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Programs Physics PhD 1 year

  1. Jan 21, 2010 #1
    Do you think it is possible to complete a PhD in theoretical physics in just one year, since no experiments have to be done?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2010 #2


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    Good grief!

  4. Jan 21, 2010 #3

    Doc Al

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  5. Jan 21, 2010 #4


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    I'm sure that if you looked hard enough you could find an example of someone who has done this. I had been under the impression that de Broglie's thesis, for example, was exceptionally short and completed in about a year. The idea that electrons could behave as waves became clear to him in 1923, and he was awarded a PhD in 1924. However, if you look into the story, he actually started his PhD studies in 1920.

    The reason you're getting the reactions above, is because completing a PhD in a year is highly unlikely. For most people it takes at least that long just to do enough background reading to understand your field and develop a solid grasp of what problems need to be worked on. There's also course work requirements (in North America anyway). Even if you catch on quick and are lucky enough to put forth some ideas that work the first time, you have to write them up and ideally get them published - a process that takes time. I've had papers that have taken almost a year between the initial submission and final publication (although for a thesis defence, it would be acceptable for the papers to simply be accepted for publication).
  6. Jan 21, 2010 #5


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    PhD coursework itself is (generally) 72 credit hours, 12 per semester for 3 years. The 4th year is generally reserved for research and your dissertation.
  7. Jan 21, 2010 #6
    I'd really suggest that you aim for 13 months, because you will need the extra month to work on your Nobel Prize speech.
  8. Jan 21, 2010 #7
    The 5th, 6th, and 7th years are also reserved for this purpose.

    (Graduating in 4 years is definitely possible and people do it every year... It's just not the way to bet.)
  9. Jan 21, 2010 #8


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    Szilard was awarded his PhD for work he did during the Christmas break...
    Although he had of course spent about a year working on another problem without getting anywhere.

    But this is of course completely irrelevant, the system of education we have now is VERY different from what was in place 90 years ago. Remember that even as an undergraduate you spend most of your time studying topics (most notably quantum mechanics) that didn't even exist when de Broglie, Szilard and the others were students.
  10. Jan 21, 2010 #9
    I don't think so.
  11. Jan 21, 2010 #10


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  12. Jan 21, 2010 #11
    Lolz is your name stephen wolfram?
  13. Jan 21, 2010 #12
    It also depends on the country.

    In the UK, PhDs are 3 years as standard and are considered to have over-run if it takes 4 years, I've never heard of anyone taking more than 4 full time. PhD funding very rarely passes the 3 year mark here. An EngD will be 4 years.

    But, yes, I'm sure the OP has enough information to answer their question.

    The difference between theoretical and experimental work isn't what you think it is: experimental does not necessarily mean 'doing experiments' - e.g. someone that analyses data from any real observations will consider themselves an experimentalist despite the fact that they might never leave their computer.
  14. Jan 21, 2010 #13
    That's because a PhD in the UK requires a Master's first, iirc. In the US, a PhD program doesn't require a master's.

    I think that's where the difference comes in.
  15. Jan 21, 2010 #14
    Yes, if you do most of the studying, research and publishing of results before you start the PhD project. Writing up a 200 page PhD thesis based on 10 publications in one year should be doable.
  16. Jan 21, 2010 #15
  17. Jan 22, 2010 #16
    It's call buying the degree
  18. Jan 22, 2010 #17
    That is going to vary from school to school... for example, here only about half of 72 hours are required.
  19. Jan 23, 2010 #18
    Is it really necessary to continue bumping this thread? It keeps showing up in my inbox. The topic is very nearly offensive to me. If you are capable of such things, it is not necessary to ask. If you are, I don't think you would be asking here, rather you would be working hard on your thesis.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  20. Jan 23, 2010 #19
    Apologies to Phyisab**** for posting once more, I agree that this thread should probably be locked and/or deleted; but just incase someone reads this and is misled:

    It is not true that a masters is required for a PhD programme. A 3 year Bsc in england or the 4-year Bsc in Scotland is enough, and, barring exceptional circumstances, both need to be at an upper-second class level (equivalent to a B grade overall).
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