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Continuing/Adult Education/Question regarding doctoral program


Dear Dr. Wolfe:
I am 54 years old and am enrolled in the final stages of a doctoral program.  I completed all the coursework when I was 42 years old except the dissertation.  The doctoral program is very expensive: one unit costs $2613.11. Before the program is over, I have to pay $5226.22 more. I am more than $40K in student loans from this program. I only have $100K in savings, no other assets to speak of. Consequently, even though I am in the final stages of the doctoral program, I am really nervous/anxious that this doctorate will make a difference in helping me find a job.

Such a job will have to pay off the $40K in student loans and save up for my retirement. I will seek a job in industry.  I already have an MBA and fear that this doctorate will in fact turn off some employers that I am "too academic".  What has been your experience in industry - has industry found your background too academic?  Are my financial fears unfounded?

I hope you don't mind if I have additional questions to ask you in the future.
All the best,

Hi Wing,
Thanks for asking a question. I am not sure from your question if you are employed now, or if you wish to "seek a job in industry" in the future. It has been my experience that my employers want both experience AND education. Having only a doctorate does not prepare you for a high-paying position in industry. I have a doctorate but do not believe that it has held me back in my career. In fact, I have two careers - one at a corporate office and the other teaching business courses. If you work in business, it is likely that you will be more educated than your peers, but that does not mean that you are a better or more effective worker. Most people at my corporate job do not know that I have a doctorate, unless they see my business card.

Realistically, at 54 you have about 11 years before retirement. You have been paying for your school for 12 years(54-42=12). You will need to very aggressive to pay off your student loans (assuming you should pay them off before retirement). Could you possibly pay more than is required, to reduce the premium?

Also, you will want to check with your school to see if they will accept your earlier coursework before committing to completing your doctorate. I suggest that you first investigate to see if a doctorate is a possibility (will you have to repeat any courses/will they accept earlier coursework/is your dissertation still viable), then honestly assess your present job prospects (what will you make in your current job). Would you have to change jobs to pay to complete your degree? How feasible is this?

If we all did the math on our terminal degrees, it is likely that many of us would not have attempted it! Not everything can be distilled to the value of dollar return. You must also consider your time and effort to complete your dissertation.

Kind regards,
Dr. Wolfe

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Dr. Cynthia J. Wolfe


Let me help you with questions about adult education and continuing education programs. If you are looking for a program or have questions about adult education in general, I can guide you. If you are a teacher looking for new ideas or methods, I can help. I have resources and ideas to share. I am a member of the National Business Education Association (NBEA), a professional organization devoted to the recognition that business education competencies are essential for all individuals in today's fast-changing society.


I am an instructor at the University of Phoenix, working in online and classroom modalities. I earned my PhD in Business Administration from Northcentral University, Prescott Valley, AZ. My MBA is from Troy University, 2001, and I have a BS, Environmental Science, from Troy University, 1980. Read about my experiences as an online student at my blog thinkPhD.

Delta Mu Delta National Business Honor Society; NBEA; Golden Key Honour Society; APICS; PMI

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PhD Business Administration - Management, Northcentral University; MBA Troy University, Phenix City, AL; BS Environmental Science, Troy University, Troy, AL; APICS CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional)

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APICS CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional)

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