Doing a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) and becoming a doctor is a dream for those who are pursuing their masters. PhD is the highest honour of any university and a very difficult task to complete. Indeed, funding is one of the most important factors in doing PhD- part-time or full-time.
For pursuing a PhD, one has invested 4 to 5 years of their life and a huge amount of money. Hence for a normal or middle-class person or student, it is very difficult to give time as well as invest money.
Moreover, if the candidate does not have a scholarship or project funding, it is even more difficult to complete it.
Henceforth, part-time PhD is one of the best options for those who want to do job and PhD, simultaneously.
Although doing a part-time PhD has some advantages as well as disadvantages which we are discussing in the present article. But before that, let’s quickly discuss what the PhD degree is.
The PhD (part-time or full time) is a topmost academic degree given by any university. The primary requirement for enrolling into a PhD is the master degree and good grades in the entrance exam (if applicable) and/or M.Phil.
Approximately, 4 to 5 years required to complete the PhD, in some cases it can take up to 8 years.
The candidate has to complete coursework, publish at least one research paper, complete fieldwork, write a thesis and dissertation and complete viva at last during their PhD tenure.
The entire framework is almost the same for part-time as well as full-time PhD program. Here are some of the advantages of part-time PhD.
Advantages of part-time PhD:
Flexibility is one of the primary concerns for doing a part-time PhD.
You should not require to go to university or college every day- 9 to 5 and can do your work from anywhere and at any time. You can even work on weekends only, however, your tenure for completing PhD will increase if you only work on weekends.
High rewards at a job:
Part-time PhD is the best option for those who are doing a job on a higher position at some corporate or in the government sector.
WIth your job, you can do your PhD work and if your job work and PhD topic are co-related, you can complete your PhD degree smoothly.
For example, if you are doing a government job at some history department or in a library, doing a PhD in history or library science will definitely help you.
Furthermore, doing a part-time PhD with your permanent job will increase the potential chance for higher positions and salaries.
If you are working at some research centre and doing a part-time PhD in a related subject, the chance of promotion will definitely on your side, if consider. You can also claim a higher pay scale on your PhD pursuing basis as well.
PhD with a job makes you different from other employees, you are considered more intellectual, experienced, qualified and trustworthy from others. It indeed gives you immense pride at the workplace.
Less physical and mental stress:
As we said earlier, through part-time PhD, you can work at your convenience, hence, you do not need to take routine and daily physical and mental stress, unlike the full-time PhD.
No worries about financial stress:
If you are a regular PhD student and you do not have allotted stipend or fellowship, it is a big worry, PhD needs money and time, I mean lots of money and so much time. Therefore throughout your PhD tenure of 5 or 6 years, you must have a constant income source in the form of a stipend, fellowship, sponsorship or assistantship salary. Otherwise, it is very difficult to survive.
If you are a part-time PhD student, you can work full time with other organisation related to your subject or any other government body. You can financially support your PhD work as well as your family.
Disadvantages of part-time PhD:
Doing a part-time PhD is also a tough job, one should have to face many problems, unlike regular PhD student.
One man army:
As a non-regular PhD fellow, you are away from the college or university campus, you are not with your colleagues hence major updates and information can not be conveyed properly to you. Nobody knows you at the college premises, you can even miss important notification as well.
As a part-time PhD student, you have to be a one-man army, regularly in a month or period of three months you should have to visit university, department or college to collect important updates, notifications and information.
Besides, you have to do all your works by yourself only, no one can help you with it
Until and unless you are an expert or well known or a scholar student, no guide will be willing to take you as their PhD student.
You know, it’s your PhD supervisors responsibility to complete your work and if you are not with them, it will be very difficult for them to support you and guide you.
This point is very critical if you are planning to enrol for part-time PhD, you should first contact allotted guides for your subject, if he or she agrees, then you can proceed further. It is very important that whom you willing to select your PhD supervisor should know you personally.
Long-distance with a guide:
Even after finding a supervisor, your task is not done yet. Your guide also have other PhD and dissertation students under their guidance right! And along with this, he or she has to complete their academic commitments as well.
So it will be very difficult for them to guide you personally.
As per my opinion, PhD is all about your guide’s experience. Their vision, expertise and experience make your research and thesis powerful. As a part-time student, you can not utilise the maximum potential and expertise of your guide or supervisor and that is the biggest disadvantage of doing a part-time PhD.
The first reason why someone wants to do a part-time PhD is not to compromise their job and to do some other work to support their family. Thus you have to complete two different tasks, your job as well as your PhD.
And therefore you can not able to do your PhD work on time, your PhD work always remains incomplete in this case. A person doing a PhD as well as job can not complete their PhD goals and commitments on time thus one has to spend one or two years extra in case of part-time PhD.
Besides all these, one of the major disadvantages of a part-time PhD is funding.
Financial aid in the form of stipend, sponsorship or fellowship is not allotted to the part-time PhD student. If you are enrolling as a non-regular fellow, forget about the funds or financial aids from your university.
As an emerging scientist or researcher, it is very important to grow in a research culture, between other research students. As a non-regular PhD fellow, you are all alone, even if you complete your PhD, you will never become a true researcher as you are never grown up in research or PhD culture.
Suggestion for part-time PhD student:
If you are not considered as a full-time PhD student don’t worry, first congratulate yourself, because not all are as lucky as you if you get admission in PhD.
First, complete your formalities related to your PhD admission and immediately start searching for a job. I strongly recommended finding out part-time lectureship job and it is easy to find.
Working as a teacher gives you flexibility in terms of time and financial aid further, as a lecturer or teacher you can also improve your knowledge in your field.
For example, if you are doing a PhD in botany and you are a lecturer in a botany college it is a benefit for you right!
In comparison with the corporate, the work burden as a teacher is very less (comparatively) also, you have a Saturday and Sunday to work on your PhD topic.
Doing a part-time PhD in science subjects such as biology, molecular biology, cell biology, zoology, biotechnology or microbiology, you definitely need a lab to work right!
Until and unless you don’t have your own lab (definitely you don’t have!) or a job in a research lab or in a science college, do not enrol as a part-time. If your subject is in arts or sociology, part-time PhD is best suits for you.
One of the keys to succeed in a part-time PhD is time management. One should strictly follow their routine and design their work in such a way that their PhD work, as well as job work, completed daily.
Try to interact weekly with your research guide and brief them your work and problem associated with it.
Never miss a single opportunity to take advantage of your supervisor, his or her valuable suggestions can help you a lot. Try to meet them once in a month so that a strong trustworthy bond can be created.
As I mentioned earlier, try to visit your university once in a month or in three months and collect important information.
These are some of the suggestions from my personal experience which can definitely help you.
I was too, a part-time PhD student, even though I had cleared the examination and allotted fellowship, I refuse to take it because I had my own genetic lab.
I was an entrepreneur and luckily my guide was one of our committee members. We had a small genetic lab. Three dissertation students were doing their master’s project at our lab and I had given them three different topics associated with my research work.
So I would discuss regarding my PhD topic to my guide and convey it to the master’s students. Still, I was punctually in completing my work. We used to have discussion and writing sessions on our research topic and thesis writing, weekly.
Before enrolling into PhD, we were doing research in our field since long, so it was easy for me to complete it but it is not the case with everyone.
Now coming to our question, is doing a part-time PhD is a good option or not?
As per my opinion, nothing is difficult for a hardworking, punctual and sincere person and so if you are! go ahead and your goals will definitely be achieved. If you are not. It is quite difficult but not impossible.
I strongly recommend part-time PhD in those subjects in which lab work is not included until you have lab facilities.
Conclusively, I can say, build a strong trust with your PhD guide, do daily work and monitor your improvement each year. These three things helps you to complete your PhD as a part-time student.
Dr. Tushar Chauhan is a Scientist, Blogger and Scientific-writer. He has completed PhD in Genetics. Dr. Chauhan is a PhD coach and tutor.