To start I love learning and I love my field I am working in. I also have enjoyed the limited number of times I have been able to teach.

I have an MS in Computer Science and I have been working full time now for 10+ years. I am considering a future career in Academia as a teacher and/or research. Does anyone have suggestions of things I could do on my own to help decide on whether or not this route really is for me?

Also, I have looked through questions, but I have not seen this particular question answered well.

Is it possible to pursue a PHD while working full time?

I completed my MS online through Drexel University, so I believe I have the personal motivation.

  • 1
    Hi astaubin, welcome to the site. There are at least two, possibly three, questions there. Please clarify exactly what you want to ask :-) – Flyto Jul 23 '19 at 18:41
  • My apologies for the number of questions. The two primary questions are 1. Is it possible to pursue a PHD while working fulltime and be successful? 2. Does anyone have any advice to help with determining if I would like the move from Industry to Academia as much as I think I will? I will attempt to have one question per post in the future. – astaubin Jul 24 '19 at 11:40

Pursuing a doctorate while working full time is very difficult. It is not impossible, but imagine doubling your work load. Not many will be happy with that, especially if they have a family. But if it is the only way you can manage it, then you just do what you need to do.

But if finances are not a particular issue, it is probably better to reduce your workload to permit both time and mental energy for research and writing.

It is also hard to know if you will like academia until you try it. You indicate an attitude that will probably work for you, but until you try, you won't know. Also, academia varies widely depending on the type of institution you are at. Life is very different at an R1 where you need to always be pursuing grants and working with doctoral students than at an undergraduate college where research, though required is much less the driving force in your career. Drexel, of course, is at the higher end of the scale.

There are a number of places in which a fully employed person can teach part time, probably even with an MS rather than a doctorate. There wouldn't be many perks outside the classroom, however, nor would it pay very well. But that isn't really a path into academia.

  • Thank you for the very thoughtful response. Does working as an Adjunct or teaching part time with a Master's help later when applying to PHD or after completion of a PHD pursuing teaching positions? – astaubin Jul 21 '19 at 16:25
  • It might for a PhD, but only a bit. Doctoral programs are looking for research potential. Some successful teaching might help later in the job market for some positions, but doctoral students usually get some of that experience in any case provided that they TA rather than self-fund. – Buffy Jul 21 '19 at 16:29
  • Remember that part time PhDs are a thing. – Flyto Jul 24 '19 at 15:06
  • @Flyto, hard to manage though. Among other things it requires having an advisor who is patient enough to let you do research on an extended time scale. It works better in some fields than in others. And if you stretch it out too long you come up against advisors leaving or going on sabbatical, etc. Many (most?) places also have time limits for study. – Buffy Jul 24 '19 at 15:14
  • @Buffy this may be a difference between systems. In the UK, at least, part time study is a recognised thing, and while full-time PhDs (theoretically) take 3 years, part-time ones are expected to take up to 7 years. You're certainly right about people leaving mid-way being a potential problem! I agree that it's hard to manage, but IMHO that's because of doing the phd at the same time as something else - not because it's part-time. So the OP here is gonna face that difficulty either way – Flyto Jul 24 '19 at 18:19

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