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I got a scholarship offer which requires me to work for a financial institution for three days (24 hours) a week. The scholarship is quite generous (50k AUD per year). Is it worth it to take it if I don't have to take the responsibility of TA and RA? I am just afraid it will influence my academic performance during my PhD life. After all, I take a PhD for making myself have a position in the academia world. If my publication record will be influenced by the three-day work, I'd rather not take this scholarship and turn to self-fund(I don't have any other scholarship). Can someone who has already experienced a PhD life help me estimate the pros and cons of this scholarship?

  • You should check the work load you'd have as a TA or RA. In my department, TA's (officially called graduate student instructors) are normally appointed for 20 hours per week, though their actual work load may be somewhat less than that. RA appointments are similar, but the duties are usually just to work on the student's dissertation research. Other departments may be quite different (in either direction), and that would surely affect the comparison with the job you've been offered. – Andreas Blass May 8 '18 at 0:29
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Taking the scholarship will undoubtedly affect your academic performance. 24 hours a week is no joke, and is easily comparable to the amount of time you will spend on academic work. For obvious reasons if you give up 50% of the time you spend on your PhD, your work will suffer (or you will take longer to graduate).

However 50k AUD a year is a lot of money. It's so much money that if you converted to full-time work at the institution (earning 66% more salary because of the increased hours) you would be earning the average Australian salary. This may not sound spectacular to you, but don't forget that this comparison is vs. Australians as a whole, and you are probably quite young; many of the other people in this statistic have been working longer and so also earn more. Compared to your peer group you are likely to be extremely well paid.

Further, if you take the scholarship, you probably also have an easier time finding a non-academic job after graduating. You might even have one already prepared for you when you graduate, saving you the job search. See also my calculations in this similar question.

I would strongly incline towards taking the scholarship. I would even consider skipping the PhD entirely and immediately joining the workforce. The only exceptions would be if you are determined to become a professor and are not willing to consider a non-academic job after graduating, or if you detest working in finance.

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