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Are doctorates only for those who are fairly well off?

(46 Posts)
furrylittlecreatures Mon 13-Jul-15 11:53:12

I have a BA (Hons) and two postgrad qualifications. I had to give up my career as I have a disease which appears to be hell bent on killing me. This has prompted me to review my life and look at the things I really did want to achieve in my lifetime, a doctorate being one of them. However, with no external funding available I am concerned the financing my journey will be an insurmountable barrier. Would people agree with this? Or have people achieved this without alot of money? Thanks

ScottishProf Mon 13-Jul-15 16:10:36

Depends on your subject and, tbah, on how good you are (and look on paper). For obviously excellent students in STEM subjects there is still funding. Otherwise yes, realistically only for the well-off. Maybe contact a potential supervisor sounding as clued up and clever and keen as possible?

badg3r Mon 13-Jul-15 16:16:05

I'm in stem, there is loads of funding for bright students at PhD level. It really depends on your field.

PosterEh Mon 13-Jul-15 16:17:57

I don't know anyone who self-funded. There was sufficient funding in my discipline that if you couldn't secure something it suggested that you probably shouldn't bother. I'm sure that doesn't apply across the board though.
I lived on my (tax free) £12k a year stipend by topping up by taking seminars and eventually lectures as well as a bit of tutoring and exam marking. Probably took home about £20k in total. Plus fees and some travel were paid too.

NotCitrus Mon 13-Jul-15 16:20:39

Few people manage a doctorate without funding. Keep looking - potential supervisors may know of charity grants etc. It's often tight with funding (check when it runs out) but usually ok if you don't have to support others on that money.

BikeRunSki Mon 13-Jul-15 16:25:54

Mine was Research Council funded. I am fairly bright, have a 2:1 and an MSc and it was a STEM subject though. Other people were funded through their employer, or were using a redundancy pay out. Everybody topped up with lab technician/demonstrator work, field demonstrator work or tutoring. I do agree with the sentiment that if there is no interest in funding your PhD then maybe that's because no one but you is interested in your proposals. There really needs to be a business case for anyone - public or private - to invest in you. Otherwise, yes, I am afraid realistically, you need to fund your self. Have you got someone willing to supervise?

JeanneDeMontbaston Tue 14-Jul-15 09:35:54

It's not a good idea to do an unfunded PhD even if you can afford it, I think - as bike says. But if you can figure out why there's no funding, it might be you can change something and manage. If you're not willing to move, that might be the issue?

JeanneDeMontbaston Tue 14-Jul-15 09:37:12

Btw, with respect, scottish is wrong that funding is only for STEM.

2rebecca Tue 14-Jul-15 13:35:59

What are you doing your PhD for? If it's just for fun then I agree you have to be wealthy to do it. If it's to further your career then it should pay for itself although if your career has ground to a halt through illness maybe wait until things improve and then start looking for funding and restarting your career.

museumum Tue 14-Jul-15 13:37:59

Most people I know we're funded by a research council. In humanities they had to get the finding separately to getting the place so it was a two layer application.
I've seen a few funded PhD student ships advertised in my field.

Nolim Tue 14-Jul-15 13:41:36

I did a phd in stem and did not pay a penny. Neither did my colleagues. Agree that you should contact potential advisors regarding funding. And also broaden your horizons geographically speaking.

AmazonsForEver Tue 14-Jul-15 13:47:32

I don't know anyone that self-funded their PhD. I would suggest contacting a few departments where you would consider being supersupervised and see what they recommend.

YeOldTrout Tue 14-Jul-15 13:58:48

I knew a guy who was funded by his parents, at Cambridge (may as well aim for the best). He was an only child and very close to his folks.

I was a foreign national but working as an RA so my fees were waived. I still very much had to be talked into it.

What do you hope to gain from the PhD? Aren't there other ways to achieve something great?

beeashby Wed 15-Jul-15 11:36:31

Why do you want to do it? In humanities the day of the Phd for its own sake is over, at least in this country - even with self-funding, universities can't afford to have academics spending a lot of 1 on 1 time with students who aren't going into the field, and a history of attracting funding is a major criteria for being considered for jobs.

furrylittlecreatures Fri 17-Jul-15 17:48:43

I wanted to do it really as its on my bucket list. I am disabled and my condition will eventually kill me. It's not to further my career as I lost that when my disease arrived, I am not a particularly good investment I guess.

GeorgeYeatsAutomaticWriter Fri 17-Jul-15 17:51:13

I've just posted this on another thread - self-funded PhDs are not unheard of in my subject, and many students get funding in the 2nd year.

Sorry to hear about your condition. Don't be disheartened - there are opportunities out there. IN my department we have quite a few self-funded PhDs (often part-timers, mature students), so it's not unheard of.

GeorgeYeatsAutomaticWriter Fri 17-Jul-15 17:52:10

Oh, and in my (humanities) dept, there is absolutely no difference in how funded and self-funded PhDs are treated, and no stipulations or pressures about spending less supervision time with non-funded students.

VegasIsBest Fri 17-Jul-15 17:53:14

Unfortunately it's quite hard to get funding. If you want to study for your own interest can you look at other options eg just read loads of books or join a MOOC (easy to find online)?

furrylittlecreatures Fri 17-Jul-15 18:29:14

Thanks so much for your kind replies. What about some form of research post grad qualification? Would something like that be more achievable do you think? Some days are very hard and I want to keep my mind occupied. Thanks again.

YeOldTrout Fri 17-Jul-15 21:19:21

MA or MSc, write a book?

Bunnyjo Fri 17-Jul-15 21:19:25

I am hoping to secure a funded PhD in a STEM field (specifically medical research). Ideally I would like to work in research and I have significant laboratory experience, but, ultimately, I would also love to lecture in my chosen field.

I cannot afford to self-fund; I am hoping my predicted First will help me realise this ambition.

PiratePanda Fri 17-Jul-15 21:39:49

Do a PhD part time - they are currently MUCH cheaper than Masters degrees. Wouldn't be more than 2000 fees a year at my institution - RG, humanities.

furrylittlecreatures Fri 17-Jul-15 23:01:56

I was going to do it part time Pirate. My other issue is leaving the house, as in I cannot really and lectures would be impossible. Are my barriers insurmountable?

furrylittlecreatures Fri 17-Jul-15 23:03:20

My background is social care with a particular interest in children's rights. Think someone asked that earlier.

AliceInSandwichLand Fri 17-Jul-15 23:18:16

Do you have experience which is sufficiently relevant to do a PhD without first having to do a relevant Master's?
Also, how would you manage to get hold of books if you are not able to go to a library? I have been doing a part time humanity MA for a year so far, with a view to a PhD afterwards. Very worthwhile but not easy either logistically or academically. Good luck to you.

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