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To think my husband would earn a salary during a PhD?

(162 Posts)
Badgoushk Mon 26-Sep-16 08:26:06

My husband is thinking about doing a PhD. He did a masters recently and got a high distinction so I don't think he'd have trouble getting accepted. But the question is can we afford it? Would he get paid? Did you get paid during your PhD? How much please? It would be in Energy/Climate change and it would likely be in London. Thanks.

southwest1 Mon 26-Sep-16 08:29:03

I think funding is quite hard to get. My friend was funded for his PhD and got £12k a year, but that was doing it full time.

MaudGonneMad Mon 26-Sep-16 08:29:57

He'd have to win funding/a studentship. It's much easier to get accepted on to the PhD than to secure funding.

That said, PhD bursaries are generally tax-free. Standard research council rates are about £14k per annum, with a £2k London allowance.

ChickyDuck Mon 26-Sep-16 08:30:36

It depends on the subject. Some science ones you get a stipend of up to around £20k. More humanities type subjects you often have to fight for a few grand here and there...

msrisotto Mon 26-Sep-16 08:30:56

It certainly isn't a given that he'd get funding, but it's possible. It isn't usually more than 15K when it is funded. Has he done this kind of thinking it through or is he leaving that to you?

SquawkFish Mon 26-Sep-16 08:33:20

Which University in London?

One in particular can pay up to 25,000 per year for their PhD stipends. The average is around 15,000 per year (both these include London living allowance). A lot of PhD students do not receive any stipend however and are self supported.

He did a masters recently and got a high distinction This doesn't really come into it that much - the majority of PhD students will have similar level academic qualifications. PhD's are an incredibly tough course to get into, particularly at the moment with so much uncertainty relating to funding.

Does he already have published papers? Has he taught before? Is he a fairly independent worker? These are the things that will make the difference.

He may also be able to do paid work within his department (GTA, or helping out on open days). You are allowed to do around 8 hours per week without being taxed on this income.

And, he could always get a part-time job as well.

Sciurus83 Mon 26-Sep-16 08:34:10

£13,500 tax free per year, more for London but studentships are competitive. Tends to be that studentships are available in the sciences but not so much in arts so more people self fund and take longer while working another job. This is harder in a science phd if you have lab or field work as it is less flexible.

Mittensonastring Mon 26-Sep-16 08:34:27

Depends on if he can get funding and he would need to find a supervisor. Some graduate students can pick up extra money by teaching and marking. Look at uk.

mayhew Mon 26-Sep-16 08:35:08

It's Rare to earn a salary for doing the PhD. You usually end up paying the institution for the privilege!
In some subjects, usually sciences, you might be employed as part of a team (in a lab) where your work contributes to the teams programme and is also the basis of your PhD. These positions are highly competitive.
In other disciplines, you might get a scholarship or sponsorship from a firm or professional body. However, they usually don't meet all your costs and you will need a part time job.

NoBetterName Mon 26-Sep-16 08:35:42

Funding is harder to achieve than a PhD place. That said, for a UK student, don't touch an unfunded PhD with a very long barge-pole! (At least not in the sciences. Arts and humanities might be different).

I was funded during my PhD, but this was twenty years ago. I received £12.5k pa in central London (stipend un-taxed).

My own PhD students (non-London) have had funding between £15k up to £23k, but all have been industry funded, which is a lot higher than research council funding and I did negotiate very good rates for them!

Many universities will allow PhD students to carry out lab supervision for undergraduates and exam invigilation though, which can bring in a bit extra. Not sure it would be enough to support a family in London though! I was lucky enough to do mine pre-dc.

Fluffsnuts Mon 26-Sep-16 08:42:00

Basically there are 2 types of PhD. Funded and unfunded. Effectively anyone can get unfunded ones, as you find them yourself. Some argue these are less noteworthy as the university doesn't think highly enough of them to award funding, and they are considerably less competitive. However they are more common in some subjects due to a lack of funding in the subject generally.

Funded PhDs are usually funded for 3 years (you can take longer to complete them with agreement from the university but you wouldn't get extra funding) you get approximately £16k a year, tax free, usually paid in 3 installments, like a student loan. Sometimes there are caveats regarding the funding e.g a certain number of tutoring hours for the uni or speaking at certain conventions.

Good luck to him.

AcademicNerd Mon 26-Sep-16 08:43:34

Short answer: it depends.

Longer answer: it depends on the university and the funding body. Not every offer of a PhD place comes with funding, although many do.

I'm doing a PhD in a humanities sort of subject at a London uni. The other students and I have some form of funding, along with a separate tuition fee waiver. I have seen stipends of 8k, 14k, and 16k. Some students are required to teach by their departments, although this varies. I myself would only get paid if I did above 6 hours a week of teaching. My funding is tax-free, which is nice.

I do know one fellow student who was offered a place at a very good uni, but turned it down as it had no funding attached.

Living on a PhD stipend doesn't give me much room for fun. I don't eat out much, don't buy clothes unless something has a hole in it, don't go on foreign holidays. It is doable though. My own financial position is fairly secure because my partner works in the City and earns a good wage; I do pay a proportional share of the bills and such out of my stipend.

Can you afford it? List out ALL your expenses as a couple, being honest about how much you really spend and not forgetting things like gifts, drinks on a night out, and a bit for emergency savings. Maybe you can. You will probably have to cut down on some things. Maybe you don't get that new outfit for someone's wedding, maybe you have to shop in a different supermarket now.

PhDs are hard work, but may very well be worth it.

NappingRabbit Mon 26-Sep-16 08:46:00

I was paid a stipend of £17.5k tax free per annum including £2k London weighting. Life sciences, a leading London uni. It was the equivalent of about £22k if I was paying tax.

3mmalev Mon 26-Sep-16 08:46:25

Most PhD students don't get paid, or get very little money from small grants, etc. Sometimes the phd and funding can be separate- eg, you can be accepted for a PhD at X university and then apply for funding from independent bodies like the ahrc separately (the ahrc is specifically for arts and humanities). For those that do get full grants, free tuition and £14-16k a year is standard. you don't pay the tax on it so it goes further. There are often chances to teach undergraduate classes too for the best students- only for a couple of hours a week, usually paid hourly. Most PhD students aren't so lucky though, many even have to pay for the tuition out of their own pockets.

Leatherboundanddown Mon 26-Sep-16 08:50:03

Really depends but incredibly competitive. Ask WHY does he want to do one? Is earning potential higher afterwards or not really?

I get £14297 tax free. Not in London. This is paid monthly but many are paid in 3 installments per year.

The masters is pretty much compulsory now to get shortlisted. I did a masters just to get to this stage, been applying for years and nothing on my cv had changed other than doing the MSc and getting the distinction in it. So if he makes good applications for pockets of funding he may get something but it is a long process to apply.

Bountybarsyuk Mon 26-Sep-16 08:50:50

If your husband has a good Masters, he should look out for funded PhD positions from now onwards, for entry in Sept 2017. There are quite a few about, usually on which is the main academic website, but they are very competitive, and most students will have very good academic quals. There are ones funded by ESRC/EPSRC and the BBSRC which are the funding councils and these are usually quite generous, then there are industry ones, then there are ones given by departments which can be as little as a fee waiver offset by teaching duties (so you would still have to find living costs).

If he doesn't get a fees/stipend package, then you are left paying for parts of it yourself. The key is to get in early, apply for lots of different PhDs and be flexible. If you are fixed on one location or one PhD supervisor you stand much less chance against people who will go anywhere to study.

EzioAuditore Mon 26-Sep-16 08:52:58

I managed to get full funding for my PhD, and it was a grant of ~£14k per year (in Scotland, so there'd be an additional allowance for London) plus fees were paid. However, funding is extremely competitive. My sister is funding her studies and living expenses through a mixture of weekend retail work, a series of small grants, and a loan.

I chose my own topic and sorted the PhD application and funding application myself. However, you can sometimes find funded PhDs which are usually attached to larger projects - here you work on a set topic, decided by the researchers who designed the project, but they've already secured the funding. These places again are generally competitive, but at least the funding is sorted if you get the PhD place. Several such PhDs can be found here:

He'll probably have the chance to top up his income a little, but it won't be a salary in itself. For example, I tutored undergrad classes throughout my PhD, which earned me £150-£200 a month during termtime. I also managed to get some exam marking most summers, usually earning £350-450, which really helped with travel costs, etc.

MargaretCavendish Mon 26-Sep-16 08:55:36

That said, for a UK student, don't touch an unfunded PhD with a very long barge-pole! (At least not in the sciences. Arts and humanities might be different).

I would second this and double-down on it for the humanities. People hate it when you say this because it would mean much fewer people doing PhDs but it's true. If you're doing a PhD in the hope of an academic job I think it's madness to do it without funding. We know that most humanities PhDs won't end up in academic jobs. This is hard and horrible enough if you can think 'well, I did get (albeit it quite badly) paid to do something I was fascinated by for three years'; it's so, so much worse if you got yourself in lots of extra debt for it.

There are some different scenarios - for instance, an older person wanting to do a PhD for the intellectual challenge or a sense that the subject is so important it should be done, and who can easily afford it - but this doesn't sound like the OP's husband.

LikeTheShoes Mon 26-Sep-16 08:56:14

DH just started a fully funded PhD in a environment related field. His stipend is tax free but he has taken a 50% pay cut from his consultancy job.
Hopefully after he's finished it will have been worth it.
He is having a great time, the mortgage and bills are being paid.

LooseAtTheSeams Mon 26-Sep-16 08:58:36

I did an English PhD and self-funded - in hindsight, I should have applied for funding but I did get teaching and an intern job, which helped. With sciences, I Wouldn't advise doing a PhD that doesn't come with funding attached - it should be a project that has been commissioned. There should be teaching hours as well, which are paid, but not enough to be able to rely on the income and it doesn't cover preparation.
Funding comes with a requirement to finish by a certain date and if you don't with sciences there's a risk you can't complete (this happened to someone I know). An arts PhD candidate I know ended up submitting the thesis knowing it wasn't quite ready and then had to work like crazy for three months to resubmit by the examiners' deadlines purely because the funding required it to be submitted within a certain timeframe!

Donatellalymanmoss Mon 26-Sep-16 09:05:30

Why does he want to do a PhD? Does he want to be an academic or work in a research based job that requires a PhD? If the answer is no to either of these questions then he's probably better of not doing it regardless of whether he is funded.

If he just wants to study more because he's interested in the subject then a PhD probably isn't the right route.

shovetheholly Mon 26-Sep-16 09:08:44

It's actually not hard at all to get onto a PhD (loads of people who are really not that bright have them grin) - it's a more difficult to get funding, but there's still plenty of money about. Look at part-time arrangements too!

Check out the extra benefits that come with different institutions (e.g. childcare arrangements), and the impact on any welfare benefits that you apply for.

NewPotatoes Mon 26-Sep-16 09:09:17

What Margaret said. Everyone competing for funding will have a masters with distinction or equivalent, and it's very competitive. He needs to research the funding available at his institutions of choice, and you need to consider your other income streams etc. DH and I did our humanities doctorates at the same time at different institutions in neighbouring cities and had to pare everything to the bone, despite both having full scholarships which covered fees and maintenance and having subsidised university 'married' housing - we both did a lot of tutoring, teaching on international student programmes, selling secondhand books online, working as film extras etc etc.

PastoralCare Mon 26-Sep-16 09:10:32

Consider opportunity cost as well.

Could he instead find a job now rather than barely breaking even during the length of the Phd (in the best of cases)?

Is the Phd absolutely unavoidable for his career path? Is he doing it instead for the sake of knowledge and personal satisfaction (in this case, it's a heftier price to pay).

Also look at the kind of salaries associated to the jobs he might obtain post-phd. If these jobs don't pay significantly more than what he might obtain right now, I would say that it is a waste of time.

Lastly, don't underestimate that things can go wrong. The Phd might take longer, you might need to come up with a substantial amount of money in the middle of his Phd for other domestic reasons (illness, move...) or he might not like his programme and decide to change or stop.

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 26-Sep-16 09:16:08

As well as what everyone else says, he needs to calculate what he'd spend his funding on (should he get it).

When I did my PhD, I knew people who knew exactly what they wanted to do afterwards and it wasn't academia - and some of them could live much more cheaply than the rest of us, because they didn't really need to go to conferences. Conferences can be stupidly expensive, and if you want to get into academia (or, I think, certain bits of industry) they're just expected of you, so you can't duck out. Usually there are special rates for students, and sometimes grants to help you get there, but not always.

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