Back to School

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Back to School

Post by mstone3 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:36 pm


I am contemplating going back to school to pursue a PhD as an extension of my masters degree in the area of program evaluation and statistics. The purpose is for career advancement to serve in expert/leadership roles and potentially to teach part-time at a college/university. I have set some rules:

1. I will not leave my full time job to do this
2. I will not take out student loans to fund the degree

This would mean I would have to rely on graduate assistanceships for funding - these typically require 20 hours of service per week (TA, research assistant, etc.).

So the full picture would be working full time, 20 house of GA duties, plus full-time or near full-time PhD courses in the evenings and significant independent reading and research.

Am I delusional to think this is even feasible? Given that it's near 50/50 chances of even finishing a PhD under normal circumstances, I have concern I may be setting myself up for failure.

Thanks so much for your thoughts

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Re: Back to School

Post by delamer » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:54 pm

Unless your full-time job allows you complete flexibility in terms of when and where you do your work, it would be impossible.

And even with that flexibility, it would be very difficult. You'd be committed to 60 hours of work before you even have time to do your own classwork.

You'd be better off saving aggressively for a couple years so you pursue the PhD while not working a regular job.

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Re: Back to School

Post by CppCoder » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:18 pm

I only knew one person who ever tried this. He wanted to get a Ph.D. in computational and applied mathematics because of personal interest. He was already doing a research job in this area, so he had the aptitude, just not the advanced degree. Last I knew, he stopped after completing a thesis masters degree. It was just too burdensome to essentially work two full time jobs just to get a piece of paper.

FYI, research assistantships aren't the only ways to get STEM graduate degrees funded. You can also apply for fellowships like NSF or NDSEG. I received both, but they only let you accept one of them :). I'm not sure if fellowships are available for part-time students.

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Re: Back to School

Post by qwertyjazz » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:46 pm

Any way to get your company/agency to fund it?
G.E. Box "All models are wrong, but some are useful."

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Re: Back to School

Post by Ridley32 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:57 pm

Since the kind of financial aid you hope to receive is usually reserved for full-time students you will need to be realistic about program expectations. My Ph.D. program required about 40-50 hours of studying/classes and 20 hours of assistantship per week. I had little time for anything else. Many programs in my field (education but not policy) require you to certify that you do not hold any employment beyond the assistantship. Two in my cohort were full-time employed but were part-time in the program. Both were funded by their employers.

If you are a desirable student you often will receive tuition along with the assistantship. The opportunity cost is of course the salary you currently make; however, you are far more likely to finish the program. It would be useful to look at some web sites of well-regarded programs and get a sense of expectations; often programs are happy to put you in touch with current graduate students so that you can get a clearer idea of how things work.

Feel free to PM me if you wish

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Re: Back to School

Post by student » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:11 pm

I think you will be taking on too much and it may not be legally possible. For example, my university does not allow a funded TA to take another job without explicit permission. Yes, some TAs work a few hours outside and are routinely approved. However, I doubt that a full time job will be approved. Also I do not think it is possible in terms of scheduling as you will probably be required to teach during daytime even if your own classes are at night time.

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Re: Back to School

Post by adamthesmythe » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:41 pm

We had a rule against graduate assistants having outside employment. (Summer employment was an exception).

Teaching assistants had their teaching obligation and were expected to take classes and do research the rest of the time.

Research assistants were expected to take classes and spend more time on research.

Both were typically more than a 40 hours/ week. Sometimes a lot more.

So not gonna happen.

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Re: Back to School

Post by logicteach » Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:52 pm

I agree with the other posters: this is not going to happen. If a doctorate degree would really benefit you, you need to find another way to go about it.

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