Are There Part-Time PhD Programs?

While part-time Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs are not as common as full-time PhD programs, some graduate schools do offer the option of part-time study. These programs are frequently designed to meet the needs of students who want to pursue PhD degrees but have other obligations that make full-time study difficult. For example, a person may be interested in pursuing a PhD but must work a full-time job due to financial obligations. Similarly, a person may pursue part-time PhD programs because he has other interests that make working on his doctorate degree full-time difficult.

The most significant distinction between full-time and part-time PhD programs is typically the amount of time required to complete them. In many cases, full-time doctoral programs take three to five years to complete. Part-time PhD programs, on the other hand, may allow a student to complete the same degree in seven to ten years.

In most cases, a person pursuing a part-time PhD must meet the same requirements as someone pursuing a doctorate through full-time study. This usually entails taking classes with other PhD students, conducting research, participating in self-study, and fulfilling other doctoral program requirements. A part-time PhD student will typically be required to write and defend a dissertation, as well as take exams. The extended program may simply give him more time to attend to non-PhD-related obligations.

In order to pursue a doctorate in this manner, part-time doctoral programs frequently require students to commit to continuous enrollment. For example, if a person wishes to pursue a part-time PhD, he may be required to work on his degree during each regular school semester until he has completed it. If he wants to take a fall semester off, for example, he might not be eligible for such a program.

Part-time PhD programs, like traditional PhD programs, may be classroom-based or include online learning. In fact, a person can pursue a part-time PhD enrolling in a fully online degree program. Many part-time doctoral programs, whether online or on-campus, require students to take at least a couple of classes per semester. On-campus programs frequently offer day, evening, and weekend classes.