Part time PhD hours



I am an NHS employee for my Sins and am looking at undertaking a research PhD and even though I have tried to research into it I cant seem to find the answers I am looking for, so i would be very grateful for some advice/help.

I would be looking at doing a part time PhD and continuing to work full time. (My job isn't lab based)

How much time do people on average spend on there PhD a week? Do you get study time within the working week? Or are there people out there doing it on just a weekend?

I also have no idea on how to go about starting to write one ... I know yes total rookie. I have a PGC and that wasn't an issue at all.

I'd be super grateful if anyone wants to chat about it etc.

thanks :)


Hi Messyboo,

Are you a clinician within the NHS ? If so have you considered doing a part time clinical or professional doctorate. I have worked full time while pursuing my research. Sometimes I have had no study leave from work so have worked all weekend on it at other points I have had one study day per week. I would say for me I have needed to spend on average 2 days per week on it. Some times by necessity though I have had times when I couldnt devote as much time to it. Mine is a qualitative study so lots of time spent transcribing and analysing data. I can't comment on part time PhD but hopefully others here will can share their thoughts with you. Best of luck moving forward. Karen


A PhD is not just another qualification. If you 'do it all on the weekend', you will most likely fail. It's something that sucks up all your time and energy - you're trying to know everything in your field, plus do new research at the same time. Personally I would not consider doing a PhD part time, but that's just me.

Part-time - you need 15 hours a week, every week, minimum. You are expected to be interacting with others in the department, especially if lab based. It's less about study time and more about research time. You don't really worry about writing one until you've done at least 2.5 years of full time research.


Thanks Karen,

I work within medical imaging. Which means I can probably negotiate a days study leave a week and use other available time between clinics etc.

Unfortunately due to my very niche area of work a research program looks to be the best bet for me. This is not something that I have taken lightly even though by my first post it my appear that way.

I know its a minefield when it comes to the full time vs part time debate. While I would love the chance to do a PhD full time this would not be achievable, as I would need to be in based in clinical setting with patient interaction. I am not lab based or have anything to do with lab work etc.



I have to say that it would be a bad idea to do a PhD on top of a part time job never mind a full time job.

During my PhD I easily worked more than 50 hours per week.
It's not just the number of hours though, it's getting contiguous hours to stop yourself spending the next week refreshing your memory of last week's work. Ideas come to you at all hours, not just the weekend or during 9 to 5 and you need to be prepared to drop stuff on a whim. It is all-consuming.

Personally I would recommend full time on the PhD and no outside work or you will struggle to get anywhere.


It is entirely possible to do a PhD part time it just takes longer. I have colleagues in academia and in clinical practice who have successfully completed a PhD or Doctorate while working full time. It is demanding and takes a lot of perseverance and dedication but it can be done. If you have a research interest that you believe you can maintain interest in for a substantial period of time then go for it Messyboo . Look forward to hearing how your ideas progress. K


It would be interesting to see statistics on drop out rates of the various ways of doing a PhD.
Not sure if any are published though.


I did a PhD full time while working and having a family. It is possible. I found that having a job was helping me to feel competent and an adult when I was infantilised by my PhD supervisor. The fact of having a set time in the week to do my PhD made me very efficient in researching and writing. I completed my thesis in three years, had a positive viva with very very minor typographic corrections and am now editing my thesis for publication with a major university press. It can be done if you are focused, fairly organised and you want it.