5 Best PhD Courses to Study in Zambia

Best PhD Courses to Study in Zambia male student smiling

If you’re considering intelligent educational investments but are unsure what PhD course is the best to study in Zambia, you’ve landed on the right page. 

UNZA has tackled the issue by devising a list of the top five PhDs that pay the most in Zambia, and that will leave you with the highest earnings upon graduation. 

Of course, the best studies are the ones you pursue with passion. But your decisions should also be backed by a thorough insight into economic, geopolitical, and social data. That way, you’ll minimize the risk of your dreams being crushed at a low-paying job that doesn’t hold a promising future. 

The good news is that an educated workforce is in high demand in Zambia. Moreover, the recent shift in the Zambian economy, geared mainly towards capital-intensive production and services, has opened a world of opportunities for those who are not afraid of pursuing appropriate education. 

Here’s what you need to know if you’re one of them.

Jobs in Demand vs. PhDs That Pay Off

Before we get down to our list, we need to distinguish between jobs in demand in Zambia and lucrative PhDs. Even though the two notions will often overlap, they are not entirely identical. 

For starters, there are many jobs in high demand that don’t require a PhD background or a postgraduate degree. For example, you can relatively easily pursue a career as a fuel attendant without investing in education. Likewise, you can enter some well-paying sectors, such as banking, immediately upon completing undergraduate studies.

In the alternative scenario, you can spend years studying the major you love, only to find that the competition in the field is fierce and high entry barriers are waiting ahead.

Last but not least, some PhDs are not considered lucrative, but that can be an opportunity for polished experts to go into teaching. The logic is simple: if there aren’t that many people in a particular research area (because it’s not lucrative in the first place) and you do your best to shine, you can easily be perceived as the right person to pass out the knowledge to younger students. 

As a matter of fact, lecturers in Lusaka earn as much as ZMK 23,000 per month, which is 97% higher than the average.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s examine the list one by one. 

List of The Best PhD Courses in Zambia

#1 Medicine

Somewhat naturally, the first two places on the list are reserved for PhDs in medicine and law. This is because both are traditionally considered prestigious degrees that qualify you for high-paying occupations. But also, both are PhD courses that have high entry barriers – only students who’ve started their education early in those fields are eligible to apply.

Of course, requirements will vary from university to university, but, as a general rule of thumb, institutions in Zambia will ask you to::

  • Hold the primary medical degree of MBChB or equivalent
  • Have at least two years post qualifying experience
  • Have registered with the Health Professions Council of Zambia

In other words, PhD studies in medicine are primarily designed for specialists that have clinical expertise and wish to advance their careers with a research degree. Typically, the admission board will also ask to see a recommendation from the previous supervisor and/or assurance from the Head of Department that an aspirant has the skills and ability to progress onto the higher degree. 

The good news is that PhD graduates in medicine are sought after in Zambia. Because the national patient-doctor ratio is below the world average, the country has adopted a plan to improve the healthcare system by hiring more medical staff

According to Salary Explorer, a person who works in Health and Medicine in Zambia earns between 1,870 ZMK (lowest average) to 26,800 ZMK (highest average, the actual maximum salary is higher). Obviously, experts holding a PhD will likely qualify for positions on the better-paid end of this spectrum. 

#2 Law

As with the field of medicine, a PhD in law can be equally challenging and rewarding. The PhD studies in law are designed as a three-year programme that offers many specializations in the discipline’s sub-fields (e.g., Interdisciplinary Law, Civil Law, Environmental Law, etc.). 

In essence, the primary learning outcome of this PhD course is to prepare students for advanced legal careers in various fields. For example, holders of a research doctorate in law can become law professors or conduct specialized legal research. Also, they could continue to practice law but gain expertise in a particular field, thus making themselves stand out in the market. 

In Zambia and elsewhere, aspirants who wish to pursue a PhD in law are expected to hold a Bachelor of Law followed by a corresponding master’s degree. Not rarely, the admission board will also ask to see exceptional credentials (an Upper-Second Class Honors Degree, a master’s degree at merit level). 

Of course, the rocky road will be worth it. Legal professionals in Zambia are among the highest earners in the country. On top of that, a doctor of philosophy degree can bring a significant salary increase in the industry. 

For example, the Salary Explorer notes that lawyers in Zambia who hold a PhD earn 45% more than those with a Master’s. In kwachas, this equals the monthly salary of 12,300 ZMK acquired by a Master of Law, as opposed to the monthly income of 17,800 ZMK earned by a PhD.

List of The Best PhD Courses in Zambia female student smiling

#3 Nursing Sciences

With the Zambian government recently announcing the significant shortfall of nurses, this occupation quickly emerged in the spotlight of the nation’s attention. However, even if the country recruits 30.000 nurses by 2030 as was proclaimed, it seems that the need for nursing scientists isn’t going anywhere. 

The global trend in the labour market backs up our claim here. In 2018, for example, the Atlantic reported that healthcare had become the largest employer in the US. And that was before we all were all hit by COVID crises and witnessed the damages of the unprepared healthcare systems. Somewhat unfortunately, it seems that the world population is likely to have a prolonged need for medical care. That’s why a PhD in nursing sciences can be a wise choice for those eligible to enter the field.

Doctor of Philosophy is a terminal degree in nursing sciences. It’s devised as a research programme that prepares students to advance the foundations of nursing sciences and drive improvements in patient care. Typically, a nursing professional can do this in two ways: working in a facility as a researcher or supervisor of the nursing labour force or working as a lecturer and educating young aspiring nurses.

Aside from being a professional with a humanitarian vocation, PhD in nursing brings financial benefits as well. 

Here are some of the average monthly salaries in Zambia tied to the nursing profession, as captured on Salary Explorer:

  • Assistant Director of Nursing – ZMK 8,650 
  • Nursing Director – ZMK 11,100 
  • University Lecturer – ZMK 23,000

#4 Finance And Accounting

If your area of interest is finances, you’re more likely to seek numeric reasons for enrolling in a PhD programme in this field of study. So, yes, our intuitive reasoning that people who have exceptional reasoning of the economic systems are able to make a lot of money is quite correct. 

In Zambia specifically, being a CFO (Chief Financial Officer) equals having one of the top ten highest paying careers. Furthermore, PhD holders earn as much as 23% more than those that obtained a master’s degree – by doing the same job!

When translated to specific salaries, this means that: 

  • The monthly salary of the Vice President of Finance will be 11,800 ZMK.
  • The Finance President will earn 12,700 ZMK per month.
  • The Deputy CFO will have a monthly income of 11,300 ZMK

(Source: Salary Explorer)

PhD programmes in finances and accounting are primarily oriented towards research, but of course – they will also provide you with transferable professional skills needed to advance your career. Graduates from this field of study often work in central banks, accountancy firms, various financial institutions, government departments, and supranational organisations.

List of The Best PhD Courses in Zambia male student smiling

#5 Teaching & Education

Finally, a PhD course in education can be an excellent career propeller in Zambia, whatever might be your primary area of expertise.

As we suggested before, the recovering Zambian economy is increasingly demanding an educated workforce, which means that it needs those who can lead the change and transform the educational system. 

A PhD in education will equip students to stand out to this challenge. It produces education researchers, teacher educators, curriculum specialists, and instructional leaders. In other words, the studies provide a comprehensive theoretical foundation needed to support practical learning objectives. 

According to the Salary Explorer, experts who work in teaching and education in Zambia can earn anywhere from 3,050 ZMK (lowest average) to 11,600 ZMK (highest average, the actual maximum salary is higher). PhD holders are obviously amongst the highest earners since they usually occupy leading positions in the sector. 

UNZA: Where Future Begins

UNZA’s list of the best PhD courses to study in Zambia has tried to capture the snapshot of the current educational trends and their relation to the geopolitical fluctuations. 

Unfortunately, what was left out from the article can often be more exciting – the atmosphere of studying in the diverse culture, the joy of research in various fields, and the kaleidoscopic variety of PhD subject areas. We’ll leave you to explore those on your own.

To learn more about our programmes and how they can help build your future, contact us today. We’ll be more than happy to help.