Doing a part-time and external PhD


My occupation is lecturer at a University of Applied Sciences. Dutch law dictates these universities are not allowed to promote PhD candidates. My employer does like lecturers to get a PhD and supports this by handing out PhD vouchers. This is a small grand provided by our University, to which you can apply for as lecturer. I received this grand 2 years ago and will receive another 2 years. However, I am not doing my PhD at my own University, but at Delft University of Technology where my promotor resides.

Doing a part-time PhD is hard, because you have to be really disciplined, time-efficient and productive as much as you can. There is less time for contemplation, reading, and thinking, as there is always the ‘other job’ with more urgent responsibilities. This causes a constant pressure to be productive during your research time. Otherwise it feels as wasted time in which you could also have graded all those student papers. Visiting this other University is therefore a nice escape and you are less bothered by your daily chores as lecturer.

Also it is nice to visit this University in Delft. I did my Bachelor and Masters here more than a decade ago. I always felt comfortable at this campus and still do. As I am not really working here full-time, it always feels as a special trip to come here. Today I am working at the library. First of all, because it is really hot today and they have good airco here. But also because I love libraries. In this library, I can find all these treasure books. Books have the potential to hide small gems of insights that can help me in my research. In my day-to-day job as lecturer, I can barely find the time to read books. Thus visiting a library like this one feels like a small vacation. A vacation for the mind.

Doing a part-time PhD is also easy. I do not have to follow courses. I am already further in my career and have proven experience in many tasks. This gave me exemption for the graduate school. I do not have to follow courses or prove my skills as academic to get enough credits in the end. I can just follow courses that really help me further in my research.

At the moment, I follow a writing class that really pushed me writing a journal paper. It set deadlines and helped me deliver a new section every other week. Writing a journal paper was something I dreaded up front, because it seemed so much harder than a conference paper. Also to free up time to write has been difficult in the past, and with a child it seemed even harder. By following this course, I gave myself a good excuse to really write. Thus making my PhD a little easier to pursue.

Like any other job and work agreement, a part-time PhD has it plusses and minuses. If you are motivated and have some sense of self-discipline, it is completely worthwhile to do it this way. Also, if you are stuck or fed up with your research, you always can fall back to grading the piles of student papers 😉





3 thoughts on “Doing a part-time and external PhD

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  1. You really make it seem really easy together with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something which I feel I might by no means understand. It seems too complicated and very vast for me. I am having a look ahead for your next post, I will try to get the dangle of it!

  2. It’s actually a cool and useful piece of information. I’m glad that you shared this useful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Useful info. Lucky me I discovered your web site by chance, and I’m shocked why this twist of fate did not happened earlier! I bookmarked it.

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