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Posted by on September 27, 2022

Knowing if it is worth it to get a PhD in information systems is a noble question.

Once answered, you will be able to determine whether you should spend 4–5 years of your life achieving it or continue on your current life track, saving you time and money. You will most certainly gain a few things if you determine it is worth it to go for the PhD in Information Systems. You gain time (more working years as an academic), income (versus other PhD areas), relationships (new and lasting relationships), and intellectual knowledge (an increased capacity to think through complex ideas).

  1. What is a PhD in Information Systems?
  2. In terms of income/salary
  3. In terms of job prospects after graduation
  4. As an international student
  5. As a current working professional

What is a PhD in Information Systems?

A PhD degree means Doctor of Philosophy. A PhD is the highest level of education one can attain in any field. A PhD in Information Systems focuses on learning how and why information technologies are designed and used in business. You will explore cybersecurity, data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, project management, information management, e-commerce, and much more.

With a PhD in Information Systems, you will be on the cutting edge of the theories, applications, and implications of these technologies. Therefore, if your interest is in these areas, this would be an excellent opportunity to expand your thinking, further your education, and seek practical experience. Most people who pursue a PhD in Information Systems have a technical background. However, a technical background is not a prerequisite. I have seen individuals from music, marketing, and management backgrounds in the Information Systems PhD program.

In terms of income, is it worth it to get a PhD in Information Systems?

The two aspects of the answer are:

  1. Option 1, if you plan to remain in academia: A PhD in Information Systems is usually achieved in a business school. PhD degrees from business schools garner more salary than PhD degrees in Engineering and Arts. For example, an assistant professor of information systems in a mid-tier research school could make an average of $140k a year. Whereas, their counterparts in the school of engineering could make an average of $80k a year. Relatively, business school degrees pay more. However, these salaries may still be lower than the salaries possible in corporate jobs.
  • Option 2, if you plan to return to work for private/public sector organizations: A degree in Information Systems is designated as a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program in many universities. As demand for jobs in STEM-designated fields increases, the potential for you to receive a higher salary also increases with a STEM-related degree program. The STEM skills (e.g., statistics, machine learning, artificial intelligence) you acquire in your PhD program will also increase your income.

In terms of job prospects after graduation, is it worth it to get a PhD in Information Systems?

  1. Option 1, if you plan to remain in academia: After 4–5 years of education in an information systems PhD program, you are ready to start working as an assistant professor at a university of your choice. Two main unwritten requirements for increasing your job prospects are publications and teaching evaluations. Suppose you have one or more publications in quality journals. In that case, you will have many more job prospects and will attract a higher salary. The opposite is also true. In my experience, watching people who graduated before and after me, everyone will get a job. I am yet to see a PhD in Information Systems student who did not find a job after graduation. This statement cannot be made for PhDs in other fields like arts and sciences. This is one of the reasons I believe that a PhD in Information Systems is absolutely worth the effort.
  • Option 2, if you plan to return to work for private/public sector organizations: Aside from the STEM designation, you learn cutting-edge methodologies and data analysis that prepare you for jobs like data scientist, big data analyst, and machine learning engineer. In addition to the PhD designation at the end of your name, I would say your job prospects in industry for those job titles are pretty good.

As an international student, is it worth it to get a PhD in Information Systems?

A PhD has many benefits, including an increased capacity to break down complex subjects and increasing your credibility and profile. In addition to these benefits, a PhD in Information Systems provides more job opportunities and income relative to PhDs in other areas. Given the standings of a US-based education worldwide, earning a PhD in Information Systems in the US as an international student ascribes many other benefits. It gives you the credibility to use the degree in almost all parts of the world. This means you can work as an academic in universities worldwide. It also means that you can work as a professional in many countries, partly because you will have acquired highly sought-after STEM-based skills.

As an employed working professional, is it worth it to get a PhD in Information Systems?

It depends on your goals in life. People become academics for different reasons. An academic job may not pay you as much as you are currently earning, especially if you are in the technology field. People who are academics don’t do it for the money, but it does pay a decent salary. However, if you want to get a PhD to increase your prospects in your current professional life, that’s a good plan.


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