of the common salaries for each of the degrees so you can see how much your salary may change with a PhD.

Major Average Bachelor's Salary (2020)* Average Master's Salary (2020)* Average PhD Salary (2020)*
Law $63,000 $62,000 $93,000 (2019)
Pharmaceutical Sciences $68,000 $70,000 $104,000 (2019)
Biomedical Sciences $68,000 $62,000 $98,000
Finance $71,000 $78,000 $121,000

Source: *PayScale

As you can see throughout this article, a PhD can lead to many careers in academia and research. Whether you have a bachelor's degree or a master's degree, your salary can increase drastically when you complete a PhD program. The availability of part-time and online programs allow working professionals to continue earning as they advance their education.

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