Industrial PhDs - what's your experience?


Hello all,

I'd like to know the experiences of fellow industrial PhD students out of interest in comparison to my own situation. I don't know any other industrial PhD students in my uni.

I'm ~9 months in to my PhD with the company I've been with since I finished my undergrad. It's a small company that is doing well but the workload is extremely strenuous. With the resources (specifically manpower) being low, a huge amount of work falls on me as though I'm just an employee still. My PhD is funded 50% by the company so in theory, 50% of my time should be for them. It's a bit of a complicated situation but overall, my thesis work feels squeezed in around the needs of the company which is yet to hire competent help.

I'm reaching out to fellow PhD students (in the scientific/engineering field) because my mental health, which has never been great due to some unfortunate circumstances since a young age, is becoming a big struggle. I've reached out to all my supervisors and they are very good. However, the stigma on mental health, the judgement that PhDs should work 24/7 for little pay and poorly enforced rules on holidays/sick leave/attendance in general, as well as the strain of a company goals 'more important' than yours is like a huge weight on my shoulders.

I'm seeking help and things are going ok. I would just like to know other experiences and those who have come out of the other side. Thanks.


Hi AccioThesis

I'm sorry to hear about the work load causing you mental health problems. I'm afraid I can't offer much advice but I'm also interested other people's experience in doing an industrial PhD. The company I'm working has just offered me a part time PhD opportunity and I'm not sure if taking it is this the right move for me. I've posted about my situation here:

Does this set up sound similar to what you're experiencing? Is your PhD closely linked to what you're doing at work? If so does this mean the boundaries been work and PhD are quite blurred?


I am not doing an industrial PhD but doing an industrial postdoc so it may not apply to your case but from my experience, it is very important for you to make sure that the industry partner does allow you to have your research time at the uni. Industry tends to forget the time limitation and work load that goes with a PhD. My recommendation is that you make it clear with them from the beginning that your PhD success is the main objective for you and not allow them to get beyond the scope of your research subject.


Hi acciothesus,

I know exactly what you say. Lots of my friends were doing an EngD (I did a PhD).

My advice is as follows: ask your academic supervisor to confront your industrial supervisor on the time you spent in the university. Your supervisor MUST support you. The supervisor also wants you to get a PhD. If your supervisor refuses to support you, then stand up for yourself. Go to the office only 3 days a week.

They are using you as a cheap labour. Your salary is subsidised by the government/ university For you to finish the PhD. If they are understaffed it's not your problem. Anyway, even if your relationship breaks with them, I don't think they can stop the funding. Also, with an EngD you can get a £40k job, so I don't think you will want to stay in this company.