How hard is a PhD?

Asked by: Jordane Veum  |  Last update: September 20, 2023
Score: 4.9/5 (35 votes)

There is no doubt that getting a PhD is no small feat. It requires dedication, hard work, and plenty of motivation to stay on track. Getting a PhD can be a very challenging process that requires several years of intensive research, coursework, and writing.

Which year of PhD is hardest?

School is going to be hard no matter what year it is, so you just need to make the most of it. Although many cautioned me that the first year would be the hardest, I also received the above advice as I started graduate school. It is a lot easier to listen to the advice than actually do it.

What is the most difficult part of PhD?

#1 Maintaining motivation

Every PhD student will agree that the hardest part of the degree is maintaining motivation. You start a PhD because you're passionate about a subject. What could be better than spending all your time researching your favourite topic?

Are Phds harder than Masters?

A PhD is harder in many ways; you have to produce original research. No choice in the matter. But what's more important is that they're different. Even a thesis-based master's degree is different; it's not a just a smaller PhD.

How stressful is doing a PhD?

It can feel like a punch to the gut. It feels like you are criticized personally as if something is wrong with your way of thinking, and your ideas. During a PhD, your identity becomes very much intertwined with your research. Separating yourself (and your worth) from your work is very hard for PhD students.

How hard is a PhD? The real reasons kept hush hush!

23 related questions found

What is PhD syndrome?

The “pull him/her down” or the “PhD” syndrome is the Ghanaian colloquial term for malicious envy, the arousal of primitive urges to destroy the good fortune of someone simply because one lacks what the envied other has.

What percentage of people quit PhD?

Attrition: How Much is Too Much?” published by The Chronicle of Higher Education, the current PhD attrition rate is approximately 50%. That means one out of every two students who start a Ph. D. program leaves prior to completion.

Are PhDs still worth it?

Arguably, for most people, a PhD is not worth it. If you want to enter academia you have no other option than to do a PhD. However, there is often a much better return on investment from other educational pathways such as master's, professional degrees and work experience.

What are the top 10 hardest PhDs to get?

  • Music.
  • Finance/Economics.
  • Medicine/Biology/Molecular Biology.
  • Social Sciences (Anthropology, Sociology, Area Studies)
  • Humanities (English, History, Geography etc)
  • Education.
  • Engineering (Electrical, mechanical, Chemical)
  • Computer Science/ Theoretical Physics/ Mathematics.

What makes more money a PhD or Masters?

A master's degree program provides students with industry-specific knowledge, and earning one may be a requirement in some industries, including mental health social work. A Ph. D. may earn you a higher salary and make you a more competitive candidate since fewer people have them.

What do PhD students struggle with?


One of the most common problems for PhD students is the feeling of isolation. PhD candidates often work alone, having few or sometimes no other people on their project.

How many hours should a PhD student study?

How many hours of study is a PhD? As a general rule, you should expect a full-time PhD to account for 35 hours of work a week – the equivalent of a full-time, 9-5 job.

Is 27 too old to do a PhD?

Generally speaking however, the average age of a PhD student can range from 27 to 37 years old. You can see in the table, below, that physical sciences and earth sciences PhD graduates are typically younger than those in other fields. This is because of the culture of going straight from your undergraduate into a PhD.

How many PhD students do not finish?

Getting a doctorate could be one of your biggest life achievements—provided you can make it to the finish line. Drop out rates vary by discipline, but as many as 50 percent of students don't complete their doctorate.

How old are PhD students usually?

In 2020, the average age of a graduate from a PhD program in the United States was 33. However, 6% of the graduates were over 45. When people ask what the average age of a PhD student is, many times they're really asking, “Am I too old to get a PhD?” The answer is almost always no.

What is the lowest GPA to get a PhD?

While there are no hard limits, we suggest a minimum GPA of 3.5 for serious contention, especially at top schools. If your GPA is below 3.0 then you will likely not get admitted into any PhD programs. The reason for this is that PhD programs are a lot of work.

What is the best GPA for PhD?

With GPA, it is recommended that students have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA and around a 3.5 discipline-specific GPA to remain competitive for Ph. D. applications. But, if you meet the minimum GPA requirements for a Ph.

Why doing a PhD is so difficult?

That is because it is a lengthy process that involves several years of research, writing, and, at the end, defending a dissertation in front of other experts in the field in order to be awarded the degree.

Do PhDs make a lot of money?

There are a variety of sources that provide income information by level of education. For example, Payscale says the average PhD salary is $98,550. Holders of master's degrees earn $75,328, while a bachelor's will bring an average salary of $62,712.

Is there an oversupply of PhDs?

Indeed, the production of PhDs has far outstripped demand for university lecturers. In a recent book, Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus, an academic and a journalist, report that America produced more than 100,000 doctoral degrees between 2005 and 2009. In the same period there were just 16,000 new professorships.

Does a PhD open doors?

Life As A PhD Graduate

Whilst in others having a PhD can help demonstrate expertise or competency, opening doors or helping you to leapfrog to higher positions. Your mileage may vary! You survived a PhD: this accomplishment can be a big confidence booster.

Why do so many PhD students drop out?

Socialization of doctoral students is also strongly related to the relationship with the supervisor. The lack of intellectual stimulation in the supervision and bad or no communication are the most important motives for dropping out (Smith et al.

Why are so many PhDs unemployed?

There are several reasons why PhDs end up unemployed. Many PhDs even pursue jobs that do not require a PhD degree, and stay complacent in their academic engagement. A lot of PhDs are realizing right now that there is no academic recovery, that post-pandemic academia was not the part of the recovery.

Why do so many people drop out of PhD?

While my day job involves trying to help more people finish on time, I also know that choosing to stop can sometimes be the right decision. People stop their PhD for a variety of reasons, including to pursue job opportunities, to focus on external life priorities or simply because they lose interest.