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How hard is it to complete a PhD? Watch

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    What percentage of people who start the course end up finishing it?
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    (Original post by VictoriaCoolio)
    What percentage of people who start the course end up finishing it?
    I'd recommend you go on Quora (your question is already asked by many users here) as there aren't that many active people on TSR who are doing a PhD in Maths.
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    A PhD isn't a taught course, it's a research position.

    You don't just take a PhD and 'pass' by going to class and studying. In fact there often aren't any classes at all. You have to do research into new areas, put together ideas, look at other peoples' research, etc, then write a long thesis on a new area of your choosing.

    It's nothing like typical academia where someone else is teaching you stuff.

    PhD positions are not courses, they're basically jobs with limited places that need to be applied for. The professor is your boss, and you have to do research which is relevant to the professor's field of speciality, and you have to do it to globally accepted standards.

    A lot of PhD positions are paid. It's a job, not a 'course', and nobody is there to teach you anything.
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    (Original post by VictoriaCoolio)
    What percentage of people who start the course end up finishing it?
    I suspect a high percentage complete it. It's hard to fail a PhD unless you go against your advisors warning not to submit your thesis. Of course you get people who give up and be awarded a MPhil instead.
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    (Original post by 06moca1)
    I suspect a high percentage complete it. It's hard to fail a PhD unless you go against your advisors warning not to submit your thesis. Of course you get people who give up and be awarded a MPhil instead.
    I wouldn't be so sure: https://www.quora.com/What-percent-o...fore-finishing
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    (Original post by Pessimisterious)
    I wouldn't be so sure: https://www.quora.com/What-percent-o...fore-finishing
    That depends on why people are not completing their PhD. I'm still adamant that it's hard to fail a PhD unless you go against your advisors word or you did not prepare a defence for your thesis.
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    (Original post by 06moca1)
    That depends on why people are not completing their PhD. I'm still adamant that it's hard to fail a PhD unless you go against your advisors word or you did not prepare a defence for your thesis.
    Well I think the point is more relating to motivation, rather than difficulty of the content. In the end it's just a prolonged and continued use of the stuff that was taught at undergrad or masters level.

    I think the high dropout rate is due to increasing amounts of people who make a beeline for the PhD award just because it sounds good, without realising just what it entails. A bit like the person who made this thread, who rather incorrectly calls it a 'course'.
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    (Original post by VictoriaCoolio)
    What is then a degree?

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    A set of specific taught courses based on one general topic. For example a physics degree is a set of courses ('modules') covering electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, advanced applied mathematics, etc. There's also often a small research project of some sort.

    In comparison, a PhD is a three year research project, with maybe a small handful of taught modules along the way.

    To pass a degree, you do what the lecturers tell you, finish the coursework and/or pass the exams.

    To pass a PhD, you do personal research on a subject of your interest, then write a huge dissertation on that topic, which is then checked by some kind of assessment panel who consider it a pass or fail.

    Degree and PhD are completely different. Degrees teach students widely accepted concepts. PhDs are about researching very specific concepts which push the boundaries of the subject. It's possible that some PhDs are later proven to be absolute nonsense, even if at the time they seemed groundbreaking.

    Put it this way: I don't want to do a PhD because I have no interest in research. If I were to do a university-related thing again, I'd get a second degree because that's where you have the opportunity to learn the most stuff.

    Masters degrees are the middle ground. Some masters courses are taught courses, so it's just an extension of a degree with slightly harder material (quite often masters aren't even any more 'difficult' - they just cover more material. A lot of my 3rd year courses are done alongside masters students. The only difference for the masters students is that they have one extra lecture a week where they learn more material - not more difficult, just 'more'.) Other masters are research-based - something like 50% taught material, 50% personal research project - which is basically for preparing students to move up to PhD level.

    It's possible to go from degree to PhD without taking a masters in between.

    Hope that helps a wee bit.
 
 
 
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