PhDs Build Character More than Careers

Rusty Osborne | September 1, 2015


Waiting for the ink to dry on my recent PhD diploma, I began reflecting on the last several years of academic activity. Several questions quickly arose in my mind. Does the church need more trained servants with PhDs? With the rise in number of people with PhDs and significant instability in many sectors of Christian higher education, can I, in good conscience, encourage others to pursue PhDs? The title “independent scholar” is becoming increasingly commonplace at academic meetings, and a brief survey of the employment center at an annual Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) meeting reveals the days of getting a degree and simply walking into a professorship are long gone. So, if the PhD no longer holds the same career-enabling power as a “union card” for the academy, why go through the trouble?

Despite the fact that earning a PhD may not immediately land you a full-time teaching job, there are immeasurable benefits to the experience. Pursuing a PhD may not transform your career, but there is little doubt it will affect your character.

Here are four ways I found the experience helpful.

1. Precision

During my PhD study I had the privilege of doing a one-on-one tutorial with a reputable scholar. I wrote several papers, and upon their completion he would…


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