Scholarship is an important part of professional development. Lately I have been grappling with an inner desire to get a PhD that is driven by some unknown thing. In this post I am going to talk about that desire and speculate on why I feel like I need to do a PhD.

The Need

There are many reasons that a PhD would be a good idea for me in my career.

  • As professors working within a college system there is an increasing need to engage in research activities. A PhD prepares students to engage in research.
  • People often assume that I have my PhD because I teach research.
  • Academic credentials like a PhD adds credibility to the research and educational materials I produce.


Some people think that credibility is not a concern, but others I have talked to agree with me. What do you think?

Here are a few of my experiences and observations that have led me to think I need a PhD to be seen as credible.

  • I have been told that I do not have the credentials to contribute as an editor of an academic journal even though I am published and teach students how to critique research.
  • When I get emails inviting me to submit publications or present at events they almost always assume I have a PhD.
  • Grant applications and other similar opportunities have a PhD listed as criteria.
  • Most academic job postings ask for a PhD.
  • Without a PhD I feel disadvantaged.

The Barriers

  • I have 4 kids aged 1 to 15. Children require a lot of time and attention.
  • There is no real incentive where I work to obtain a PhD. (That is an entirely separate post)
  • Money … PhDs are expensive! (So are kids)
  • Many PhDs I have looked at require an in-person residency, which is not practical with 4 children and a husband in another city.


At some point I will get my PhD. When? Who knows.

I think about it all the time. If I can find a program without a residency that has scholarships I would do it now. For now the search continues.

Why? I am still not sure what is driving me, but I think it boils down to credibility as a professional.


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit


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