I refer only to academic PhDs, not doctorates in education. Many swanky fee-paying schools in England and the US hire PhDs as teachers. So what qualities are likely unique to PhDs and may not be mastered (pun intended) by teachers whose highest degree is a Masters?

Charterhouse's PhDs in math include:

Dr Graham Kemp, MSc, MMath, PhD
Dr Philip Langman, PhD
Dr Stephen Marshall, MMath, DPhil

Phillips Exeter Academy:

Zuming Feng, "Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University with an emphasis on algebraic number theory and elliptic curves."
Panama C. Geer, M.S., Ph.D.
Filip Djordjije Sain, PhD Applied Math

St Paul's Girls' School (in London):

Damon Vosper Singleton (Head of Department) — MMath (Oxon), PhD (London)
Pip Bennett BSc, MA (Durham), PhD (Bristol)
Alexandra Randolph MMath (Oxon), PhD (Nottingham), MIMA


Head of Department
Dr Ian Jackson

MA (Hons) Mathematics : Trinity Hall, Cambridge
MMath : University of Cambridge
PhD (Radial Basis Function Methods for Multivariable Approximation) : University of Cambridge

Dr Jeremy King MA (Hons) Mathematics : St. John's College, Cambridge
PhD (Finite presentability of Lie algebras and pro- groups) : University of Cambridge

Dr Zi Wang MA (Hons) Mathematics and Statistics: Christ Church, Oxford
MMATH: Christ Church, Oxford
PhD (Sparse multivariate models for pattern detection in high-dimensional biological data): Imperial College London

  • 3
    Prestige, of course. If you want parents to spring up the moolah, then you need a little flash.
    – user9646
    Feb 20, 2018 at 9:04
  • 5
    Well, as someone who taught 3 years at such a school after getting my Ph.D. in math (in the U.S., a math/science academy; but public, not private), the answer is simply because they can. But the Ph.D. is by no means a free ticket, and from my experience in job searches for such positions, a much higher percentage of Ph.D. applicants than Masters applicants do not make it very far in the application process due to a lack of evidence offered in their applications for how/why they would be successful in teaching adolescents in a high-pressure environment. Feb 20, 2018 at 12:31
  • @NajibIdrissi Thanks. I agree. But any other substantive reasons?
    – user13306
    Feb 20, 2018 at 17:26
  • @NNOXApps PhDs are usually forced to teach or teach-assistant multiple courses. Many PhDs also teach the college summer school (where many high school students also participate). So PhD usually has more teaching experience than MS. Moreover, the high schools uses the number of PhD holders to convince the parents to pay.
    – High GPA
    Apr 24, 2021 at 4:23

1 Answer 1


While the PhD is explicitly geared toward research and secondary education is not, many people earn a doctorate for the explicit reason of becoming teachers, not researchers. That was my own driving force, though I had/have an intense interest in mathematics for its own sake, teaching was what drove me to earn a doctorate.

But, getting a doctorate in some field also gives you (or should) a lot of insight in to how that field works and how ideas fit together. That insight is hard to convey, but it is an important part of anyone's development, even, or maybe especially, for young learners. While someone with a masters can also have and convey such insights, a doctorate may provide an extra measure that has value.

My very first positive educational experience was in high school; plane geometry. I didn't have especially good instruction, but learned, through endless problem solving sessions to get a feel for it and to begin the drive toward a deep education in maths. And, had I had better guides at the time, I might have developed confidence earlier than I did.

A PhD, alone, however, isn't the answer. It needs to come with a desire to excel at teaching that provides they synergy to make it work effectively.

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