Is Earning a Doctorate in the Arts the Right Fit for Your Career? Music Mogul Robert Thompson Explains

Whether you’re just getting started with your musical career or you’ve already earned your master’s and are interested in figuring out where to go next in your music education, it can be hard to decide whether getting a doctorate in art or music makes sense. Here, musician Robert Thompson explains what you need to consider when deciding whether earning a doctorate is the right choice for your desired career path.

What Do You Want To Do With Your Degree?

Robert Thompson recommends taking some time to think about what you’d like to do with your professional music or art career while deciding whether a doctorate is the best fit for your future.

There’s a common misconception that people who earn doctorates in the arts are relegated to a life of academia, but this isn’t necessarily true, according to Robert Thompson. Many people who earn doctorates in the arts go on to successful careers within their industries. While teaching is a (viable, respected) option for people who earn their doctorate in an arts field, it’s also possible to go on to have a professional career outside of the classroom.

How Much Time Do You Need For Your Personal Artistic Fulfillment?

It’s important to consider how much time you’ll need to hone your craft, according to Robert Thompson. If you’re a musician who plans to work as a producer and you get all of your artistic fulfilment through your work, you may not have a need to work on side projects outside of your daytime job. If you’re someone who needs hours each week to create and you’re working a full-time job, it may be tough to get the time that you need to continue moving forward with your own artistic interests if you’re working on earning your doctorate.

Robert Thompson recommends exploring opportunities to teach while earning your doctorate, allowing you to share your love of your craft, personal projects, and often granting you access to top-notch artistic facilities at the university where you can hone your craft. Talking with your university’s music or art department about options that would allow you to take a practice-based approach to your doctorate can also be a helpful way to get the education that you want while still focusing on moving your craft forward.

Are You Interested In Different Modalities of Art?

If you’re committed to a very specific genre of art (for example, playing the classical violin) you may have a tough time finding fulfilment in your career after earning your doctorate. If you have a wide range of interests in the arts (for example, you love music and art history, as well as contemporary art) you may have an easier time maintaining flexibility and finding personal fulfilment after earning your doctorate, according to Robert Thompson.