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Positioning one's self for Industry-funded PhD

  1. Aug 17, 2013 #1
    I have a BS in MechE, and work in R&D. I've been plugging away at my MS in MechE, about halfway through, and have been considering that a PhD may really be more intellectually and personally what I want.

    I've spoken to some old professors and friends with doctorates. I don't think I'm ready to commit fully to academia; I find working to be too fulfilling to give it up completely. Plus a mortgage doesn't help. Does anyone here have experience (direct or indirect) with getting a PhD through an employer/university collaboration?

    I'm somewhat at a loss of how these things come up. I work at a small company, and don't think they'd be supportive. How does one position themselves into a situation conducive to the above? Does the employer come first? Advisor? Did you, or someone you know, go in with that goal known or did it come up after they started?

    Right now I have a smattering of experiences, but mostly with composites (design and analysis). Through school, personal interest, and some work projects my real interests actually lies more in structural dynamics/controls. Not sure if that muddies the waters at all.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 18, 2013 #2
    Those kinds of industry-funded Ph.Ds are getting rarer and rarer. Most companies just aren't interested anymore. The only people I know who have done them worked either for National Labs or the Areospace/Defense industry.
  4. Aug 18, 2013 #3


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    From my experience in the UK and Europe, it doesn't work the way that you imply. The company funds the university to do a research project. The university decides whether that project is suitable for one or more PhDs (with the agreement of the company, since there may be intellectual property issues because the PhD thesis will finish up in the public domain).

    The university then selects the PhD student completely independent from the company - i.e. the university has full control over the academic integrity of awarding the PhD.

    Of course the PhD candidate may use the opportunity to network with the sponsoring company and eventually be offered a job there, but that isn't guaranteed.

    The process in the USA be different of course, but one might expect the basic issue of academic integrity is the same - i.e. a company can't "buy" a PhD for one of its own employees.
  5. Aug 18, 2013 #4
    The company typically doesn't "buy" a Ph.D. Historically it was common in the USA for a company to fund an employee's Ph.D. research (and pay them a salary). The student and the student's advisor chose the research, the company just paid the student and tuition.

    This was a great deal indeed for the student but is getting less and less common these days.
  6. Aug 19, 2013 #5
    Is this something that presented itself to them AFTER they worked for some time at the lab, available to anyone and they took it, started work there with that as a pretense?
  7. Aug 19, 2013 #6
    And thanks to both of you for your responses!
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