I said to my supervisor that I would like to finish my PhD very quickly. He said that formally I can submit my thesis 2 years after starting my degree at earliest, but that I am doing very well and it should be possible.

I verified the institutional requirements and indeed I cannot submit my PhD thesis in less than 2 years. However, I would like to submit the thesis in 1 year and 3 months. But I would like to ask you if this could somehow be possible and if yes, then how and what I should do.

I could talk to my supervisor in person about this, but the problem is that he would find it hard to believe me that much and thus he would be reluctant to help me or what is even worse, I may hurt the relationship with my supervisor. I have been doing my doctoral degree for 9 months in mathematics and some big parts are coming together, yet still there is a lot of work. I believe that I could finish it in 6 months, but my supervisor would believe me only if he saw everything completed. The problem is that by then it would be too late for me.

Edit: I study in the UK. If I can finish my PhD thesis earlier, and then move to a preferred place for a postdoc, I do not see a reason to delay. I need to know now if I can finish early, so that I could apply for the scholarships supporting my postdoctoral visit. The scholarships I am going to apply require that I start within certain dates and can be applied for only at specific times during the year twice or once a year.

I have fulfilled all the credit requirements already and meet my supervisor every week while formally it is required only once a month.

The specific rule is:

In some cases the graduate board may allow you to submit your thesis early, before the end of your standard period of study. A Postgraduate Research Tutor can only recommend this if:
(a) the thesis is complete and ready for submission and
(b) has been read by your supervisor in its entirety. Your supervisor must confirm in writing that they have read your thesis and that their view is that it is ready to be examined.

The earliest date you can submit your PhD thesis is at the end of 2 calendar years of full-time study.
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    Finishing a PHD in 1 year and 3 months means that 90% you have zero publications, since a Math journal would require several months for publishing an article. Although publications are not necessary for a Math PHD, many math PHD holders have many publications under their belt. You believe that you can compete with these people for postdoc positions, if you graduate early? Not likely. – Alexandros Jul 23 '15 at 5:55
  • I do not understand how this question can be off-topic. I have this real situation in academia and ask for the possible ways I may deal with it. – anon42 Jul 23 '15 at 22:20
  • @anon42: The thing is that you have a situation. It's not clear that this situation is of general interest or that something can be said about it that's not super-specific. – einpoklum Jan 25 '16 at 17:14
  • Also - have you brought "research from home"? I mean, is it the case you've done most of your work before your Ph.D. started? Otherwise I don't really understand why you expect to finish so early. – einpoklum Jan 25 '16 at 17:15

You haven't explained why you need to finish your PhD so quickly- is there some particular reason that you can't complete the PhD program in the normal time frame?

You haven't mentioned what country you're in. The answer to your question could vary a lot by country.

You also haven't detailed the specific rule that says that two years are required. In the US system it would be common to have a minimum number of credit hours for the dissertation (e.g. 36 credit hours) and a maximum number of credit hours per semester that you could register for (e.g. 12) that would effectively create such a rule.

When an institution has a requirement like this it is typically not within the authority of the advisor or the dissertation committee to waive the requirement. Rather, any waiver of the requirement would typically require the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies or some similar official. You can certainly ask, and especially if your advisor strongly supported your request, it's possible that a waiver would be granted. However, and assuming that you're in the US, it isn't at all likely that a requirement like this would be waived.

  • I have edited my question to be more specific. Thank you for your answer and I will very appreciate if you update it accordingly. – anon42 Jul 22 '15 at 22:55
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    The rule as stated seems very clear- you need to complete your thesis and your advisor needs to read it and decide that its ready for review before your advisor can recommend to the graduate board that you be allowed to have an early examination. So, get writing! – Brian Borchers Jul 22 '15 at 22:58
  • But then in the end it says "The earliest date you can submit your PhD thesis is at the end of 2 calendar years of full-time study." So do you think that if I complete my thesis in 6 months and then my supervisor reads it and thinks that it is ready, I could still somehow submit it in less than 2 years? – anon42 Jul 22 '15 at 23:01
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    @anon42: Read the last paragraph of the answer again. – Nate Eldredge Jul 22 '15 at 23:03
  • @NateEldredge So finishing in less than 2 years does not seem as something I could count on. – anon42 Jul 22 '15 at 23:05

I don't understand what you want; do you want us to contact your supervisor for you? We can't find some magic exception in the rules for you. Either you need to suck it up and accept this won't happen, or you need talk to your supervisor and convince them that this is a good idea.

Let me just add that this sounds like a terrible idea to me. UK Ph.D.'s are way too short anyways; rushing through one will just throw you out into the cold hard reality of the job market totally underprepared. You don't seem to have thought about the "If" in "If I can finish my PhD thesis earlier, and then move to a preferred place for a postdoc, I do not see a reason to delay." or thought about what happens at the end of your postdoc. If you are really finished with your thesis at the end of 15 months, then it's not as though you'll twiddle your thumbs for the next several months; you'll have an incredibly valuable chance to start some other projects, and get a bit of a head start before heading into your postdoc. That's time you'll never get back, and which you want to strain your relationship with your advisor in your rush to throw away.

  • "rushing through one will just throw you out into the cold hard reality of the job market totally underprepared" Well, it would still hardly be worse than not having the PhD at all, right? People get jobs with just a Bachelor's degree... – user541686 Jul 23 '15 at 8:18
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    @Mehrdad The job market for people with PhDs is different than for people with a Bachelor's degree. Employers will expect you to have a lot more skills and to have to pay a lot more for those skills. Going on the job market with a Masters worth of skills and asking for a PhD salary is likely to be a very bad experience. – jakebeal Jul 23 '15 at 11:29
  • @Mehrdad I don't see your point. A Ph.D. is a minimum qualification for academic employment, but with an emphasis on the minimum. Getting a Ph.D. as quickly as possible is a huge waste of time; you have to back it up with a lot more than the bare minimum if you want an academic job (as the OP in indicates) especially in the UK, where the market is pretty wretched right now. – Ben Webster Jul 23 '15 at 12:50
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    @BenWebster: I guess I didn't realize the OP was looking for an academic job. – user541686 Jul 23 '15 at 16:06
  • I was hoping that somebody who once had to solve a similar problem would have replied. Yes, I know that finding a job in academia is much harder than just finishing a PhD. But I have not explained my exact situation in detail as I was asking about something different. – anon42 Jul 23 '15 at 22:17

It's time to read the fine print. At my university, a student can finish under two years if the Dean of Research approves and an independent assessor agrees that the thesis meets the required standard. This is pretty rare. The work must be ground breaking.

In any case, research is about time and having only spent <2 years is actually a negative. Spending more time means you get to hone your skills, accumulate more papers, and build up a better CV. This means you'll be extra competitive against other post-doc applicants; some of which by the way may have already completed multiple post-docs.

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