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Programs PhD. at a company?

  1. Jan 18, 2009 #1
    Hi,

    I was wondering if anyone knows if there dose exist programs in which some companies (not expecting all agree to it) allow their employees to pursue a PhD. at the company. That is use a research that is performed in the company for the company but presented as a PhD. thesis? Has this ever been done or something similar to it, and is it still possible to do? Thanks for the information.

    Thanks before hand.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2009 #2

    mgb_phys

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    Possible but rare.
    The PhD needs to be granted by a university , there are cases where someone working at a goverment research lab is also registered at a university for a PhD.
    In the USA at least most PhD programs have a coursework element so you might have to o the first year 'full time' at the college.
    There are also likely to be problems of commercial confidentiality, your PhD has to be published, it might be difficult to find work that is new enough but not secret.
    There are institutions such as Birkbeck college and open university in the UK which are setup for mature students/part time students - but generally these are masters.
     
  4. Jan 18, 2009 #3
    I see, well my thoughts were that I do not want to stay too long in school after my undergrad. I was actually thinking of taking a professional Masters degree for two years and then moving on to Industry. People have been telling me that usually for industry, it is better to not waste my time with a PhD. and just move on to working at a company after my Masters.

    But then my dad would like me to try and get a PhD. So I will see.
     
  5. Jan 18, 2009 #4

    mgb_phys

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    <comic book guy>worst ... reason ...... ever ...... (to do a PhD)
     
  6. Jan 19, 2009 #5

    cristo

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    Are you serious? If this is your only reason for studying for a PhD, then you will fail.
     
  7. Jan 19, 2009 #6

    Choppy

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    If it's a question of money or lifestyle remember that in general graduate students are supported financially as a graduate student, either by scholaships, research assistanceships, or teaching assistanceships. Further, it is possible to work part-time for the duration of your studies.

    However, I would agree that if your primary motivation for pursuing graduate study is to fulfill someone else's wishes, it will be very difficult indeed. You need to want it yourself.
     
  8. Jan 19, 2009 #7
    While companies do often support higher education, the one factor I would consider is that to get a Ph.D., you generally have to have a number of publications on your research... so you have to be able to publish your research. At some companies, this may be no problem. At other companies, some of the work you do may be considered proprietary (or fit under some "secret" category if they are a government contractor) and they may want to limit their release of information. (Note: mgb phys mentions this concern above.... I'm just expanding it because it's a very critical factor to consider.)

    A personal note however: I actually preferred when I worked for a "company" (although in my case it was the Air Force Research Labs) and they paid for my education (a Master's degree) versus when i later decided to go as a full-fledged grad student (completing a Ph.D.). I found working for the Air Force more interesting because I had other duties (such as selecting and grant contracts, dealing with some phoo-phoo bureaucracy that makes one grumble, and working on non-thesis related projects -- some in collaboration with other national lab facilities or scientists from other countries, some publishable, some not). After that job, being a normal research-stipend supported grad student was boring, albeit just as lucrative. I perhaps should have stayed there and done a Ph.D. with the same program (there was the possibility of that at this particular location)... but I decided to go for a more prestigious program in a nicer region of the country, and research-support was available there. (Note: this was still personal choice... I did the Ph.D. for myself... not anyone else.)
     
  9. Jan 19, 2009 #8

    L62

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    I have seen this situation happen at my Phd institution but rarely, and so far only in engineering programs. Your thesis will diverge from the company-related research at some point as you get deeper and deeper into the academic side of your thesis research. So later on you may end up having to satisfy two or more bosses: delivering 'results' or prototypes to your company boss, and doing academic studies with sufficient rigor and independence to satisfy your university thesis advisor and thesis committee. Also, there may be conflicts about the company allowing you to publish your research (which is what is required by academia).

    What I see more commonly is companies funding some university research, though the students performing the research aren't company employees.

    when I was a grad student we also had some students in our group who were from air force research labs, and they were paid by the air force to get their PhDs. they made a lot more money than us 'regular' grad students because whereas we were on a grad student stipend, they were on their regular full-time salary as commissioned air force officers. I think they had it really good. But the catch was that since the air force was paying them to get their degrees, upon getting their PhDs they then owed the air force so many more years of service, which means they didn't have freedom to choose what to do with their careers after getting their degrees.

    From what you have described, I don't think pursuing a phd is a good choice for your career goals.
     
  10. Jan 19, 2009 #9

    Choppy

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    As a further thought on this (a private company sponsoring PhD work), at some point you would need to justify the expense of putting you through school to the company. Why would they pay for someone to do a PhD, when they can just as easily hire someone who already has a PhD?
     
  11. Jan 19, 2009 #10

    mgb_phys

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    I don't know about a PhD but it's pretty common for a masters.
    In return for the fees (a couple of months salary?) and perhaps one day a week off work - they guarantee you are going to stay there for the two years it takes, and often there is a pay back clause if you leave within a certain time afterwards.
    Given that it can cost a years salary in recruitment, training and lost production to replace a senior engineer then this looked like a bargain (at least in a boom)

    And who knows - you might even learn something ;-)
     
  12. Jan 20, 2009 #11
    When I was doing my Ph.D., there was exactly *one* student who was supported by the company he was working for. He set the land speed record for completing a Ph.D. too. :smile:

    But that's still not taking work from industry into academia to get a Ph.D... it's only taking money from there. And it wasn't common back in the day, and I would guess that it's much less common today.
     
  13. Jan 21, 2009 #12

    Noo

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    Arent we talking about "Studentships"? Namely P.H.D Studentships. I am not in the job market - but from browisng various science job websites such as http://www.jobs.ac.uk/cgi-bin/search.cgi?catagories=0600&referer=maths&contract=00
    ), PHD Studentships appear relatively often. Perhaps their data is misleading - but, in the UK at least, it seems perfectly plausable to obtain your PHD outwith a University.
     
  14. Jan 21, 2009 #13

    mgb_phys

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    In the UK only a university can grant a PhD.
    Studentships are paid a grant, generally from a government research body, some PhDs are sponsored by a company especially in engineering. Whether you do any work directly for the company, ever visit their site or later become an employee varies, often the company is just interested in the results or developing some long term expertise in a new area.
     
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