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January, 2008

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How To Get Your PhD
Business World vs Educational System
By  Glenn Dietzel

How do you get a PhD in the academic setting? Obviously, you go to university.
et's clear the air once and for all!

There is a huge difference between how one gets a PhD in the business world versus the university system. And, to my knowledge, there is not another article "out there" which covers this difference. There is now.

So let's lay the foundation. How do you get a PhD in the academic setting? Obviously, you go to university. You attend classes. You write a plethora of papers. They are graded. You pass each class. You graduate to the next year, four times.

Then you apply for graduate school. You attend more classes. You write more papers. You get more grades. You pass each class. Here, you write two days-worth of comprehensive exams ("comps"). You pass them and graduate with a Master's degree. You apply for a PhD program.

And the cycle continues until you fulfill the course requirements, then you write your doctoral dissertation, which you must defend, in writing (comps) and voice ("orals," given to a panel of profs). You pass, you get a job teaching in a small junior college.

A nine year journey! And what has the average PhDer paid for this? Let's err on the conservative side: at least $200,000, unless you're brilliant and on academic scholarship. And then the student has the right to begin earning money! What an education!

Consider this process for a minute, and let me use a personal example. My wife Fiona, by training, is an occupational therapist. When she made the decision in high school to become one, she was immediately accepted into an occupational therapy program. This meant that after only three years of university Fiona was a registered occupational therapist in Scotland. And then she was out making money.

That was then.

Today, and living in Canada (which is the same for most of the world), if Fiona were to apply to the same occupational therapy program, this is the scenario: she would have to get her undergraduate degree first and then apply for a master's degree. After completing her graduate degree she could then apply for occupational therapy.

After six years of schooling, under today's guidelines, and after being accepted, she would finally be eligible for the three years of training that the profession demands.

I hope you see what is happening here. Much more education. Much more money spent. Longer time to get into the job market. And still the same "starting" salary.

Or another way of saying this. More bureaucracy. More hoops. Delayed dreams. And greater expense for the same pay!

Now if I seem hard on this paradigm -- I am. Analyze what you were required to know for the job you currently hold. Take note of all the classes and subject material you had to accumulate. Now calculate a percentage of what you had to know versus what you actually use in your job!

My guess you could have easily sliced away 50% if not more. In my wife's case, it would be more like 70% with all the added years tacked on today.

Realize once and for all that the educational system, from its overall structure to the individuals who teach its courses, all stems from a job mindset. And, from a business perspective, one of the fundamental mistakes inherent in this model is its inefficiency.

Inefficiency! Wasted school years when people could be in the market place earlier making money. Tenure. Wasted years from teachers and professors who are burned out and fail to deliver material that is practical, useable and geared toward productivity.

Now let's consider the converse. How do you get a PhD in the business world? on today. Let me put it this way. How can anyone get a PhD in the business world?

You get your PhD in the business world by making money! That's correct. The very lifeblood of business is to overcome inefficiency in the marketplace.

The chief aim of business is to put value into the marketplace by helping people save time, energy and/or money or by providing any number of other benefits -- depending on the needs and desires of its target market.

How are you going to overcome inefficiency? That is the big question.

You need to identify your target market first. The key here is to niche your idea so that you can accurately grasp the problems of your target market.

G.K. Chesterton, an English journalist, commented that people must first know the extent of their needs before they can be open to what you have to offer them. So you need to be the solution provider.

Provide products and services that your target market already wants!

Next month Part II: The Business PhD
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Glenn Dietzel is currently a vice-principal of an elementary school with the Lambton Kent District School Board. Glenn holds two post graduate degrees in theology and education. He lives with his wife and two young sons in Sarnia, Ontario known as the Bluewater area, and home to beautiful beaches, amazing sunsets, and no hills.

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