How to Pursue a Doctoral Degree While Working Full Time

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Balancing a career while pursuing a doctoral degree—or any degree for that matter—is not easy, but it is possible. With the right plan and support system in place, you can achieve your academic goals. Doctoral students learn—through research-based theory and practice—how to address the many challenges encountered across an array of professional fields. While obtaining a doctoral degree, students begin to integrate the practical skills that they are learning into their own professional careers, to ultimately emerge as leaders within their workplace or field. 

We recently spoke with a few Endicott College employees—Brittany Potter ’16 M’17, Assistant Dean of Academic Success, Sendy Suazo ’14 M’16, Community Outreach & Recruitment Coordinator, and Ian Menchini, Director, Graduate Enrollment & Advising—who are all currently pursuing their doctoral degrees while working full time. Here’s what they want you to know:

Leverage your everyday work

As you progress through the program, you’ll begin to notice that when you’re at work, you’re actually doing coursework—you’ll be able to relate real life experiences to the theories you’re learning. Recognize that you should be absorbing and taking your professional experiences into your academic assignments, it will be beneficial to your degree and you’ll see the relevance in your work.

Get organized

Understand that you are weaving your doctoral pursuits into your lifestyle.  To figure out how it will fit, create a schedule and find your rhythm. Keep your goals in mind and plan your time strategically to account for coursework, but also for periods of rest.  

Build a support network

You won’t be navigating through your program alone, your family, friends, and coworkers can all help to support you along your journey. Once you’ve identified a support network, determine how those people can assist you. You will be assigned a mentor who will act as a resource for you throughout your program and who will also serve as your dissertation advisor.  Additionally, identify one or two members from your cohort to connect with—whether for assistance on projects or for accountability.

Your research topic

Choose a dissertation topic related to your career and identify a problem of practice within your professional field—your research will focus on how to solve that problem. Your mentor will help you narrow your topic, through concept mapping, continuous research, and further narrowing. S/he will help you figure out how to gather pertinent data and how to apply it to your topic.  If you are unsure about your topic, your mentor will assist you in navigating through your interests to find what topics you are really passionate about.  You’ll actually enjoy conducting research for your program because it's related to what you love to do.

Click here to learn more about Endicott’s doctoral programs. 

Endicott College doctoral programs