Working and studying for a PhD at the same time

Written By

Think Postgrad

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you work and do a PhD?
  • Full Time PhD Vs Part Time PhD

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.

Next Steps

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

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