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Programs What it takes to get a phd

  1. Jun 18, 2005 #1


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    So what exactly do you need to get a phd when it comes to your "qualities". Is it only for the really smart or only for the super intense studiers or is it pretty much if your willing to give up to a decade of your life on a phd in physics, you'll be able to get it?
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  3. Jun 18, 2005 #2
    What i think anybody on this Earth can do phd who is sincere and can study a lot...
    But i think it will be useful to those who are really keen on doing some First class work,,,That is the rare group of ppls who want to give mankind something..
    For that a guy has to devote himself completely and you not gonna curse working hard because it will you give much more happiness then girls+wine+all kind of leisure activities......
    Its just the ladder of Excellence ,you have to keep moving
  4. Jun 18, 2005 #3


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    I'm with Goldi on this .... pretty much anyone can get a PhD ... it's how you do it and what you do with it that matters. Like in everything, I'd say the ones who really commit and have the 'drive' are those who can reach "meaningful" outcomes (well ... everyone has his own :biggrin: ... and who knows which ones are the ones that matter), rather than looking at educational backgrounds & whatnot.
  5. Jun 18, 2005 #4


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    So why do so few people go for a phd? other then money... (even though it seems like you'd take out loans since a phd would easily pay it off in teh end).
  6. Jun 18, 2005 #5
    I guess it would have to deal with time and some people get job offers which they immediately take up and think "hmm, I guess I don't need a Ph.D".
  7. Jun 18, 2005 #6
    pursuit of study...wanting to learn more.
  8. Jun 18, 2005 #7
    Because a BS usually isn't enough to satisfy someone's interest in a given subject. Especially since physics is a deep and complicated subject. Learning it all in 4 years is impossible unless you have like 15 eyes and can read 5 books at a time or something.

  9. Jun 18, 2005 #8
    What do you guys mean when you say stuff like 'everybody can get a Ph.D’?

    I always thought BS/Masters were just learning materials. Just like your field and work hard and you'll come out on top. With a Ph.D my impression is that you have to be naturally talented. I mean doing research and publishing papers? That's different from studying a chapter, doing HW problems, then taking a test on it. :bugeye:

    Also, how many years would a Ph.D in engineering take? Also 6-8 years? And what do you guys do for most of those years, take classes? Read papers/books on your field? :confused:
  10. Jun 18, 2005 #9


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    Sort of related to this, I heard that getting a PhD doesn't end up costing anything because you always pay it off with RA or TA work, whihc everyone is expected to do. Is this true, and if so, is it the case for every college?
  11. Jun 18, 2005 #10

    I know many who have been lucky enough to work the T.A./R.A. route and pay very little toward tuition, but at the same rate have known a few that had to pay thier way through. So I am not sure it is like that at all schools, but if you are dedicated, you should come out fine.
  12. Jun 18, 2005 #11


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    One of my professors said you can get TA or RAships.... but ive heard that people had to pay huge amounts and their "parents had to take out loans" to pay for their doctoral program. I think its different for each school...
  13. Jun 19, 2005 #12
    1) Because not everyone gets accepted into PhD programs.

    2) Even when they are accepted, some people stop at their masters due to frustration with the field - at one point are another almost everyone who is in a PhD program wonders if they should do this

    3) Some people get essentially booted out of programs (cut off after their masters) because their committee decides not to fund them because they believe they can't make meaningful, original contributions to the field - happened to an in-law of mine (but don't fret too much , she went to law school and is making six figures as a patent lawyer now)

    4) In alot of fields, they are too many PhDs who are left to fight tooth and nail over grant money and professorships (Biology is one of these fields). This fact discourages alot of people from getting a PhD, when they see people doing better finacially and spiritually in industry.
  14. Jun 19, 2005 #13


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    when i was discouraged about the difficulty of getting a Phd, one of my friends said, "you don't have to do anything great, you just have to do something."

    Later another friend said "its like a bird chipping away a cliff with his beak: each day you do a little more, and eventually you get there."

    it is definitely not easy. you have to be smart, and you have to work as hard as you possibly can. in fact one goal seems to be to get you to work as hard as you are capable of, but not harder.

    so if you are willing to stay the course, and can be admitted to the program,yes you can very likely get a PhD.

    it is worth it I think, if you are interested in science, since the result will be to lift you to a level higher than you were on before.

    this is a nice feeling, but it takes hard work, indeed all you can give.
  15. Jun 19, 2005 #14


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    Basically that there are PhDs who are morons and then those who are comparable to the great minds of the past (notice the relativity in use here :biggrin: ). Of course it is the degree of all degrees, but putting in the effort will result in a completion of the degree (with a very high probability). How much of it is required and what quality of work will result are open issues.

    Doing research and publishing papers aren't really magical tasks, consider them a much larger than average "lab assignments" or so. For most of those years ... bang the wall while coming up theoretical/experimental/simulation/modeling - stuff and applying the scientific method .... just as the following years to come.
  16. Jun 22, 2005 #15
    I agree with goldi too. If you're driven you can do it... But this means that the pursuit of knowledge in your field has to be the highest priority in your life. Anyone read Atlas Shrugged?
  17. Jun 22, 2005 #16


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    For Master and PhD degrees in science and engineering, one needs advanced classes (the course work) in the particular discipline.

    By obtaining a Master's degree, one in theory is demonstrating the competency in and understanding of the dicipline, and importantly the ability to do research with some level of supervision.

    With the completion of a PhD program, one should contribute new and independent research, basically advancing the state of the art. The keys here are 'independent' and 'new' research, not simply repetition of what has already been accomplished.
  18. Jun 23, 2005 #17
    And depending on where you are there may not be enough TA/RA postitions available for all the graduate students. It would depend on the size of the department you are enrolled in.

    I know personally, at the school I am currently enrolled in, that there are not enough TA positions and that a lot of them go to the international students because they are deemed to have greater need.

    There are definatley PhD's who you have to scratch your head at and wonder how they managed to get the title, but I think this just emphasizes that pretty much anyone is capable get a PhD. That doesn't mean that anyone CAN get a PhD though. My personal belief is that a PhD candidate has to have a combination of natural ability (not everyone is going to be the top in their field so ability doesn't have to be the total thing, but you can't be a complete idiot and get a doctorate) and an endless work ethic. You have to be able to put in the extra hours to complete work. Take work home when things don't go well and think it through to try and see what is going wrong, and perhaps why. And if possible, to branch off that why into a secondary project if it is worth the effort.

    And you have to be able to think and analyze. Not just read and regurgitate. If you read something you need to remember it and apply it to new circumstances.
  19. Jun 24, 2005 #18
    I am an undergraduate, but I believe anyone can get a Ph.D. if they wanted to do so. It is not the degree that they must 'want', but instead the desire to IMPROVE themselves and contribute something original. That is what I believe, but if anyone with a Ph.D. out there thinks otherwise I would be interested in other perspectives.
  20. Jun 25, 2005 #19
    Let me tell you this (my dad is has a Phd.):

    Receiving a Phd. is difficult. It requires staying up til midnight, having a good work-ethic, discipline and a purpose for studying.
  21. Jun 27, 2005 #20
    I'm just waiting for funding to be 100% confirmed for mine (this is one of the joys people doing PhDs have - getting the money in the first place), but I kind of wandered into mine. My finally year project was with the Particle Physics group, working on the vertex detector for the next linear collider. I spent a fair whack of time sitting getting a 'server room' tan running simulations in one of the labs, and spent a lot of time talking with various staff members. At Bristol they're doing a lot of work on the computing for CMS (one of the new detectors for the LHC at CERN), and I've just kind of ambled into doing a PhD in large scale data management here... I'm also aiming (and this has been successful in the past) to keep my finger in the Physics pie, learn a shed load more theory and do some 'real' physics too.

    So, it can either be a pro-active thing, or a thing you amble in to. There are some people who start uni knowing they want to do a PhD (whether they still want to by the end of their undergrad course is a different matter), and then there's everyone else...
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