I work full time as a Chief Operating Officer for a company and would like to pursue a PhD and study the population I am working with (women workers in fisheries).

I have been researching different programs in Gender Studies centers, mostly in English speaking countries.

I want to know if it is possible to pursue a PhD while working full time and living in another country? And if there are universities that are more flexible than others?

  • Some (most?) PhD programs have residency requirements. Look for that at specific programs you are intersted in. Mar 29, 2017 at 16:07
  • I did see a CV once that showed that the person had earned a remote PHD, but with some onsite visits. Don't remember the name of the institution. It might not be very rigorous to go that route. Why don't you just take remote classes, and look for a mentor to help you with doing the study you have in mind? Do you really need the doctorate for your long-term goals? Mar 29, 2017 at 17:42
  • Thank you very much for your answer. I have been working with women in this field for a long time and if I want to make a real change in the whole region, it starts with a solid base. I can do a study alone but a PhD will give it the autority it needs for officials and other companies to take it "seriously".
    – Salma
    Mar 30, 2017 at 8:08
  • 1
    Also, you will need advance approval from your university before you begin any research with human subjects.
    – GEdgar
    Nov 14, 2018 at 18:43

3 Answers 3


In regard to living in another country, at least in the US, most universities have a residency requirement (for example, Cornell's) that means you have to live there for some amount of time.

As far as working full-time, sure, it can be done. It will be extremely difficult and it may be a challenge to convince an advisor to work with you. A PhD is hard enough doing it full-time. Part timers seem to take 7-9 years in my field and finish with fewer publications.

Something that a potential advisor will ask you is why do you want a PhD if you already have a job and are going to continue working in that position? A PhD trains you to do research but you aren't really doing research as a CTO are you? If you just want knowledge in the field, then take some classes or study on your own.

  • I do some research but it's linked to the production so it's a whole different thing. It's because I'm going to keep working in this field (maybe not in the same position) that I want to do research. I have been trying to develop a management system that is different from a traditional one. I'm spend a lot of time around these women, trying to find the best answers to their needs, but I think that most of what I did until now is experimenting and guessing. It's time to go deeper into things.
    – Salma
    Mar 30, 2017 at 8:15

I would say that it is almost impossible to pursue a PhD while you are living in another country. It would also be impossible to pursue a PhD while working full-time. PhD's require full time dedication because you will be required not only to work on your studies, but also contribute to the university's research advancements, and perhaps even being a TA for undergraduate courses. I highly doubt there are any accredited universities that would be that flexible with you working full time and living in another country.

  • 3
    The part about PhD students having to work full time is only relevant for some countries like the US. By contrast, in Germany unfunded PhD students (it is reasonable to assume that the topic starter can self-fund his studies) don't have any obligations neither do they have courses to attend.
    – greenb
    Mar 29, 2017 at 22:02

I’m doing it. It’s rough. I work very long days and am publishing, but it’s quite painful and I’m afraid it may be hard to compete with others with teaching experience. Don’t do it if you can avoid it. Do one or the other and give it your all.

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