I'm a master student, my master's background is about IT, signal processing, and Telecommunications. It's a "research master", which means that we're trained more to do research than be an IT engineers/specialists.

I've made my choice because I want to do research, but It is also important for me to work after my masters graduation, some of my professors always say that it's very difficult, even impossible to do those two things together. So I'd like some more advice. Here are my questions:

  • Is it practically possible to do research and work?
  • Is it a good idea to work for a year or two after my masters, and start a PhD after that?
  • What kind of internships can I do, and how long should they be, so I can apply to IT companies?

PS: I've some background ans skills in Java technologies, software design, web development, and basic knowledge in networks.

  • 2
    I would look for a research position at some telecommunications company. If both your school and the company you work for are flexible enough, your work may be what you research. Most importantly think of some research projects you would be interested in and pitch them to your adviser and companies you apply to. Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 22:14
  • Related (duplicate?): academia.stackexchange.com/questions/8747/…
    – user102
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 22:44
  • @CharlesMorisset I've already seen it, it is useful but I was hoping for something more specific to my situation
    – yafrani
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 22:47
  • 1
    The first two questions are already answered elsewhere on this board, and the third question you've asked is outside the scope of this forum (non-academic internships preparing for jobs in industry is off-topic). So I'm not sure what extra "specific" advice you're looking for.
    – aeismail
    Commented Oct 13, 2013 at 6:25
  • 4
    Research is work.
    – JeffE
    Commented Nov 11, 2013 at 2:43

6 Answers 6


I did combine PhD and work for 4 years, so, theoretically - yes, it's possible. But I didn't like the process because I wasn't fully invested in either activity. It also significantly delayed my defense. It depends on how productive you are. At times you will be facing certain deadlines and will be feeling torn between two major activities.

I think you should go ahead with PhD if you are serious about it. It will take some 3-6 years of your time, so why to postpone it? I think it's totally possible to get internships at summer time and you may have to develop software as a part of your research, so you'll be practicing your skills.

You can also consider free-lance work so that you have more control over your time.


Is it practically possible to do research and work?

Yes it is. In fact, once I met one amazing girl that was working as a software engineer, getting a Master Degree in AI and getting a bachelor degree in Fine Arts at the same time. However, as the proverb says, the more you hold, the less you squeeze (does that even make sense in english?). She had to do all of these things half time, and of course that means less money from the job, and more time to finish the degrees. Also it requires an incredible amount of willpower and basically all your free time, so is up to you.

However, there are two more reasonable alternatives here.

The first one, less likely, is to actually get your Ph.D. in a private company. It is rare, but not impossible. I met one guy that was getting is Ph.D. in computer science in a private company. If you are that lucky, you can work and get a Ph.D. at the same time.

The second one is to get your Ph.D. in a university, but getting involved in a research project. Some so called "researchers" in university actually do as much development work as any folk in a private company. That was actually my case. My Ph.D. involved some research, but also a good deal of development. I had to create this application from scratch and deal with the whole development cycle by myself. After I was done with that, they assigned me as a developer in a different project.

The bad thing on this case is that, although you are actually doing development work, most companies don't count your time in university as "working experience". But you will get the experience nevertheless.

Is it a good idea to work for a year or two after my masters, and start a PhD after that?

It is possible? Definitely. Advisable? not so sure.

One of my friends was exactly in that situation. She worked for several years after her master, and then started a Ph.D. pretty late (on her late 20s).

Her experience was fine because she managed to get her Ph.D. But it didn't came without obstacles.

To begin with, it is rare to find older people doing a Ph.D. Depending on who works with you, they may ask questions, and sometimes it can be unpleasant. But I wouldn't say this is a big issue.

More important is "getting out of touch" with research. Academia is like a bubble of its own outside the "real world" of companies. When you finish you Master degree you are "on fire" and on your prime to tackle a Ph.D. If you go to work for a few years, you may "cool off" and it can be harder to pick up.

On the flip side, working in a company may give you very valuable skills to deal with the Ph.D. And I'm not talking about technical skills, but about soft skills such as time management or dealing with people.

What kind of internships can I do, and how long should they be, so I can apply to IT companies?

Sorry but I have no idea and I can't help you here. You should ask your university as they will be able to fill you in with all your available options.

My only advice from personal experience is that having a Ph.D. can be a big plus when looking for a job, even with no previous experience.


Yes, its completely possible, at least in Indian universities.

Is it practically possible to do research and work?

yes, but it will be difficult. see the related link by Charles

Is it a good idea to work for a year or two after my masters, and start a PhD after that?

Depends on you. If you need money, pay loan etc, job may help you.

What kind of internships can I do, and how long should they be, so I can apply to IT companies?

not sure how do I answer this.

If you really interested in PhD, then join after masters. All the best :)


You can combine Ph.D. and a full time job. However, from what I have seen people who do that generally take a few more years to complete their Ph.D. In some cases, I have seen some people completete their Ph.D. in 6 years instead of 3.

It is a good idea to work for a few years if you need money or some time off. However, personnally, I would advise to directly go to the Ph.D. because the more time off you take, the less likely that you will want to go back studying after that. Besides, if you go back to do a Ph.D. after working a few years, it can be difficult for you to live again with a lower income, as a student. Or perhaps, that you would even have children in the meantime and that would also make it more difficult to get back to study. Also, if you stop for a few years, you may lose some momentum in your research field.

For the question about internship, I don't know. But you can always try to do applied research with a company during your Ph.D. or to do some internships during the summer.


In short, yes it is most certainly possible to work and complete your PhD at the same time. I am a permanently employed senior software developer and I have just finished my PhD in April 2015.

The key to finishing is as simple as with any task in life. Planning and sticking to a routine until it is completed. Even full time students drop out due to a lack of routine and I found that work actually helped ensure that I stick to a rigorous routine. Up early, to bed late. :) Best of all, now that I am done, I already have three years experience and can apply to a number of more senior positions. It's hard cracking the job market, and in my opinion experience counts way more than a PhD presently.

I can honestly say that it was a pretty rough three years, but I actually enjoyed both work and study. Might be a good idea to find a job that at least partially aligns with the research that you want to undertake and then start from there.

Good luck, wish you all the best!


No, being a graduate student in a PhD program is a full-time job.

  • 3
    You can certainly combine two full time jobs, and millions of people do so. It's not easy and it often hurts the quality of both jobs, but it certainly can be done.
    – Peteris
    Commented Apr 19, 2014 at 22:26
  • I think this answer is a overly simplistic, along the lines of the comment by Peteris. Reality is much more nuanced than this suggests.
    – eykanal
    Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 1:56

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