Based on a survey of 1399 doctoral candidates at 44 universities in China, the paper analyzes the motives of their choice for doctor's degree and future career path and explores the relationship between gender, marital status, undergraduate school, ways of obtaining degree and motivation for Ph.D. studies. The result shows that motivations of students' choice to pursue doctor's degree are diversified. Most of the doctoral candidates put emphasis on the close relationship between doctor's degree and their future career. They expect getting stable and secure career opportunities through doctoral education. However, they do not have a clear understanding of the nature of doctoral education and lack specific orientation or objective, which will negatively influence the outcome and quality of their academic research. It is imperative for universities to clarify the nature and functions of doctoral education via reasonable mission statement in order to invigorate the academic spirit of potential doctoral candidates and enhance their academic achievement.