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I have a question about Graduate School.

  1. Mar 16, 2010 #1
    Now I am a Canadian entering a Canadian Undergrad, it is a 4-year to receive a Bachelor. If I go directly into a Ph.D program in either Canada or USA, how long will it take? Is it 5 years or 2 years?

    If assuming that I give up Breaks, that means no summer holidays or winter vacation, spring break etc.

    Going for a Math/Physics Ph.D, I will probably get the Physics one first

    EDIT:Thanks for all the feedback so far, I think I will be in a USA Grad school. I know that I will need a break, but I am willing to sacrifice time. I really want at least one Ph.D when I am 25.

    Is it possible to earn a double Ph.D if I get a double major?

    EDIT: I am taking Calculus III at a community college right now
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2010 #2
    Certainly not 2 years. 4+ is more realistic. I'm not sure how the Canadian undergraduate is structured, but here in the UK we get around 3 months off per year in undergrad, this is reduced to 4-5 weeks at PhD level (so, normal industry level holidays for us): if this is the same for you then obviously giving up breaks won't make a blind bit of difference.

    Otherwise, you're just starting undergraduate - take it easy. Don't be in a rush to graduate quicker than you need to, there's no extreme hurry. It's better to take your time and do things properly than assume you can master it in a rush and putting yourself under unnecessary stress.

    Finally, almost nobody does two PhDs, I certainly wouldn't think about doing one in physics and then another in maths: though I wouldn't really be thinking about any of this at the level you're currently at :smile:
  4. Mar 16, 2010 #3


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    As a graduate student you don't really get "breaks." It's more like an entry level job where you can take off ~ 2 weeks per year (although there is a certain amount of flexibility).

    From my experience, for a master's degree you're looking at about 2 years. For a PhD, after a master's you're looking at about 4 years. Jumping straight into the PhD after undergrad takes about 5 years. Some people do it a little bit faster, but not by much. Others drag it out.
  5. Mar 16, 2010 #4
    4 years in grad school even if I give up breaks?
  6. Mar 16, 2010 #5
    In the US, it's 4 years for a Ph.D. even if you give up sleep. :-)

    It varies though... 4 years is sort of a minimum. I took 7, I've known people who took 10. It's done when it's done.
  7. Mar 16, 2010 #6
    So say if I somehow finish undergrad in 3 years, it will take me 4 more years to complete a Ph.D? So that's around 7years (I am 17-18). By then I will be 25...
  8. Mar 16, 2010 #7
    And 'somehow' if you finish both degrees in a week, you'll have done it in a week. I ask again: what's the rush...? You should concern yourself with focussing on the quality of your education, not how quickly it can be obtained.

    You've also ignored that fact that we've mentioned that there are no 'breaks' to give up in grad school. Though, for now, stick to thinking about your undergraduate education. You've far too long to go before really knowing whether or not you want to do a PhD, as well as whether or not you'll even have the option.

    As far as setting long-term goals go, 4 years for your undergraduate, then another 5 for the PhD is realistic. 9 years.
  9. Mar 16, 2010 #8
    But that is only if I take summer breaks? In High school, I could probably finish a course (even AP) in two months. I did Pre-Calculus and Calculus BC in a year and I got a 5 on the exam
  10. Mar 16, 2010 #9
    Most schools don't offer enough upper level courses during the summer for it to make a big impact on how quickly you would be able to graduate, and in terms of graduate school it would probably be better for you to spend summers at REUs/internships/etc.

    You seem to have totally ignored the advice to slow down, but it's worth repeating: worry about getting the most out of your undergrad years before you plan out getting your PhD.
  11. Mar 16, 2010 #10
    You're human. You will need a break every once in a while for your own emotional health. Stop worrying about the time. Just be happy. Be kind to yourself. Don't set your standards so high that you can't enjoy the ride because it's a ride that's likely to take you nine years.
  12. Mar 17, 2010 #11
    This is the last contribution I'm going to make to this since you're just ignoring a lot of the advice that is handed out.

    RE: 'double PhD': (In short, 'no' double PhD's do not exist) a PhD is clearly not what you think it is. PhDs are extremely specific works within a huge field. You don't get a PhD in 'physics' or a PhD in 'maths' - it just isn't like that. You might complete a PhD in some specific topic within experimental particle physics, for instance: but along the way you will need to learn any physics or maths that are relevant to the subject - but only have time to learn things that are directly relevant.

    And also, No, like I said in the first reply to this thread, having two PhD's is not something to aim for. Not because it's difficult, but because it's pointless. Those who have completed two PhDs are individuals who have decided they want to change field, not just for extra information.

    Having a PhD in physics and another in maths would be of no benefit.

    Final comments: I realise that you might have found yourself top-of-the-class in high school - university is completely different. I can't get tell whether you're just a bit naive or acting grandiose in your claims, but I guess it is probably a bit of both. You're trying to plan for things that you couldn't possibly do at this point in your life, you've completed almost no physics thusfar and so are unlikely to even know if you'll actually even enjoy it. We've given you a general idea of how long things take, there's plenty else for you to focus on for the time being.
  13. Mar 17, 2010 #12
    What's so special about age 25? Do you have some rare disease that kills you at 26?
  14. Mar 17, 2010 #13
    No. First of all, a Ph.D. is a specialty degree... with the possible exception of a differential geometry course, I can't really think of *any* courses that would count towards both physics and math in grad school. Secondly, even if there was a substantial amount of overlap in course work, the course work is a relatively minor part of getting a Ph.D. Most of the work is researching and writing your thesis, an original work solving a previously unsolved problem that is usually in the range of 100-200 pages long. You can't use one thesis to get two degrees.

    Finally, many schools explicitly forbid the awarding of a second Ph.D. Take a look at Berkeley for example... search for "duplication of doctoral degree". They will not admit you to study for a second Ph.D. unless the department explicitly petitions the administration for your admission.
  15. Mar 17, 2010 #14
    But why?

  16. Mar 17, 2010 #15
    What? You can't use the same thesis for two phd's because a phd is awarded for the work you do for your dissertation; your dissertations would have to be drastically different from each other to qualify for two separate phds. I know one guy who'se getting his second phd, but a)his 1st is in molecular biology and his 2nd is in cognitive neuro-psych, so sufficiently different fields b) the school isn't top 10, c)his first phd was awarded in a different country. For example, I know a girl who wrote a dissertation that was more CS then psych but who was enrolled in a psych phd program; provided she gets the phd in psych, she can't turn around and use the thesis for CS because she's already defended it as being worthwhile scholarship and important to the academic community.

    Quite a few of the professors I know are teaching in a field different from the one their phd is in, but along the way the professors picked up post-docs and research grants in the field they currently teach. This has some interesting ramifications for students, but generally most schools seem to go with "if you can bring in grants to do A, you can teach A".
  17. Mar 17, 2010 #16


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    As someone else mentioned, there's no point in planning to get two PhDs. Pick the field you're most interested in. In the movies, they often say someone has multiple PhDs to make them look extra-smart. That is NOT seen the same way in academics. Having multiple PhDs simply makes you look like you can't pick what you're interested in, and no grad program wants to take someone who isn't completely dedicated to the field and then will go off and make them look good. That's why many won't take you for a second PhD.
  18. Mar 18, 2010 #17
    No, I meant why won't they grant you a second Ph.D? I mean I can always go to a community college that has the courses I need if the university does not have it.

  19. Mar 18, 2010 #18

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    And how many community colleges offer PhD's?
  20. Mar 18, 2010 #19


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    Community colleges only offer the first year or two of physics classes, if that. They do not offer advanced bachelors courses or anything above that.
  21. Mar 18, 2010 #20
    Sigh, I'm back here again...

    If the university does not have what, exactly? To do a PhD in maths and another in physics - you will need an undergraduate degree in maths, and an undergraduate degree in physics. As I've said before, nobody does two PhDs. I would get rid of that idea very quickly. It would be a severe waste of your time and the only effect it would have in your career is to illustrate a level of ill-planning and ignorance. A PhD is not just extra training in physics or in maths. You'll realise when you're completing your degree anyway, though I would like to know why you've asked us questions and then just ignored the answers?
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