Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Part-Time PhD Program

Table of Contents Show
  1. What is a PhD?
  2. PhD vs Doctorate
  3. What is a Part-Time PhD?
  4. What is the Difference between a Part-time and a Full-time PhD?
    1. Duration
    2. Mode of Delivery
    3. Tuition Fees
    4. Work Hours
  5. Can You do a Part-Time PhD?
  6. Should I do a PhD Part-Time?
  7. Why Pursue a Part-Time PhD Program?
  8. Challenges of a Part-Time PhD Program
    1. Time Management
    2. Motivation
    3. Difficulties in Accessing Resources
  9. Steps to Choosing a Part-Time PhD program
    1. Your Research Interests, Goals, and Long-Term Career Objectives
    2. The Program Faculty
    3. Funding Opportunities
    4. University Resources and Student Support
  10. Part-Time PhD Degree Requirements
    1. Academic Transcripts and/or GPA Requirements
    2. Personal Statement/Motivation Letter
    3. Professional or Research Experience
    4. A PhD Research Proposal
    5. Language Proficiency
    6. Resume/CV
    7. GRE Score
  11. Factors to Consider When Choosing a Part-Time PhD Program
    1. Funding
    2. Research Area
    3. Faculty Members
    4. Activity Centers
    5. Reputation
    6. Career Obligations
    7. Financially Sustaining the Period Without Income
  12. Tips for Successful Part-Time PhD Applications
    1. Understand the Requirements
    2. Prepare for the GRE or Other Standardized Tests
    3. Cover Relevant Education, Experience
    4. Adapt the CV to the Standards of the Country
    5. Practice for Interviews
    6. Proofread Everything
  13. Top 5 Part-Time Doctoral Programs
    1. University of Southern California
    2. New York University
    3. University of Chicago
    4. Stanford University
    5. Harvard University
  14. FAQs
    1. Which programs can be taken part-time?
    2. Can you get Funding for a part-time PhD?
    3. How long does it take to get a Part-time PhD?
    4. How many hours per week is a part-time PhD?
    5. Is a part-time PhD Easier?
    6. What Age is best for Part-time PhD Programs?
    7. How much does a part-time PhD cost?
    8. Related

Are you looking for an avenue to do your PhD but do not have the time and resources to go on a full-time study? Then this post is specifically for you as choosing a part-time PhD program can be the way out.

A part-time PhD program offers flexibility and the opportunity to balance work and study commitments. This can be especially beneficial for you if you have other responsibilities such as family or a full-time job. It also offers flexibility in terms of scheduling and allows you to continue working while pursuing your doctoral degree.

A part-time PhD enables students to work, study, or undertake other activities while fulfilling their research degree commitments. It may be less intense than a full-time PhD and may not be conducted solely on campus. Rather, it may involve online study or research conducted at a distance. There is a range of part-time PhD programs available today.

Looking for a part-time PhD program? It may be difficult to find one, with the volume of available PhD programs, so this guide will be of assistance to students. Ultimately, choosing a part-time PhD program that is right for you requires a thoughtful and deliberate approach to set yourself up for success in your academic endeavors. Carefully reading through this piece, guarantees that. Be rest assured!

Table of Contents

What is a PhD?

A “Doctor of Philosophy” (PhD) is the highest level of graduate degree earned at research-driven universities. Students who start PhD programs graduate with doctorates, meaning the colleges have deemed them capable of consistently contributing original research to the scholarly record, as evidenced by publication in peer-reviewed journals.

A part-time PhD differs from other kinds of doctoral programs because it is designed to be somewhat manageable alongside other commitments. In most cases, full-time PhD students work strictly on their graduate project, with the coursework and academic events largely taking place during the first two years of study.

PhD vs Doctorate

The difference between a PhD and a Doctorate is that a PhD is a specific type of doctorate focusing on research and academia. In contrast, a Doctorate is a more general term encompassing various advanced degrees beyond a master’s. Some examples of Doctorate degrees include Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Education (EdD), Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), etc.

Read More: Types of Doctoral Degrees

What is a Part-Time PhD?

In a part-time PhD program, students do not need to take time off work. They can pursue these elite doctorate programs while still working. The curriculum is structured for advanced working professionals in their fields. Many professionals find that by staying employed, they can finance their PhD without going into immense debt.

What is the Difference between a Part-time and a Full-time PhD?

When considering the differences between a part-time and full-time PhD program, so many factors have to be considered. These factors are the major differences between a part-time and a full-time PhD. They include:

  1. Duration

At a basic level, a part-time PhD will typically take twice the length of a full-time PhD to complete. The total time for coursework and research in a part-time PhD will take 4-10 years whereas a full-time PhD may take 2 or 3 years to complete.

  1. Mode of Delivery

When it comes to the mode of delivery, part-time PhD programs typically offer more flexibility compared to full-time programs. Unlike full-time PhD programs, part-time PhD programs often offer evening or weekend classes to accommodate students’ schedules. This can be especially beneficial for working professionals who are pursuing a PhD while maintaining their careers.

  1. Tuition Fees

In full-time PhD programs, students typically have their tuition fees covered by funding packages offered by the university. However, part-time PhD students may have to bear the cost of their tuition fees on their own. Consequently, this could lead to an increased total cost for part-time students in comparison to their full-time counterparts, who often receive financial support for their tuition expenses.

See Also: How to Pay Less For a PhD in Canada: 3 Unique Tips

  1. Work Hours

Full-time PhD students usually spend about 40 hours per week on their research and coursework, while part-time PhD students may only commit around 20 hours per week. Due to their reduced study hours, part-time students might take longer to complete their degree compared to their full-time counterparts.

Can You do a Part-Time PhD?

Part-time PhD programs offer a convenient alternative for individuals with busy schedules or other commitments. These programs enable students to work while actively pursuing their doctoral degree.  They provide flexible scheduling and research opportunities, making it easier for working professionals to manage their academic and professional responsibilities.

Part-time PhD programs also allow students to progress through their dissertation at their own pace. Online resources and support networks are available to help part-time students stay engaged with the academic community. Occasionally, these programs may provide the option for collaboration with industry partners on research projects.

Should I do a PhD Part-Time?

When deciding to pursue a PhD on a part-time basis, it is crucial to carefully evaluate both the pros and cons of a part-time PhD. Potential advantages include having a more flexible schedule and the opportunity to maintain full-time employment, while challenges may involve managing work, family, and academic obligations at the same time.

The choice to pursue a part-time PhD program is personal and dependent on individual circumstances and objectives. It is essential to thoroughly assess your schedule and commitments before enrolling in a part-time doctorate program.

See Also: PhD in the USA – Your Ultimate Guide

Why Pursue a Part-Time PhD Program?

People pursue a PhD degree for different reasons, but why pursue a part-time PhD program? Well, there are many reasons why going for part-time study programs could be the best option for you if you intend to meet your personal demands. Some of the reasons why you should do a part-time PhD program include:

  1. Part-time study can enable enrolled students also to continue working in their field.
  2. Part-time study often is a rational option for professionals in their field who are interested in deepening their knowledge with a doctorate.
  3. There is a lot of flexibility offered in a part-time PhD, and for many people, this is important. By working towards your PhD part-time, anyone can balance study with family, professional work, or even running their own business.
  4. A part-time PhD sets no conditions and allows you to take classes behind your computer screen, in the convenience of your own home, when it is time, and work at a pace that you are comfortable with.

Related: Popular Misconceptions about Postgraduate Study

Challenges of a Part-Time PhD Program

Pursuing a part-time PhD comes with some challenges, such as balancing work and studies, managing time effectively, and maintaining motivation throughout the program. These are just a few challenges of a part-time PhD program. Let us elaborate more!

  1. Time Management

Many part-time PhD students struggle with balancing work, family, and studies, which poses a significant challenge. The key to overcoming this common PhD challenge lies in honing time management skills and using effective time management tools to successfully navigate the program.

  1. Motivation

Staying motivated can be a significant hurdle for many doctoral students. Combining work, family, and academic obligations can feel like a daunting task. It is crucial to consider the program’s level of flexibility and the support available for part-time students. These factors play a crucial role in enabling you to effectively stay motivated throughout your PhD journey.

  1. Difficulties in Accessing Resources

Limited funding can create obstacles for part-time PhD students when it comes to accessing research materials and academic journals. To add to this, the absence of specialized equipment can impede their research progress. Mentorship opportunities and networking events essential for academic and professional growth may be difficult for part-time PhD students to access.

Related: How To Win Doctoral Scholarship in Canada

Guide to Choosing a Part-Time PhD ProgramSteps to Choosing a Part-Time PhD program

There are some factors to think about before diving into any PhD program. Look for programs that are designed to meet your professional needs, look at what kind of flexibility the college or university can offer, and spend time observing whether you will be a strong addition to the program. Look out for the following factors when choosing a part-time PhD program:

  1. Your Research Interests, Goals, and Long-Term Career Objectives

When considering a part-time PhD program, it is essential to align your research interests with the program offerings. This will ensure that you can pursue your academic and career goals effectively. Again, choosing a part-time PhD program that aligns with your research interests can lead to a more fulfilling academic experience.

  1. The Program Faculty

One common factor to consider in a part-time PhD program is the faculty. The faculty at a part-time PhD program plays a crucial role in shaping the academic experience for students. The quality of the faculty can greatly impact the overall success and satisfaction of students in the program.

  1. Funding Opportunities

When considering funding options for part-time PhD programs, it is crucial to take into account the availability of scholarships and grants specifically designed for part-time students. Potential funding sources for part-time PhD programs include university scholarships, research grants, and industry sponsorships. These various funding opportunities can assist in alleviating the financial burden associated with enrolling in a part-time PhD program.

Don’t Miss: Top PhD Scholarships in Canada for International Students

  1. University Resources and Student Support

To excel in a part-time PhD program, it is imperative to carefully assess the resources and support system provided by the university. This encompasses facilities such as libraries and research centers, as well as guidance from academic advisors. The availability of university resources and student support significantly impacts the quality of the PhD journey, as lacking adequate assistance may result in difficulties managing academic and personal commitments.

Part-Time PhD Degree Requirements

If you are considering a part-time PhD, then it might be a good idea to first understand the requirements for obtaining your PhD. In most cases, the requirements for a part-time doctoral program are the same as those for a full-time doctoral program.

Having these requirements handy will increase your chances of getting admitted into the PhD program of your choice, especially if the program is one of the easiest PhD to get into. The major requirements for a part-time PhD studies are as follows:

  1. Academic Transcripts and/or GPA Requirements

Academic transcripts, including both undergraduate and master’s degrees, play a crucial role in the admission process for a PhD program. These transcripts should demonstrate strong performance in related courses. The GPA criteria for a part-time PhD program may differ based on the school and area of study. So, research the specific requirements of each program you are interested in.

  1. Personal Statement/Motivation Letter

The statement of purpose or motivation letter is a crucial component for those interested in pursuing part-time PhD studies. This document showcases your dedication to your research interests and academic objectives, while also offering the admissions committee a glimpse into your educational background and motivations for enrolling in a part-time PhD program.

Be sure to emphasize your pertinent experiences, academic accomplishments, and future career goals. Clearly explaining how the program fits with your objectives and detailing how you intend to contribute to the academic community is essential.

  1. Professional or Research Experience

To be admitted to a PhD program, your research experience plays a vital and pivotal role in your application. This is an essential and indispensable requirement where you can effectively and prominently demonstrate your unparalleled expertise and genuinely contribute to the thriving and vibrant academic community.

It is of utmost importance to diligently and meticulously showcase and flaunt relevant, groundbreaking, and cutting-edge experience in the field, leaving an unparalleled and indelible mark on the discerning admissions committee.

  1. A PhD Research Proposal

A vital component to consider when applying for a PhD studentship is the research proposal. This document is essential as it details the goals and methods of the research project. It plays a crucial role in evaluating the viability and importance of the proposed study. Moreover, it ensures that there is a strong alignment between the student and the university.

  1. Language Proficiency

Demonstrating your language proficiency is vital for showing that you grasp the necessary language for instruction and can communicate proficiently. It is crucial to prove your proficiency through standardized exams like the TOEFL or IELTS. Furthermore, you might need to provide a writing sample or take part in an interview to further evaluate your language abilities. Keep in mind, that having strong language proficiency is essential for excelling in a part-time PhD program.

  1. Resume/CV

Your resume or curriculum vitae holds significant weight in the process of applying for a PhD program. It serves as a reflection of your academic and professional accomplishments, underscoring your credentials and relevant experience in your area of expertise. It is crucial to keep it organized and current, incorporating any research experience and publications that are pertinent. You can equally spotlight any roles in leadership or service within academia or industry, while also emphasizing any specific skills or certifications that align with your field of study.

  1. GRE Score

The GRE score in most cases is not compulsory but highly recommended for admission to top part-time PhD programs. The GRE score is often used as a benchmark for evaluating applicants’ academic abilities. It is advisable to aim for a competitive GRE score to increase your chances of acceptance into your desired program. Additionally, some programs may have specific GRE score requirements, so be sure to research and prepare accordingly.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Part-Time PhD Program

With the increasing number of part-time doctoral programs and the flexibility they offer, you will certainly find a program that meets your needs. Here are a few factors you might need to consider when choosing a part-time PhD program.

  1. Funding

One of the first things you might want to consider when choosing a part-time PhD program is funding. How much does the program cost and will you be able to pay the tuition over the doctoral study period? Should you fund your studies through a scholarship or should you consider another form of financial aid?

Also, when making school planning, don’t forget about additional costs that a part-time PhD study might involve in case it is too long because you can only study for a few hours a day, every day of the week.

  1. Research Area

Which school offers a research area that you require? Once you know your research topic, determine which universities allow you to study it. Schools that accept students to work on the research area you prefer are the initial consideration at the application stage. If your school of preference doesn’t offer your area of research, it’s an automatic “no” for you. Therefore, you should know the research areas in which each university engages and know how to find them.

  1. Faculty Members

Who are part of the faculty members in the PhD program of your interest? One of the criteria upon which decisions to attend graduate programs is based is the availability of faculty staff members who are part of the program. The more faculty members cover your research area, the better.

  1. Activity Centers

Check each PhD program and verify which subjects are mandatory and which are optional. Additionally, look for universities that admit PhD students from different faculties/departments or schools/colleges. A multidisciplinary activity center is an advantage, and benefits will not only be in the case of your thesis. Improving your know-how in other subjects of interest can be an advantage in the future.

  1. Reputation

Which of the PhD programs has a good reputation and a high employability rate? Both are key in selecting your future academic destination. A university with a long and good reputation, extensive research staff, and a high number of developed projects will attract both graduate and post-graduate students.

  1. Career Obligations

You might want to consider work obligations and for how long you are willing to sustain them. On the one side, in case of no income, you will have to consider a very stable financial state. On the other hand, stable work may not give you the time needed for your academic obligations.

  1. Financially Sustaining the Period Without Income

PhD thesis completion may take place between 4 to 6 years, depending on particular programs, topics, and workload. Therefore, you have to sustain and support yourself over this period of study. You may not receive a salary for these years of research, which can be long and intense and can keep up your living expenses through funds, scholarships, or work.

Tips for Successful Part-Time PhD Applications

Some tips for successful Part-Time PhD applications include: researching program requirements, securing strong letters of recommendation, and preparing a compelling personal statement.

  1. Understand the Requirements

Before you submit your application for a part-time PhD program, it is crucial to thoroughly study and understand the unique requirements of each program. By doing so, you can guarantee that you fulfill all essential criteria and are well-equipped to finish the program successfully.

  1. Prepare for the GRE or Other Standardized Tests

You must carve out sufficient time each day to prepare and train for the standardized tests necessary for your part-time PhD program. This commitment to studying is vital in reaching the score you aim for on the exams. Furthermore, acclimatize yourself with the structure and typical question types on tests like the GRE. Through consistent practice and seeking out tools to enhance your test-taking abilities, you can boost your likelihood of achieving your goals.

  1. Cover Relevant Education, Experience

You should have a strong background in your field of study and relevant work experience. This can include internships, research projects, or previous employment in the industry. Ensure to highlight relevant educational achievements and certifications that can strengthen your application. This shows the admissions committee that you are dedicated to your field and have the necessary background to succeed in a part-time PhD program.

  1. Adapt the CV to the Standards of the Country

When seeking admission to part-time PhD programs in various countries, it is imperative to customize your CV to align with the specific criteria and preferences of each country. This involves emphasizing crucial experiences, education, and skills that are highly regarded in a particular country. By so doing, you can enhance the clarity and recognition of your credentials by prospective universities.

  1. Practice for Interviews

Prepare thoroughly for potential questions and scenarios that may arise during the interview process. Practicing mock interviews with colleagues or mentors can greatly improve your confidence and preparation for the real thing. It allows you to receive feedback and refine your responses in a low-pressure environment, ultimately improving your interview skills.

  1. Proofread Everything

Remember to carefully review your essay for any grammatical errors before submitting it for evaluation. Remember to carefully review your essay for any grammatical errors before submitting it for evaluation. Make sure to check for spelling mistakes as well, as they can detract from the overall quality of your work. This can help ensure that your work is polished and error-free.

Top 5 Part-Time Doctoral Programs

Here are the top 5 part-time PhD programs that offer flexible schedules and high-quality education. These programs cater to working professionals who want to advance their careers while pursuing a doctoral degree.

  1. University of Southern California

The University of Southern California provides a diverse selection of part-time PhD programs in disciplines like education, business, psychology, and engineering. These programs cater to individuals who are employed full-time but wish to advance their education.

The flexible part-time schedule enables students to juggle their academic commitments alongside their work obligations. The USC’s esteemed faculty and resources offer a high-quality learning environment for part-time PhD candidates. The university also offers an array of academic support services, such as research aid and utilization of cutting-edge facilities.

  1. New York University

New York University is recognized for its excellent academic programs and distinguished professors. The university provides a range of part-time PhD programs in different areas, allowing working professionals to enhance their education with flexibility.

New York University’s (NYU) prime location in New York City presents numerous possibilities for networking and research partnerships. Given the prestige and resources associated with New York University, participating in a part-time PhD program at this school can provide exceptional chances for academic and professional advancement.

  1. University of Chicago

Situated in the bustling city of Chicago, the University of Chicago presents a diverse array of part-time PhD programs for individuals looking to advance their education while juggling other responsibilities. These programs span various fields such as business administration, education, social work, psychology, history, public policy, engineering, economics, and healthcare management.

With a commitment to offering adaptable solutions, the University of Chicago ensures that part-time students have the necessary support to thrive, including access to academic guidance and campus resources. The university also provides flexible scheduling options for part-time students, allowing them to balance their studies with work and personal commitments.

  1. Stanford University

Stanford University offers a range of part-time PhD programs across different disciplines such as psychology, education, engineering, computer science, business administration, biology, sociology, economics, and environmental science. They offer flexible scheduling to accommodate working professionals and encourage students to engage in research projects with esteemed faculty members.

The university provides access to top-notch facilities, career development programs, networking opportunities, and collaborations with industry experts for the support and growth of part-time PhD students.

  1. Harvard University

Harvard University provides a prestigious part-time PhD program in fields like education, public health, and business administration. Students in these programs receive excellent faculty guidance, cutting-edge research prospects, and a respected academic atmosphere.

As a top Ivy League institution, Harvard is renowned for its challenging academic curriculum and esteemed professors. Enrolling in a part-time PhD program at Harvard promises a demanding yet fulfilling journey that can lead to numerous opportunities in the student’s chosen field.


When selecting a part-time PhD program, it is crucial to carefully consider factors such as program reputation, flexibility, and support services to ensure a successful academic journey. This involves thoroughly researching various institutions and their offerings to make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and needs. You can reach out to current and former students in the program to get valuable insights and perspectives on the overall experience.


Which programs can be taken part-time?

Some programs in the fast-growing fields like Business Administration, Educational Leadership and Administration, Computer Science, and many more are usually open to part-time study. Others may require a full-time commitment. It is important to research the specific requirements of each program before making a decision. Some programs offer evening classes or online options that suit part-time students.

Can you get Funding for a part-time PhD?

Yes, funding for part-time PhD programs can be limited but there are still options available such as scholarships grants, and student loans In addition, some universities offer tuition reimbursement programs for employees pursuing a PhD part-time. Another option is to secure a research assistantship or teaching assistantship to help fund your part-time PhD studies.

How long does it take to get a Part-time PhD?

It typically takes longer to complete a part-time PhD compared to a full-time program. However, the exact duration can vary depending on the specific program and the individual student’s pace of progress. In general, most part-time PhD programs can be completed in around 4-8 years, although some may take longer. It is important for you to carefully consider your time commitments and goals when choosing a part-time PhD program.

How many hours per week is a part-time PhD?

The number of hours required for a part-time PhD program can vary depending on the institution and field of study. Typically, students can expect to dedicate around 15-20 hours per week to their research and coursework. However, it is important to check with the specific program for exact requirements and expectations.

Is a part-time PhD Easier?

It really depends on the individual’s schedule and commitments. Some may find it more manageable to balance work and studies, while others may struggle to accommodate both responsibilities. Opting for a part-time PhD program may also offer more flexibility in terms of scheduling and deadlines. Ultimately, it is important to carefully consider your own circumstances before embarking on a part-time PhD program.

What Age is best for Part-time PhD Programs?

The age at which individuals choose to begin a part-time PhD program can differ based on their personal circumstances and objectives. While some may opt to start in their late twenties or early thirties, others may prefer to commence during their forties or fifties. Ultimately, the decision of when to start a part-time PhD program should be influenced by one’s career goals and personal responsibilities. According to a Pulse survey conducted by Findaphd, a majority of students show interest in full-time PhD programs, with older individuals (45+ years) being more inclined towards part-time studies (37% compared to 15% of those between 18-44 years old).

How much does a part-time PhD cost?

On average, part-time PhD programs tend to cost less than full-time programs, usually around half the price, because, the costs are just spread out. When the years are put together, you observe that it costs the same or more in total amount due to the total number of years spent. A part-time PhD program can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 per year, depending on the institution and field of study.
Some factors to consider when estimating the cost include tuition fees, research expenses, and potential scholarships or grants available to part-time students. As a part-time student, you may also need to budget for textbooks, materials, and transportation costs related to your research.


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