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Guidance/Advice on UK/European PhD Routes


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Hi all, 

I'm looking to have some questions answered regarding UK/European routes to a PhD in economics. But first, quick context:

I completed my M.A. from a U.S. program in development studies a couple years ago. My plan was to go directly into a PhD, and long story short, I didn't get offers from the programs I was hoping for (Top 10 programs at American universities). So I reentered the professional world and ended up with a staff position at the World Bank. The position is not as technical as I'd like (my graduate school work had focused on political economy/methods), but its a "prestigious", albeit entry, researcher role where I get to advise the president of the Bank and senior management. 

Up to the point when I got my final rejection, I had only imagined myself as PhD on quite an academic track. After spending sometime at the Bank, I can now imagine working professionally in the long term but I still can't get over not having done my PhD. However, most people I talk to (academic mentors, professionals, etc)  think I'd be crazy to leave my current position for the arduous path to an American PhD (and the equally tenuous road that follows)...although a couple years ago they considered it an absolute must!!

The other day someone raised the possibility of entering a UK/European program, which in most cases do not involve coursework but instead a 3ish year dissertation process, while still working my day job. I have colleagues who are ABD and writing at night, but I don't know anyone who throughout the entire PhD process was working. 

Here are my questions:

1) Is this an option with UK/European programs? And if so, is it a common route people take?

2) Since American programs involve coursework and often teaching components, the possibility of studying remotely is not really an option before the dissertation. But UK/European programs often don't have those same components...is remote work more common?

3) Are there admission differences to be aware of for European schools? I know the peculiarities very well for American programs...but I imagine that at the least the dissertation must be more clearly mapped out since you jump right into it in Europe.

4) This is a more general question: how much does economic-related professional experience help with PhD applications? This is something I've been wondering when I consider all routes back to school.

I feel very familiar with the gives and takes of doing a PhD here or abroad...I'm just looking to understand possibilities in the UK/Europe more clearly! I'm interested in the more well known programs (Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, UCL, etc.), but open to anything.

Thanks so much for all the help. I haven't been on these forums since I got my rejections...if anyone here has gone through it, it carries a bit of PTSD. But I'm grateful to be back getting advice.


P.S. if there is a more appropriate place for this post on the forum, let me know!

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