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Some general inquiries about a PHD..
B

28 year old male, turning 29 in one week. European based and looking to do a PHD in Europe, probably in the Nordic countries, Germany, or Netherlands. I have always had an ‘academic’ side to me, enjoy researching and writing since a young age, have a genuine interest in certain subjects, and close relatives and friends think a PHD would suit me.

My B.A. was in Sociology which I received a first class honors in. My M.A. was in International Security and Conflict Studies which I received a 2.1 honors degree in. Aside from that, I have done a small bit of research for an N.G.O on re-building societies destroyed by war/violence, and also wrote a couple articles for a non-governmental website. But nothing special really.

Since finishing my M.A. in 2015 I have had general work experience unrelated to my field of study, moved to a new country, currently working in Sales with a really good company and defined career path…. But not entirely sure if it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life and need to start giving the PHD option some serious thought

In regards to what I want to do my PHD in, I’m not entirely sure. Something in relation to peacekeeping/conflict resolution/the dynamics of armed groups and the disarming process would perhaps be a field I’m into. Criminology and the relation between poverty and crime is another potential area.

I do have some general inquiries though on how to get started with the process.

(1) Are there websites I can use to search for PHD programs, or different supervisors, or what is the process of applying?

(2) When do PHD programs in these countries typically begin, and when do I need to start applying?

(3) I got a 1st class honors in my B.A., 2.1 in my M.A. But my M.A. dissertation was quite poor and I’m afraid it will go against me. How difficult is it to get into a PHD program, and what can I do in the short-medium term to increase my chances of getting accepted into one?

(4) Is it possible to live alone on a PHD stipend? I’m at that stage in life where I feel I need my own space, and would like to think it’s possible to afford renting my own apartment while doing a PHD but also need to be realistic.

(5) Finally… is it worth it? Sure I know people will say ‘’if you love what you’re researching and care about it, it’s worth it.’ But I’m in a comfortable job now which pays well in a growing industry, where there is a defined career path for me, and which I do enjoy even though it’s not 100% ‘me’. A PHD will involve a significant salary drop, a few years of financial insecurity, a few years of working towards a never ending thing, then some insecurity when finally in the job market. Part of me thinks it would make more sense just sticking to what I’m doing, forget the PHD, and maybe try to get into journalism and pursue that on the side instead.

Any ways I appreciate all your help in advance!