I am a student of computer science from India and specialize in Artificial Intelligence & Robotics. I have completed M.Tech (for those who do not know, it covers 18 years of education. It is actually PG in engineering, sort of an Indian equivalent of MS, consists of a one year course work + one year dissertation ). I have a conference paper to my name and I'll take up my GRE exams in a short while. I wish to pursue PhD from the US. Let us assume I make it to one of the top 50 grad schools in US in the next academic session.

What are my chances of landing in a good R&D job in industry after completing PhD? I do not wish to stay in academia throughout my career. I do not wish to teach. Post-PhD, I'd prefer a transition to industrial R&D.

I have not really figured out the details, have just started conceptualizing a career plan. So I thought it wise to start with the basic question. Given my career objective, is PhD really worth it?

  • 5
    For your own good, don't write on your personal statement that you have no intention of staying in academia and don't want to teach. You're shooting yourself in the foot if you don't play along and say that you could contribute a lot in the field and that you want to share your knowledge because corporatism is beneath you.
    – user10433
    Jan 4, 2014 at 21:57
  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about career prospects outside academia.
    – Cape Code
    Aug 7, 2016 at 11:07

5 Answers 5


You need to think about two questions, essentially.

  • Why do I need a PhD? - Do you really want to contribute something special to the field? Unlike M.tech where you are guaranteed a degree after two years, things are a lot more uncertain in a PhD, so unless you have the drive, it could be very difficult.
  • What is the nature of work of doctorates in your field? - This is much more important than knowing if you will get a job after PhD. Do try to contact people who are in good places in the industry and form an idea about the nature of their job. If you are enthused by that and you feel an industrial research position is where you seek to be, then go ahead.

A PhD from a top institution can never be "worthless". You learn some set of skills that are difficult to pick up if you are elsewhere, so that's a huge plus.

TL,DR: If you are happy being a skilful software or embedded systems engineer, then you are better off building your experience in the industry; if you really desire to contribute to the field as a researcher, PhD is a must, so hurry up with the formalities.


One way to answer your question is this. Identify the top few places you'd like to work at (regardless of degree). Look at the people doing the kind of work you'd enjoy doing, and then see what professional degrees they have, and what their trajectory has been. That will give you a sense of what kind of training is required for industrial R&D in robotics.

At least in CS I can say that having a Ph.D doesn't hurt in R&D labs, and it garners a modicum of authority/respect that helps in the corporate world, and might even be necessary for career advancement. Whether this is true for robotics as well depends on the research you do above.


Is it possible? Yes. Will it definitely happen? It's hard to say for any particular individual.

There are definitely people graduating with PhD's in robotics or AI that go on to jobs in industry—I even know a few. However, your ability to find a suitable job will depend on many factors both within your control—such as the quality of your PhD thesis, your letters of recommendation, and your ability to "sell" your work—as well as a number of factors you can't control—such as the economic state at the time of your graduation.

But, in general, getting a PhD shouldn't prevent you from getting an R&D job after graduation.


no of course a phd wont help you at all why would any R&D firm want a educated person on their team; i am almost certain that you knew the answer when you typed the question. if it is worth it to you then do it for yourself regardless of the degrees you hold your ability to market yourself within the community of practice you want to enter will be the test


get the industrial research job first. volunteer if you have to get a break. then do a PhD as an add on.

job or interests should drive the education then you will learn it with context and purpose.

research and knowledge creation is something you must do all the time daily. if not you are not a researcher. gather the tools and expertise as you go.

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