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Brian G

Am I insane to apply??

6 posts in this topic

I'm seriously considering applying to a school for a part time PhD program that's an hour away from my job and an hour and a half away from home. Moving closer isn't an option now. My employer provides $5k/year in education reimbursement but tuition is ~$1300 a credit (out of state) and I'd have to take six credits per semester to keep those pesky student loans at bay. I have almost completed my Masters, which will reduce the total required credits for the PhD program by 30, but it will still mean a good 3ish years worth of additional loans totaling ~$50k added to my already $36k. The other PhD programs in my field don't have a part time option and going back full time isn't possible financially.

I'm concerned about a lack of job advancement if I don't have a PhD. My field is immunology and vaccine research and unless you want to be a tech the rest of your days, you need 15 post-masters experience, or you need that PhD. Of course, there are exceptions but they're hard to come by and many people won't take you seriously if you don't have that degree.

Is $50,000 more in debt worth significantly more career opportunity in the future (job still not guaranteed)? There is also a significant personal driver too. Earning a PhD would be a major accomplishment for my life goals. 

 

 

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Honestly, why wouldn't you try to get into a fully funded PhD program where you'd get a stipend of $30K+ and be able to keep your loans deferred? Do you really think you can take two courses at a time and do research for your PhD while commuting an hour to work and working full-time? I'm asking because I think you need to be realistic about all of this.

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2 hours ago, rising_star said:

Honestly, why wouldn't you try to get into a fully funded PhD program where you'd get a stipend of $30K+ and be able to keep your loans deferred? Do you really think you can take two courses at a time and do research for your PhD while commuting an hour to work and working full-time? I'm asking because I think you need to be realistic about all of this.

I make $55K at my job with fantastic benefits and am comfortably taking 6 credits in a master's program now. My employer and the program director are open to the idea of a collaboration so that all dissertation work can be completed at my job. Besides, classwork and dissertation work don't overlap. Realistically, it would be difficult, but possible. I know several people who are already a year into the program and under the same constraints as me. I've gotten their opinions and now am looking for thoughts from those other than friends. 

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2 hours ago, Brian G said:

 Besides, classwork and dissertation work don't overlap. 

Are you sure about this? Most people start doing research for their dissertation while they're in the classwork phase. In the STEM fields, that includes doing labwork which later becomes part of the dissertation while completing coursework. If you are absolutely sure that you'll be able to count the things you're doing at work toward your dissertation, then it seems much more realistic/doable. 

(Also, it's worth considering what experiences as a PhD student you will be missing out on if you're a part-time student working far away from everyone else. Will you be missing out on valuable research experience/mentorship because you aren't in a lab on campus? Will you be able to present at conferences? Will you be able to attend department colloquia, get involves in service/leadership in your department or in the grad association, etc.? Will you be able to secure solid recommendations from faculty in the program for future job applications or other opportunities?)

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On 13.07.2017 at 3:49 AM, Brian G said:

I'm seriously considering applying to a school for a part time PhD program that's an hour away from my job and an hour and a half away from home. Moving closer isn't an option now. My employer provides $5k/year in education reimbursement but tuition is ~$1300 a credit (out of state) and I'd have to take six credits per semester to keep those pesky student loans at bay. I have almost completed my Masters, which will reduce the total required credits for the PhD program by 30, but it will still mean a good 3ish years worth of additional loans totaling ~$50k added to my already $36k. The other PhD programs in my field don't have a part time option and going back full time isn't possible financially.

I'm concerned about a lack of job advancement if I don't have a PhD. My field is immunology and vaccine research and unless you want to be a tech the rest of your days, you need 15 post-masters experience, or you need that PhD. Of course, there are exceptions but they're hard to come by and many people won't take you seriously if you don't have that degree.

Is $50,000 more in debt worth significantly more career opportunity in the future (job still not guaranteed)? There is also a significant personal driver too. Earning a PhD would be a major accomplishment for my life goals. 

 

 

Are you asking for an advice or it`s just only about speaking?

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