One of the best-kept secrets in higher education, though unintentional, can be the accessibility of a doctoral degree. A PhD in business administration at WSU doesn’t saddle its students with a mountain of debt. In most cases, admitted students receive four-to-five years of tuition-free education. Students are paid a modest living stipend in return for working for the department as a teaching or research assistant. Nobody gets rich while earning a PhD in business, but they don’t rack up student loan debt either.
Many bright applicants from other countries have already understood the value of this exchange. Accordingly, international students have always represented a strong component of our PhD program. Yet, I am surprised every year how few U.S. citizens apply for this opportunity. It could be that they simply don’t want to enter academia because they perceive work in industry leading to a faster and more lucrative payoff. I suspect, however, that in many cases people with great PhD potential simply aren’t aware of this affordable pathway to an advanced degree.
WSU and other universities are working hard to increase access to all members of society. But the word isn’t getting out to some of those very same people that their academic journey needn’t end with the bachelor’s degree. Rather than money, the PhD investment is all about time. Those who are qualified and make it through half a decade of a somewhat frugal lifestyle reap the rewards for the next 30–40 years of six-figure salaries, great benefits, remarkable flexibility in work hours, and the opportunity to create knowledge and share it with thousands of young people.
We are proud of this year’s PhD graduates who are each about to begin their academic careers. Are any of you readers ready to follow suit and take the plunge? When I was 25, Robert Frost’s words spoke to me and have certainly come to pass in my case: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
Ph.D. Program Director