Part Time PhD

Uni Compare  · Nov 18th 2021

With PhDs being offered by universities, more and more have started to offer part time PhDs as well!


A part-time PhD might be the answer to many students' problems. Now you have the chance to study a postgraduate degree and work as well!

University part-time PhD

What is a PhD?

A PhD is a postgraduate doctoral degree, known as a Doctor of Philosophy, and is the highest university degree available at universities in most countries. A PhD is awarded to students who complete an original thesis that offers a new contribution to knowledge in their subject. The qualification is available in all subjects and across most academic fields.

From a UCL part-time PhD to an LSE part-time PhD, most universities offer the qualification.

What is a part-time PhD and a full-time PhD?

The standard doctorate takes around four years to complete on average when studying full time in the UK. Whilst studying, the majority of PhD students live at or near the university and use either lab or office space to conduct research for the thesis.

Part-time PhD degrees are also available for those who wish to work whilst they complete their thesis or have other work and life commitments. Part-time PhDs can take up to seven years and most universities offer them as an option.

You will still be granted access to the university’s facilities and support throughout.

There is also the option of registering as a full-time PhD student if you feel studying for a PhD part-time isn’t working out for you.

A typical PhD part-time student may be researching in a lab and use the facilities for their work.

The advantages to a part-time PhD

There are significant positives of studying for a PhD part-time, including access to labs, offices, library resources and supervisors at the university. The fees are usually a fraction of the cost for full-time students.

You will have several years to complete the degree if you’re doing a PhD part-time, and it’s easy to work around commitments or employment.

To find out more about part-time PhD funding keep reading, as there are many options available for prospective students.

What are the disadvantages of a part-time PhD?

There are both pros and cons for a part-time PhD, starting with universities generally taking on fewer students asking to do a PhD part-time compared to those on the full-time course. A lot of this is down to the success rate being very low statistically.

There are also distractions from the work, such as employment, families or other commitments which makes it hard to set time aside. Someone looking into part-time business PhD programs may also work in that field, which may provide great insight into the area but it can also be a demanding role.

Lastly, studying for a PhD part-time takes longer - up to several years - and it can be easy to lose motivation and a sense of direction, with a lot of part-time PhD students giving up.

Uni part-time PhD

How long does a part-time PhD take?

A part-time PhD typically takes five to eight years, but this time period depends on how long the university offers you and how much work you put in. You might have more time than you initially thought and finish it sooner, or your work and life balance may get in the way and it takes longer.

Typically a full-time PhD is three to four years and studying a PhD part-time is double that.

How many hours a week is a part-time PhD?

There is no set time to how long studying a PhD part-time takes, as it’s down to the hours you put in yourself. If you have a goal of completing a doctorate in five to six years then you need to ensure you’re putting the effort in - and a significant amount of research.

Finding part-time PhD courses

Most educational establishments will offer PhD courses, either via a department or area of research they specialise in.

You should first decide what area of research you’d like to conduct and explore whether it has been done before or if it is possible for you to complete within the time frame. Then you can focus on what universities are best suited, either due to the supervisors and academics based there that can help you with your research or for their facilities that will aid your project. There also may be many part-time PhD accounting programs available at different universities, so the next step is finding the right one for you.

A PhD is a postgraduate doctoral degree, known as a Doctor of Philosophy, and is the highest university degree available at universities in most countries.

Is there a University of Oxford and Cambridge part-time PhD?

The majority of institutions offer doctorate degrees, including a part-time PhD Cambridge studentship, and it’s one of the most famous universities in the world.

For the University of Cambridge, there are particular courses offered part-time and different types of study administered by different bodies, like the Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) and the Cambridge Judge Business School.

However, a University of Cambridge part-time PhD is not available remotely and cannot be done via distance learning. There is also no formal residence requirements for part-time doctorate students but some people have short residential sessions to help when conducting the research.

Part-time PhD students will be expected to actively engage and benefit from intellectual and social experiences in Cambridge life.

This is the same for a part-time PhD Oxford, which is also world-class.

Here students can take six to eight years to research, write and submit their thesis for their degree, with a minimum number of four years.

For both the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, the thesis will need to be a valuable piece of research in the chosen field of study not previously explored.

Part-time PhD

What about an Open University part-time PhD?

Now, there are many options to take on part-time PhD programs via distance learning. One interesting option is offered by the Open University for those living in the UK.

Candidates can register to become an ‘external part-time PhD student’ and find a first supervisor at the university who you would meet with every few months to discuss your work. Then your research is conducted at a connected university or institute - at your own cost.

A typical PhD part-time student may be researching in a lab and use the facilities for their work. However, as the Open University doesn’t host these external students, you’d have to pay the extra cost. Fees can range from £119 per lab use per quarter, but this is subject to differ for each university and the facilities you’re using.

However, you’re only charged at the home student rate as you are living in the UK, even for those who are not a UK or EU citizens.

It is also important to note, that as an international part-time PhD student there may be requirements set by the university and/or government, like working alongside the degree and a visa.

Typically a full-time PhD is three to four years and studying a PhD part-time is double that.

Is there part-time PhD funding?

Starting a doctorate degree is not cheap or easy. To make it more manageable there are various options for part-time PhD finance.

One important factor to consider when deciding on whether to obtain a doctorate is whether you can afford the part-time PhD programs and the fees each year.

There are part-time studentships available, which sees universities, research councils or even charities fund your studies. There is also a PhD student loan you can apply for from the government.

These are in place for students on part-time PhD courses who may need financial support, although it’s important to know that you can’t apply for the loan if you’ve been granted a studentship.

Part-time PhD University

Are there part-time jobs for PhD students?

Depending on what job you’re after, there are many part-time jobs available. These can range from the hospitality industry to retail - many with flexible hours for you to complete your part-time PhD.

Part-time jobs are also a great idea for those studying a full-time PhD course, as the fees and living costs can become costly.

It is, however, hard to find work related to your field of study as typically a thesis is specific. Some students will choose to research an area related to their professional or work life anyway, which helps them conduct research for their thesis and offer them extensive knowledge they can implement on a daily basis.

To find out more about part-time jobs for PhD students, it’s best to search local jobs websites, newspapers, job boards and keep an eye out for ‘staff wanted’ signs in your local area. Before embarking on a new job, ensure you will be able to balance it with studying and that your working hours do not get in the way of your research.

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