How to start graduate school

The beginning of the road, or how to start a PhD

Because I have not finished my doctoral thesis yet (although I have already opened the wire), I would like to start with a few practical insights on how to achieve this stage of the process of working out the doctor’s title.

In UK, the positive ending of this procedure allows you to start the last straight line leading to the doctor’s degree in a chosen field of study (unfortunately for some it is the last simple to close without a positive doctoral dissertation effect).

Before you start writing

From the beginning, therefore. In Europe, in order to be able to start working on a doctorate (unfortunately it is a very hard job), you should first obtain a master’s degree. For many years, discussions have been ongoing whether the existing system of titles and degrees in UK is appropriate or should it be modified in connection with the changes brought about by, among others, the so-called.

The Bologna Process. As part of this discourse, a lot of space was also devoted to the possibility of starting the process of applying for a doctorate title directly after the BA, as is the case in some Anglo-Saxon countries (although it should be remembered that in these countries it is an element mainly due to economics, just such studies are cheaper than the distributed cost of the third degree, while such a delinquent must still obtain a master’s degree during doctoral studies).

For me, the matter is a purely academic discourse, often of a slight political color, which causes unnecessary emotions. However, subjectively looking, more attention in my opinion, should be devoted to the issue of habilitation, which often causes the inability to come up with ideas and achievements of young scientists on the world stage (no habilitation discredits foreign professors as promoters of European doctorates, although of course there are exceptions to the rule ).

A little bit of law

Returning to the main thread of my considerations, in UK there are currently several roads leading to one goal – obtaining the doctor’s title:

  • from “free rate” – this is enabled by Art. 11 of the Act on Academic Degrees and the Academic Title, according to which the doctoral program opens at the request of the person concerned,
  • taking the position of an assistant (8 years to write a doctorate – in practice the sooner the better),
  • doctoral studies (2 to 4 years) full-time or part-time.
  • Adoption of each of the above directions has its positive and negative advantages (as the classic used to say). It should also be remembered (and I will focus on this post because I have not completed any of these routes yet) that each of the above paths has a slightly different beginning.

How to start

Observing myself and my colleagues from the group during my doctoral studies, I noticed three basic types of motivation at the beginning of the decision to start work on the PhD:

Encouragement and help from the master’s thesis supervisor, finding a common language and reaching agreement on the topic of the doctoral dissertation. It is in this way that the adventure with scientific and research work begins, and often didactics at the university.

The recruitment process for the post of assistant at the university is completed positively, that is, full connection with the scientific and research work, also through professional work (though I also encourage you to look for a job in business as a supplement). The subject of the doctoral thesis is usually closely related to the work of the basic organizational unit in which the assistant is employed.

Beginning of doctoral studies without a specific idea on the shape and direction of the doctorate after positive passage of the recruitment path to the third degree studies at the chosen university.

Often, several of the above elements also appear frequently. I am an example of this myself. When I wanted to work on my doctorate, I was encouraged by my MA thesis supervisor. Not fully aware of their scope and method of implementation, I undertook daily doctoral studies, which maybe in retrospect was not the best choice, although I do not regret the decision to start (third degree studies and doctoral student status at the university is a separate subject).


So if you are a professional in your field and have an idea and a scientific background, as well as the concept of the topic of work, I recommend finding a research worker (must be a minister) and start talking about a doctorate with a free rate.

When you do not have an idea for a specific field of study, but you know that a doctorate is something that you would like to develop in life, it is best to start a doctoral program, carefully checking if their organization at the chosen university will not cause the lack of opportunity to work (and known there are also cases where people had to give up something), unless you are determined to live only on a scholarship (which is not easy to consider), or choose a combination of professional and extramural studies.

When you dream of a full commitment to a career in science, your choice will be to work in a university at the university as an assistant. However, I feel obliged to make the potential enthusiast aware that this is not the easiest way for several reasons. First of all, the economy – let us remember that in UK, earnings at universities are not high, and in the initial period of work it will be difficult to make good projects to supplement income.

Secondly, the specificity of universities and the way of working in the scientific environment – here I refer to the Internet, which is full of comments on this subject, but I must warn against their uncritical admission, because many of them are very unfair and unjust towards the scientific community. Thirdly, working a few years exclusively at the university to some extent affects the CV in the case of willingness to work in business – unless you were participants in projects combining science and business (eg: commercialization of R & D works).


In summary, the choice is not easy. In my opinion, combining work in business and higher education really gives a lot of satisfaction, and appropriately distributed weight allows for a very interesting use of experience from one area in another.

At the end, a small note. Remember that the preparation of a doctoral dissertation together with the publication and administration envelope costs a huge amount of time and energy, if there is no consequence at work, the goal will quickly disappear from the range.