PhD or independent study?

Oracle Ij6gW
Nov 12 15 Comments

I want to learn a lot, but don't know if it makes sense to sign up for the 5 year gauntlet or just make my own way to a published thesis. Assume not working full time in industry during (on near universal advice that doing so is an awful experience)

Perks of PhD:
Assistance in curriculum creation
Live assistance in material (professors, other students)
Student comradery during the process
Network of very educated people
More immigration freedom
Easier access to research positions both academic and industry
Harder to bail
Optional pretentious title you quickly stop using
Credibility for research related outreach to companies and grants
Much cheaper loans of survival money

Perks of self study:
Free evolving curriculum
Flexibility in part time work

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TOP 15 Comments
  • Google kCkA58
    If you’re quitting your job, there is no reason to self study a PhD. I have a PhD from Ivy myself.
    Nov 12 2
    • How do you know someone has a PhD from an Ivy school? They tell you in every conversation.
      Nov 12
    • Google kCkA58
      Yeah, especially in anonymous forums, genius
      Nov 12
  • Microsoft Vbsm66
    You seem to have some misconceptions about PhD programs. First of all, there is no tuition. You even get paid a small (20-30K) stipend. Second of all, what do you believe is a PhD level curriculum and how do you plan on getting there by yourself?
    Nov 12 3
    • Google kCkA58
      +1
      Nov 12
    • Oracle Ij6gW
      OP
      "Assistance in curriculum creation," not preset curriculum. What I assume an advisor offers is a way to decide what to read and help focus on what you can get out of it. Is this right?

      Not all programs are funded, and my impression is that you're obligated to do some TA or lab work in exchange when it is? Which sounds like a low pay part time job
      Nov 12
    • Oracle Ij6gW
      OP
      I guess what I mean by "free evolving curriculum" is you can go completely off your rocker hopping between a different fields as needed with ideas that might sound crazy to department heads. But I might be underestimating how flexible it really is. Clearly haven't been a doctoral student myself :)
      Nov 12
  • RichRelevance Zodian
    I don't think you understand what a PhD is. There is no curriculum --you might get asked to take some classes as a first year, but those are mostly to get ppl caught up or narrow their research focus. At it's core, a PhD is about research and mentorship. You're designing and executing plans under the guidance of the sith Lord you've been assigned to, not sitting in classrooms taking notes with a cohort of padawan.
    Nov 12 3
    • McMaster-Carr / Eng degausser
      This. Most of it is an independent study anyway. My supervisor did dick all.
      Nov 12
    • Oracle Ij6gW
      OP
      "Assistance in curriculum creation," not preset curriculum. But thanks for the feedback!
      Do you know of any good resources for prospective students to learn what a PhD actually "is"?
      Nov 12
    • McMaster-Carr / Eng degausser
      Best route is to talk to others who have gone through grad school. Also start contacting prospective supervisors. First figure out what you want to do, then who you want to work with, then reach out to see if the are taking on new students. You will also want to look into funding/grant applications. You will be more likely to be taken on if you bring external funding.
      Nov 12
  • McMaster-Carr / Eng degausser
    I’m not sure what you think a self study will get you? No one is going to buy your self invented credentials? I mean if it’s a hobby or interest, then sure, but if you’re trying to use it to prove your expertise in a subject, you need to go through the gauntlet. The whole premise of academia is that it is a robust and rigorous process that is peer-reviewed. In a PhD program you will have a supervisory committee that will hold you accountable to a certain standard and level of excellence. Creating a document and publishing it does not equate to a PhD.
    Nov 12 0
  • Cadence Mariposa
    I lost you when you said "perks"
    Nov 12 0
  • VMware jigyasu
    If you are quitting do the PhD program, if working then go with self study
    Nov 12 0
  • Goldman Sachs fake engineer
    If you have GRE scores that are valid and contacts that can write your letters, no reason to not do the formal program. Having to review stuff for quals is probably a good idea anyhow.
    Nov 12 0

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