Back PhD - yes or not. Do you really need PhD to be hired in UN?

PhD - yes or not. Do you really need PhD to be hired in UN?

Writing doctoral thesis is the aim of the hundreds of thousands of students who study in universities and dream to embark on a doctorate of philosophy (PhD). But do you really need PhD to be hired at NGOs or world companies? Maybe, it is waste of time? In this article we will figure out who really needs a doctoral degree, and who better to focus on soft skills, etc.

UN and PhD

Does PhD increase your chances of getting job at the UN?

Weโ€™ve heard different opinions on the influence of a doctoral degree when applying for job at the UN. Some people believe that the degree shows a deeper knowledge of the subject and therefore the PhD is considered an advantage. Others believe that it does not matter. Third, it harms your application, because you have a โ€œtheoreticalโ€ mindset.

Answer: it depends on what position you are applying for and what experience you have. In the end, in any company and organization they want a person who can bring appropriate skills to work.

How to decide? Answer a few questions.


  1. What is the purpose of obtaining a PhD?

What doors will be opened for you after gaining a PhD? And if some doors will open, do you really want to go in there? In some specialties and positions, work experience is more important than education. Think about it.

2. Whom do you want to work? In which international organization and what level?

You can achieve great success in work without PhD. Review the requirements for the positions that interest you and understand the your weaknesses. Maybe, in addition to PhD you have other thing to develop in order to be able to apply.

A PhD is desirable if your aim is to work in academia, mostly. NGOs require PhD in rare cases.

3. What level you are interested in? General Service Staff (G1 - G7), professional or higher categories (P and D)?

For some chief positions a PhD level in relevant disciplines is desirable. For example, for this position CHIEF OF SERVICE, ECONOMIC AFFAIRS in UN Economic Commission for Europe That is D-1, D-2 level.

But for D-1, D-2 advanced university degree (Master's degree or equivalent degree is okay. And first level university degree in combination with two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree - remember this. Work experience, your skills and self-confidence are much more important than PhD.

As an evidence, some head of UN agencies had a PhD from quite reputable schools. So it matters to senior levels.

For P-level โ€œPhD will be an assetโ€. But itโ€™s not the essential. Itโ€™s mentioned in most vacancies descriptions. In addition to education you need to have proven experience in some field. It can be much more important. Knowledge of some rare language may be much more important for some position. Take this into account.

For G (General Staff) or Internships you shouldnโ€™t be Doctor of Philosophy.

PhD - yes or not?

Do you need PhD level to be hired in UN?
Our answer: It depends on the kind of position you're applying for. We advise you to focus on your true desires and aspirations. If you know for sure that you want to develop in a particular area, you want to change the world, train people, then you may need to think about getting a doctoral degree. But in order to get a job at the UN is not necessary.