I have applied for a PhD in Computer Science. I do not however plan to become an academic afterwards. What I want to achieve is to try to commercialize my research by founding a startup or find a job outside of Academia, using the knowledge I will obtain for enhancing or building products/services for my employer.

What I would like ideally, is to achieve Academic as well as Industry expertise in machine learning and AI, through a job or by trying to found a startup with a related thematology. Becoming a professor is completely out of my goals. However I want to be able to study academic literature with ease.

Do you think my goal is reasonable, or a PhD is an overkill that would make me overqualified, loosing precious time in case I change my mind in the future ?

I already have an MSc that provided a machine learing and image analysis course. My Master's thesis was also heavily focused on these subjects. But the reason I want the PhD is to learn more things and receive more hands on experience about Machine Learning and Complex Event Analysis. I believe that this process will also enhance my critical skills and analytical thinking.

I understand this can get difficult and risky but I am willing to try.

Does my goal make any sense or do I need a reality check ? I need hard critique..

Is that a healthy reason for attending graduate school ?

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    $\begingroup$ Because this depends very much on personal circumstances - and also subtle differences between courses, two different PhD programmes may have very different structures and serve as very different preparation for the later world - I think answers to this question are going to be prone to subjectivity. I wonder if it would be possible to rephrase this question to focus on a more objective criterion. $\endgroup$ – Silverfish Oct 22 '15 at 22:46
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    $\begingroup$ criterion such as ? $\endgroup$ – obelix Oct 22 '15 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ Here's the cross-post at Academia SE - they have closed with the sensible reasoning ""The answer to this question strongly depends on individual factors such as a certain person’s preferences, a given institution’s regulations, the exact contents of your work or your personal values. Thus only someone familiar can answer this question and it cannot be generalised to apply to others" $\endgroup$ – Silverfish Oct 23 '15 at 0:17
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    $\begingroup$ Here's another cross-post, at Workplace SE. Note that cross-posting is generally discouraged. $\endgroup$ – Silverfish Oct 23 '15 at 0:19
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    $\begingroup$ Cross-posting without immediately explaining what you have done is poor practice. It's true that SE as such has no call to tell you what/what not to do on Reddit and vice versa, but that's a matter of forum rules, which do not describe internet etiquette completely. People feel let down if they post an answer in one place and then discover that someone else wrote something similar earlier somewhere else. You have to show that you care about the time and effort you are asking strangers to give for no evident return. Regardless of that, cross-posting on SE is explicitly discouraged. $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Oct 23 '15 at 11:07

I started out on a Ph.D. track. About halfway through I realized that I wanted to be out working in industry more than I wanted to be working towards a Ph.D. But that's me..

A PhD is a bit of a grind, and as with everything else that's hard in life, keeping one's motivation throughout is a function of the intrinsic value you derive from the pursuit. In other words, if you're going to a do a Ph.D., don't do it because of where you think it will get you (although that certainly is a factor in the equation). Do it because you have a passion for learning about a field, for exploring it to the very edge of what we know about it, and then contributing new knowledge to it.

In the end, that was what I thought was most rewarding about graduate work: to know something that few people, possibly no one else in the world knew, and then to contribute that knowledge to make the world a slightly better place.

But to take the pragmatic view, yes, I believe a PhD in Data Science can indeed translate to a good position. Will it translate to a better position, than if you go spend that 5 years working? Probably not.. My hunch is that, six years out, you'll be making more income if you just go to work. If that is your measure of success...

But there are some advantages of doing the graduate work: if you choose a topic that is bleeding edge, and you happen to pick a topic that's getting traction in 5 years (hard to predict...), and/or you make significant connections in your chosen industry, then, yes, there is a chance you'd be a little better off.


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