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PHD programs

benndaman33benndaman33 Registered User Posts: 268 Junior Member
edited February 2005 in Graduate School
Hi, i'm only a senior in highschool so it may be early to be asking these questions, but just for my own understanding. I was wondering typically how long it takes to get a PHD after college, and how it is affordable. It seems to me its a minimum of 5 years from what I've read, and with some debt already accumulated from undergraduate school, combined with new fees for graduate school, i'm not quite clear as to how this is all possible. If someone could enlighten me, I'd be much obliged.
Post edited by benndaman33 on

Replies to: PHD programs

  • mol10emol10e Registered User Posts: 445 Member
    The length of time to complete a Ph.D. depends upon the discipline you are studying and the particular university. In psychology, the average is probably over five years and in some places more like seven years. If you go to a university based Ph.D. program you are likely to get a stipend (15000 and up) and free tuition. Most grad students require some other source of support so loans, family aid and additional work are typical. On another thread there was discussion about this issue and the need to be careful about accumulating too much debt as an undergraduate if graduate school is in your future.
  • benndaman33benndaman33 Registered User Posts: 268 Junior Member
    Thanks for your response. I am deciding on undergraduate schools now and will be basing my choice largely on a financial basis. Allegheny College has fairly high graduate school acceptance rates and offered me a very nice scholarship so that is a consideration. Thanks for your time
  • newmassdadnewmassdad Registered User Posts: 3,848 Senior Member
    Stipends outside the sciences for Ph.D. work are not often given outside the very top places. In the sciences it is more common.

    Length of time to degree varies a lot by discipline. Physical sciences are pretty fast, 4-5 years. Bio sciences a year or two more. Social sciences and especially humanities are all over the lot. Some hums types take many years, especially when the thesis committee wants a book length thesis.
  • benndaman33benndaman33 Registered User Posts: 268 Junior Member
    I'd definately be interested in physical science over anything else, what do the majority of people do during this time - simply live off of the stipend or also work. Furthermore, what does the college have to gain with free tuition and stipends - the research that you are doing for them? Thanks
  • mol10emol10e Registered User Posts: 445 Member
    The college gains grad students work as research assistants and teaching assistants. So you may find yourself teaching an introductory class or leading a lab or discussion group that is part of a class. In the physical sciences you would be working in a lab on a faculty member's research program, in social sciences you might be running experiments or doing independent research. The university can attract high powered faculty by having lots of graduate students who can do this work as the faculty see grad students as resources to aid them in their work as well as studnets pursuing their own work. I would disagree slightly with newmassdad's perspective--grad student money is available outside of the physical sciences and not only at the top schools.
  • newmassdadnewmassdad Registered User Posts: 3,848 Senior Member
    mol10e, yes, SOME support is available for TAs and a few RAs in the social sciences and humanities, but an awful lot of the grad students in those fields are unsupported, and few, outside top schools, get support for all their grad school career. The money is just not there. To look at it another way, a history guy could get some support, but it may not be much related to his thesis work.

    In the sciences, it is very different. Most grad students get support not from institutional funds, but from research grant funds, through NIH or NSF. The grant covers tuition and a modest but adequate living stipend. Some even cover health insurance. The best part is that one's "job" is doing their thesis work.

    I would agree that there is some external support money available in the social sciences. It is almost nonexistant in the humanities.
  • mol10emol10e Registered User Posts: 445 Member
    I'm not sure where you are getting your data but in psychology the situation is not as bleak as you describe. At many universities, assistantships and fellowships are available to graduate students throughout their training and they receive tuition waivers and can buy in cheaply to the health plans offered by the university. While NIH and NSF funding streams are not as common as in the physical sciences, students at many universities are funded through these federal grants. As for humanities, I think it depends where you go. My sense is that many of the urban, northeast schools don't offer much to grad students in literature, philosophy and the like. I think the situation in other parts of the country are somewhat better.
  • mackinawmackinaw Registered User Posts: 2,909 Senior Member
    newmassdad, I think you've greatly underestimated the availability of funding for doctoral students in the social sciences. Not just at "top schools" but at most truly good programs in large universities that require TA's as graders and instructors to fill their classrooms, a large majority of grad students are funded for 4 or 5 and sometimes 6 years of their doctoral program. In my own social science department, all admitted students come with funding guarantees or they are not admitted.
  • GreybeardGreybeard Registered User Posts: 2,355 Senior Member
    I remember reading once that Ph.D's in economics often finished in three years, but that it took close to ten years on average to finish a Ph.D. in Chinese or Japanese.
  • greenbeangreenbean Registered User Posts: 77 Junior Member
    Is an S.JD like a PH.D for law? Does anyone know how long it usually takes to complete?
  • thomaschauthomaschau Registered User Posts: 510 Member
    Howabout physics? 5 yrs or so?
  • COamherst09COamherst09 Registered User Posts: 54 Junior Member
    I think I remember hearing somewhere that chemistry and physics normally take about 4 years, but that biology averages about 5 years because of the added time of things like growing samples. I was an intern at Scripps Research over the summer in San Diego and for most PhDs at least in biology and chemistry it seemed like to basically took as long as you wanted to take. Most grad students there seemed a little lazy the first couple of years and then decided they didnt want to be there forever so the really worked at it. Maybe it was just the lab I was in, but that was the feeling that I got.
  • astraltouristastraltourist Registered User Posts: 6 New Member

    According to the American Physical Society, the avg. length of time for a physics PhD is about 6.5 years. Theory tends to take bit longer than the experimental track.
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