Approximately 20-25 per cent of PhDs in the UK are taken part-time (HEFCE 2015). It offers many PhDs the flexibility to combine other commitments alongside their research. For some it is a match made in heaven; for others mission impossible. Before you decide take time to reflect on whether it is right for you.
Key Benefits of Part-Time PhD Study
Maintain an income while studying
Maintain your employment rights, such as a pension
Improve your future employability whilst working
Ability to balance family commitments with studying
Keep “in touch” with the working environment
Opportunity to engage in research in relation to working life
Some part-time students receive funding from their employers
Warwick supports the research and study skills development of both part-time and full-time PhDs.
Before you commit to doctoral study, it is worth taking some time to consider the implications on both your personal and professional life and think about where you may need to make changes to accomodate your studies:
- A part-time PhD can take over 5 years to complete: can you realistically commit to the programme for the duration?
- Consider what you might need to alter in order to accommodate your research. You may find it helpful to block out set times of the week in which to undertake your study.
- Think about what inspired you to take on part-time research. Are you confident that your motivation levels will remain high throughout the programme?
- There are times when a researcher may feel isolated, this is especially true when studying part-time. Do you feel you have sufficient levels of self-motivation to carry you through these times?
- Many part-time researchers feel a greater temptation to "take a break" from their studies, plan in strategies to help keep yourself motivated through such times.
- Don't forget your work/life balance. Doing research is like any job, it is important to take breaks, holidays and spend time with family and friends.
- Nine part-time PhDs share their experiences and tips on Vitae's website
- Ensure that family and work colleagues are aware of your programme, and supportive of it, before you start out.
- Do your current personal and professional commitments leave you enough time to undertake part-time study as well?
- Do you have a place to study away from distractions of your family life?