I'm finishing my master's degree in theoretical physics (probably with distinction) and have published a paper.

I'm searching for a Ph.D. position in theoretical physic in Europe, but I can't find any position which I'm passionate about. I think, there will be more opening in 6 month. On the other hand, I will be then 30!

Would you suggest me to wait for a position which I really love? Or should I apply to for a position which is interesting but not that much? The problem is that I'm not sure about future!

  • First things first: Find out what is your own priority. Why do you want a PhD, what is important for you about this?
    – skymningen
    Nov 13, 2017 at 15:32
  • @skymningen I wish to be a researcher and maybe a professor.
    – Immanuel
    Nov 13, 2017 at 15:34
  • Maybe if you wait, you'll find your dream position and everything'll be perfect. Or maybe the offerings will get less-and-less appealing each year. Seems like such trade-offs are a matter of personal opinion.
    – Nat
    Nov 13, 2017 at 15:44
  • Sounds like you have an "optimal stopping problem" on your hands: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimal_stopping
    – Dawn
    Nov 13, 2017 at 23:03
  • @Dawn Exactly! I wish this was a mathematical problem!
    – Immanuel
    Nov 13, 2017 at 23:34

3 Answers 3


I'm not sure where in Europe you are looking, but in my experience not all positions are advertised. I would suggest to use your network (especially your MSc advisor) to contact the labs you are interested in and inquire about opportunities.

In both European countries I am familiar with (Germany and France) there are government PhD funds that are allocated on individual application from the student. So often, you can get professors who are willing to work with you if you apply for your own funding, even if they don't currently have funding for an open position and therefore aren't advertising anything. There are usually yearly or twice-yearly deadlines for this.

Whether openings are continuously advertised or clustered around certain dates will depend on your country's habits. What makes you think that better positions will open in 6 months? Are there some big grants being awarded at that point?

  • Great answer looking beyond the exact question to solve the OP's problem.
    – user24098
    Nov 14, 2017 at 9:28

If you "wish to be a researcher and maybe a professor" then probably aiming to get a PhD promptly is the best course of action. I'm not familiar with theoretical physics, but assuming these PhD positions are competitive, holding out for the perfect opportunity may be shooting yourself in the foot.

Also, it may be quite hard to judge at this time what topic is going to lead to interesting and gratifying PhD work. Something you are passionate about now may not stay exciting for several years of work. Something you aren't so excited about may be more interesting than you realize once you get into it. And the people you work with may influence how good the experience is as much as the topic.


There is always a compromise, Immanuel. It all depends on your intentions, as dan1111 said.

From my experience, I wouldn't care that much about the topic. If I were you, I would make sure as good as I could, that you are in an environment that can support you.

That means, finding a supervisor, that works in a similar way as you; a facility that can provide you with good opportunities, like fast computers clusters, as an example. And so on..

In this way, you can leave out passion a bit aside and focus on the real world, on something more objective. Passion is anyway overrated in m opinion. Good luck!

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