University of Minnesota
MICaB Graduate Program
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MICaB Ph.D. Program

Why earn a Ph.D. degree?

  • You should earn a Ph.D. degree in the basic biological or biomedical sciences if you have a real passion, a fire in the belly, for understanding how biological systems work. Because earning a Ph.D. degree takes time, hard work, and dedication, and it doesn’t pay you a large amount of money while you train, you should begin the process only if you are sure this is for you. If you are not satisfied with your current state of knowledge, and you want to pursue a deeper level of understanding, then choosing to enter a doctoral program is a good decision.

  • Do not pursue a doctoral degree as a “default pathway” because you do not know what to do after getting an undergraduate degree or you could not get into medical school. You will be both poor and unhappy; this is the least desirable place to be in life (see figure below). If you are unsure you want to make a commitment to a doctoral program now, then take some time off and work in a research environment to get a better idea of what scientific research entails. Some of our best students did just this.


  • A Ph.D. is a terminal degree - it is the highest degree you can get. It provides you with the opportunity to follow your scientific passions as far as possible. At the minimum a Ph.D. degree indicates to other scientists your ability to design well-controlled experiments to test non-trivial hypotheses. This is the most important tool to have in your professional toolbox. You can use this tool in a wide array of careers such as academic and industrial research, product development, education, scientific publishing, government work, and public health.

  • Many individuals who pursue a doctoral degree are strong-minded and independent; they want to control their own destiny. Everyone has a boss – someone to whom they must answer – but having a Ph.D. degree can minimize the layers above you. You can pretty much call your own shots in an academic setting if you are successful. Success in a research-intensive academic setting is measured by quality publications and funding. The metrics for success in other arenas are different but if you can think clearly, analyze situations rationally, and make reasonable decisions from the data at hand, you can succeed anywhere. Earning a Ph.D. degree provides you with these skills.



Our Address

Microbiology, Immunology & Cancer Biology Ph.D. Graduate Program

University of Minnesota
689 23rd Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455