I am about to start my Masters in Data Science this Fall and while thinking about what comes after that, I just had one answer: I want to become a professor, get into the teaching line.

Now I have heard that a PhD is important to do that. How true is that?

Secondly, if i do decide to do a PhD, I don't have a research paper. My MS course is only about 16 months and getting a Research Assistantship is difficult though I'll try my best. What other things should I do to enhance my profile to get an admission in PhD?

I am particularly interested in the fields of NLP and AI in healthcare if that helps in helping me.

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For almost all university teaching jobs a PhD is essential. There are few exceptions. A masters will place you well for admission to a doctoral program, but it isn't essential everywhere. Many people start doctoral studies in the US with only a bachelors, but they need additional coursework along the way.

Nor is prior research essential to admission to a doctoral program everywhere, though it might be in some places.

Note, however, that you are asking about fields that are, at the moment, extremely competitive. That will make admission more difficult and, if all those other people are successful, will make finding a teaching job in that field more difficult as well. This is the problem with choosing a "hot" area of research.

For admission requirements in many places see the following: How does the admissions process work for Ph.D. programs in Country X?

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