Phd, how long has your taken?


I'm interested to know how long its actually taken alot of people to obtain a PhD?

I ask because as I mentioned in a earlier post I'm considering quitting mine, the reason being that I am being pressured to write up despite having no where near the amount of data required for a pass. I'm coming up to the end of my 3rd year in October, my PhD has being a total disaster due to a variety of reasons and I dont mind working in the lab for a few extra months while writing up being gotta do what you gotta do right?

Is more than 3 years totally unacceptible or is it just unfortunate but happens with some difficult projects which seems to be the trend i've seen.

I should mention that my institute has a reputation for students not completing at all/failing and we have a few students still carrying out experiments despite being almost at 4 years.


YEARS! I've taken absolutely years to do my PhD!

I'm 4.5 years into my PhD now, and I have been given a deadline of end of this year to submit my thesis. I was ill for the first 6 months, and then I wasted 2 years while I took on teaching jobs that I shouldn't have taken, then actually suspended for 6months with another illness. so really, I've not spent much time on my PhD, but on paper, I've taken years as I only suspended for 6 months of it.

Until I was given the deadline, I wasn't so worried about it though, as we have other students in the office that have been here for way longer than I have... Now I'm absolutely panicing because of my deadline and wonder how others are getting away with it...

I guess it depends on your field and your department. Some department are very relaxed about it, and others aren't. I've heard many many students that take longer than 3 years to the point I think it's a miracle if someone finishes in 3 years (although I do know someone that got his PhD in 2.5 years, show off!)

The only thing we can do is to think what can be done to make sure we finish our own PhDs in the shortest time possible. I don't know if I can finish by the end of this year, but I'm giving all I've got to get it done by then.


I get three years for mine, and not a day more, literally. I start my PhD proper on 1st October 2010 (I'm in the "1+" masters year at the moment) and have to submit in full by September 30th 2013, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Such as dying.


4matt, the 30th Sept deadline is when your funding ends, not when you have to have it handed in. Obviously, if it continues for longer than the 30th Sept then you will be doing it without receiving funding. But it's not that you have to have it handed in by then, although that's what I will be aiming for!

Based on the people I've spoken to about this, it seems very rare to complete in 3 years, I know it my University it has always taken longer.


Quite honestly, i think it depends on the subject, the lab (if lab-based, obviously), the department, the university and the country. I have heard rumours of people finishing in 3 years - but i don't actually know anyone who has done it. I'm currently at 4.5 years - hoping to submit asap (which quite honestly puts me at about 5 years to complete). But it has not been an easy five years - and i was not signed off sick for any of that time. So, it happens, and when/if it happens to you, you just deal with it, if funding runs out and you can afford the time to work elsewhere at the same time, then that will see you through. Or something else will happen to sort things out in the end. I don't think anyone wants to be at this any longer than is necessary - but, as i have been told since primary school, don't compare your results (or time, or progress in this case) with that crazy student who tells you they will finish in 6 months (sometimes people lie about it- i have known that to happen more often than people finishing in 3 years).

And, in years gone by, people in my department (actually maybe just my lab) were taking 6, 7 years to finish.

You do what you have to do, unless it starts to hurt you physically or mentally.

Best of luck - you're not alone in the struggle!


thank you eskimo_sue, your input has indeed made me feel a little better about things. I've not being off ill or had any personal crisis that I couldnt deal...although my love of caffine and nicotine has got significantly worse.

I just feel rather threatened by my department demanding that I finish as soon as possible, the issues a tough one; I've never complained, had arguments with my supervisor, ignored lab protocol, dodged work, lacked commitment or lied about my progress. Quite simply the reason i'm in a mess is because scientifically we didnt get what we expected and ended up with a big fat dead end.

It reasures me that other guys have had similar nightmares. I think universities (especially lesser quality ones) dont relise how tough it is to make scientific progress. Rather than quality they go for quantity....pack as many students in as possible and get shot of them as quick as possible.


can you speak to others in the department/university about how 'fixed' your deadline is? for example I know from speaking to other people that my department will most likely to extend my deadline if I need it.

You should see how flexible your department is, as it might make you feel less pressured.


Hey! Loads of people in my department take 4 years- I'm doing Clinical Psychology and because it takes so long to do the paperwork for the NHS to be able to work with vulnerable patients, most people in this field aren't collecting data until second year. In addition to this it is usually very slow-going to recruit a clinical sample of participants- it's a lot tougher than recruiting students as participants for example. So don't worry if you over-run a little, it is really common and very likely in some subjects anyway. Sometimes 3 years simply isn't enough to get it all done! Good luck with it if you decide to carry on! Best, KB


Cheers for your input pink_numbers, yeah my university is currently in transition. We got a new hardline dean at the start of my 3rd year who baddly wants to clamp down on students staying after their 3rd year so I get the hint she wants to make abit of a example out of me. We have alot of students who worked in the lab well into there 4th year but fell just outside of her duristriction.

I've had a chat with my sup and hes indicated that the deans coming down rather hard on him about my poor performance so I think I'll have to lay my cards on the table with it, either let me work till I get a publication or fail me now. I honestly think I'll make it by the end of my 4 year and be out the door if i'm given a few extra months to get my lab work in order.


it might just be me that thinks this, but surely, for your lovely dean, it's much worse to have a student not finish than for a student to take a bit longer to get their PhD?

Uni A: Pass 10, Pass but took longer 5, Failed 5
Uni B: Pass 10, Pass but took longer 0, Failed 10

I would say Uni B looks worse.

Maybe your dean doesn't realise how capable and willing you ARE of finishing it and you just need extra time. She might think (without all the facts) that you're doomed to fail. I'd get your sup to fight your corner and point this out more to your meany dean.


I thought it was bog standard these days that its 3 years (ft) for the PhD and a year completion amounting to 4 years. I had my upgrade this year and the letter I received said that my PhD proper ends on Oct 4th 2011 and I must have submitted by Oct 3rd 2012. They won't let you go over the 4 years unless you have big problems but they are trying to clamp down on students who are ft spending 3 or 4 years in the SU bar and then freaking out and not finishing for 6 or 7 years as many of my friends did ;-) My funding only covers 3 years, the 4th year is purely completion and writing up with a minimal fee.


3.5 years...... got all my experimental and most of the write-up done in the three years. Extra 0.5 was for faffing about and not getting on with it.


Button, unfortunately it is three years. The way it works here (Med School, UK University, Med School) is that a conventional 3-year student gets three years of funding, but can take up to four total to finish, while the 1+3 students get four years' funding, but have to finish within those four years. Nasty, huh?


The funding bodies are clamping down on universities having PhD students regitered for years and years and going nowhere. At my uni they have changed the regs so that there is no writing up fee - it's full fees all the way through and pretty tight deadlines (of course all the people on old regs are still hanging around) - they want to get completions up to 75% (currently around 40 I think)


Some (i would guess most) of the funding bodies penalise the universities if they don't finish within the full time allowance + 1 year writing up. I had to finish within the four years overall otherwise my university wouldn't even allow me to extend the registration period (I think the idea being they get penalised so you get punished i.e. no phd!)

No bad thing, but that's another discussion!