Fully-funded PhD students - How long for a PhD ?


Hello everyone,

Hope your PhD research is going well :p

In my university, those who are fully funded are for 3 years.
My question is : Have you been able to submit at the end of the 3rd year ?

In my department, there are 2 PhD students who were fully funded but they are in their 4th year at the moment. They are about to submit but they 'had' to take this 'continuation year' (for which they did not have to pay the fees but they don't get any fundings anymore).
I am in my 2nd year and really hope I will submit at the end of the 3rd year. However, PhD colleagues in their 3rd year (at the moment) have not finished writing yet and they also plan to submit in their 4th year. They told me that it is usually the way it is, and that it is almost impossible to submit at the end of the 3rd year. (humanities, languages).

What is your opinion/experience about this ?

I hope to have many advice and sorry if my message was not really clear.



======= Date Modified 22 Feb 2012 22:24:29 =======
Hi Lullaby,

This fairly recent thread has lots of responses on the shortest possible duration: http://www.postgraduateforum.com/threadViewer.aspx?TID=21629

Basically, I think the answer is ''it depends'' ; if you are focused predominantly on the thesis for three years and if your supervisor is quick about reading your work and giving feedback, then 3 years is definitely possible. But, things may happen that are beyond your control - personal circumstances, internal delays in the department, etc.

I'm in the same position as you and I'm determined to get it finished within the three years. (up)


Hi Lullaby,

I am with a Doctoral Training Centre (sciences) and we are expected to submit at the end of the 3 years or be very close to it (I think we have 3 months grace to organise viva etc).
A years extension in my DTC is not the norm and probably means something went wrong causing the needed extension.
The university I am with recently changed to an automatic allowance of an unfunded 4th year to write up, which must have been due to the numbers of past students needing longer.

Aim for three years - that way you can be in a career targeted post soon after. Otherwise you will have to find an income while you write up which I imagine can be hard juggling part/full time job and writing.


Many thanks for your replies!

I really hope I can finish it in 3 years ! Money will be a real problem after that ..
Hope my supervisor can also be quick reading my draft .... (!!!)


Hi Lullaby, I'm AHRC fully funded, and although I'm under pressure from my department to submit within 3 years (they've told me to get an au pair, to help me manage my 3 kids, - not an option I can afford), I'll submit within the 4 years that are permitted by the funders. This will probably have an impact on the RAE rating for my university, but when I asked them to quantify the difference that a submission within 4 years would make, rather than within 3yrs, no-one at the uni was willing to disclose that information.

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

There are people who've submitted in less than three years, however, the norm is to spill over into a fourth year. You have to plan well and be extremely structured to do it in less than three years or be a certified genius.

Some Universities do not allow submission in less than two and a half years.

I would advise anyone on a funded PhD to see out the three years before submitting to ensure they have their thesis right. Otherwise, you could risk major corrections.

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)


I am fully funded by two institutions. One of these is a research centre and the other is a university. At the research centre there are 100s of postgrads, and people generally finish relatively close to on time. I think the norm is 2-3 months over, although students do occasionally go more than 6 months over. It doesn't seem to be frowned upon at all - in fact I know that staff often try to help students out by finding them small bits and pieces of work that they can be paid for while finishing writing.

At the university there are only about 15 postgrads. While everyone talks the talk that you should be planning to finish in 3 years on the dot, I have yet to see this happen. Most people are at least 3-6 months over by submission, although they often lose their desk space and their supervisors may not be able to continue supervising at the same level, i.e. they are happy to read chapters and review, but unwilling to get involved with repeated or new experiments (not that anyone would realistically be planning to do anything like that 6 months over their time limit!). There is one guy who was planning to be finished in 2 years, but he has now revised to 2.5 years, and may revise up again. I think the limiting factor if often the speed which your supervisors read and correct chapters for you!