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Is it hard to achieve a PhD in physics

  1. Nov 11, 2017 #1


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    Is it hard to achieve a PhD in, for example, physics?
    What do you have to do/study beforehand, like in school?
    Is a PhD like a first published paper/research?
    How do you achieve a PhD is things like physics and mathematics, which are so theoretical?
    If I want a PhD in physics or chemistry, what do I need to study in school and what subjects to choose? (A bit of an off topic question...)
    Thank you for considering all these questions.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 11, 2017 #2


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  4. Nov 11, 2017 #3


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    Yes, it is hard to achieve a PhD. It means you are at a level to evaluate the work of other folks in your field of research. It means that you get most of your information from reading peer reviewed articles or even peer reviewing articles to be published.

    My niece recently got her PhD. It took seven years to achieve. She also got a DVM along the way. Her last couple of years was spent researching an unsolved problem proposed by her thesis advisor, performing several experiments repeatedly, analyzing the data multiple ways, writing a 150page paper, getting it reviewed and criticized by her committee ie other PhDs in the field and then defending it in public.

    She was exhausted after the ordeal, happy to be free again to do other things and is now working and relaxing a bit. It is no easy task to undertake. Some folks drop out because the stress is just too much.

    In some rare cases, you will be given a problem that just can’t be solved and will have to switch to one that can be. In other rare cases, someone may publish on your problem and now you’ll have to soldier on to get even more results because you can’t just publish on something that’s been solved.

    In yet other cases, your advisor may grow disinterested in your problem and you’ll be left to wander aimlessly without any guidance.

    In one case, a candidate presented an excellent design for a new kind of antenna only to have an audience member at his public defense ask about how it was different from an earlier design published a few years before. It was then discovered that the problem had been solved and the candidate had to go back to step one with a new problem as he’d been scooped and not even his committee was aware of the earlier work.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
  5. Nov 11, 2017 #4
    The OP may have misunderstood the process. A PhD is an academic degree, awarded by a college or university, based on study and research recognized by the school. And yes, it is hard, very hard, and most of us consider giving up at least once in the process.
  6. Nov 11, 2017 #5


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    My case... :-(
  7. Nov 11, 2017 #6
    Oh my gosh, getting a PHD sounds so much trouble from reading other posts. I would just stop at masters.
  8. Nov 11, 2017 #7
    For most purposes, this is not a half bad idea!
  9. Nov 11, 2017 #8


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    Regardless of trouble, I will (try to) get a PhD to become professor.
  10. Nov 11, 2017 #9


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    Yes, you need to be driven to succeed. Be consistent, persistent and insistent to prevail. You will become a champion of science and will be there to defeat the ignorance that plagues the world.
  11. Nov 11, 2017 #10
    How to determine if you are Ph.D. material: find a concrete wall, and start banging your head against it. If after an hour or two, you find yourself wondering why you are doing this, maybe a Ph.D. isn't in your future.

    IMHO, you don't have to be particularly smart to get a Ph.D., but you *do* need to be particularly tough.
  12. Nov 11, 2017 #11


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    One question to consider.... why do you want a PhD in physics?
    What is your goal? Depending on your goal, you may or may not need to have a PhD in physics.
  13. Nov 11, 2017 #12


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    I think that is a particularly cynical and pessimistic way to view a PhD. Most students that I know who pursue a PhD (in any subject) certainly need to have a passion for the subject matter, along with the dedication and discipline to carry it through, but it is not an impossible or particularly crazy thing for someone to pursue.

    I'm not saying that this is by any means "easy", but then again, is anything worth pursuing "easy"?
  14. Nov 12, 2017 #13


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    I want to become professor in a science and contribute to the human knowledge. I love knowledge and would love to do research. It is satisfying...
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
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