Doctorates: Learn about the activities of researchers, beyond academia

Thomaz Wood, a professor at FGV EAESP, points out that an academic doctorate gives access to the position of professor-researcher as well as positions related to research (not linked to teaching) outside academia.
25 May 2023
Doctorates: Learn about the activities of researchers, beyond academia

Many people imagine that people with a doctorate are limited to working exclusively in a teaching or research career. However, the experience of doing a doctorate is very enriching and it opens up new horizons in many realms beyond academia.

According to Professor José Mauro Gonçalves Nunes of Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration (FGV EBAPE), a doctorate represents the pinnacle of education. Someone with one is considered fully trained to work as a professor and researcher. In addition, people with this degree can lead research teams, apply for research grants to public and private funding organizations and sponsor research projects in large institutions and universities. This degree also opens up the possibility of working at large public and private companies, guaranteeing professional consistency from the outset.

Nunes also highlights the positions that can be attained with a doctorate, from intermediate to senior management positions (supervisor, director, superintendent, vice president and CEO), as well as company board member.

Thomaz Wood, a professor at Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Sao Paulo School of Business Administration (FGV EAESP), points out that an academic doctorate gives access to the position of professor-researcher as well as positions related to research (not linked to teaching) outside academia. In addition to the academic type, there is also the possibility of obtaining a professional doctorate, which can make it possible to rise in companies and public organizations, move from an executive position to a board position, move from a private company to a consulting firm or social organization, or become a professor, usually on executive programs.

Wood, who is also the coordinator of FGV EAESP’s professional doctorate in administration program, explains that students’ maturity, interest and dedication are key features of doctoral classes. “I’m privileged to be the coordinator of a professional doctoral program. The groups are mature, interested and dedicated. The students collaborate a lot with each other and they tend to be humble regarding knowledge, which is essential. In addition, they have been developing a growing concern for issues related to sustainability and social issues,” he says.

Another notable trend is doctoral students’ strong participation in papers and conferences. “In May, we started to post 20 papers written by students doing our professional doctorate in business administration on LinkedIn. All these articles have theoretical foundations and address important issues on the corporate or governmental agenda,” he says.

Places where people with a doctorate can work:

  • Private organizations
  • Trade associations and labor unions
  • Market research and polling organizations
  • Federal, state and municipal government bodies that collect data and produce information to support government decision making
  • Consulting firms, especially in regions and sectors that need scientific grounds for business decision-making processes
  • International organizations
  • Social organizations
  • Think tanks

Benefits of obtaining a doctorate

There are many benefits acquired from doing a doctorate, whether professional or academic. In addition to academic research skills (quantitative and qualitative reasoning, logical reasoning and mastery of the research topic), you will develop behavioral skills such as rigorous treatments of facts and data, dedication and tenacity, the ability to lead projects, organization, diligence and decision making.

  • For academics, a doctorate is the gateway to university life, teaching and research. A doctorate from a renowned institution like FGV, which is internationally recognized, opens the doors to work opportunities in Brazil and abroad.
  • ​​​​​​​For professionals, a doctorate brings many benefits: state-of-the-art knowledge, interaction with high-level peers, the possibility of diving deep into a topic of interest (through your dissertation), the generation of practical impacts (also through your dissertation), and close links with academia (for teaching and research projects). In this way, a doctorate can greatly change the course of your career.

Differences between professional and academic doctorate

  • An academic doctorate is designed to train professors and researchers. It is usually a specialized course (in a subject such as finance, marketing or strategy) and it gives rise to a dissertation aimed at expanding scientific knowledge. The goal is to provide an unprecedented/original approach to a research problem, to contribute to the respective field of study.
  • ​​​​​​​A professional doctorate is a recent type of graduate degree in Brazil, aimed at training executives with exceptional leadership skills and the ability to conduct change processes. The course and dissertation tend to be oriented toward practical issues in the respective field of studies and research.

The right time to do a doctorate

Candidates should keep in mind that a doctorate requires a high degree of academic and professional maturity, as it must be carried out with zeal and dedication. In general, people apply to do a doctorate as a natural continuation of research done for their master’s degree, but in greater depth.

Your professional and personal life also needs to be well organized, as the demands of a doctorate are greater than those of a master’s. You can start an academic doctorate at a relatively young age, at around 30 years or even younger.

On the other hand, embarking on a professional doctorate requires solid leadership experience as a prerequisite, so it is recommended after the age of 40 or after 10 years in a leadership position.

Also check out our article about master’s degrees and the right time to do one.

To find out more about FGV’s academic and professional doctoral courses, visit our website.

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