I have been looking at PhD programs for over 10 years now. Not to actually apply, but just because it is a hobby of mine. I was once a PhD student. My friends who did end up getting their PhD’s regret it immensely, though they did still acquire some useful skills along the way. Some people, like myself, emerge prematurely from their PhD program wounded and struggle for years. I was sexually harassed in graduate school. Also, my research was stolen by a professor. This is a frequent occurrence; I’m not sharing to complain, but just to testify to the fact that the rumors are true.
I just keep thinking about how the economy was bad in 2009, when I entered my PhD program, and how, now that it’s bad again, more people are going to be looking and applying. If that’s you, I recommend that you seriously reconsider. Not only is it difficult to get a job with a PhD because people think you’re overqualified, but because academia is an echo chamber of ideas, some imprisoning, some liberating, some both at the same time.
I think this is because of the secular nature of education in most PhD programs, and even in some of the PhD programs at religious schools. Of course the risk of getting a PhD at a religious school is that people might think that you have acquired your knowledge at some backwaters institution, and that may or may not be true; but the liberal ideology of the secular schools, which parade their knowledge as if it’s the only reality, is profoundly against the postmodern theory and pluralism they supposedly espouse.
I don’t regret not getting my PhD, even though initially I was devastated. Now I’m just glad. I’m currently getting a Master of Divinity, and they care for the whole student and not merely the intellect. I love supporting religious higher education at Wesleyan schools because they are about combining knowledge and vital piety. But even the higher higher ed. of religious schools, like getting a PhD in religion, gives one a sense of assurance about spiritual knowledge that can, at times, seem unbecoming.
Spirituality is supposed to be a tentative endeavor. Yes, we are supposed to have confidence in Christ, but not brashness. Now I just need to stop looking at PhD programs altogether. It’s so addictive though. They have something for everyone. And yet…maybe that’s the problem.