I completed a masters in Chemical Engineering long ago. I have since done some research which I think suffices to achieve a PhD. Can it be done (and how)?

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    What research have you done? Why do you think it is enough for a PhD? What do you already understand about PhDs? Do the answers to the last two questions give evidence to suggest that you've done enough?
    – user2768
    Aug 6, 2019 at 12:21
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    Generally, you enroll in a Ph.D. program and do your research then. They do not award Ph.D. for previously-done work. Actually, there may be some shady institutions that award degrees (not only Ph.D.) in return for your money, claiming to justify it by saying the degree is awarded for your "life experience".
    – GEdgar
    Aug 6, 2019 at 12:41
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    The short answer would be "most likely not". What you could do in principle, I suppose, is to approach a relevant professor and present your material, and ask them directly. But if you don't already have international publications of your work and fulfill other requirements from the PhD curriculum that the university may have, your chances will be very slim. Aug 6, 2019 at 12:43

2 Answers 2


How and where to get you research work assessed for PhD?

The first person to evaluate if the work is sufficient to warrant submitting it for official PhD evaluation is the PhD supervisor. Therefore you need to find a supervisor first.

I have since done some research which I think suffices to achieve a PhD. Can it be done (and how)?

These things vary a lot by country and by institution, but it's common nowadays that the requirements for passing a PhD involve:

  • validating some classes (in particular about general scientific methods, ethics, etc.)
  • having published a few papers in peer-reviewed journals or conferences

The question doesn't specify whether the work has been published/peer-reviewed or not? If not, it's a bit risky to assume that it is sufficient for a PhD.


Your best bet will always be to contact the administrative department at a university (or universities). Which ones you decide is up to you; whether you want to try a smaller local university or a more reputable one. The point is, they will be able to give you a real, factual answer, which is more likely to be correct compared to un- or semi-qualified comments from people on forums. As the advice you receive from the admin will also be what you will need to follow, it also carries more 'weight' than comments here.

That said, it can depend on the institution. In Australia (Specifically the University of Southern Queensland) there is a 'Master's of Engineering Science'. This is intended for predominately international students who have completed a Bachelor's elsewhere, and allows an internationally recognised Bachelor's equivalent. It is still 2 years of full time, or 4 years of part time work, although the work is more project related and less course-work. I know of no PhD equivalent to this Master's.

It has become more common in recent years (at least in Australia) for a PhD by publication. This requires 3 years of enrollment (as per a typical PhD.) with a number (typically three) publications produced during this enrollment. These publications must be fully peer reviewed and the journal of sufficient ranking. Supervisor's opinions of PhD by publications differ (mine dislikes them) but one theory is that since the work is already peer reviewed, it means any examiner's comments on that work carry less weight if they dispute the results. If you choose to do a PhD by publication, it's thus advisable to find a supervisor who agrees with the system.

So unfortunately, as far as I'm aware, there's no way out of doing further research. No reputable university is going to 'give' you a PhD based on previous work. In all likelihood, your work may be innovative, but will have lacked the level of detail required to be PhD-worthy (a preliminary appointment with a potential supervisor or two will quickly answer this question). On the plus side, the fact that you've demonstrated innovative work in the past likely means you're capable of doing a PhD; the university enrolment process will definitely take this into consideration. Try and find a supervisor with a passion for the field you've demonstrated innovation in. They'll likely be interested in letting you continue your current work, and will advise on how to bring it up to a recognised PhD depth of research. It's likely to still be 3 years of study, but this way you'll have a big head start with a topic you're already very familiar with; those 3 years will be spent gaining deeper insight, which is what the examiners at the end of 3 years will look for.

It may be an aside to your original question, but if you're considering options then look into a Doctor of Professional Engineering (D.Eng) or equivalent for your field. This is typically industry-based (you work for a company doing innovative work for them, while reporting to the university.) and is typically 6 years of part time study. Something like this may be of benefit to you, although once again, contacting a university administration, presenting them with your qualifications, and asking for a list of supervisors you could organise a consultation with is going to be your best bet.

Information on the USQ D.Eng can be found here. Directly quoting from that page:

Have a passion for engineering and want to further your knowledge? USQ’s Doctor of Professional Engineering is designed to expand your knowledge in technical investigation and innovative design and analysis, as well as take your research skills to a higher level. Your studies will include 8 units of discipline-based coursework and research methodology studies, before embarking on 16 units of independent research in a specialised field of your choice, contributing to our future world.

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