1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

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

  1. Nov 19, 2014 #1
    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?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 19, 2014 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    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.
  4. Nov 19, 2014 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    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.)
  5. Nov 20, 2014 #4
    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.
  6. Nov 20, 2014 #5
    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.
  7. Nov 21, 2014 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    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)
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

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