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I was recently accepted into my dream PhD program at a British school with an excellent reputation (which is very exciting!!). I’m still waiting to hear about the two internal funding opportunities I applied for, but I know it's possible that I may not receive any funding. 

My question is…should I still accept the PhD if I don’t get any funding? Or do I turn it down? (I’ve outlined some pros and cons below.)

Pros:
- It’s a very well-respected school with an excellent program for what I want to study.  I may not get another chance like this anytime soon.
- It’s something I’ve wanted to do forever and would help me progress toward my dream of being an academic.
- I would get to live with my fiancé and we could finally start our lives together (we’ve been long distance for 3 years now, with him in the UK and me in the US).

Cons:
- Even though I received many scholarships, I still have quite a bit of student loan debt from a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees. I don’t exactly enjoy the idea of more student loan debt... I know I could take out a loan for only for the first year and try to secure funding for the other two years, but there's no guarantee I would find funding in the end.
- I’m in a Humanities field…so self-funding a PhD wouldn’t necessarily pay off later in terms of an increased salary or anything like that.
- I’ve read that self-funding a PhD is looked down upon in academia and may limit my chances of getting an academic job after finishing the program.

Please help! I think I should probably say no to the unfunded PhD, but maybe I'm wrong...?

Thank you in advance!!! :wub:

Edited by kit67

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My #1 piece of advice to anyone applying for a degree in the Humanities is not to pay for it out of pocket. The job market is tough; you may or may not get a job in your field down the line. You already have student debt. I think you already know that you shouldn't do it, but the appeal of the name and circumstances make it hard to say no. My $.02: you should still say no. It's not worth it, unless you can secure some funding. 

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Think about an advisor who has zero tolerance at taking risk of loosing money or who has no confidence on your background. An unfunded PhD is to meet such an advisor. Decline this offer at no time. I had had this experience in past and advise against it. It not only destroys your confidence but also you won't be able to find a job if you drop out school. It takes longer than others because of zero money and no respect from your advisor. Believe or not I am in trouble now and dont know what I did wrong at all or how can I fix it.    

Edited by zaphyr

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An unfunded PhD is generally considered not to be worth it - even at the best of schools. Thats a -lot- of debt... I personally wouldnt.

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Don't do an unfunded PhD.

In addition to the above, consider that unfunded students are far more likely to drop out of their programs and are less likely to get the kinds of experiences (like publications etc.) that help them reach towards academic jobs.

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The UK is a different beast because people usually look for funding after they are admitted to the doctoral program. Are these two internal offers your only bet? I'd say apply anywhere you can think of for additional funding, if it's your dream school. I know someone who is funding a PhD in the UK with a Gates Foundation fellowship. Fulbright is also great but I think it's too late to apply.

Life the others said, don't ever take on more debt to do a PhD.

Edited by manofthehoff

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