Post-Doctorate Studies

An Overview of Post-Doctorate Studies

After earning a PhD online, the student will naturally be concerned about their next step. For some students, the next level will be to enter a postdoctoral program and become a postdoctoral scholar. Postdoctoral scholars are individuals who have completed their doctoral studies and who have earned PhDs. The term "postdoctoral degree" is often used to describe the period of scholarly research undertaken by doctoral students as they work towards taking on a job in academia. This period of study is not about earning a "degree" in the popular sense of the word, but involves the appointee working for their institution and professor. The professor provides advice and oversight in order to help them to achieve their career objectives.

About Postdoctoral Scholars

Most postdoctoral scholars in the United States work in science-related fields of study ranging from astronomy and physics to engineering and psychology. However, not every field of study offers postdoctoral positions. The goal of postdoctoral work is usually to acquire expertise in a particular field with a strong focus on research; appointees to postdoctoral positions are often called "fellows." Unlike the doctoral studies required to earn a PhD, postdoctoral work usually does not involve additional responsibilities like teaching. A postdoctoral position is important for those who want a career in academia as most openings are for professors who have postdoctoral experience. Getting a postdoctoral position offers a PhD graduate the opportunity to focus completely on research without additional pressures and distractions. However, they may not gain any teaching experience due to the research-focused nature of many postdoctoral programs.

Career Prospects for Postdoctoral Scholars

Postdoctoral work is not for everyone, and some may see greater benefits from entering the workforce after earning their PhD rather than working towards an academic position. For one thing, their doctorate may earn them far more money in private enterprise than in academia as new faculty members are usually not paid high salaries.

Benefits of Postdoctoral Studies

  • Fellows get the chance to develop skills and knowledge within their field that prepares them for an academic career.
  • Fellows are able to benefit from being under the tutelage of a senior scholar who helps to guide their development.
  • Fellows get to publish the results of their work.
  • Fellows work to fulfill important roles within their institution and are provided with appropriate compensation.

Postdoctoral Positions

The position of postdoctoral scholar should be considered a temporary one that the PhD graduate occupies on their way to becoming a professor. At present, it is estimated that there are about 89,000 postdoctoral scholars in the United States. That number has seen a steady increase due to the fact that postdoctoral positions are seen as the natural next step for PhD graduates who want to advance within their field.