I live in a third-world country. Although I have a second-class degree in IT, I work in the general banking section in a private banking organization. This is possible because, in our country, private banks recruit engineering students (among others) as Management Trainees. They are rotated among various sections in the bank and are trained up for two years. After two years, they are promoted as Executives.

After joining the organization I found that there is huge amount of study involved to get confirmation and to get promotion. Moreover, I don't know Accounting.

Now I am thinking, since I have to study anyway, why not take the GRE and TOEFL, then study apply for a MSc in IT or computer science and then a PhD degree from USA.

I have already been away from academia for almost four years. And, since I am doing a full-time job, I think it will take 2 years more to prepare myself applying for higher education in the USA. At that point I will be 32 years old.

Is a PhD degree from USA enough to find a job at that age?

  • 1
    You didn't say what kind of job you'll be looking for after PhD?
    – Nobody
    Jan 1, 2013 at 5:25
  • 15
    Then you do not want a PhD.
    – JeffE
    Jan 2, 2013 at 20:27
  • 1
    @JeffE some companies [that develop software] value PhDs. If the skills obtained during a PhD are of no use in industry then we should question whether the "ivory tower" has become a speculative bubble where resources are invested and only returned in a fictional bubble that could burst at any time, rendering all previous investment as useless due to the disconnection between this tower and the "real" world.
    – Trylks
    Mar 26, 2014 at 10:03
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    @Trylks JeffE never said the skills obtained during a PhD are of no use in industry. The question really is whether they are of more use than another way to spend the same amount of time and effort (this includes 'just' being in industry). For some industries, having a PhD is very much worth the investment. For software development it tends not to be. Mar 26, 2014 at 13:20
  • 1
    "Do I have any potential in the academic field?" Just the title deserves an upvote :) Mar 28, 2014 at 1:04

4 Answers 4


since I have to study anyway, why not go for GRE+TOEFL, MS in IT or Computer Science and then a PhD degree from USA

Maybe you're aware of this, but "studying" has little to do with getting a Ph.D. It might suffice for an MS, but a good MS involves more than just "studying" as well.

In other words, if (as stated) your idea is that instead of "study" to get a promotion, you want to study to get an advanced degree, you're in for some disappointment. A graduate degree (especially a Ph.D) involves a lot more "doing" and independent creative thinking.

  • "A graduate degree (especially a Ph.D) involves a lot more "doing" and independent creative thinking." - meaning is not clear.
    – user4271
    Jan 1, 2013 at 17:46
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    what I mean is that "studying" in the typical "classroom" setting is not what a Ph.D is about. A Ph.D is about learning to create new knowledge (i.e research). It's a different skill set.
    – Suresh
    Jan 1, 2013 at 18:27

This is not how it works. A degree doesn't mean you will get a job. Actually, a degree only proves you passed a certain education course and wrote your dissertation.

In order to get a job, you must be proficient / or at least well-familiar with specific requirements of your chosen job posting. Whatever the job requires, you need to know it before applying and have some experience with it.

The degree contents is not enough to please your potential employer. You must study also around the curriculum from day 1 to match the real job requirements [as you have found them in job postings]

Further, a PhD is a highly specialized research degree focused on a very tiny, narrowed-down area, in which you will most likely never find a job in your lifetime [unless you are very clever or lucky and research something that companies or universities dream of].

Master's degree is already an advanced degree. Chances are, you won't even find a position in your Master's specialization because it is too specialized. For example, what you say about your company that makes you a trainee manager, that already means you didn't find a job matching your Bachelor's.

Regarding positions in Academia, there are very few, if any, and the number of PhDs competing for one such position might be around 500. This is one thing to consider. There are many extremely bright PhDs who really want to teach and cannot find any university to go. There is also something called "tenure". When you get it, you can stay at your post for the rest of your life. Professors rarely leave their posts, and when they do, the role may be filled by the associate professor, in some cases. So that you would eventually wait 10 years as a postdoc before becoming the professor that you want to be. During that time, there is often a very low pay as these postdocs are cheap labor working ~55h / week.

The supply of PhDs is so much exceeding the demand, that I would recommend to re-evaluate the situation and make more realistic goals, such as look at available positions and their requirements before studying. If you study, pay for access to extra contents relevant to your desired profession and learn from these resources as a part of your advanced degree to bridge the gap between real job requirements and the academic curriculum.

  • 4
    Moreover, all else being equal, a PhD decreases your ability to find a job and decreases your earning potential. Unless your goal is to become a professional researcher, you're better off stopping with a Master's degree.
    – JeffE
    Jan 1, 2013 at 21:58
  • @JeffE What's a professional researcher?
    – user13107
    Jan 2, 2013 at 7:12
  • 1
    I don't know what you mean about an assistant taking over the job of a professor. That's not how it works in the US at least.
    – Suresh
    Jan 2, 2013 at 16:40
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    @user13107 A professional researcher is someone who gets paid to do research (either in academia or in industry), just like a professional golfer is someone who is paid to play golf, and a professional actor is someone who is paid to act.
    – JeffE
    Jan 2, 2013 at 20:18
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    @MarekCruz: Correlation is not causality. In the US, "assistant professor" is a temporary title that does not mean "assistant to the professor". After a fixed time period, usually seven years, every assistant professor is either promoted to associate professor or fired. "Associate professor" is also a formal title that does not mean "associate to the professor" (in the US). Many associate professors are later promoted to "(full) professors". Meanwhile, faculty members eventually retire. But retirements and promotions are independent events.
    – JeffE
    Jan 2, 2013 at 20:23

I am having a feeling that you want to go for academia or at least r & d of some company, after PhD. If you really really have 'the calling', then and only then take such a risk. I know only few student who actually took such a risk. Do not come in academia with a very romantic thought and be prepared for hardship, toil and trouble. These things increases, if you can not manage to get in one of the the top places. Also consider the financial matters as well.

If you can sponsor yourself, then perhaps you can go to some reasonably good university in USA, without any recommendation (your job experience can help you in certain ways). Since I have never been there, someone else can answer it better. Otherwise, go to the best institute available in your country for getting a MSc(Engg), MSc (by research), MTech or similar degree. Make sure, the the faculties of that place are active in research and (better) have some contact in USA. In this way, even if you do not want to go for PhD after 2 years, you still have some placement options from the institute, you are studying.

I myself never appeared for GRE etc. So some others can tell the procedure better. All the best for your future.


I did a PhD and then went into the software industry followed by banking. I did the PhD because I love science rather than for career enhancement so I never regretted doing it. In the software industry the PhD is not well valued. Three years of work experience would be much better. In banking the right PhD is useful for certain roles such as quants, hedge managers, analysts etc. In general a suitable PhD helps in some roles, has no benefit in others and may make you overqualified elsewhere.

My advice would be to do a PhD only if you are inspired by research, not as a career move. Only continue into a postdoc academic career if you are really sure it is your lifetime calling.

However, it is possible that coming from a third world country the PhD may open more doors for you. My own experience does not address that.