Do people take time out to go home, meet with family etc. during their PhD?

  • If yes then for how long and how frequently is it usually?

  • How does one deal with this with one's advisor?

  • What are the pros and cons?

Given that one basically has just about 2-3 years in practice to do all their PhD work, I don't understand how anything else fits in the schedule except work. The entire idea of a PhD looks quite scary to me that one is expected to produce cutting-edge stuff in that short a time starting from just standard graduate courses!

PS: the question is general, but if it is field-dependent, I am interested in particular in physics PhDs (theoretical high-energy physics specifically)


2 Answers 2


The answer is of course, yes. In fact, you need to take a break to recharge your batteries.

The answers to the other questions will depend on what the rules are regarding holidays (which is country dependent). I think that our guys get six weeks annually (where as other countries only offer one or two weeks). Our guys can take them in one chunk, but this is sometimes problematic if there are deadlines that need to be met, or tutorials, etc.

The way to deal with your advisor is simply to ask him with a concrete proposal. It is better that you have not bought the plane tickets before you ask, because that will be perceived as an attempt at manipulation by your advisor, which will damage the trust relationship.

When my guys ask for a vacation I simply ask whether it clashes with anything. If not, I grant it.

The pros of taking a couple of holidays is that you will have time to recharge your batteries. The cons of not taking a holiday is that you can burn out.

  • 3
    It's worth pointing out that things like typical vacation times vary enormously between countries, universities, departments, etc. In the U.S. math grad programs I'm familiar with, nobody would object if a student took a week or two off per year, but six weeks would be almost unheard of. Commented Oct 27, 2012 at 13:22
  • 4
    Poor buggers ... Commented Oct 27, 2012 at 13:26

My PhD was thirty years ago, and in the UK, so how relevant my experience is these days I don't know. However FWIW I think the only reason for doing a PhD is that it's something you really want to do. Unless you're absolutely fascinated by it, three years of hard work and no money is likely to prove too much for you. I loved the three years of my PhD even though I've only been cited a handful of times and I ended up in a job unrelated to my PhD work.

Unless your supervisor is related to the Grinch they'll let you see your family a couple of times in the three years :-)

  • I've just learned something about my PI's lineage.
    – mac389
    Commented Oct 28, 2012 at 11:22

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