What is a Part-Time PhD?

Ben Maples  · Jan 23rd 2024  · 3 min

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 some of your worries related to committing to long term postgraduate study. 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. Generally, a PhD involves an extensive research project in a specific subject or field. At the end, you will produce a “thesis” on your findings.

What is the difference between a part-time PhD and a full-time PhD?

The difference is the time given to both. As the name suggests, a part-time PhD is a PhD that is studied only part-time, while a full-time PhD is studied in the usual manner.

A part-time PhD typically takes anywhere between five and seven years. Full-time PhDs are, by no means, short affairs, but typically tend to take around three or four years.

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. However, a thesis deadline can actually be extended for as long as four years.

Uni part-time PhD

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, you’ll find you’ll need to knuckle down in the library a little more often.

Finding part-time PhD courses

It shouldn’t be too hard to find a PhD course.If a university offers a postgraduate course, there’s a fairly high chance that they will offer PhD courses. If you can’t see it listed on the course profile, get in contact with the university - they’ll be happy to help!

You should first decide what area of research you’d like to conduct. After that, research, research, research! Find out whether it has been done before and if it\’s possible to complete it in the time frame you want to. Once you’ve understood this, you can focus on which universities are best suited to you and your project.

Part-time PhD

Why should I do a part-time PhD?

Whether you choose a part-time PhD will likely depend on your circumstances. There are a couple of key reasons many decide on part-time study.

The cost of study

While the cost of your PhD will be the same as a full-time, many prefer that the costs will be spread out across a longer period of time at a smaller cost.

As you’ll also be studying at your university for less time a week, the costs of travel to and from university will be less than if you were full-time.

Part-time PhD University


It's far easier to adapt your life around your PhD if it is studied part-time. If your life is a bit hectic, then a part-time PhD gives you the chance to attend to other matters in your life without the fear of not completing your PhD.

If your situation changes, there is always the opportunity to change to a full-time study.

The reason you choose part-time is down to you. You may find that a full-time PhD suits you better than a part-time PhD course, so consider your situation before you make your choice.

Is there part-time PhD funding?

Yes, there are PhD funding options available. PhD loans can be found through businesses willing to sponsor your work, charities and trusts who may benefit from your research, nationwide grants, or through the government.

Student finance may also be available to you. Essentially, if you won’t receive a studentship, then Student Finance may step in, but it’s unlikely that it will cover the full cost of your PhD. Loans can be available for up to £28,000 depending on circumstances.

postgraduate Uni's

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