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Programs How long does a phd take?

  1. Jul 14, 2010 #1
    Hi.
    I'm considering going into physics and I realize that while I can't be sure of anything, at the end a phd is very important for a physicist so I was wondering:
    How long does it take to complete a phd? I don't mean from freshman. I mean if I already have a bachelor's degree, and do I need master's degree or I can just go ahead and work on phd once I have bachelor's?

    Thanks.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2010 #2

    jtbell

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    Staff: Mentor

    This depends on what country you're in.

    In the US, it varies between about four and seven years, depending on which field you're in, whether it's experimental or theoretical, how much luck you have with your research work, etc.

    Also, in the US, students who are aiming for a physics Ph.D. generally enter a Ph.D. program directly after finishing their bachelor's degree. After they've passed enough coursework they can pick up an M.S. along the way. There are also "terminal masters'" programs which do not lead on to a Ph.D. program, and are generally specialized in some way (e.g. applied physics) and are intended for a career in industry rather than in research.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2010
  4. Jul 14, 2010 #3
    and this time it takes from Bachelor's or Masters? Do you need to go through masters degree or you can start right after you get bachelor's?
     
  5. Jul 14, 2010 #4
    Read ZapperZ's stickied post entitled "So, you want to be a physicist?"
     
  6. Jul 14, 2010 #5

    jtbell

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    Staff: Mentor

    From bachelor's. As I wrote in my previous post:

     
  7. Jul 14, 2010 #6
    At my school the average is 5.5 years. One of the biophysics guys got done in 4 years (granted he worked his butt off). On the other hand, someone in my astro group took 7 years.
     
  8. Jul 14, 2010 #7

    jtbell

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    It took me seven years, in experimental HEP, five and a half years after I joined a research group. I could probably have finished a year earlier, but my research group wasn't in any hurry to kick me out so long as they had enough analysis work that I could do alongside my dissertation, to justify paying me. They even let me stay for a year after I finished, while I was job-hunting. So I was effectively a graduate student for eight years.
     
  9. Jul 14, 2010 #8
    In my dept. (physics) the average is 7.6 years.
     
  10. Jul 14, 2010 #9

    Pythagorean

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    Gold Member

    The longer, the better.
     
  11. Jul 14, 2010 #10
    Why is that?
     
  12. Jul 14, 2010 #11

    Pythagorean

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    Matter of personal preference. Longer till interest acrues on loans, take time to enjoy your research instead of grinding on it, really soak up the material and learn the funding markets.
     
  13. Jul 14, 2010 #12
    So, it appears that 5 years is a pretty common number, while there can be exception.
    It was important to me because I'm starting my studies pretty late compared to other people so I had know how long the entire process might take.

    Thanks everybody!
     
  14. Jul 14, 2010 #13
    As of now my plans are to go to grad school and I won't be entering till I'm around 26. So this might be similar to you. Does anybody know if this is much older then most grad school freshman?
     
  15. Jul 14, 2010 #14
    I entered at 26 which put me as one of the older grad students but only by a year or 2 on average. That was in mech. engineering.
     
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