Upon graduating high school, how long will it take to get a PhD in physics?

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I am in my last year of high school and I want to get a PhD in theoretical physics. I'd like to focus on quantum mechanics. There is a lot of information I am missing and I am not really educated on this topic. I think it is best that I learn a bit now. One big thing on my mind is, how long will it take, and what does it involve?
 

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  • #2
jtbell
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In the US, four years for a bachelor's degree, then usually 5-7 years for the Ph.D. There's a thread "pinned" near the top of this forum titled "So You Want to Become a Physicist" or something close to that, with more details.
 
  • #3
e.bar.goum
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In Australia, four years for a bachelors, 3-3.5 years for the PhD. If you don't do well in undergrad, add another two years in-between for a masters.

In Europe, this is similar. (4 BSc + 2 MSc + 3-3.5 PhD)

This is pretty near the minimum time, you can always take longer (double degree, a semester overseas, etc. etc.)
 
  • #4
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I wouldn't say that is correct in Europe. In the UK you can do 3 years undergrad and then go straight through to phd for another 3-3.5. It's just much more common to do a combined 4years MPhys undergraduate degree.

So realistically you could do it in 6 years in the UK.
 
  • #5
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At each of my institutions the average for a PhD after the BS is between 7 and 8 years. Some people do take more than that, some less. Some did take over 10 years for the PhD alone. So 3-5 for a BS and 5-10 for a PhD for a total of 8 to 15 years after high school.
 
  • #6
f95toli
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In the UK you can do 3 years undergrad and then go straight through to phd for another 3-3.5. It's just much more common to do a combined 4years MPhys undergraduate degree.

So realistically you could do it in 6 years in the UK.
In theory yes, but it is becoming increasingly unusual. You can start a PhD with "only" bachelors degree (3 years), but the PhD then tends to be extended to four years (which isn't entirely easy to do) and you will have to spend a few months doing relevant coursework This was the case for one of my current PhD students.
Hence, the norm is very much that you first do a four year degree; and finding a "normal" PhD position is certainly easier if you have done so and also managed to complete a good MSc project.

The (important) exception is that many universities in the UK have started running "US style" graduate programs (Centres for Doctoral Training); these are 4 years with the first year being a MSc year (which can be a bit annoying if you have already done a four year degree)
 

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