25 Best Part Time PhD Programs [2024 Guide]

Explore part time PhD programs. Compare schools and see why you should consider earning your doctorate part time.

Part Time PhD Programs

If work or other responsibilities have been holding you back from diving headfirst into doctoral studies, consider part time PhD programs instead.

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You may enroll in an on-campus or online PhD program to earn your doctoral credentials on a schedule that fits your busy lifestyle.

Universities Offering PhD and Other Doctorate Programs Online

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

1. Andrews University

Andrews University is a private university in Berrien Springs, Michigan, that is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Founded in 1874, Andrews has a current annual enrollment of 3,366.

Students can pursue 130 undergraduate and 70 graduate majors across eight schools and colleges. Degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels are available.

  • PhD in Curriculum and Instruction
  • PhD in Educational Leadership
  • PhD in Higher Education Administration
  • PhD in Leadership

Andrews University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

2. Clemson University

Clemson University is a public research university located in Clemson, South Carolina. Founded in 1889, Clemson boasts an annual student enrollment nearing 30,000. U.S. News & World Report ranks Clemson University in 24th place among all public universities.

Students can pursue bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees across Clemson’s seven schools and colleges.

  • PhD in Healthcare Genetics
  • PhD in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
  • PhD in Rhetorics, Communication and Information Design

Clemson University  is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

3. George Washington University

Chartered in 1821 by an act of the United States Congress, George Washington University stands today as a private research university with an annual enrollment of more than 27,000. GWU is divided into 14 colleges and schools offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs.

The Princeton Review consistently ranks George Washington University as a top college in a number of categories. In addition, GWU has been ranked as one of the Top Universities for Producing Billionaires by the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings.

  • PhD in Nursing
  • PhD in Systems Engineering

GW  is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

4. Hampton University

Hampton University is a private, historically black university located in Hampton, Virginia, that was founded in 1868. The university is comprised of 10 accredited schools and colleges offering 50 bachelor’s programs, 26 master’s programs, and seven doctoral programs. The Alumni Factor has named Hampton one of the best colleges in Virginia.

  • PhD in Business Administration
  • PhD in Educational Management

Hampton University  is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

5. Indiana State University

Indiana State University is a public university located in Terre Haute, Indiana, with a history dating back to 1865. ISU offers more than 100 undergraduate majors and 75 graduate. Students can pursue 20 bachelor’s degrees, 22 master’s degrees, and seven doctoral degrees on campus and online through ISU’s six academic colleges.

  • PhD in Educational Administration – Higher Education Leadership
  • PhD in Educational Administration – School Administration
  • PhD in Technology Management

Indiana State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

6. Keiser University

Keiser University is a private university based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Founded in 1977, Keiser offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs available both on campus and online. Money magazine has rated Keiser University one of the top colleges for the money in Florida. Nearly 20,000 students study at Keiser.

  • PhD in Criminal Justice and Criminology
  • PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • PhD in Instructional Design and Technology

Keiser University  is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

7. Liberty University

Liberty University is a private evangelical Christian university founded in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1971. The school consists of 17 distinct colleges offering a wide variety of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. Programs are divided between 366 on-campus options and 280 online options.

  • PhD in Bible Exposition
  • PhD in Communication
  • PhD in Criminal Justice
  • PhD in Criminal Justice – Homeland Security
  • PhD in Criminal Justice – Leadership
  • PhD in Education – Curriculum and Instruction
  • PhD in Education – Instructional Design and Technology
  • PhD in Education – Organizational Leadership
  • PhD in Education – Special Education
  • PhD in Higher Education Administration – Educational Leadership
  • PhD in History
  • PhD in Nursing – Nursing Education
  • PhD in Psychology – Developmental Psychology
  • PhD in Psychology – Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • PhD in Psychology – Social Psychology
  • PhD in Public Policy
  • PhD in Public Policy – Economic Policy
  • PhD in Public Policy – Education Policy
  • PhD in Public Policy – Foreign Policy
  • PhD in Public Policy – National Security
  • PhD in Public Policy – Social Policy
  • PhD in Strategic Media
  • PhD in Theology and Apologetics

Liberty University  is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

8. Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University is a public research university located near Starkville, Mississippi, that is classified among RI Doctoral Universities for very high research activity. MSU’s more than 22,000 enrolled students can pursue more than 180 areas of study for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The school was founded in 1878.

  • PhD in Community College Leadership
  • PhD in Computational Engineering
  • PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • PhD in Engineering – Aerospace Engineering
  • PhD in Engineering – Civil Engineering
  • PhD in Engineering – Mechanical Engineering
  • PhD in Industrial & Systems Engineering

Mississippi State University  is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

9. North Carolina A&T State University

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is a public, historically black university located in Greensboro, North Carolina. The school was founded in 1891 by the North Carolina General Assembly. It is ranked among the top historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) by U.S. News & World Report.

A total of 54 bachelor’s, 29 master’s, and nine doctoral degrees are offered through the school’s eight colleges.

  • PhD in Leadership Studies

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University  is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

10. Texas Tech University

Established in 1923, Texas Tech University is a public research university in Lubbock, Texas, featuring 13 colleges and 60 research centers. The Princeton Review has ranked Texas Tech among the 125 best colleges in the Western United States.

Texas Tech offers 150 options for bachelor’s degrees, 110 options for master’s degrees, and 59 doctoral degree programs.

  • PhD in Curriculum and Instructions – Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education
  • PhD in Curriculum and Instructions – Language, Diversity & Literacy Studies
  • PhD in Curriculum and Instructions – STEM
  • PhD in Educational Leadership Policy
  • PhD in Family and Consumer Science Education
  • PhD in Special Education

Texas Tech University  is accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

11. University at Buffalo

Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo a public research university with campuses in Buffalo and Amherst, New York. Nearly 32,000 students are enrolled in what is considered to be the largest public university in New York. UB offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees across 13 academic schools and colleges.

  • PhD in Information Science

The  University at Buffalo  is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

12. University of Alabama – Huntsville

The University of Alabama in Huntsville was founded in 1950. It is one of three members of the University of Alabama System. UAH school awards 44 bachelor’s, 30 master’s and 15 doctoral degrees across nine colleges to a study body of nearly 10,000.

UAH is a space-grant university with a large focus on engineering and science programs.

  • PhD in Civil Engineering
  • PhD in Engineering Management
  • PhD in Industrial Engineering
  • PhD in Joint Nursing Science

UAH  is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

13. University of Colorado – Denver

A member of the University of Colorado system, the University of Colorado Denver is a public research facility offering hundreds of degree programs for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral studies across dozens schools and colleges.

Total annual enrollment stands at 24,910. Forbes places the University of Colorado Denver 34th on the its list of best public colleges.

University of Colorado – Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

14. University of Florida

The University of Florida is a public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university with a main campus in Gainesville, Florida. This senior member of the State University System of Florida offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs to the more than 56,000 students that enroll annually.

The list of notable UF alumni includes Erin Andrews, Emmitt Smith, Faye Dunaway, and Marc Rubio.

  • PhD in Classical Civilization
  • PhD in Latin and Roman Studies

The  University of Florida  is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

15. University of Kansas

The University of Kansas is a public research university based in Lawrence, Kansas. Founded in 1865, KU offers more than 345 degree programs for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral studies. KU has an annual enrollment of more than 28,400 students.

The school’s faculty and alumni list includes four NASA astronauts, seven Pulitzer Prize winners, 27 Rhodes Scholars, and 325 Fulbright Scholars.

The  University of Kansas  is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

16. University of Missouri

The University of Missouri was founded in 1839 as the flagship of the University of Missouri System. Mizzou currently offers more than 300 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs across 13 major academic divisions for its more than 30,000 enrolled students.

  • PhD in Architectural Studies

The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

17. University of North Carolina – Greensboro

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is a public research university located in Greensboro, North Carolina, that dates back to 1891. This school with an annual enrollment topping 20,000 is part of the University of North Carolina system.

More than 100 bachelor’s, 61 master’s, and 26 doctoral programs are offered at UNCG.

The  University of North Carolina at Greensboro  is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

18. University of North Dakota

Located in Grand Forks, the University of North Dakota offers 90 bachelor’s majors, 54 master’s programs, and 27 doctoral programs. UND was founded in 1883. Currently, UND has an annual enrollment of 13,581 students spread across its 10 academic divisions. The school’s athletic teams compete in the NCAA’s Division I.

  • PhD in Aerospace Sciences
  • PhD in Biomedical Engineering
  • PhD in Chemical Engineering
  • PhD in Electrical Engineering
  • PhD in Energy Engineering
  • PhD in Environmental Engineering
  • PhD in Indigenous Health
  • PhD in Petroleum Engineering

The University of North Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

19. University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina is a public research university located in Columbia, South Carolina. The more than 35,000 students enrolled at USC today can study toward bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from 14 degree-granting colleges and schools. The school’s history dates back to 1801.

  • PhD in Computer Engineering
  • PhD in Computer Science
  • PhD in Mechanical Engineering
  • PhD in Nuclear Engineering

University of South Carolina is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

20. University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota is a public research university in Vermillion, South Dakota, with an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students. The university is divided between seven colleges offering hundreds of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. USD’s campus is home to the National Music Museum. The school was founded in 1862.

  • PhD in Health Sciences

USD  is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

21. University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi is a public research university with a main campus located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Southern Miss awards bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees across more than 189 programs. Founded in 1910, the school boasts an annual enrollment of more than 14,00 students.

Southern Mississippi’s academic offerings are divided across four colleges and schools.

  • PhD in Nursing Leadership

The  University of Southern Mississippi  is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

22. University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Founded in 1794, the University of Tennessee is a public research university located in Knoxville, Tennessee. UT offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees across 10 undergraduate colleges and eleven graduate colleges. Annual enrollment stands at close to 29,000 students.

Established two years before Tennessee officially became a state, the University of Tennessee is one of the oldest public universities in the country.

  • PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering – Engineering Management

The  University of Tennessee – Knoxville  is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

23. University of the Cumberlands

The University of the Cumberlands is a private university located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, dating back to 1888. Bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in a variety of specialties in the arts and sciences are offered across four colleges. Total annual enrollment is 13,476.

University of the Cumberlands  is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

24. Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University is a public research university located in Richmond, Virginia, with a history dating back to 1838. VCU offers more than 217 programs for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees across 11 schools and three colleges.

U.S. News & World Report has classified VCU as a Tier 1 University that ranks in 84th place among all public colleges and universities in the United States.

  • PhD in Health Related Sciences

VCU  is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

25. West Virginia University

Founded in 1875, West Virginia University is a public research university with a main campus in Morgantown, West Virginia. More than 350 academic programs for bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees are offered through 14 schools and colleges for the nearly 30,000 students who enroll at WVU annually.

Designated among the R1 Research Universities for very high research activity, WVU boasts research partnerships with the Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

West Virginia University  is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Do Part Time PhD Programs Exist?

PhD student studying at a cafe

Yes, part time PhD programs do exist. Universities know that many people have packed schedules. To accommodate busy students, some schools give the option of part-time enrollment in PhD programs online or on-campus.

The idea is that you may work your way through one of these programs while still living at home and holding a regular job — no uprooting your life required.

Many part-time PhD programs are offered online, which can be particularly convenient. Online college allows you to attend the university of your choice without having to move away from your hometown.

You may take classes online, chat digitally with your academic advisors, and work on your dissertation from the comfort of your own home. Even still, there may be some in-person residencies or practicums required.

PhD student studying at home

Finances are one of the best reasons to enroll in a part-time online program. The paycheck that you bring in each week can help you afford your grad school tuition without living on ramen noodles for five years straight.

Of course, being able to hold a full-time job while going through your doctoral program is more than just a way to make money. Particularly if your field of study is relevant to your job, you may find many opportunities to connect your classroom studies to real-world experiences.

It’s even possible that a situation at work may provide inspiration for the topic of your doctoral dissertation. If you feel that a dissertation may prevent you from finishing your PhD, then a professional doctorate may be a better choice.

For example, doctor of education programs don’t require dissertations in many cases. Instead, students may complete a final capstone project to demonstrate subject mastery.

Part-time students don’t make up the majority of doctoral candidates; even still, you certainly won’t be the only one if you choose to go this route. In the past year, approximately 44% of doctoral students were enrolled in part-time programs .

What Are the Most Popular PhD Programs?

Most Popular PhD Programs

Doctorates are available in practically any field, but some are more common than others. The following table shows some of the top PhDs that you may be able to earn online.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some related careers and their average salaries include:

Getting your doctorate may certainly increase your earning potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for PhDs is $110,200. That’s a large jump from $78,210, the average annual earnings for those with a master’s degree.

How Do Part Time PhD Degree Programs Work?

How Do Part Time PhD Degree Programs Work

To graduate from a part-time doctoral program, you’ll need to do the same work that you would for a full-time course of study. You’ll simply spread the work out over a longer stretch of time.

The first portion of your program will likely be devoted to classes. If you’re enrolled on a part-time basis, you’ll probably keep your course load light instead of taking multiple classes at once.

You may be able to take the classes online, but your school may require a few in-person residencies as well.

Some classes will focus on the research methods that are essential for all doctoral candidates to know, such as analyzing data and writing scholarly reports. At this point, you may also start thinking about a topic for your upcoming research project.

PhD student studying at his home

Other courses will be related to your field of study. While some classes may be required of every student in your PhD department, others may be electives. That way, you may build a course of study that is tailored to your career goals and research interests.

After completing your classes, your school may require oral or written testing as a way of assessing your knowledge.

Next, you’ll turn your attention toward your dissertation or another final project. This usually requires completing original research and reporting your findings in a detailed paper.

Even for full-time students, it may take several years to complete a dissertation. On a part-time basis, you may be working on this project even longer.

Once you finish your dissertation, the school’s faculty will need to approve it. Then, you’ll answer questions during a defense of your research. If the faculty determines that you have successfully defended your dissertation, you’ll then be awarded your PhD.

How Long Does It Take to Do a PhD Part Time?

How Long Does It Take to Do a PhD Part Time

How long it takes to complete your PhD through a part-time schedule is largely up to you and how much you can commit to your studies at any point in time.

You may find that there are some seasons in which you’re able to invest a good portion of your time and other seasons when you’re only able to do the bare minimum to keep going.

As a general rule, though, you should expect your part-time studies to last for several years. Being a part-time student won’t exempt you from any of the program’s requirements.

You’ll still need to earn just as many credit hours, complete any residency or internship experiences, and do the same final projects. The work will just be spread out over a longer period of time.

PhD students studying in a library

You should probably plan to work on your doctoral program for six to eight years. Some students take even longer. There may be a maximum duration allowed by your program, so be sure to discuss that with your faculty advisor.

Although part-time schooling is convenient, being enrolled in the same program for years on end may start to feel tedious. It’s important to choose an area of study that you really care about.

Your passion for your studies can keep you motivated even when graduation still seems a long way off.

Admission Requirements for a PhD

PhD student during an admissions interview

No matter what type of doctoral program it is, whether it is a part time or an online accelerated doctoral program , they can be competitive and you’ll want to make sure that your application stands out to the admissions committee. The first step is making sure that you meet the requirements and include all necessary documentation.

  • Application and fee: Filling out this form gives the committee basic information about you, so be sure to complete it thoroughly. The fee will be non-refundable, even if you aren’t admitted.
  • College transcripts: These demonstrate whether you have the appropriate academic background. You will need to hold a bachelor’s degree, and you may need a master’s degree as well. There may be minimum GPA scores required.
  • Test scores: Many schools use GRE or GMAT scores to determine whether you have what it takes to succeed in a PhD program. If you’re an international applicant, you may also need TOEFL scores to demonstrate your proficiency with the English language.
  • Letters of reference: These should come from academic or professional colleagues who can attest to your commitment and character. Two or three letters may be required.
  • Personal statement or research proposal: This is your chance to communicate your study goals. That way, the school can determine whether your interests align with the expertise of the faculty.

Pay close attention to application deadlines. It’s smart to submit your materials a few weeks before the cutoff since schools don’t usually take late applications.

Accreditation for PhD Programs

Accreditation for PhD Programs

Accreditation is a process in which an independent organization evaluates a college’s programs and results to determine whether the school is doing a good job of educating students. If the college is up to par, then it receives approval from an accrediting body.

The primary type of accreditation to consider is regional accreditation . There are seven U.S. organizations that have the right to grant regional accreditation.

There are fairly high standards for regional accreditation. As a result, this type of accreditation is well-respected, and employers are often more inclined to select candidates whose degrees come from regionally accredited schools.

Financial Aid for PhD Students

Financial Aid for PhD Students

Paying for a doctorate out of pocket can be an overwhelming prospect, but there are a number of options for funding your PhD.

  • Fellowships: Based on your personal merits, your school or a private organization may give you fellowship money intended to further your research goals.
  • Government grants: If your income qualifies, you may get free tuition help from the state or federal government.
  • Government loans: You may have the option to take out low-interest loans from the federal government or your state.
  • Private loans: To supplement your financial package, you may also need private loans. Just be aware that these can come with high interest rates.
  • Scholarships: You can apply for gift money from a scholarship-granting organization, such as a professional association in your field.
  • Stipends: Some schools grant PhD candidates a small stipend. There are usually stipulations to this, and the rules may differ for part-time students.

To find out more, talk to your school’s financial aid department. Be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) .

Also, if getting a doctorate could benefit your performance at work, you may be able to request tuition assistance from your employer.

Can You Do PhD Part Time?

PhD student studying at home

Yes, you can do a PhD part time. Studying for a PhD doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Just as there are part time masters programs , you can likewise enroll in a doctoral program on a part-time basis.

With that approach, you may be able to go to work during the day and take classes or write papers in the evening. It may even be possible to complete the coursework online.

Is PhD Full Time or Part Time?

Both full-time and part-time PhD programs are available. Some people choose to earn their doctorates as quickly as possible by going to school full-time. Others opt to enroll part-time so that they may keep up with work or family responsibilities.

Keep in mind that not all schools give you the choice between full-time and part-time study; their traditional or online doctoral programs may be specifically designed for one or the other.

Is a PhD Worth It?

Is a PhD Worth It

Yes, a PhD is worth it for many students. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 5.9% job growth for doctoral or professional degree holders over the next 1o years, faster than the average for all occupations.

Getting a PhD may open new doors. Earning this top degree may grant you entrance into academia as a researcher or a professor.

It may also prepare you to assume high leadership roles and earn more money in your field. Plus, there’s often a sense of personal satisfaction that comes from accomplishing a huge goal like earning a PhD.

If you’re ready to put those three letters after your name, then it’s time to think about enrolling in a doctoral program. Apply to part-time PhD programs so you may pursue your degree without putting your life on hold.

can you do a phd part time

A comprehensive guide to part-time PhDs

Photo of Master Academia

Doing a PhD part-time can be an attractive option for many reasons. However, part-time PhDs are less common than full-time ones, and there tends to be a lack of information on this option. This guide to part-time PhDs answers the most common questions that prospective part-time PhD candidates have.

The difference between a part-time and a full-time PhD

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The main difference between a part-time and a full-time PhD is typically the amount of time that a student spends per week on PhD-related tasks. The typical length of a full-time work week is five 8-hour days, comprising 40 hours in total. In some countries, this includes breaks. Thus, 38-40 hours/week can generally be considered full-time employment.

A part-time PhD carries fewer hours per week than full-time employment.

Precise definitions of part-time work differ. While some consider part-time employment as anything less than 38 hours/week, the OECD for instance defines part-time workers as those who work less than 30 hours/week.

Some universities have minimum requirements for part-time PhDs, for example, a minimum of 20 hours/week. Others, however, are more flexible. They allow part-time PhD candidates to spend anything between a few hours to several days per week on their part-time PhD studies.

Coursework that is required in PhD programmes is generally adjusted to part-time candidates and stretched over a longer period. The same is true for certain deadlines and comprehensive exams if required.

The degree that is awarded upon successful completion of a part-time PhD is the same as those being awarded for completing full-time programmes.

Most degree certificates don’t even mention that a PhD was pursued on a part-time basis. There is no reason to worry that a part-time PhD degree may be perceived as worth less than a full-time one.

A part-time PhD requires pretty much the same amount of work as a full-time PhD. Part-time PhD programmes are spread out over a longer period, but the requirements in terms of credits and output ( a monograph or cumulative dissertation ) are usually the same.

Part-time PhD candidates are often highly aware of their time limitations. In turn, they may be better at utilizing their limited time during the week. For instance by minimizing procrastination, prioritizing tasks and making strategic decisions. However, this is difficult to generalise.

Part-time PhD students may be more inclined to work during evenings and weekends.

Other responsibilities during the ‘normal’ working hours result in less attention to PhD-related work. And sometimes, PhD work requires several hours of uninterrupted deep work.

In some cases, the lack of opportunities to focus on the PhD for a longer period can increase frustrations and stress levels. This is particularly true when part-time PhD students start together with a cohort of full-time PhD students and compare their progress with that of their full-time peers.

Ultimately, how much work a part-time PhD requires depends very much on a student’s research project, personality, efficiency, subjective perception of workload and stress, supervision, luck with experiments, and so on. This does not differ from a full-time PhD.

In most cases, a part-time PhD takes longer than a full-time PhD. A general rule of thumb is that the fewer hours someone spends on a PhD per week, the longer it takes to complete it.

The number of years that full-time PhD students take to complete a PhD varies. Some finish in three years. Others require four, five or more years. Thus, there is a huge variation in the time it takes to finish a PhD. The same is true for part-time PhDs.

There are also differences between universities. Some universities have a strict programme that takes, for instance, three years for full-time PhD students and six years for part-time PhD students.

Other universities adapt to the specific circumstances of individual PhD candidates. They may allow someone to finish a part-time PhD in three years as long as all requirements are met. But they may also be okay with a part-time candidate who spends a decade on his or her PhD studies.

Can you complete a part-time PhD programme? Yes, absolutely.

But due to the vast differences between universities as well as PhD programmes, it is essential to inform yourself properly before applying for a part-time PhD.

The regulations in terms of length of a part-time PhD have a major effect on a PhD trajectory, time planning, tuition fees if applicable, etcetera.

There are plenty of opportunities to do a PhD part-time, but the specific opportunities and arrangements depend very much on individual universities.

Some universities advertise specific part-time PhD programmes on their web pages. Or, with a little bit of digging, provide information online for those who are interested in part-time PhDs.

For other universities, it is difficult to find any information on part-time PhD programmes online. This does not always mean that there are no opportunities. Sometimes, it requires sending emails to the admissions office, or contacting a potential PhD supervisor directly to ask for part-time possibilities.

There are also differences in national contexts. In some countries, for instance, in Germany, part-time PhD studies are often the norm. In Germany, many paid positions exist that encompass 60% of a full-time equivalent: time during which a PhD student is required to work in a lab or assist a professor. In the remaining 40% of the time, which is unpaid, a PhD student is expected to work on a dissertation.

In some other countries, PhD students tend to be employed in the public sector, receive a salary and make pension contributions. In those cases, they tend to fall under the same regulations as the non-academic workforce. This can mean, for instance, that they have the right to change their contract to part-time, for instance in the case of care responsibilities.

There are many benefits to doing a PhD part-time. Some of the most common advantages are

  • More secure finances: Many full-time PhD students experience financial insecurities because PhD scholarships are often not enough to cover living expenses, or do not cover the whole PhD trajectory. Part-time PhD students often work next to their PhD studies which provide additional income and a layer of financial security.
  • Improved employability: This includes industry employability and employability in academia. Industry employability is enhanced if someone already gains substantial work experience outside academia, through working in a certain profession while doing a part-time PhD. Employability in academia is enhanced if someone already gains academic work experience (for example as a research assistant) and teaching experience (for example as a junior lecturer or teaching assistant) while doing a part-time PhD.
  • Flexibility: Doing a PhD part-time tends to provide increased flexibility. For instance, students who have care responsibilities are more likely to be able to combine their PhD studies with their other responsibilities on a part-time basis.
  • Efficiency: The advantage of many part-time PhDs is that they are very aware of their time limitations and force themselves to be strategic in their choices. Part-time PhD students also often benefit from existing work experience and tend to be a bit older than full-time students. Combined, they sometimes are more confident and struggle less with imposter syndrome. Since procrastination is essentially linked to a fear of failure, part-time PhD students on average may be more confident, suffer less from procrastination and are therefore able to work more efficiently.

There are also disadvantages and challenges in part-time PhDs. Some of the most common disadvantages of doing a PhD part-time are:

  • Difficulty to maintain a work-life balance: ‘Getting it all done’ is always challenging. Adding a part-time PhD to existing tasks, activities and responsibilities can negatively affect a person’s work-life balance. Part-time PhDs frequently require multi-tasking, which can interrupt the flow of work and lead to mistakes. Furthermore, evenings, weekends and holidays may be the only times when uninterrupted PhD work for several hours or days is possible. When part-time PhD students are not very good with boundary setting, they can easily feel overwhelmed and as if they can never take a break.
  • Tuition fees: While not all PhD students (regardless of whether full-time or part-time) have to pay tuition fees, many do. Tuition fees tend to be adjusted in part-time programmes. Nonetheless, paying tuition fees for several years can be a financial burden. In addition, part-time PhD students are not always eligible for all scholarships and funding opportunities.
  • Less supervision: Part-time PhD students often work even more independently than their full-time counterparts. Of course, the amount of supervision differs for full-time PhD students as well. However, a simple reason for less supervision is simply that part-time PhD students are not always physically present in a lab or department. They have less spontaneous interactions with their supervisors and other professors. It reduces the opportunities to ask a quick question or get feedback on a small issue. Part-time PhD students may be more reliant on more formal, scheduled meetings every few weeks or months.
  • Feelings of isolation: Part-time PhD students may feel disconnected and isolated due to a lot of independent work, less physical presence and opportunities to connect with colleagues and peers. Furthermore, part-time PhDs tend to be in the minority, as full-time PhDs are still more common. This means that part-time PhDs may feel misunderstood and have no one to share their unique experiences and challenges with.

Following your curiosities and researching a topic in-depth can be a wonderful thing.

Yet, the question of whether a PhD part-time is worth doing or not is difficult to answer. It depends on the unique situation and ambition of each person in question.

Some people embark on a PhD part-time to progress in their career. Some people hope for a financial reward after completing a PhD part-time. Some people intend to change careers and use a part-time PhD to start the process while still earning money in a different job. Some people look for a challenge and embark on a part-time PhD for self-fulfilment. Some people have no other option but to do a PhD part-time.

Every person has to decide for him- or herself whether it is worth it, sensible and feasible. The decision requires a lot of self-reflection, and financial and life planning.

The decision to do a part-time PhD should not be treated lightly.

Completing a PhD part-time requires several skills. These skills can be learnt. However, a complete lack of these skills at the start of a part-time PhD will make the trajectory much more challenging.

First of all, part-time PhDs benefit from a high degree of self-discipline.

Those who struggle to motivate themselves and to get the smallest task done without any external pressure, might not be the best candidates for part-time PhDs. Part-time PhD work requires a lot of self-discipline as well as self-motivation.

Next, the ability to multi-task and keep a cool head in stressful situations is a big advantage for those who embark on a part-time PhD.

Stressing out easily and feeling easily overwhelmed with many tasks and deadlines, on the other hand, is counterproductive in a part-time PhD.

Furthermore, flexibility and the ability to adapt to different circumstances is pivotal.

Part-time PhD students tend to wear many different hats. They need to be able to switch between different roles and juggle lots of different tasks and responsibilities.

Additionally, not everything will work according to plan. Part-time PhD students have to accept that things do not always work out as expected and have to quickly adapt to new situations.

Lastly, the ability to work independently can make or break a part-time PhD trajectory. Working on a PhD part-time often means working from home, alone, without social interaction and constant feedback opportunities. Not everyone is cut out for this type of work.

A fundamental condition for success in a part-time PhD is the selection of a fitting research topic.

As in any PhD, regardless of whether full- or part-time, a PhD student spends many waking hours on the topic. If the topic is not interesting to the PhD student, and he or she is not passionate about it, motivation to work on it will inevitably decrease over time.

At the same time, the most passionate and skilled PhD student may still struggle if the institutional environment and supervision are suboptimal.

A supportive institutional environment that assists, accommodates, and invests in part-time PhD students can make a world of difference.

Probably even more important than the institutional environment is a good relationship between the part-time PhD student and PhD supervisors.

The quality and quantity of supervision matters, but also the social compatibility between students and supervisor/s. Therefore, applying to a programme without having ever met the prospective supervisor in person is a risky business.

If a prospective PhD student intends to continue working part-time in a different job, all parties should be informed and agree with the arrangements. If there is a connection between the PhD topic and the job, some employers even enter a formal arrangement that allows the student to do PhD work during some ‘normal’ working hours.

Pulling off a part-time PhD without all parties approving, or even knowing about it, can create a lot of problems along the way.

Lastly, a certain degree of financial security is required. Of course, this depends on the unique financial arrangements made by a part-time PhD. However, if other work, scholarships or grants are not enough to cover living expenses during a part-time PhD, it is not advisable to embark on this journey.

While online, part-time PhD programmes were available before the Covid19 pandemic, they have become much more common in the last two years. There are some strong opinions when it comes to online, part-time PhD programmes.

Proponents of these online programmes highlight how they can help to create a more level playing field . It allows PhD candidates, for instance, to live in a low-cost living area, while following a PhD at a prestigious university in a high-cost of living area.

Opponents lament the decreasing quality of PhD supervision in online PhD programmes. Some argue that doing a PhD increasingly becomes increasingly financialised, with universities collecting tuition fees but not providing adequate support.

However, with everything, this is very difficult to generalise . It requires prospective PhD students who are interested in these programmes to inform themselves thoroughly and to decide on a personal basis whether an online programme is a good fit or not. Speaking with others who already do, or finished, online part-time PhD programmes might be particularly useful.

If you consider embarking on a part-time PhD, your decision can be supported by asking (yourself) the following questions:

  • What is my motivation to do a part-time PhD?
  • Am I passionate enough about my (potential) research topic to spend several years working on it?
  • What are the potential advantages and disadvantages of doing a part-time PhD, and how can I mitigate the disadvantages?
  • Do I have enough self-discipline and endurance to do a part-time PhD with limited supervision?
  • Do I have the flexibility to incorporate potential coursework into my day-to-day agenda?
  • How many hours/week do I want to spend on my PhD, and how many hours can I (afford to) spend on it?
  • What are the part-time PhD regulations of the university/universities where I consider applying?
  • Is the (potential) PhD supervisor a good fit, and does the institutional environment seem supportive of part-time PhD students?
  • How can I finance the part-time PhD?
  • What do I want to do after completing the PhD?

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PhD Pursuits

Can You Do A PhD Part Time? Best Part Time PhD Programs

For many, the opportunity to study for PhD may come at a time when many other commitments have started to enter their lives – career, family, children, and more. You could be one of them. Question is however, can you do a PhD part time?

You can do a PhD part time. Part-time PhD programs are usually designed to be more flexible, and gives more time for you to complete your dissertation. It could take up to 10 years to complete a part time Ph.D.

In this post, we explore if you can do your PhD part time. We also look into:

  • How part time PhD programs differ from full time ones, 
  • The pros and cons of part time PhD,
  • Some of the best part-time PhD programs in the US, and

Can You Do A PhD Part Time?

If you are juggling a full-time job or other significant commitments, here’s a good news – you can do a PhD part time. 

These programs offer the flexibility to merge professional pursuits with academic rigor, a boon for working professionals aiming to ascend in their field of study without pausing their careers.

Part-time PhD programs are not a diluted version of their full-time counterparts; they demand the same level of intensity and depth, particularly when it comes to the dissertation phase.

The primary difference lies in the time it takes to complete your degree. While a full-time PhD might take anywhere from 3 to 5 years, part-time PhDs can extend up to 7 or more, contingent on your pace and time management skills.

Can You Do A PhD Part Time

Institutions that offers these programs understand that part-time PhD students must navigate the dual demands of work and study. These students often requiring adept time management and a supportive network, including an understanding PhD supervisor.

How Does Part Time PhD Programs Work ?

Part-time PhD programs are tailored for those who balance a full-time job or other life commitments with their academic aspirations.

These programs are designed with flexibility in mind, allowing you to progress through your doctoral journey without forsaking your professional or personal responsibilities. This means many part-time PhD students can study in a structure that accommodates their busy schedules. 

Classes might be offered in the evenings or on weekends, and many programs leverage online platforms to deliver coursework, making it easier for you to engage from anywhere.

A part-time PhD student typically takes fewer courses each semester compared to their full-time counterparts. This reduced course load extends the time it takes to complete the degree.

The pace is slower, but the standards remain high. You’re expected to produce a dissertation that contributes new knowledge to your field of study, just like in a full-time program.

Financial aid and scholarships are crucial for many part-time PhD candidates. Universities offer part-time students various forms of support, understanding the financial strain of:

  • juggling a job,
  • life’s expenses, and
  • tuition fees.

How Long Does It Take To Complete Part Time PhD?

Typically, a part-time PhD program stretches over a longer period than its full-time counterpart, largely due to the reduced hours a part-time student can dedicate weekly to their studies and research.

On average, part-time PhD students may take anywhere from 5 to 10 years to complete their doctoral degree, compared to 3 to 5 years for a full-time PhD.

This extended timeline is a reflection of the juggling act that part-time students perform, dividing their focus between academia and other life responsibilities.

The flexibility of part-time programs allows you to maintain your professional career and personal life while pursuing your doctorate, a key advantage that attracts many to this route.

Whats The Differences Between Part-time And Full-Time PhD?

One of the most noticeable differences is the time it takes to complete your degree. A full-time PhD typically spans 3 to 5 years, depending on the field of study and institution.

In contrast, part-time PhDs can extend up to 7 or even 10 years. This is because they are more flexible, catering to part-time students by allowing extended timelines for dissertation completion.

Schedule Flexibility

Part-time PhD programs are designed with working professionals in mind.

This means classes might be scheduled during evenings or weekends, and there’s often a significant portion of the program that can be completed online.

Full-time PhD students, however, are usually expected to adhere to a more traditional daytime schedule and may spend more time on campus engaged in research and teaching assistantships.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

While both part-time and full-time PhD students have access to financial aid and scholarships, the nature and amount might differ.

Full-time students often receive more comprehensive funding packages, which can include tuition waivers and stipends for teaching or research assistantships.

Part-time students may have access to financial aid but often rely more heavily on external funding, employer tuition assistance, or personal finances.

Academic and Professional Engagement  

Full-time PhD students typically immerse themselves in academia, engaging in their studies in a higher pace and intensity compared to their part-time counterparts. These activities include: 

  • attending conferences, and
  • contributing to publications.

Part-time PhD students, balancing a job and academic responsibilities, might find it challenging to engage at the same level without robust time management skills.

can you do a phd part time

However, they bring valuable real-world experience to their research, enriching their academic pursuit with professional insights.

Peer and Faculty Interaction

Full-time PhD students usually have more opportunities for direct interaction with peers and faculty due to their physical presence on campus. This can foster a strong sense of community and support, crucial for navigating the challenges of doctoral studies.

Part-time students, especially those in programs offered online, may need to seek out these interactions more actively, using digital platforms to connect with their academic community.

What Are The Upsides In Doing PhD Part Time?

Work and study balance.

One of the most compelling reasons to opt for a part-time PhD is the ability to maintain a full-time job while advancing your academic credentials. This balance allows you to continue earning a salary, which can be especially beneficial if you have financial obligations or if your employer offers tuition assistance.

Can You Do A PhD Part Time

For example, many working professionals in fields such as education, engineering, and healthcare leverage part-time PhD programs to elevate their expertise without stepping away from their careers.

Application of Learning

As a part-time PhD student, you can apply your learning in real-time to your professional role. This immediate application not only enhances your work performance but also enriches your academic research with practical insights.

Institutions like George Washington University  offer programs designed to integrate academic theory with professional practice, making your research more relevant and impactful.


Part-time PhD programs often offer greater flexibility in terms of scheduling and coursework delivery. Many programs provide evening or weekend classes, and a significant portion of the curriculum may be available online.

This flexibility allows you to tailor your academic pursuits around your personal and professional commitments, ensuring a more manageable and less stressful doctoral journey.

Networking Opportunities

Being engaged in a professional setting while pursuing your PhD provides ample networking opportunities. You can connect with professionals in your field of study, potentially opening doors to collaborative:

  • research projects,
  • industry partnerships, and
  • future career prospects.

This dual engagement ensures that you’re not only building an academic network but also strengthening your professional ties.

Time Management and Personal Growth

Juggling a part-time PhD with a full-time job and other life responsibilities demands exceptional time management skills.

While challenging, this can lead to significant personal growth, making you more:

  • resilient, and

The experience of managing multiple commitments can also enhance your CV, showcasing your ability to handle complex responsibilities and deadlines.

What Are The Downsides In Doing PhD Part Time?

Extended duration.

The most evident downside of a part-time PhD is the extended time to completion. Unlike the 3 to 5 years typically required for a full-time PhD, part-time students might take anywhere from 5 to 8 years or more.

This prolonged period can affect both personal and professional life plans, delaying the point at which you can fully leverage your doctoral degree in your career.

Limited Financial Aid

Although part-time PhD programs offer flexibility, they often come with less financial support compared to full-time programs. Full-time students tend to get financial support such as:

  • scholarships,
  • stipends, and
  • teaching assistantships

This means funding a part-time PhD can become more challenging. You may need to rely more on personal finances or loans, potentially increasing the financial strain over the extended duration of the program.

Reduced Campus Engagement

Being a part-time student can limit your involvement in campus life and the academic community. Full-time students often benefit from closer relationships with faculty and more opportunities for research collaborations.

Part-time students, especially those juggling a full-time job, might find it harder to engage in these enriching experiences, which can be crucial for academic and professional development.

can you do a phd part time

Time Management Challenges

Balancing trying to get a PhD with other commitments such as a full-time job or family responsibilities requires exceptional time management skills. The constant juggling act can lead to increased: 

  • depression,
  • and burnout

The negative experience can be particularly during intensive periods of the program like the dissertation phase. This balancing act can also prolong the time it takes to complete your PhD, as you might find yourself able to dedicate less time to your studies than anticipated.

Potential Isolation

Part-time PhD students might experience a sense of isolation from their academic peers and supervisors, particularly if the program has a significant online component or if they can only visit campus infrequently.

This can make it more challenging to build the supportive networks that are often essential for navigating the highs and lows of doctoral study.

Where Are Some Of The Best Part Time PhD Programs In the US?

It could hard to choose what are the best part-time PhD and doctoral programs in the USA, as what constitutes as ‘best’ may be different for many people. Some may consider value, wanting to pay the least for a PhD. Some instead would ask for freedom or maximum flexibility in scheduling. 

Can You Do A PhD Part Time

Dr. Imed Bouchrika , a data scientist from Research.com has however, published a report showcasing some of the best part time PhD programs available in the US. these include: 

  • Keiser University’s part-time online Doctor in Business Administration (DBA) blends theory and practical application. The program, which spans approximately 42 months, is designed for experienced professionals and aspiring academics alike, costing around $31,712.
  • Liberty University offers a Doctor of Strategic Leadership program entirely online, emphasizing essential leadership principles. This flexible program, ideal for students balancing coursework with existing commitments, is structured around 8-week courses, enabling students to progress efficiently.
  • Sullivan University’s part-time PhD in Management is for students looking to enhance their leadership potential in the management field. With a focus on relevant research and real-life applications is tailored to fit around your career commitments.
  • Georgetown University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program caters to nurses aiming for advanced roles, focusing on ethical leadership and care accessibility. This distance-based, online program is designed for completion within 2 years, requiring 57 credits at a cost of $1,450 per credit.
  • Johns Hopkins University’s part-time Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program is designed for early- to mid-career professionals. The program encourages engagement in problem-based learning to address contemporary public health challenges, and could take between 4 to 9 years.

These programs reflect the evolving landscape of doctoral studies, offering paths that accommodate the demands of modern life while maintaining academic excellence.

Part-Time PhD: A Doctorate Degree Worth The Longer Grind

Pursuing a part-time PhD is a viable and increasingly popular option for those balancing professional and personal commitments. This is because many universities now offer the flexibility and support needed to achieve this prestigious degree.

Each program is uniquely designed to integrate seamlessly with your life, ensuring that the pursuit of academic excellence remains accessible and achievable for all aspiring scholars, including you.

can you do a phd part time

Dr. JW Ong holds academic degrees, including a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from universities in New Zealand, Malaysia, and the UK. He started PhDPursuits.com as a way to share the experience he wish he would have had known before embarking on his PhD.

can you do a phd part time

  • Part Time PhDs – Everything You Need To Know
  • Types of Doctorates


Whilst the core activities of a part time PhD are identical of that to a full time PhD, its arrangement is different. This difference is not only in programme duration but also in fees and funding opportunities. In addition to this, part time study also has different benefits and challenges. Therefore, whilst your personal situation may not be ideal for a full time PhD, it could be perfect for a part time one. We’ve outlined these differences as well as the pros and cons of part time study to help you decide whether it’s right for you.

Why Do a Part Time PhD?

Undertaking a part time PhD can be a great option for you if you fall into one of the four categories:

  • Financial – a part time PhD provides the opportunity to earn whilst you study. Although you could secure a full time studentship, the stipend it offers may not be enough in all cases, for example, if you’re financially responsible for multiple family members.
  • Career – working individuals, especially those who have already advanced several stages in their career, may opt for a Professional Doctorate. A Professional Doctorate is equivalent to a part time PhD, but focuses on a specific professional practice relevant to the individual. It’s usually undertaken when you wish to apply research skills in a professional environment or become more specialised in your industry.
  • Caring obligations – part time study offers a greater deal of flexibility compared to its full time equivalent. This can be desirable in situations where the individual has considerable caring obligations, such as a young family.
  • Intensity – many students feel that a pursuing a research degree over a longer period of time drastically lowers the intensity of postgraduate study. Part time PhD hours per week are typically around half that of its full time equivalent. This can come with a wide range of physical and mental health benefits.

Part Time PhD Fees

The average tuition fee for part time PhD study in the UK is approximately £2,356 per academic year for home students, and between £8,000 to £12,500 for international students.

This is typically 50% of the fee charged for an equivalent full time doctorate. However, a handful of universities use a prorated fee of up to 60% so it’s important to check the individual fees for each university you are applying to. These additional costs usually cover the admin/overhead fees associated with your time at the university.

Besides the tuition fee, there are several other costs which you need to account for. You can learn about these costs in our full cost breakdown of UK PhDs .

Part Time PhD Funding and Scholarships

As a part time student, most universities will expect you to fund your own studies. This is because nearly all part-time students will work a paying job alongside their studies which can be used to support their education.

However, you may still apply to department or university funding opportunities such as subject-specific bursaries. Besides this, external bodies such as Research Councils , research charities and industrial institutions also offer grants and PhD studentships for research projects related to their field. It’s worth remembering these opportunities are usually very limited and are awarded based on a candidates strength and not their personal situation.

One benefit of selecting a research project related to your employer is that it opens an additional opportunity for funding. It’s not uncommon for an employer to contribute to an employee’s tuition fee if there is a mutual benefit to be had.

How Long Is a Part Time PhD?

The average duration of part time PhDs in the UK is between 6 to 7 years. This is double a full time doctorate.

Universities also set registration periods which limit the minimum and maximum amount of time you can be enrolled in a course. For doctorates, the minimum duration is usually 4 years and the maximum 8 years.

How Many Working Hours per Week?

You will be expected to work half the number of hours of a full time student. Although full time students are expected to work 35 hours a week, in reality, most will work closer to 40 – 45 hours. Therefore, you’ll be expected to dedicate approximately 20 hours each week towards your degree.

However, you won’t always be able to achieve this many hours due to your other commitments. Therefore, working to a frequent and consistent schedule will be more important. Working on your research in irregular intervals or whenever time permits will be an inefficient approach – it’s far better, plus psychologically easier, to commit to a consistent schedule. Though your PhD supervisor may be able to offer guidance in this regard, ultimately the PhD is yours to shape.

Most part time programmes will also have some doctoral training courses with fixed dates, especially those which are organised by industry experts or visiting lecturers. There may also be time restrictions to be aware of if you are a postgraduate researcher involved in laboratory work, particularly where special equipment is needed as this may be rented by the university research centre and only available during certain times in the year.

Part Time PhDs for International Students

If you are an international student wishing to undertake a part time PhD programme in a foreign country, you will need to meet additional requirements.

For example, to study in the UK, you will need to secure both a work visa and a stable job. This is to prove that you can support yourself throughout the full length of your course. Unfortunately, even if you’re able to secure departmental or external funding, you won’t be able to use this to prove an income. Additionally, an international PhD student in the UK will need to demonstrate English proficiency as part of the application process. These entry requirements apply whether the overseas student is pursuing a PhD part-time or for full-time studies.

Finding a PhD has never been this easy – search for a PhD by keyword, location or academic area of interest.

Challenges of a Part Time PhD

It’s generally accepted that undertaking a PhD part time is more challenging than undertaking it full time.

Age – although this shouldn’t be a factor, we know it can cause concern for some. If you have already been working for several years, you may find that some of your research colleagues or academic staff members are the same age or younger than yourself. This could cause apprehension or cultural issues if you fail to keep an open mind.

Detachment – as a research student, you’ll often doubt whether you’re working on the right thing or making sufficient progress. You can expect this feeling to be compounded if you’re studying on a part time basis. This is because you’ll have less interaction with your department, peers and supervisor given you won’t always be on campus.

Time management – juggling a career or significant family obligations with the demanding requirements of a doctoral degree can take its toll. Over the 6 to 7 years, you’ll no doubt encounter periods when your external commitments require more of your time, whether its intensive projects or the need for frequent travel associated with part time courses. During these times there is potential for your research to slip, or worse, become an unwanted burden.

Motivation – having to balance your time and focus with your other commitments can make it difficult to immerse yourself in your research. This often results in a lack of ‘momentum’, which coupled with a journey that’s twice as long, increases the risk of your passion fading out. Unfortunately, because of this, many supervisors observe the drop-out rate of part time students to be greater than that of their full time peers. This isn’t due to a lack of dedication or commitment, but due to the individual no longer being able to balance several demanding obligations without jeopardising their mental or physical well-being.

Funding opportunity availability – as mentioned earlier, since part-time applicants are able to work alongside their studies, there are fewer funding opportunities available to them.

Relevancy – as your doctoral study will take 6 to 7 years to complete, there is a risk that your research will no longer be relevant. This could be for several reasons. For example:

  • An individual may be working on a research project very similar to yours. Assuming they are working full time and complete their project before you, it could render your project ‘unoriginal’ depending on the amount of overlap between your findings. It is important to discuss this with potential supervisors who may be aware of similar PhD projects being undertaken.
  • New technology or knowledge may be developed which renders your original research question obsolete if the premise it was built on becomes ’outdated’.
  • New observations could be made which have the potential to jeopardise your work. For example, a new study may be published which identifies significant limitations behind a method outlined in your research proposal. This would cast serious doubt into the validity of your research findings, and in some cases, may require you to start over with an alternative method.

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Studying for a part-time PhD: the challenges and the benefits

A part-time phd yes, it can be done and it can be incredibly rewarding writes, arthur krebbers.

Arthur Krebbers's avatar

Arthur Krebbers

Part-time PhD

I’ve experienced many unexpected hurdles while doing my PhD part-time and I’m sure that you will too. It is often difficult to keep your spirits high while doing a part-time PhD but the reward is substantial. 

It is also helpful to hear about other people's challenges before you embark on your own journey. 

One of my biggest challenges was finding a PhD supervisor. I had contacted a professor at a well-established London business school. She seemed supportive and agreed to meet. The conversation flowed well – until I mentioned the “P-word”. “Seriously, part-time?” she said, surprised. “Look, what you are looking to do is simply impossible. I tried to oversee a part-time PhD degree, with a brilliant student. It all began very well, but after a few months they just couldn’t keep up. Too much pressure from their work.” I’d hit my first dead end.

Fortunately, after persistent searching I found an ideal match. All in all, this took about two months. I cast my net wide, reviewing the full faculty of all the top 20 European finance schools. My goal being to find those that were 1) interested in my field of study (the European debt markets) and 2) open to part-time PhD degrees. Arriving at a shortlist of supervisors, I emailed and spoke to potential supervisors until I had made a final decision. Supervisor, check!

What is a PhD? Advice for PhD students

My next hurdle was in my place of work. I had heard of managers who wouldn’t consider a degree valuable if it wasn’t chartered. And other old-school types who, on hearing about an employee’s desire to “learn more”, simply dish out extra work assignments for them. They seem to live by the attitude that they don’t need any doctors in their workplace. 

I had to therefore sow the seeds carefully. My sales pitch was full of corporate-speak, linking my degree to my division’s strategic objectives and the competitive international landscape. Did you know, for instance, that two-thirds of German CEOs have a PhD? Last time I checked, their economy is doing pretty well. 

With employer support in the bag, I was ready to start juggling a research degree with a professional career. I became a compulsive planner; the PhD felt like a constant guilty conscience and I always felt like I could be studying more. The bulk of my research was done on Saturdays, which I occasionally topped up during the evenings, Sundays or dedicated holidays.

My work chipped in too, granting me two weeks of research leave a year – as part of a tailor-made support agreement that I had negotiated with my managers. They became very supportive of my endeavour, with the understandable condition that my job remained my priority. Banker first, researcher second.

Despite my limited free time, I realised that moderation was important and tried to pace myself. Long bouts of study would leave me insufficiently energised for the work week or put excessive pressure on my social life.

I wasn't in a rush. Being a part-timer, I did not have the same money stresses as my full-time peers. Living expenses were paid for through the day job and tuition fees were covered by my employer. I intended to enjoy both the process and the outcome. “What is a few months delay in a lifetime anyway?”

With corporate support and sponsorship in the bag, I was ready to be initiated into the academic community. This did not happen overnight. I only had one foot in the faculty, while using the other to run the rat race. The secluded professorial life seemed idyllic, spending days researching and working. However, when I heard esteemed lecturers conferring about the “quickest ways to get to British Airways Platinum status” or the “most lucrative visiting scholar jobs” I grew disheartened.

Realising that academics were also human was an important step for me. My interaction had to go beyond just talking about my thesis. A pint and a chat about the Premier League did wonders for my research collaboration. This interpersonal approach helped to solidify my academic relationships, both with my supervisors and other researchers.

And of course you won’t just be speaking to academics day in and day out. You’ll still have to make time for socialising with your family and friends, and often they may not quite understand how a part-time PhD works. 

For example, asking “what will the research be about?” can be like asking a new parent “what will your child be like when he is five years old?” The doctoral process is highly iterative – it involves constant rewriting and refocusing.

Or wanting to know “when will you be done?”. This is not too different from asking an entrepreneur “when will you raise £1 million?” It depends on many factors. Not least the opinion of the supervisor, being your gatekeeper to that gold-plated doctoral certificate.

And, crucially, it also depends on your ability to be able to overcome all these hurdles and dedicate yourself to your research. 

Read more:  The romance versus the reality of a PhD

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Pursuing A Part-Time Phd In Computer Science: What You Need To Know

Earning a PhD is the pinnacle of academic achievement in computer science, opening doors to research, teaching, and leadership roles. But taking 4+ years off work for a full-time program isn’t feasible for everyone.

Part-time PhD options allow professionals to attain this goal while continuing their careers.

If you’re short on time, here’s the key takeaway: Part-time CS PhD programs typically take 5-7 years to complete . They provide flexibility for working students but require diligence to balance school, research, and professional demands.

The Benefits of a Part-Time CS PhD

Progress academically without leaving your job.

A part-time PhD in Computer Science offers the unique opportunity to advance your academic career while still maintaining your professional commitments. This flexibility allows you to continue working in your current job, providing financial stability and practical application of your studies.

Balancing work and study can be challenging, but the rewards are worth it. By pursuing a part-time PhD, you can deepen your knowledge in your chosen field and make significant contributions to the advancement of computer science.

Network with faculty and peers in your field

One of the key advantages of pursuing a part-time PhD in Computer Science is the opportunity to network with esteemed faculty members and like-minded peers who share your passion for the subject. Interacting with experts in the field can provide valuable insights, guidance, and collaboration opportunities.

Attending conferences, workshops, and seminars can further expand your network and expose you to the latest developments in computer science. Building these connections can open doors to new opportunities and enhance your career prospects.

Strengthen research skills and resume

A part-time PhD program allows you to develop and refine your research skills, which are highly valued in the field of computer science. Through conducting in-depth research, analyzing data, and writing scholarly papers, you can enhance your ability to critically think, problem solve, and contribute to the body of knowledge in your area of expertise.

Moreover, having a PhD in Computer Science on your resume demonstrates your dedication, perseverance, and expertise, making you a highly sought-after candidate for both academic and industry positions.

Program Structure and Requirements

Reduced course load each semester.

Pursuing a part-time PhD in Computer Science offers flexibility in terms of course load. Unlike full-time students, part-time students typically take a reduced number of courses each semester. This allows them to balance their academic commitments with other personal and professional responsibilities.

By taking fewer courses at a time, part-time students can focus on their coursework more effectively and ensure a better understanding of the material.

Original dissertation research

The cornerstone of a part-time PhD program in Computer Science is the dissertation research. Students are required to embark on an original research project under the guidance of a faculty advisor. This research should contribute to the existing body of knowledge in the field and demonstrate a deep understanding of a specific area of computer science.

The research can involve developing new algorithms, designing innovative software systems, or exploring cutting-edge technologies.

Qualifying exams and proposal defense

Part-time PhD students in Computer Science are typically required to pass qualifying exams to demonstrate their readiness for conducting research. These exams assess the student’s knowledge and understanding of the core concepts in the field.

Once the exams are passed, students need to prepare a research proposal outlining the objectives, methodology, and expected contributions of their dissertation. The proposal is then defended in front of a committee of faculty members who evaluate its feasibility and significance.

It’s important to note that the specific structure and requirements of a part-time PhD program in Computer Science may vary depending on the institution. It is advisable to consult the program’s official website or contact the program coordinator for more detailed information.

Finding the Right Program

When pursuing a part-time PhD in Computer Science, finding the right program is crucial for success. Here are some key factors to consider:

On-campus and online options

One of the first decisions to make is whether to pursue your PhD on-campus or online. On-campus programs offer the benefit of face-to-face interactions with professors and fellow students, while online programs provide flexibility for those who are working or have other commitments.

It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option and choose the one that aligns best with your lifestyle and goals.

Focus on faculty research expertise

Another important factor to consider when choosing a program is the faculty’s research expertise. Look for programs where the faculty members have research interests and expertise that align with your own.

This will ensure that you receive guidance and mentorship from experts in your field of interest. Additionally, professors with strong research backgrounds can provide valuable networking opportunities and connections in the industry.

Funding availability

Funding is a significant consideration for many part-time PhD students. Look for programs that offer funding options such as scholarships, grants, or assistantships. These can help alleviate the financial burden and allow you to focus on your studies.

It’s also worth exploring external funding opportunities from organizations or government agencies that support research in your field.

Managing Your Time Effectively

Stay organized with schedules and goals.

When pursuing a part-time PhD in computer science, time management becomes crucial. It is important to create a schedule that includes dedicated study hours, research time, and coursework completion. By setting goals for each week or month, you can track your progress and ensure that you are staying on track.

One effective strategy is to use a planner or a digital calendar to keep track of deadlines, meetings, and other important events. By having a visual representation of your commitments, you can prioritize your tasks and allocate time accordingly.

Additionally, breaking down larger tasks into smaller, manageable chunks can help you stay organized and prevent overwhelm. By setting realistic goals for each study session, you can make progress towards your PhD while still managing other responsibilities.

Communicate needs clearly at work

When pursuing a part-time PhD, it is essential to communicate your needs with your employer or colleagues. Letting them know about your academic commitments and the time required for your studies can help them understand your availability and make necessary adjustments.

Consider having a conversation with your supervisor or manager to discuss your situation and explore potential flexible working arrangements. This could include adjusting your work schedule, reducing your workload, or even exploring opportunities for research collaboration between your job and your PhD.

Open and honest communication can go a long way in ensuring that both your work and academic responsibilities are managed effectively.

Leverage support systems

Pursuing a part-time PhD can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. It is crucial to leverage the support systems available to you.

Reach out to your academic advisor or supervisor for guidance and support. They can provide valuable insights on managing your time, selecting courses, and balancing your academic and work commitments.

Additionally, consider joining or forming study groups with fellow part-time PhD students. Collaborating with others who are facing similar challenges can provide a sense of camaraderie and support. You can share study materials, discuss research ideas, and offer each other encouragement along the way.

Lastly, don’t forget about the support of your family and friends. Let them know about your academic journey and the challenges you may face. Their understanding and encouragement can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals.

Remember, pursuing a part-time PhD in computer science requires dedication, discipline, and effective time management. By staying organized, communicating your needs, and leveraging support systems, you can successfully navigate this exciting academic journey while maintaining a balance with your work and personal life.

Completion, Careers and Next Steps

Job prospects post-phd.

Completing a part-time PhD in computer science opens up a world of exciting job prospects. With a doctoral degree in this field, you are well-equipped to pursue highly specialized positions in both industry and academia.

The demand for computer science professionals continues to grow, and obtaining a PhD can give you a competitive edge in the job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of computer and information research scientists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

This means that there will be ample opportunities for individuals with advanced degrees in computer science.

Potential teaching and research roles

One of the key benefits of earning a PhD in computer science is the opportunity to pursue teaching and research roles. Many universities and research institutions are constantly seeking experts in the field to join their faculty and contribute to cutting-edge research.

As a PhD holder, you can become a professor, teaching and mentoring the next generation of computer scientists. Additionally, you can engage in research projects, pushing the boundaries of knowledge in the field and making significant contributions to the advancement of technology.

The opportunity to share your expertise and make a lasting impact in the academic community is truly rewarding.

Higher salaries and senior positions

Earning a PhD in computer science can also lead to higher salaries and senior positions. With the advanced knowledge and skills gained during your doctoral studies, you become a valuable asset to companies and organizations.

Employers often recognize the expertise and dedication required to complete a PhD, and are willing to offer higher salaries to attract and retain top talent. In addition, holding a doctoral degree can open doors to senior management and leadership positions, where you can have a greater influence on strategic decisions and shape the direction of the company.

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, computer science PhD graduates earned an average starting salary of $123,000 in 2020, significantly higher than those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

While requiring diligence and time management skills, part-time computer science PhD programs make this high-level credential attainable for busy professionals. From strengthening your research abilities to opening new career doors, the long-term benefits of earning a PhD on a flexible schedule are immense.

If you’re willing to balance work, research, and coursework, a part-time CS PhD can help you achieve your pinnacle academic and career aspirations.

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Part-time PhD Programs

cloud reflected in SEC windows

Tufts School of Engineering’s part-time PhD Program helps working professionals achieve their education and career goals. Conduct cutting-edge research and develop new technologies with our world-class faculty, all while maintaining your employment in industry.

Our part-time PhD program is tailored for industry professionals who receive full financial support from their employers. Financial arrangements between the employee and employer must be agreed upon in advance. Tufts University does not offer stipends, scholarships, discounts, or financial support for this program. Part-time PhD students are not eligible for TA/RA positions, grading roles, or any other paid positions within the university. We strongly advise applicants to seek employer permission before considering external work. It's essential to adhere to employment agreements and program policies to ensure compliance.

Qualified domestic students who are interested in continued learning, developing their skill set, or expanding their career path are encouraged to apply. This program is not available to international applicants unless they are currently working for a U.S. company. No visas can be issued for part-time PhD students.

How to Apply

All applicants must submit the following materials: Contact an advisor or faculty member Contact the advisor or faculty member with whom you would like to study to talk about the specific requirements. Before applying you must first have a discussion with a faculty member to confirm that there is mutual interest in the research the applicant intends to pursue. A successful discussion and any agreement among the candidate and faculty member does not supersede the formal application process. All applicants must formally apply. The application will be reviewed following all the processes and guidelines established for SOE graduate applicants.

Online Application for Admission  Note: An application fee of $85 is payable through the online application by credit card or e-check (drawn on a U.S. bank). The application fee is not refundable. Your credit card or e-check statement is your receipt. Applications cannot be reviewed until this fee has been received. Check our website to see if you are eligible for a fee waiver. Start or resume your application here .

Academic Records  Applicants are required to upload a copy of transcripts received from each accredited college or university attended, where credit was earned toward an undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree. Transcripts for study abroad or transfer programs are not required if the course titles, grades, and credit hours are included on the transcript of the degree-granting institution. If the transcript is in a language other than English, you are required to provide a certified, official translation into English. If you are admitted and decide to enroll, you will be required to request the official hard copy transcripts from all of your degree granting institutions be sent directly to our Office of Graduate Admissions, from that institution, before you can matriculate. 

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) GRE scores are no longer required for candidates with an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited U.S. institution. Letters of Recommendation Most programs will require three letters of recommendation. Current Tufts students and alumni are only required to submit two letters. If an applicant submits three letters, one letter may be a commitment letter from your company that your studies will be supported. Letters of recommendation should be submitted through the online application system. If that is not possible, you may have your recommender email their letter as an attachment to [email protected], from a company/institutional/organization/professional email account. Personal Statement  Applicants are required to upload a personal statement describing your reasons for wanting to pursue graduate study at Tufts in the program to which you are applying. Please limit your personal statement to a maximum of five pages. Refer to the Requirements and Deadlines  to determine if the program to which you are applying has specific prompts.  Résumé / CV A current résumé or CV that includes information about, and dates of your educational history, employment, academic honors, scholarships, publications, and other activities is required to be uploaded as part of your completed application.

> Spring applications need to be completed and submitted by September 15th .

> Fall applications need to be completed and submitted by December 15th .

Some exceptions may be made by the faculty member you will be working with.

Tuition and Fees

Students who enroll part-time in an engineering PhD program will be responsible for all tuition and fees charged at a per semester rate. No scholarships, financial aid, or stipends are available for these programs. Please visit  https://asegrad.tufts.edu/tuition-aid/tuition-and-fees  for more details.

Financial Aid and Employer Tuition Reimbursement

Low-interest Federal Direct Loans and Federal Perkins Loans are administered by Tufts Student Financial Services which maintains information on all federal programs as well as alternative forms of financing such as non-need-based loans. Federal aid is available for U.S. citizens and permanent residents only. To apply for Federal Direct loans, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The form is available online at www.fafsa.ed.gov, and the Tufts University Institution code is 002219. We recommend that you file the FAFSA by December 1 for spring admission and by March 1 for fall admission.

Tuition reimbursement/Tuition assistance is an employee benefit through which an employer pays for a predetermined amount of continuing education credits or college coursework to be applied toward a degree. These programs are intended for employees looking to advance their careers and educational goals by increasing their industry knowledge and developing advanced skills.

PhD Programs

Faculty members.

Below you will find faculty members who are eager to receive part-time PhD applications. Click on the department heading for a list of available faculty members.

Biomedical Engineering

Chemical and biological engineering, civil and environmental engineering, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering.

10 Best Part Time PhD Programs for 2024

Here we’ll explore part-time PhD programs, compare schools, and see what earning your doctorate could do for you.

Part Time PhD Programs

If you’d like to earn your doctoral degree but don’t really have much time to spare, you might want to consider enrolling in one of the many available part-time PhD programs.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

A part-time PhD program requires less of a time commitment, and there are both online and on-campus options.

Types of Part Time PhD Programs

The following are ten of the most popular part-time PhD programs people are enrolling in right now. Click on one to jump to that part of the page.

Business Administration

Healthcare administration, nurse practitioner (rn required), public administration, public health.

PhD graduates in these fields often enjoy very rewarding careers as professors, researchers, or industry experts.

project managers discussing financial reports

If you’re looking for part time graduate school programs in business, taking courses toward your PhD in Business Administration may be an excellent choice. In addition to being the gold standard of business degrees in America, this degree is often recognized globally as the highest possible business administration degree.

Some universities also offer the option to select an area of concentration in a part time PhD program. For example, you could opt to get your online PhD in Accounting , or a similar field of business, like marketing, human resources, or project management.

Depending on whether you take this degree online or at an on-campus university, your curriculum may be a little different, but the basic admissions requirements and courses will likely be quite similar whichever you choose.

For example, you’ll likely need, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and a master’s degree in this field or another business-related field is usually preferred.

Some programs also have specific GMAT or GRE score requirements as well, though a growing number of universities are waiving this requirement.

A part time doctoral program in Business administration usually has some lecture courses and written coursework. Classes are mostly comprised of upper-level business classes in accounting, human resources management, project management, leadership, business innovations, and strategy.

Your primary focus, though, will probably be on independent research toward your final dissertation. This, along with a final exam, is usually the last step before earning a PhD. After receiving your PhD, you could potentially become a professor of business, a consultant for private companies or the government, or even a CEO or president of a company.

counselor talking to a client in her office

If you have an empathetic nature, a curious mind, a good listening ear, and the desire to genuinely help people, you might pursue a PhD in Counseling. PhD courses in the counseling field have been specifically tailored to do two things:

  • Help students obtain the skills needed to become counselors in practically any environment, including K-12 schools, institutions of higher learning, private practices, prisons, mental hospitals, and more.
  • Help students obtain the skills and knowledge needed to teach counseling skills to others as professors of counseling at institutes of higher learning.

The course curriculum for a counseling program is typically designed to educate students in a holistic, entire body approach to treating patients. Specific courses usually include higher-level classes in psychology, as well as counseling theories and techniques.

Other courses may cover holistic health and wellness, psychological techniques, and research. A heavy focus is often put on understanding patients of all races, backgrounds, genders, sexualities, and cultures.

In addition to lectures and seminars, you’ll probably be required to complete a lot of coursework and research.

If your ultimate goal with your PhD is to teach psychology at the post-secondary level, you may even be required to design and teach your own curriculum as part of a hands-on internship experience.

Your original dissertation will likely be your final step toward earning this PhD, after you which you could potentially teach or continue on in counseling.

college professor writing on chalkboard

If you’re considering a doctoral program in the education field, there are three different paths you can take. There’s the PhD path, which we’ll discuss here, and then there is the D.Ed. path and the Ed.D path, which are the Doctor of Education and Doctor in Education, respectively.

Earning a PhD in Education literally means you’ve received a Doctor of Philosophy in Education. (All PhDs are Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Only the specific field is different. This is why so much of their coursework focuses on research.)

Deciding whether or not a PhD is the right choice for you depends on what you want to do with it after you earn it. If you want to teach at the post-secondary level or work in educational research, then a PhD may be perfect for you.

The typical course format is a mixture of seminars, lectures, and coursework. As with practically any other PhD, your primary focus will likely be on independent research toward your dissertation, which should be a completely unique project of your choice relating to the field of education.

Your final project will probably consist of this dissertation presented before a panel of professionals in the field. You’ll likely be asked to deliver it and then defend it.

Some programs may also require you to pass a final exit exam. After you’ve earned your degree, you could potentially use it to become an educational researcher, professor of education, school administrator, superintendent, or other board of education member.

financial manager working on his laptop

If you have a mind for numbers, money, and budgeting or work on the books and assets side of a company, a doctoral degree in finance may help further your career.

Online coursework in a finance PhD program typically focuses most heavily on a wide variety of financial and budgetary classes. Some of these include:

  • Global Marketing
  • The Behavior of Finance Locally, Nationally, and Globally
  • Decision-making of Firms and Other Financial Institutions
  • Assets Pricing
  • Assets Valuation

For many, this is considered one of the best possible PhD programs to take online, and if you already have a background in finance, it could potentially be one of the shortest doctoral programs online for you. It also works well as an on-campus program.

In a typical finance program, most work is done through lectures, seminars, and hands-on experience, first developing and then rigorously testing theoretical models.

Upon earning your PhD in Finance, you should be able to pursue many different careers. You might become a compensation and/or benefits manager, chief financial officer, director of securities or commodities, financial manager, or budget analyst.

You may also be eligible for promotions of the highest level in budgeting, acquisitions, and sales. A PhD in Finance can help prepare you for a career as a high-level sales agent in almost any field.

As with most PhDs, what this degree is really designed to do is help you obtain the skills to teach a program in your subject of expertise, in this case, finance. For that reason, after earning your PhD, you may consider becoming a professor.

medical professor with his students working on an activity

If you’re planning to get your PhD in Healthcare Administration, there’s a strong possibility that you’re already working somewhere in the healthcare field, possibly even in healthcare administration.

This is because most PhD in Healthcare Administration programs are only open to those who already have master’s degrees in this same field or one that’s closely related to it.

There are even some programs that require you to already be working in healthcare administration before you can be accepted into their program.

If none of these things apply to you, this might not be the degree for you. If you do have your heart set on it anyway, then you’re probably going to have to put in quite a bit of extra work first.

In addition to the desire to help and heal people, possessing a good head for business, a love of research, and excellent people skills are beneficial for pursuing this degree. Being comfortable with economics, finance, accounting, and grant-writing is helpful as well.

This degree is usually sought by those who want to become professors of the subject at a university or those who want to move into upper-level management and leadership roles within large healthcare organizations.

Some of the most commonly shared classes between different healthcare administration PhD programs are related to research, communication, and organizational strategies. There are also seminars on healthcare reform and legislation, as well as the role of politics in healthcare.

team of professionals in a meeting

If your goal is to earn your PhD in Management, you have so many options. Other than doctoral programs in business and business administration, programs in management are some of the most numerous programs out there right now.

You likely have plenty of choices, whether you want to go the online or on-campus route.

Another great thing about a PhD degree program for management is that it has such wide-reaching possibilities. Whether you work in retail, factory work, or engineering, chances are you have a management team.

That’s because every field needs managers and supervisors. Therefore, a PhD in Management can appeal to many different types of people.

Possessing any of the following traits can help you in this path:

  • Hardworking
  • Research-minded
  • Good communicator
  • Multitasker
  • Fair leader

Courses in management are usually pretty fast-paced, and the subject matter is just as varied as the types of people who pursue the degree. Courses commonly incorporate classes on research skills, human resources management, social sciences, economics, strategic planning, and networking.

You’ll likely be required to research, put together, deliver, and defend a unique dissertation before you can officially earn your degree. Most programs require an exam, as well.

Once you’ve received your PhD in Management, though, potential job paths include management consultant, professor, CEO, entrepreneur, and more in a variety of different fields.

nurse talking with a doctor in a hospital

If you’re a nurse practitioner looking to become a better and higher-paid nurse, then you might not want to pursue your PhD in Nursing. Instead, you may want to work toward your Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

However, if you’re a nurse practitioner who wants to transition into pure research, nursing theory, or the education and training of future nurses and nurse practitioners, a PhD may be the right choice for your needs.

Although a PhD in Nursing usually takes fewer years to earn than a DNP and requires almost no clinical work—unlike the DNP—you’ll likely be required to do massive amounts of research into the field of nursing, nursing theory, and nursing education processes.

The goal of most PhD in Nursing programs, in addition to teaching students what they need to know to educate future nurses, is to prepare students for careers in clinical research and education strategy. The aim is for them to be able to improve upon the research processes and education methods to make the training of future nurses more innovative and all-encompassing.

Less often, graduates of this program go on to work in advanced clinical practice or even healthcare administration, but this isn’t the most common career path for people receiving this particular degree. Many of the courses do focus on leadership and best management practices for those who do want to take this route, though.

financial managers checking documents

If your goal is to pursue a PhD in Public Administration, you have a wide variety of programs from which you can choose. Because regulations governing this type of degree program are looser than some other degree programs, each public administration program is structured differently.

However, despite their differences, there are a few things that almost every public administration program, whether online or on-campus, has in common. The admissions requirements for the programs are one example.

While not all programs require you to have a master’s degree before enrolling, most prefer it. For those that don’t require it, you’ll probably still be required to have a bachelor’s degree in either public policy or public administration.

When it comes to the actual curriculum, though, the programs all seem to differ slightly. The classes taught in one program are often different from the classes taught in another program at a different university.

In almost every public administration program you are likely to take courses on public vs. private budgeting, advanced communications, and policymaking. The electives and other classes from program to program can vary, though.

However, despite the courses, the end goals of these programs are all usually very similar: They typically aim to educate doctoral students on the best practices governing the use and overseeing of public assets.

With a PhD in Public Administration, you could potentially find a career as a purchasing agent, budget analyst, human resources manager, auditor, financial manager, or something similar.

environmental scientists checking water quality of a river

Working in public health requires certain specific qualities. For instance, being able to keep calm under pressure is important. Being intelligent, analytical, and comfortable with the research and testing of potentially deadly viruses and diseases are also beneficial traits.

Public health isn’t entirely about diseases and outbreaks, though, no matter how it may seem.

The number one goal of most public health PhD programs is to educate students in all aspects of public health and how to present information and findings in a way the public can easily understand.

Another goal is to give doctoral students the knowledge and skills needed to help improve the overall public health of American citizens.

This includes instructing students on research skills and theory, particularly how to use research and the scientific method to improve upon methods already being used in the public health sector.

It’s also imperative to be able to present crisis-level information to the public in a way that keeps people from panicking.

The most common concentrations for a public health degree program are the following:

  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental Health
  • Health Management and Policies
  • Social Sciences
  • Chronic Diseases
  • The Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases

After graduation, jobs with the CDC and federal, state, and local governments are common. Other potential jobs include environmental scientist, biostatistician, epidemiologist, and safety engineer.

psychologist talking to a couple in her office

Part-time psychology PhD programs are also very popular choices for PhD seekers. This means there are plenty of online and on-campus programs available from which you can choose.

Although it can often be taken as an on-campus program very easily with excellent results, most people tend to take it online for the simple fact that it’s more convenient. This means there are many accredited online options for psychology.

Although a PhD in Psychology is typically meant for those who want to move out of practicing psychology and into the realms of psychological research and secondary education, some people do take it to become better, higher-paid psychologists. If you’re one of these people, being empathetic, curious, and non-judgmental are three helpful qualities to have to succeed in this career.

If you’re pursuing this degree in order to teach or move into pure research, an analytical mind, enjoyment of research, and a good grasp of the scientific method and process will serve you well. This degree depends heavily on independent research.

You’ll likely have coursework, lectures, and case studies, but most of your time will probably be spent researching your dissertation.

If you’re successful in earning your PhD in Psychology, you may continue to work in the field of psychology as a counselor, psychologist, or something similar, but that isn’t all you might do. You may also teach or work as a psychological researcher.

In addition to part-time PhD in Psychology programs, some universities offer part time PsyD programs . A PsyD is a Doctor of Psychology. This degree may be a good option for practitioners more interested in providing psychological services to clients.

Accreditation for Online Part Time PhD Programs

Accreditation for Online Part Time PhD Programs

The specific accreditation for your online program will depend on the degree field. Different fields have different boards certifying them as accredited programs. You should be able to check any program’s accreditation on the school’s website.

Regional accreditation is the most accepted and recognized by employers and other schools, should you want to transfer. National accreditation is acceptable as well, but it only accredits your program within a specific region of the U.S. Regional accreditation is typically recognized throughout the entire U.S., no matter where you relocate.

Schools without accreditation may not be accepted at all, so it is important to check your program’s accreditation status.

Financial Aid for PhD Part Time Students

Financial Aid for PhD Part Time Students

There are a few main types of financial aid to pursue as a PhD student: loans, grants and fellowships, and assistantships.

Loans are available to both online and on-campus students. Loans have to be repaid, so it is important to use them responsibly and only take out what you need. The best place to start looking for loans is usually the federal government. You can apply for loans by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA .

Fellowships and grants are similar to scholarships and are also available to both online and on-campus students. They’re usually given out to students who need financial aid who have completed applications proving they’re also deserving of the grants.

Many of these may be listed on your school’s specific website. Others can be found on Fastweb and other similar sites.

Finally, assistantships are available only to on-campus students. These are similar to work-study programs. You may work as either a teacher’s assistant, research assistant, or something similar. Working in the lab or as a teacher to undergrads are both typical assistantship duties.

PhD student studying on his computer in library

Can You Do PhD Part Time?

Yes, many students work on their PhD part-time. When asking how long does it take to get a doctorate degree , it’s important to keep in mind that there are several programs, both online and on-campus, that allow doctoral students to take part-time PhD classes.

Is PhD Full Time or Part Time?

Depending on your budget and available free time, you can take either full-time or part-time PhD classes. The only difference is that it will take you longer to graduate if you only take part-time classes.

Is a PhD Worth It?

university professor teaching in a computer classroom

Yes, a PhD is worth it for many professionals. Earning your PhD can help open up new doors of opportunity and advancement in your current field. If you’ve ever considered teaching in your career field, a PhD can also help give you that opportunity.

You can do some research to find an online PhD program or campus-based program that’s right for you.

You now have the option to take PhD classes either online or on campus, and some programs are more affordable than they’ve ever been. Now may be the time for you to take the next step toward an advanced degree.

can you do a phd part time

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  • 13 January 2021

My 11 part-time jobs made me a better PhD student

  • Cassie Sims 0

Cassie Sims is a postdoc at the Max Planck Center for Next Generation Insect Chemical Ecology and Lund University in Sweden.

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

I have had 11 part-time jobs between my final year of school and completing my PhD programme. These varied in scope, pay, fun and responsibility, but most fell into in hospitality, customer service or tutoring. I have waitressed in restaurants and cafes, supervised a student bar, sold smoked meats and cheeses and tutored younger students.

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doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-00089-w

This is an article from the Nature Careers Community, a place for Nature readers to share their professional experiences and advice. Guest posts are encouraged .

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Can I do a PhD while working

Can I do a PhD while working?

Study tips Published 31 Mar, 2022  ·  4-minute read

Completing a Doctor of Philosophy requires some serious dedication. But committing all your time to research can leave a significant gap in your income. So, can you work and do a PhD at the same time? Let’s find out.

We spoke with two UQ PhD candidates, Chelsea Janke and Sarah Kendall, to get some insights into whether you can get a PhD while working – and how to balance your work with your research.

Can you get a PhD while working?

The simple answer is yes, but we wouldn't exactly recommend it. There’s nothing technically stopping you from continuing to work (at least, to some extent) while you pursue a PhD, but doing a higher degree by research is a big commitment. So, you need to think carefully before you attempt to juggle both.

The more complex answer is that it depends heavily on the type of work you’re doing and how quickly you want to complete your research.

Sarah Kendall quote

PhD candidates can continue working part time while completing their research. Of course, this depends on the nature of their research and other work.

Keep in mind : some PhD scholarships are only available to full-time candidates and may not allow you to earn more than a certain amount to remain eligible. If you’ve applied or plan to apply for a scholarship, make sure to check the relevant terms.

For  international students , some extra restrictions apply. You can work up to 40 hours per fortnight, but this must not interfere with your full-time study load or your academic performance. Further limitations may apply if you're on an RTP scholarship (maximum 270 working hours per year) or being sponsored by your government.

Doing a PhD while working: full time, part time or casual?

Chelsea is quick to warn us that both working and researching full time is a recipe for disaster.

“A full-time PhD could not be done whilst working full time,” she says.

Doing both part time is feasible, but only if you’re happy to wait a few extra years to see the fruits of your labour.

“I know people who have worked part time and done their PhD part time – usually in the same research group or field,” says Chelsea.

“But keep in mind it took them 7-8 years to finish their PhD; it’s not the most efficient strategy.”

Committing to a full-time PhD while doing some incidental work on the side seems like the most popular approach for candidates, in Chelsea’s experience.

“Most full-time PhD students will pick up some casual work tutoring, marking, helping the lab manager, or assisting other researchers with their work,” she says.

“This means they can do a few hours here and there without their own PhD work being too disrupted.”

Sarah’s circumstances allow her to maintain a part-time job while completing her PhD, though she acknowledges you have to be lucky to be in a position to do so.

“PhD candidates can continue working part time while completing their research; of course, this depends on the nature of their research and other work,” says Sarah.

“Both my research and work are very flexible, and I can complete them whenever suits me.”

Learn about Sarah’s research or read her series about becoming an academic in law .

How to balance work with your PhD

Chelsea Janke quote

If you plan to work whilst doing your PhD, you will need to manage your time well.

It’s one thing to ask can I do a PhD while working – actually managing to juggle the two is a whole other challenge. Sarah and Chelsea agree that time management is the most important part of making this work.

Sarah suggests keeping a strict schedule to divide your time evenly between your commitments, as this is what works for her.

“I find that I maintain a balance best by setting specific hours to work on my PhD (usually from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday) and then on my other work commitments (usually Saturdays and sometimes a couple of hours before dinner),” she says.

“The hours you set to work on your PhD and other commitments will depend on whether your other work has set hours though, as well as when you work best – you might get some of your best research and writing done at 5am!”

Top tips for working while doing your PhD

  • Only do so if you really want/need to and if you know you can manage the dual workloads.
  • Tell your boss. Make sure your employer knows about your plans to juggle a PhD with your workload. See if there’s anything they can do to make the journey easier for you. For example, just like Sarah, your employer may be able to provide you the flexibility to complete your work on a schedule that accommodates your research hours.
  • Consider a part-time PhD if cutting your hours or quitting your job isn’t a viable option. Yes, it might take longer. But if it means maintaining a comfortable balance between your research and your current career, it might be the best choice for you.
  • Chat with your PhD supervisor. They’ve been there and done that, making them a great source of wisdom when it comes to pursuing a PhD while also balancing your other life commitments. You may also have peers currently doing a PhD who can provide some advice.

Haven’t chosen your supervisor yet? Read these tips for finding a suitable academic. It’s also a good idea to be upfront with your supervisor about your intention to work/research part time, as some supervisors prefer to work with full-time PhD candidates.

  • Seek casual work at your university and in your field where possible. By keeping your work and research close together (both in terms of location and mindset), you may find it less challenging to keep on top of both.
  • Make sure you’re passionate about your PhD topic . If your research just feels like a second job on top of your usual work, you’ll likely burn out before long. When developing your research proposal , make sure your thesis is providing that spark of curiosity that’s going to keep you inspired to follow through with your research – even on nights when you’re drained from work.

Ready to get started? Whether you’re dedicating yourself to a full-time PhD or keeping a balance between research and work, The University of Queensland is ready to support you.

Learn more about completing your PhD at UQ

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Pros & Cons: Full Time vs. Part Time PhD

Part-time vs. full-time phd: which one is right for you.

Returning to school can be a huge decision, especially if you’re a working adult. There are many factors to consider, including how you’ll find the time to do the required work. Because of this, many people may struggle to decide between a full-time and part-time PhD program.

The good news is that the only true difference between the two types of programs is the length of time it’ll take you to complete your work. The coursework and other components are typically the same.

This guide will help you weigh the pros and cons of committing to a full or part-time PhD program so that you can decide which option is best for your goals and lifestyle.

What’s the Difference Between a Part-Time and Full-Time PhD?

The only notable difference between a part-time and full-time PhD is the amount of time it takes you to complete your degree. You’ll still be responsible for completing the required research and coursework. 

That being said, the experience of a part-time PhD program may feel significantly different from that of a full-time student because:

  • Full-time PhD candidates have more time to spend on their research and coursework
  • Part-time candidates may have other commitments competing with schoolwork
  • Financial assistance opportunities may vary depending on your program choice
  • Research for a full-time student might be more immersive 

The best choice for you is going to be the option that allows you to balance your educational commitments with the rest of your life. To give you a better understanding of what these educational obligations might be, let’s take a deep dive into full and part-time PhD programs.

The Ins and Outs of Full-Time PhD Programs

A full-time PhD program is similar to a full-time job. It’s typically an immersive experience with two main goals:

  • Grow a student’s knowledge about an important topic
  • Provide training to improve skills through research and collaboration 

The path to these outcomes can be quite lengthy. Although your specific road might look a little different based on the institution and field of study you choose, the typical PhD program includes: 1

  • Coursework – You’ll likely begin your program by taking graduate courses in your field to expand your knowledge base. Courses in research methods and scholarly writing will also be part of your curriculum. These are important preparation for the writing you’ll be expected to do as you progress through your program.
  • Research – The time you spend outside of the classroom will mainly be used to research for your dissertation. The skills you acquire through your coursework will help you unearth sources, conduct experiments, or perform other research tasks.
  • Meetings – You’ll also have regularly scheduled meetings with your PhD supervisor. The frequency and length of these meetings will depend on your institution and program. Here, you’ll discuss your progress, review your research, and get advice about your work.
  • Teaching or fieldwork – Some PhD candidates are required to teach a certain number of classes during their time with an institution. Others must complete an internship, fieldwork, or another project. Your requirements will depend on the program you’re enrolled in and the institution you attend.
  • Writing the dissertation – The pinnacle of your PhD program is, of course, the dissertation. This can take years to complete and is often the factor that extends the length of time it takes someone to finish their studies. It’s the compilation of all of your hard work, research, analysis, and writing.
  • Defending your dissertation – Once you make that final edit to your dissertation, you’re almost finished. However, there’s one crucial step remaining: your dissertation defense. This is an oral exam where you present and answer questions about your research to a committee. The committee then decides if you have passed or if corrections are needed.

After the defense and committee approval, you’ll submit the final copy of your manuscript and be awarded your coveted degree. 

Required Coursework

Every PhD program is going to look a little different depending on your field of study and institution. A very general example of required coursework for a full-time student might look something like this:

  • Year 1 – Two full semesters of coursework, including some specialized courses in your areas of study. More generalized research design and research methods courses may take up a significant portion of your classroom time.
  • Year 2 – The second year will also contain two full semesters of classes. You’ll take more courses focused specifically on researching and developing a proposal. This will prepare you to begin working on your dissertation.
  • Year 3 – Your course load will be smaller as your dissertation research and writing begins. If teaching, clinical work, or lab work is required in your program, you’ll work on these tasks while also working on your dissertation.
  • Year 4 and beyond – You might have a few remaining courses to take, but your time after year three is primarily dedicated to your research and writing until your dissertation is complete.

Weekly Commitment

A full-time PhD program can be an intense endeavor. It requires approximately the same amount of time as a full-time job each week—about 35 to 40 hours. The way those hours are distributed depends on where you are in your program. For the first two years, the bulk of your time will likely be spent in the classroom.

After that, you’ll likely be researching, writing, and completing other required duties. 

Completion Timeframe

According to the National Science Foundation’s “Survey of Earned Doctorates”, there were 55,283 completed doctorate degrees in the United States in 2020. 2 The median length of time from beginning to completion was 5.8 years. At a minimum, most PhD programs take about 4 years, but even full-time students can take longer.

The time it takes you to complete your PhD as a full-time student is heavily dependent on how quickly and effectively you complete your dissertation. Factors that can delay completion include:

  • You struggle with your research
  • Writing takes longer than expected
  • Your dissertation requires significant edits
  • Life circumstances interfere with your studies

It’s important to remember that taking longer to finish your degree doesn’t diminish the accomplishment. Don’t get discouraged if you need to make revisions or if your research isn’t finished as quickly as you’d hoped.

A Full-Time PhD Program Might be Right for You If…

Students who successfully enroll in full-time PhD programs do so with the understanding that it’s a significant time commitment. Full-time programs might be best suited for students who:

  • Don’t hold a full-time job
  • Have the financial support needed
  • Can commit as many as 40 hours per week to their school work
  • Have significant schedule flexibility to accommodate classes, research, and other obligations

You might also begin as a full-time student and later make the switch to part-time if your circumstances change.

The Ins and Outs of Part-Time PhD Programs

Part-time PhD programs can offer students a little more flexibility. In fact, no two part-time PhD students are likely to have a program that looks the same. However, there are a few common traits among part-time PhD programs, such as:

  • More flexibility in coursework
  • Less of a financial burden all at once since costs are spread out over a longer period
  • Less disruptive of your other life commitments
  • More time to research

In a part-time program, you’ll likely have more time to attend to your other obligations. The trade-off is that you’ll be a student for far longer than you would if you attend school full-time. The work you must do is the same as if you attend full-time, it’s just spread out over more years.

Some key differences in the time commitment include:

  • Classroom time  – You’ll take the same classes as a full-time student but instead of finishing most of the core work in the first year or two, it might take you three or four years.
  • Weekly hours – If you’re a part-time student, you’ll likely spend half the hours working. This equates to about 15 to 20 hours per week that you’ll need to dedicate to school. Of course, this time might change depending on how your program and institution define part-time.
  • Years to complete – The timeframe for part-time students to complete a PhD varies. The “Survey of Earned Doctorates” doesn’t differentiate between part and full-time students in its completion data. Anecdotally, a part-time PhD student might take anywhere from 5 to 10 years or more to complete their degree. 3

The biggest takeaway about part-time PhD programs is that they’re highly variable, especially when it comes to completion times.

A Part-Time PhD Program Might be Right for You If…

Many students can benefit from the flexibility offered by a part-time PhD program. You might be the perfect candidate if you:

  • Have a family
  • Need time for other obligations
  • Prefer to work more slowly

Keep in mind that you might be able to start slowly and increase your workload as you go through your programs and life changes.

Find Your Perfect PhD Match

A PhD program can be a challenging and time-consuming commitment, whether you’re a full-time or part-time student. In fact, there isn’t a significant difference between the two, other than the time it takes to finish your degree. A part-time option can allow working adults or those with other life obligations to work toward a doctoral degree at a slower pace that’s more conducive to their needs.

If you’re considering a full or part-time PhD program, Alliant International University might be the right choice for you. Check out our offerings today to see if we’re a perfect match for your educational goals.


  •  “The PhD Experience: A Review of the Factors Influencing Doctoral Students’ Completion, Achievement, and Well-Being.” International Journal of Doctoral Studies. 2018. http://ijds.org/Volume13/IJDSv13p361-388Sverdlik4134.pdf . Accessed January 27, 2022.
  •  “Survey of Earned Doctorates.” National Science Foundation. November 30, 2021. https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf22300/data-tables . Accessed January 27, 2022.
  •  “How Long Does it Take to Get a PhD Degree?” U.S. News and World Report. August 12, 2019. https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles/2019-08… . Accessed January 27, 2022.

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About the Doctor of Public Health Program

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As the most advanced, professional qualification in public health, the DrPH prepares early- to mid-career domestic and international public health professionals to assume leadership roles in public health policy and practice positions as well as in health services delivery settings.

The Schoolwide DrPH program is a flexible, part-time program delivered online with the option of taking onsite courses*. Students can elect to complete the program fully online with optional week-long onsite courses in summer and winter institutes (in June and January respectively) and/or onsite courses during regular terms to fulfill degree requirements. Students are expected to remain in relevant public health employment throughout their studies.

The DrPH program is built around foundational competencies that focus on leadership, analytical skills, communication, policy, management, and program design and evaluation. Instruction is delivered through an integrated sequence of problem-based learning classes that address current public health challenges and provide students with opportunities to apply skills in a close to real-life setting.

*The DrPH program   does not   qualify for F-1 or J-1 student sponsorship. Students who require visa sponsorship may only participate in this program online from outside of the U.S.  Legal Permanent Residents and non-immigrants who are otherwise physically present in the U.S.   and   in a status that allows for full or part-time study, may participate in this program online or onsite in Baltimore .

The DrPH allows professionals to continue improving health and saving lives while pursuing their studies wherever they are in the world.

Doctor of Public Health Program Highlights

students in the program

faculty advising students

departments offering courses in the program

students in a cohort

What Can You Do With a DrPH?

Visit the  Graduate Employment Outcomes Dashboard to learn about Bloomberg School graduates' employment status, sector, and salaries.

Sample Careers

  • Tenure Track Faculty
  • Environmental Health Engineer
  • Public Health Flight Commander
  • Emergency Preparedness Specialist
  • Senior Bio-surveillance Specialist
  • Senior Policy Advisor & Staff Director
  • President & CEO, Medical System
  • Federal Data Strategy Analyst
  • Chief Data Scientist
  • VP Organizational Excellence & Quality
  • Nurse Manager
  • Chief Impact & Equity Officer
  • City Police Chief
  • Senior Counsel for Elder Justice
  • COO & Deputy Health Commissioner
  • Lead, Population Health Informatics
  • Director of Patient Safety
  • Assistant VP Care Transformation, Medical System
  • Director, Epidemiology Intelligence Unit, Ministry of Health
  • Humanitarian Director
  • Deputy Country Director

Where Can You Work With a DrPH?

Sample organizations.

  • Seattle & King County Public Health
  • Southern Nevada Health District
  • Nebraska Dept. of HHS
  • Texas Department of State Health Health Services
  • Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • NYC Department of Mental Health & Mental Hygiene
  • National Academy of Sciences
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Children's National Hospital
  • St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital
  • Brigham & Women's Hospital
  • Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • MedStar Health
  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Universities: Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Case Western  Reserve, Georgia State, Wisconsin, New Mexico
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Indian Health Service
  • Cheyenne Regional Health System
  • Pew Charitable Trusts
  • United Way of Rhode Island
  • Durham VA Health Care Center
  • Army Research Laboratory
  • Dover Air Force Base
  • USAID, WHO, World Bank, UN
  • Medicins Sans Frontiers
  • Ministry of Health: Kuwait, Thailand
  • International Planned Parenthood Federation

Curriculum for the Doctor of Public Health

Students in the DrPH Program complete a minimum of 29 credits of foundational course work taken by all DrPH students to meet the CEPH foundational DrPH competencies, which include a minimum of 6 credits of data analysis course work. Students also take an additional 28 credits of course work related to their concentration or track, and a minimum of 7 proposal and thesis credits. Overall, the DrPH requires a minimum total of 64 credits for graduation.

concentrations & tracks

min. credits of course work

min. credits for proposal & thesis

practicum & dissertation

Concentrations & Tracks

Environmental Health Concentration (2 tracks available)

  • Environmental Health Track
  • Health Security Track

Global Health: Policy & Evaluation Concentration

Health Equity & Social Justice Concentration

Health Policy & Management Concentration (4 tracks available)

  • Healthcare Management & Leadership
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health Informatics
  • Quality & Patient Safety

Implementation Science Concentration

Women's & Reproductive Health Concentration

Admissions Requirements

For the general admissions requirements see our How to Apply page. The specific program also requires:

Prior Graduate Degree

MPH or other health-related master's degree; students who have not completed an MPH may need to take additional core coursework concurrent with the 57 didactic credits required for the DrPH.

Prior Work Experience

Minimum 3 years of professional, full-time public health experience in the applicant's area of interest by the Dec. 1st application deadline.

Standardized Test Scores

Standardized test scores are  not required and not reviewed  for this program. If you have taken a standardized test such as the GRE, GMAT, or MCAT and want to submit your scores, please note that they will not be used as a metric during the application review.  Applications will be reviewed holistically based on all required application components.

Student Sponsorship

This program  does not  qualify for F-1 or J-1 student sponsorship. Legal Permanent Residents and non-immigrants who are otherwise physically present in the U.S.  and  in a status that allows for full or part-time study, may pursue this program.

Mark J. Bittle, DrPH, MBA

Mark Bittle is the Chair of the schoolwide Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program and a senior scientist in the Department of Health Policy and Management. He currently serves as director for the School's Master of Health Administration and the Master of Applied Science in Population Health Management. His work focuses on the organizational and management factors that influence physician alignment and managing change in complex organizations.

Mark J. Bittle, DrPH, MBA

Renee M. Johnson, PhD, MPH

Renee M. Johnson is Deputy Chair of the schoolwide Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program. She is also Associate Professor & Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Mental Health. She co-directs NIH-funded Drug Dependence Epidemiology Training Program and previously served on the MPH Executive Board. Her work addresses substance use, injury and violence, overdose prevention, and adolescent health.

Part-time DrPH students pay by the credit and finance their graduate studies through a variety of funding options ranging from paying out of pocket, to utilizing employer tuition remission benefits, financial aid , external scholarships, and military funding.

Bloomberg American Health Initiative DrPH Fellowships

The Bloomberg American Health Initiative offers 8-10 highly competitive fellowships for incoming DrPH students currently working with U.S. organizations on the front lines of one of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative’s five focus areas: addiction and overdose, environmental challenges, obesity and the food system, risks to adolescent health, and violence. A separate application process is required for consideration. Please note that only about 12% of fellowship applicants receive an award. It is important that applicants consider additional funding means prior to applying for the DrPH Program.

For further details regarding eligibility and the application process, please visit the Bloomberg American Health Initiative website.

Questions about the program? We're happy to help.

Katie Cruit, MS DrPH Program Manager

Madison Nuzzo, BS DrPH Administrative Coordinator 

Sheryl Flythe, BS Program Adviser

Janet Carn, M.Ed. Program Adviser

Ashley Conroy-Tabrizi, MAT Program Adviser

[email protected]

Support Our Program

A gift to our program will amplify student scholarships, support thesis research, and cultivate innovation.

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

What is a phd.

A PhD is a Doctorate of Philosophy, a prestigious qualification which is the highest level of degree that a student can achieve, demonstrating talent, academic excellence and a thirst for knowledge. In a modern knowledge-based economy, highly educated and skilled people such as doctoral graduates, are in great demand. They form the most highly educated and skilled group in the UK and internationally. Many will go on to use their skills within academia or in research-intensive occupations in industry. However, there will be others who will draw on their research background and the skills gained through a doctoral degree in a wide variety of other occupations. Examples of the type of employment opportunities taken up by PhD holders can be found at Vitae: researcher careers .

What will I get from a PhD?

You will get a huge sense of personal achievement. Our doctoral training programme will help you develop transferable skills that will be invaluable in your subsequent career. The research techniques and methodologies you master will enable you to make a direct contribution to the advancement of knowledge in your particular subject area.

Successful candidates are awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and are permitted to use the title ‘Dr’.

How does it work?

The maximum registration for a PhD programme is four years with full-time study, or eight years with part-time study.

All PhD students are initially registered for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil), and the PhD registration is confirmed after the successful completion of an upgrade assessment (at the end of year 1 for full-time students and year 2 for part-time study). You will be registered for a PhD when you pass this upgrade. Your academic progress will be monitored throughout your degree studies, via formal progress reports and regular meetings with your supervisors.

You complete a body of primary, novel research and submit a doctoral thesis of up to 100,000 words, which you then defend via an oral examination (the viva) to the satisfaction of the examiners. Your thesis must meet the expectations specified in the Quality Code .

Entry requirements

Entry requirements vary according to the research topic and/or specific studentships. The normal minimum entrance requirement is an upper second class honours degree or masters degree, relevant to the proposed area of study, from a recognised higher education institution in the UK or other recognised degree-awarding body. The comparability of qualifications from outside the UK with The Open University requirements will be determined through reference to UK ENIC .

The research topic pages (within research areas ) give details of specific entry requirements, and provide contact details to discuss your suitability for the PhD.

English language proficiency

To study with us, you will need to have a good command of English. If your first language is not English, you will need to demonstrate your competence in the English Language in all four elements (reading, writing, listening and speaking). The University requires a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any of the four categories (or approved equivalent). If you are an overseas student, you must have your level of proficiency certified through a provider approved by UK Visas and Immigration and provide your certificate and grade with your application.

Application closing dates

Entry may be permitted for direct registration with The Open University at the following points of year: October and February. This ensures that students benefit from development and training in peer groups. For further information on how to apply, see our Application process section. Application deadlines may differ between research topics and studentships; full details of topic application period is detailed in the topic page (within research areas ).

OU PhD student, Hannah Sargeant.

PhD student, Hannah Sargeant. Her research is focussed on water production from Moon rocks as part of the ProSPA instrument that will be flown to the Moon in 2025.

My PhD journey so far has been a wonderful learning experience that made me reflect upon my beliefs and stretch my thinking.

can you do a phd part time

The sweetest thing about the PhD is that you’ve worked hard for it. It is an opportunity to make an original contribution to an academic area I have always found fascinating.

can you do a phd part time

Your questions

For advice about applying for a research degree, or sponsoring a research student, email the Graduate School or call +44 (0)1908 653806.

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Think Postgrad

Frequently asked questions.

In short, yes, you can work while studying for your PhD.

The hard part to juggle is finding the time to do both. You may find that part-time study is more flexible for you but it takes longer to complete. An excellent way to combine work and study is to get a job within the university you are studying at.

Check out other sources of support for PhD Students .

There are several benefits to both full time and part time PhD study. It can be extremely difficult to juggle a full time postgraduate position alongside working. It’s not called full-time for nothing! This is intensive but you can complete a full time PhD faster than it’s part-time equivalent.

Studying for a PhD is a big commitment, either full time for 3-4 years or part-time for generally 6-7 years. If you want, or need, to be working and studying for PhD this could have an impact on your study: here are some of the things you may find it helpful to think about before starting your PhD.

Is funding for a PhD in the UK enough to live on?

If you are fortunate enough to have full funding for your PhD, your studentship should cover both fees and living expenses and be tax-free. The stipend levels for students studying for a PhD in the UK is set by UK research councils for their own studentships, and this is followed by Universities for their own studentships. These will provide enough to live on and not to have to be working and studying for a PhD.

If you are looking for PhD Funding, you can search for your ideal studentship from the many opportunities we have listed on Postgraduate Studentships. We have a section for Charities and Trusts who are set up to support students looking to get additional financial help with their studies.

How much work is included in a Graduate Teaching Assistantship?

Some PhD studentships are called Graduate Teaching Assistantships – this means that you will be teaching for a certain number of hours in each academic year and this is part of the conditions of the studentship. It is advisable to find out exactly how this works with the University advertising the opportunity. Will you receive separate payments or is this part of the studentship? How many hours will it involve and how will that relate to your PhD? Will you receive training?

If you are considering an academic career, there may be some advantage in getting some initial experience. However you may also struggle with working and studying for a PhD at the same time.

Should I study my PhD full-time or part-time if I need to work?

If you need to work and study, it’s important to think about how you will manage that. Can you study full-time and work at the same time and if so how much work can you do? A full-time PhD is regarded as a full-time commitment. So anything other than a supplementary job for a few hours per week is challenging. Some students start with a full-time PhD and then move to studying the PhD part-time. So you would need to discuss this with your university first.

Planning to study a part-time PhD takes longer overall but it may also give you the time to do your PhD and to make the money you need. If you do decide to study part-time you may already have a job that will allow you to have flexible hours. Think also about part time work in a field that relates to your study. If you need to look for a job that will help you do your PhD, your University is likely to have temporary or part-time jobs that students can apply for on campus – most universities have a database of these jobs for students so you can find out in advance what the pay rates are and if that would be enough.

Universities also have a range of part-time jobs which may be administrative or involve working in labs. If you apply for one of these jobs, especially in your own department, it’s important to make sure you work out how you will manage this. This way, you're prepared for when you are working on your PhD and when you are working on your job.

What if I am an International Student?

If you are an international student in the UK there will be restrictions on how many hours you can work. The UK Government has made some improvements to this. There are more opportunities now to study and work in the UK .

Talking to your University about your options

Your university wants you to succeed at your PhD. It has experienced students working whilst studying and works and what doesn’t. If you are planning to work whilst studying it’s a good idea to talk to your department. These questions may form part of your application process because your Supervisor will want to make sure you have the means to conduct your research as well as support yourself.

Many students study for a PhD and work for at least part of the time and complete their PhD successfully. If you look at the options beforehand, you can plan what works best for you. This way you can get the most from your PhD whilst working at the same time.

Looking for PhD Funding? There are a wide range of study funding opportunities for intending PhD students on PostgraduateStudentships

Receive Email Updates of the latest PhD and Masters opportunities and funding from PostgraduateStudentships and MastersCompare .

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    Home » 10 Best Part Time PhD Programs for 2024. Here we'll explore part-time PhD programs, compare schools, and see what earning your doctorate could do for you. If you'd like to earn your doctoral degree but don't really have much time to spare, you might want to consider enrolling in one of the many available part-time PhD programs.

  15. My 11 part-time jobs made me a better PhD student

    Credit: Shutterstock. I have had 11 part-time jobs between my final year of school and completing my PhD programme. These varied in scope, pay, fun and responsibility, but most fell into in ...

  16. Can you get a PhD while working?

    It's one thing to ask can I do a PhD while working - actually managing to juggle the two is a whole other challenge.Sarah and Chelsea agree that time management is the most important part of making this work. Sarah suggests keeping a strict schedule to divide your time evenly between your commitments, as this is what works for her.

  17. Pros & Cons: Full Time vs. Part Time PhD

    The biggest takeaway about part-time PhD programs is that they're highly variable, especially when it comes to completion times. A Part-Time PhD Program Might be Right for You If… Many students can benefit from the flexibility offered by a part-time PhD program. You might be the perfect candidate if you: Work; Have a family

  18. Part-Time Study

    Part-Time Study. On this page: A degree candidate who wishes to enroll as a part-time student must complete an application for part-time study and submit it to the Office of Academic Programs for approval. See the academic calendar for deadlines. Before applying for part-time study, students should discuss their plans with their advisor and ...

  19. Working While you Study for Your PhD

    The simple answer is yes, you can work while studying a PhD and in fact, many do. The most common form of work is teaching during your PhD. But some students may also have part-time (or full-time jobs outside of the university). Depending on the amount of work you plan to undertake, you will have to consider whether it would be better to do ...

  20. Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

    The Schoolwide DrPH program is a flexible, part-time program delivered online with the option of taking onsite courses*. Students can elect to complete the program fully online with optional week-long onsite courses in summer and winter institutes (in June and January respectively) and/or onsite courses during regular terms to fulfill degree ...

  21. Is it possible to agree with your supervisor to do PhD part time, for

    I have seen a lot of PhD programs in continental Europe advertised on 0.5 or 0.7 FTE basis in my field, so I guess it's similar in other fields in Europe. The part-time PhDs aren't necessarily less prestigious either - I know several departments at e.g. Oxford that have a part-time option, but again the funding bodies can get in the way.

  22. How to combine working with a part-time PhD in the UK

    A part-time PhD in the UK is an academic programme that covers the same learning material as a full-time PhD, but requires that you spend less time every week engaging in research. The main difference between these two variants is that a part-time PhD takes more time to complete. For example, while a standard PhD takes between three and four ...

  23. PhD

    The maximum registration for a PhD programme is four years with full-time study, or eight years with part-time study. Assessment. All PhD students are initially registered for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil), and the PhD registration is confirmed after the successful completion of an upgrade assessment (at the end of year 1 for full-time ...

  24. Working and studying for a PhD at the same time

    A full-time PhD is regarded as a full-time commitment. So anything other than a supplementary job for a few hours per week is challenging. Some students start with a full-time PhD and then move to studying the PhD part-time. So you would need to discuss this with your university first. Planning to study a part-time PhD takes longer overall but ...

  25. Questions to Ask to Find the Best Part-Time MBA Program

    When it comes to earning a part-time MBA, you have a lot of choices. To decide where you should apply, ask these five questions: What Is the School's Reputation and Accreditation? The University of Pittsburgh's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business has been educating business executives since 1960. Our graduates have become business ...