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Five years is a super long PhD. If you can get it done in two or three years it makes more sense.



Well ... no. 5 is short.

My BS took 4 years. My MS took 2 years. My PhD (computational physics) took 7 years.

I was the fast one at my school. Some of my peers (high energy physics, nuclear, etc.) took 9+ years.

Then again, I met my former business partner (not at the time) while in grad school. I was 2 years into my research, and he was a fresh new assistant prof in CS. About 9 weeks younger than me. Ph.D. in CS in 3.5 years.


In computer science in the US, this is just false. Four years is the usual "officially expected" length of a PhD straight out of a bachelors' (which is the most common way to do a PhD in CS in the US). In practice it usually takes longer, sometimes much longer (seven+ years is not unheard of).

In the UK and Europe, shorter PhDs are much more common, in part because you're expected to do a master's before a PhD.

Even for two or three years, I don't think getting a computer science PhD is a good bet if your primary goal is making more money.


6.5 years is the average length in the US according to the NSF.

I tell students to expect 5-6 depending on whether you want to go to industry or academia.


> In the UK and Europe, shorter PhDs are much more common, in part because you're expected to do a master's before a PhD.

That’s true of Europe but it’s quite common to go straight from a Bschelor’s to a doctorate in the U.K. and many other former British Empire countries.


There are fields in the sciences (e.g., biology) where the PhD routinely takes 5-6 years on top of a bachelors, and you won't be hirable at the PhD level in academia and some parts of industry until after at least two multi-year postdocs.


Physics as well.

When I finished up in the 90s, the market was flooded with applicants from the former soviet union as well as locals. I remember speaking to people I knew on hiring committees who told me of 1000+ applicants per open tenure track position at tier 2 and tier 3 schools.

Around that time I was looking at the postdoc train, saw where it (didn't quite) led, and chose a different path.


My PhD in experimental physics took seven years, which is also the average time to completion in that field.

The discrepancy here may be that "PhD time" in the US usually includes a masters, while it is counted separately elsewhere. That said, even if you break it down, my MS took 2 years and the PhD took another 5.


I assume the 5 years means starting with a Bachelors. At least in the US, it's fairly unheard of to finish a PhD in 3 years or less.


Yeah. As a chem PhD, the average tends toward 4.5-5.5ish.

Between classes, teaching, and genuinely getting things done, it's not a fast experience.

Also, you probably arent making a ton more unless you go for an industry job...which is a little bit the opposite of the Platonic independence supposedly at the heart of the training method.

But very few people I know want to be a PI.


Five years is not that long for a PhD in the US.

I took eight years but I also got married, worked full time, and started a company before I finished. By the time I graduated, the CS department had started taking a much firmer stance on timelines, with a desire for most students to graduate within six years or sooner.


That’s only true in Europe, the U.K. and non Canada Commonwealth. North America is different.




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