There is an opinion that doctoral degree programmes are only for research and academic staff as their main objective is to earn a doctoral degree. However, recent data suggest the opposite: three years of research activity can benefit specialists in a wide variety of fields and areas.

Let us find out why doctoral studies today are not only for scientists and scholars.


doctoral degree programmes are offered by St Petersburg University in the academic year 2019–2020.

They are divided into five integrated units that cover the main areas of modern science. In cooperation with potential employers, the University regularly updates the list of its educational programmes. It is crucial that the curricula include courses that meet the demands of today’s labour market. Due to interaction with the employers, new educational programmes have been designed to satisfy the existing shortages of specialists in certain areas. Moreover, the University offers some unique programmes that have no analogues in other Russian universities, for example, ‘Jewish Classical Religious Texts’ and ‘Advertising and Public Relations.’

The postgraduate diploma does indeed open prospects to become involved in research and academic activities, and give the opportunity to delve into the topic of interest. At St Petersburg University, doctoral students can conduct innovative and relevant research using the facilities of 26 resource centres of the Research Park and the M. Gorky Scientific Library’s stock that exceeds 7 million printed publications and manuscripts. Additionally, dozens of research centres, institutes and laboratories are open for them, both at the University and in partner organisations.

However, doctoral studies will also be useful to those planning to build a career in other areas.

First of all, doctoral studies develop the so-called ‘transferable skills,’ that is, the skills that can be applied in any field.

Doctoral students learn to analyse large amounts of data, and to develop critical thinking and writing skills. Additionally, all doctoral students benefit from teaching practice, which enables them to improve their skills of public speaking and interacting with the audience.

Secondly, the degree of candidate of sciences can be awarded after successful completion of a doctoral degree programme. It is taken into consideration in the selection of candidates for leadership positions in both public bodies and commercial enterprises.

A study conducted by the internet recruiter HeadHunter Russia revealed that with regard to top management positions, 8% of employers considered a doctoral degree the determinant factor for making selection decision, whereas 70% admitted that a doctoral degree gives its holder an advantage over other job candidates. Furthermore, HeadHunter notes that candidates of sciences are eligible for higher salaries with an average pay raise of 20–30%. Additionally, HeadHunter carried out a survey among doctoral programmes graduates. The survey findings indicate that 23% of them succeeded in securing a position in an appealing company, and one out of every five reported a promotion and 18% of the respondents reported a salary increase.

Thirdly, fluency in English is required in most professions.

Doctoral studies give you another chance to raise your level of English language proficiency. Doctoral students are offered English classes which include practice with specialised vocabulary, among other things. At St Petersburg University, there are numerous opportunities for doctoral students to share the results of their projects with colleagues abroad, and to work in a global context. It is also worth mentioning that doctoral students are eligible for scholarships and grants from international organisations, international academic mobility programmes, and financial support for research internship at foreign universities.

Fourthly, as a doctoral student you have a perfect time to build a network of useful contacts.

On the one hand, there are leading specialists in their areas who work at the University departments. On the other hand, you meet fellow-students with similar interests and outlook on life.

Fifthly, doctoral studies are also the right time and place for creative experiments.

In the workplace, it is not always possible to pursue your own projects and test your ideas. As a doctoral student you have the freedom to choose directions for research.

According to statistics, the most popular fields of doctoral studies are economics and management, computer science and computer technology, as well as clinical medicine. At St Petersburg University, these fields are represented by the following doctoral degree programmes: ‘Economics’; ‘Economics and Management’; ‘Informatics’; ‘Information Technology and Numerical Methods’; ‘Applied Mathematics and Control Processes’; ‘System Analysis, Informatics and Control’; ‘Public Health and Preventive Medicine’; ‘Medical Sciences’; and ‘Fundamental Medicine’. These fields are indeed practice-oriented, which provides direct evidence that knowledge obtained in doctoral studies is highly appreciated in non-academic workplaces.