Part-time PhD while working full-time

posted
29-May-20, 02:02
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for ellen_xo
posted about 2 months ago
Hi everyone!

So I’m looking for some advice from people who have done this as to whether or not it’s feasible or possible.

I’m currently working as a secondary school English teacher, and I’m desperate to do my PhD. I’ll need to do my PhD part-time, so I can self-fund and continue to work, and as it’ll take 6-7 years I’m keen to get started next year. However, I won’t be able to go part-time at work. While it may be a possibility further into the future, it isn’t at the moment, and I’m concerned about an economic recession or crisis hitting which will mean I need to stay in full-time employment regardless. I do get about 18-20 weeks of the year out for holidays, and I’m wondering if there are any other teachers or people who worked full-time while doing a part-time phd on here, and if you could tell me whether or not it’s realistically to do this?

I‘d really appreciate any advice!
posted
29-May-20, 11:03
edited about 19 seconds later
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 2 months ago
Hi. I am also considering doing part time PhD while working full time. I am not in a position to offer advice because I need it too :). I just think it might be a good idea to discuss with people like you about the feasibility and motivation of doing a part time PhD. I think it is not easy at all. We have to sacrifice many weekends and evenings. We have to be patients. We have to overcome the depression and problems of both PhD and work. Above all this, we need a "real strong" motivation to do it. I say to myself, if I do not have a proper motivation, I might fall in my way because it is a hard way. You cannot separate the reason for doing a PhD and the feasibility of doing it. But deep inside my heart, I want to do it and you look like you want to do it. It would be nice to hear similar stories either successful or not.
posted
29-May-20, 17:52
edited about 4 seconds later
Avatar for PhoenixFortune
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From ellen_xo:
Hi everyone!

So I’m looking for some advice from people who have done this as to whether or not it’s feasible or possible.

I’m currently working as a secondary school English teacher, and I’m desperate to do my PhD. I’ll need to do my PhD part-time, so I can self-fund and continue to work, and as it’ll take 6-7 years I’m keen to get started next year. However, I won’t be able to go part-time at work. While it may be a possibility further into the future, it isn’t at the moment, and I’m concerned about an economic recession or crisis hitting which will mean I need to stay in full-time employment regardless. I do get about 18-20 weeks of the year out for holidays, and I’m wondering if there are any other teachers or people who worked full-time while doing a part-time phd on here, and if you could tell me whether or not it’s realistically to do this?

I‘d really appreciate any advice!

A friend of mine did her PhD alongside her full-time job: she used all her weekends and most evenings on it, and she was exhausted most of the time. She said it probably would have been easier if her PhD had been related to her job (which sadly it wasn't), as there would have been more mutual benefits.

She also didn't have any dependants, which is admittedly significantly easier to fit a PhD around. If you have young children or other caring responsibilities, it might be a difficult mix to juggle.
posted
29-May-20, 20:59
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 2 months ago
Hi OP,

I have a friend who managed it while teaching. It was an EdD though rather than a standard PhD. The course was set up for people working in education so was easier to manage. She had a supportive headteacher though and I think went p/t at work for the final year. She did it out of interest and never wanted an academic career but it's certainly served her well in the education world. She's now doing education policy work and is on double what she was earning as a teacher. It might not be the right route for you but in case you'd not come across professional doctorates, I thought it was worth mentioning.
posted
30-May-20, 17:23
Avatar for AislingB
posted about 2 months ago
I started a part-time PhD while working full time and I have not managed to finish. I know that some people do manage it, but it's extremely tough. The only person I know who managed to finish was doing an EdD. I think it's a bit more structured than a PhD. If you want to do a PhD because you've done a master's degree and enjoyed it, an EdD is definitely worth considering although a PhD is probably better if you want to pursue an academic career.

I really wish someone had told me before I started that a PhD is nothing like a master's degree. You don't have the same kind of support from classmates, and because I was spending most weekends working on the PhD, I became quite isolated and ended up struggling with anxiety and depression. I did also go through a very stressful time at work when the future of my department was under review, so the PhD wasn't the only cause of my mental health probIems. However, if I had known how tough it was going to be, I wouldn't have started.
posted
31-May-20, 04:24
by drkl
Avatar for drkl
posted about 2 months ago
I have completed a part-time PhD while holding down a full-time job. It's possible but not easy. Half of my peers in the same cohort dropped out in the end for various reasons. You need to be very disciplined and prepared to give up most of your social life.
posted
31-May-20, 16:20
edited about 29 seconds later
by bob86
Avatar for bob86
posted about 2 months ago
Hats off to anyone who has managed to complete a part-time PhD while holding down a full-time job. Truly, you have my utmost respect. Personally, however, I have to echo what AislingB says. I started my part-time engineering PhD in 2014 and realised around the 2 year mark that in order to have a realistic chance of ever completing it I had to quit my (engineering) job. So I did in 2016. However, the stress and feeling of isolation of those 2 initial years had such a profound impact on me that I’ve been suffering from depression and anxiety ever since. I think what contributed to my issues in particular was the fact that I went into the whole experience completely unprepared for it: I went straight from a (1st class) BEng into the PhD without first doing an MSc/MRes in the subject matter of my research. As a result, I have always felt like I’m playing catch up in the foundation knowledge department which has massively hindered my confidence. Despite these deficiencies, however, I have worked extremely hard and am now at the writing-up stage with 1 core chapter and introduction/conclusions still to write.

Although nothing can truly prepare you for a PhD, having a relevant masters with an element of research in my opinion can go a long way. Also, as AislingB points out it might be worth considering an EdD which is generally more structured than a PhD.

All the best!
posted
01-Jun-20, 07:34
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 1 month ago
I would like also add to the comments that having a "pragmatic" goal from the PhD is important otherwise the stress might overcome the motivation.
posted
01-Jun-20, 14:17
Avatar for Dr_Crabby
posted about 1 month ago
I'm probably not the best person to give advice here but I have been doing my full time PhD along side a full time (and very demanding) job for the most of it and also a part time voluntary job. It has been extremely hard, I have nearly lost the plot along the way and have had no free time for what feels like forever but I submitted last year and got major corrections which was expected as my thesis was a rush job. It is extremely difficult but it can be done.
posted
01-Jun-20, 20:31
Avatar for In_genious
posted about 1 month ago
I started a part-time PhD in 2016 while working full-time, and I have just decided last week to switch from a PhD to an MPhil candidature. These last four years have been the most difficult years of my life. I have been struggling with depression and anxiety ever since I started the project. There is a very long list of reasons why, but I won't share these here. I have certainly developed as a person and I now know what I would like to do to lead a more fulfilling and happier life. You need to choose your supervisors very very carefully, and you also need to make sure that this is something you really want to commit to because we are talking about roughly 6-8 years of your life. To be brutally honest with you, I would not recommend it for most people; however, I don't know you and your circumstances, and as you can tell from the messages above, there are some people who have managed to pull it off. It can be done, but the experience will certainly change your life forever, for better or worse...
posted
02-Jun-20, 13:41
Avatar for Dr_Crabby
posted about 1 month ago
These last four years have been the most difficult years of my life. I have been struggling with depression and anxiety ever since I started the project. There is a very long list of reasons why, but I won't share these here. I have certainly developed as a person and I now know what I would like to do to lead a more fulfilling and happier life. You need to choose your supervisors very very carefully, and you also need to make sure that this is something you really want to commit to because we are talking about roughly 6-8 years of your life. To be brutally honest with you, I would not recommend it for most people



I would 100% agree with this comment, I wish I had never started it, it has changed my life and those of the people I love too, and not for the better. I would have described myself as a strong and independent person before starting this, now I feel like I rely on my partner and my friends to keep me sane.
posted
02-Jun-20, 14:39
Avatar for In_genious
posted about 1 month ago
Quote From Dr_Crabby:
[quote] now I feel like I rely on my partner and my friends to keep me sane.

I can only rely on my guitar and music to keep me alive and sane.
posted
02-Jun-20, 18:51
edited about 22 seconds later
Avatar for ellen_xo
posted about 1 month ago
Quote From bewildered:
Hi OP,

I have a friend who managed it while teaching. It was an EdD though rather than a standard PhD. The course was set up for people working in education so was easier to manage. She had a supportive headteacher though and I think went p/t at work for the final year. She did it out of interest and never wanted an academic career but it's certainly served her well in the education world. She's now doing education policy work and is on double what she was earning as a teacher. It might not be the right route for you but in case you'd not come across professional doctorates, I thought it was worth mentioning.



Thanks for letting me know about this! I'd like to do my PhD in Victorian literature and gender studies rather than education, but I have friends who this would be absolutely perfect for and we'd never heard of it! Thanks so much!
posted
02-Jun-20, 18:56
edited about 25 seconds later
Avatar for ellen_xo
posted about 1 month ago
Quote From In_genious:
I started a part-time PhD in 2016 while working full-time, and I have just decided last week to switch from a PhD to an MPhil candidature. These last four years have been the most difficult years of my life. I have been struggling with depression and anxiety ever since I started the project. There is a very long list of reasons why, but I won't share these here. I have certainly developed as a person and I now know what I would like to do to lead a more fulfilling and happier life. You need to choose your supervisors very very carefully, and you also need to make sure that this is something you really want to commit to because we are talking about roughly 6-8 years of your life. To be brutally honest with you, I would not recommend it for most people; however, I don't know you and your circumstances, and as you can tell from the messages above, there are some people who have managed to pull it off. It can be done, but the experience will certainly change your life forever, for better or worse...


Thank you for sharing your experience, I'm so sorry it's been so brutal. My job can be quite high stress, but I'm lucky in as far as I get about 19-20 weeks of the year in holidays. I thought - perhaps foolishly - that I'd be able to utilise that time for the PhD and it would balance out not being able to do a whole lot in the term. I've struggled with bad anxiety and depression before too, it's not something I'd like to return to. A PhD has always been the dream, but I'm feeling quite concerned that I won't be able to do it now :( Thank you, and thanks to everyone who has commented, it's really given me a lot to consider!
posted
15-Jun-20, 11:13
by euclid
Avatar for euclid
posted about 3 weeks ago
Quote From bob86:
Hats off to anyone who has managed to complete a part-time PhD while holding down a full-time job. Truly, you have my utmost respect. Personally, however, I have to echo what AislingB says. I started my part-time engineering PhD in 2014 and realised around the 2 year mark that in order to have a realistic chance of ever completing it I had to quit my (engineering) job. So I did in 2016. However, the stress and feeling of isolation of those 2 initial years had such a profound impact on me that I’ve been suffering from depression and anxiety ever since. I think what contributed to my issues in particular was the fact that I went into the whole experience completely unprepared for it: I went straight from a (1st class) BEng into the PhD without first doing an MSc/MRes in the subject matter of my research. As a result, I have always felt like I’m playing catch up in the foundation knowledge department which has massively hindered my confidence. Despite these deficiencies, however, I have worked extremely hard and am now at the writing-up stage with 1 core chapter and introduction/conclusions still to write.

Although nothing can truly prepare you for a PhD, having a relevant masters with an element of research in my opinion can go a long way. Also, as AislingB points out it might be worth considering an EdD which is generally more structured than a PhD.

All the best!


I'm considering to do a PhD in engineering as well, while maintaining my full time job. Besides trying to figure out if it is possible to do this, I'm also trying to find possible offers from Universities. All posts that I've come across refer to full time PhDs. So whether or not I will be able to cope with such a workload, I couldn't really find anything available out there.

Postgraduate
Forum

Copyright ©2018
All rights reserved

Postgraduate Forum

Masters Degrees

PhD Opportunities

PostgraduateForum is a trading name of FindAUniversity Ltd
FindAUniversity Ltd, 77 Sidney St, Sheffield, S1 4RG, UK. Tel +44 (0) 114 268 4940 Fax: +44 (0) 114 268 5766