What is the hardest part of getting a PhD?

Asked by: Ms. Mertie Kozey MD  |  Last update: August 17, 2023
Score: 4.3/5 (22 votes)

#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?

What is the hardest year of a PhD program?

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 difficult about a PhD?

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.

How stressful is a PhD program?

This is a question that many prospective PhD students ask themselves. While it depends on your personality, a PhD can be more stressful than a full-time job outside of academia. Several specific circumstances trigger high-stress levels among PhD students.

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.

Things about a PhD nobody told you about | Laura Valadez-Martinez | TEDxLoughboroughU

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Why are PhDs so hard?

The reality is that the breadth of a PhD topic is really quite limited, though it can often span several disciplines. It's common for your project to involve topics you're not completely comfortable with. You have a lot of time to focus on just one topic and you're expected and required to know the topic inside out.

What's higher than a PhD?

The Doctor of Divinity (DDiv) and the Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) are considered by Oxford to outrank all other degrees, including a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. The DDiv is usually awarded for academic accomplishments beyond the PhD level.

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.

How many PhD students quit?

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.

How many hours a week spent on PhD?

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.

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.

What percentage of PhD students graduate?

Recent estimates of doctoral degree completion rates have ranged from a low of about 33 percent in some fields, such as humanities, to a high of 75 percent in others, such as biomedical sciences, according to a literature review by the Council of Graduate Schools, which just completed its own study of graduate school ...

What percentage of people have a PhD in the US?

Less than 2% of the world's population has a doctorate. According to the US Census Bureau, only 1.2% of the US population has a PhD.

How old are average PhD students?

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.

What PhD takes the longest?

PhD timelines by focus
  • Physical and earth sciences: 6.3.
  • Engineering: 6.8 years.
  • Life sciences: 6.9 years.
  • Mathematics and computer science: 7 years.
  • Psychology and social sciences: 7.9 years.
  • Humanities and arts: 9.6 years.
  • Education: 12 years.

Which field has the most PhDs?

The Most Popular PhDs and Doctoral Degrees in the U.S.
  • Engineering. 13,606 Doctoral Engineering Degrees Awarded in 2019. ...
  • Education. 8,605 Doctoral Education Degrees Awarded in 2019. ...
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences. ...
  • Psychology. ...
  • Health Sciences. ...
  • Social Sciences. ...
  • Humanities. ...
  • Business Management and Business Administration.

What is the PhD failure rate?

Dropping out of the PhD: the problem of attrition. If you ever faced this kind of thoughts, you are not alone. Not at all. In the research literature about students dropping out of doctoral programs (or “attrition”, as they call it), very often the ballpark of 40–60% attrition rate is mentioned 1.

What is the failure rate of PhD candidates?

The percentage of students that don't complete their PhD varies hugely; some institutions report as high as 71% and some as low as 9%. The PhD non-completion rate depends on many factors, such as the subject or department you are studying in, your age and whether you have a good mentor.

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.

What does PhD burnout feel like?

PhD students often serve in a variety of roles as teachers, students, and researchers, and this unclear delineation of roles may in itself be a source of burnout stress. Students experiencing burnout may feel under constant strain, unhappy, and experience depressive symptoms.

How do you fight PhD depression?

  1. Normalize PhD Stress & Anxiety. Everyone experiences stress, anxiety, and/or depression in graduate school. ...
  2. Practice Mindfulness and Self-Care. What is mindfulness? ...
  3. Find Work/Life Balance. ...
  4. Reflect on Your Career Goals. ...
  5. Seek On-Campus Mental Health Services.

Do PhD students suffer from depression?

More than 40% of PhD students met the criteria for moderate to severe depression or anxiety. In contrast, 32% of working professionals met these criteria for depression, and 26% for anxiety.

Should PhD be called Doctor?

A doctoral degree (PhD) is a degree that one earns after a master's degree. A PhD entitles a person to use the title doctor. These are the social and physical scientists who conduct and evaluate published research. A PhD degree is normally obtained after six to eight years of hard work past the bachelor's degree.

Is a PhD the most prestigious degree?

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin: philosophiae doctor or doctor philosophiae) is the most common degree at the highest academic level, awarded following a course of study and research.

Which is harder PhD or doctorate?

A doctorate degree is not easier than a PhD. They're different and both take hard work. It would be best to research the area of study you are pursuing. A PhD demands years of original research, while a doctorate degree looks at an existing body of knowledge and looks into theories created by this knowledge.