starting a phd

starting a phd

You already have a master and your are looking for a job in research along with a PhD thesis. Find below some basic information about how and where to start a PhD.


Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated PhD, Ph.D. or D.Phil. in English-speaking countries and Dr. Phil. or similar in other countries, for the Latin philosophiae doctor , meaning "teacher in philosophy", is an advanced academic degree awarded by universities. In most English-speaking countries, the PhD is the highest degree one can earn (although in some countries like the UK, Ireland, and the Commonwealth nations higher doctorates are awarded). The PhD or equivalent has become a requirement for a career as a university professor or researcher in most fields. The academic level of degrees known as doctorates of philosophy varies according to the country and time period.


Recognized PhD titles (fr: docteur, de: Doktor) are usualy awarded by universities. In some countries, universities of applied sciences can also award PhDs. Companies do not have the right to give a PhD title. However, for the rest, i.e. the daily work, one is usually free to do the research work where he/she wants: at university, in a private company or at home. In some countries, there are joint programmes between industry and universities or universities of applied sciences and universities: Research is done in an industry lab or an university of applied sciences, but the title is awarded by a university.


In Europe, the condition to start a PhD is usually a recognized master diploma (diploma, licence). In the US (and sometimes in the UK), bachelors may also be admitted for a PhD. Sometimes, a certain final mark is requested to start a PhD. Each university has its own admission requirements. Ask at the university about the exact conditions.

How long?

The duration of the PhD is not standard, and is usually between 2 and 6 years depending on the research field. PhD in natural and exact sciences are usually between 4 and 5 years.

How much?

The salary of PhD candidates varies from country to country and from university to university. At some places, PhD candidtes are hired as research assistants/PhD-candidates at university and get a salary from university. A research position in a company is sometimes also possible. At other places, you have to find a studentship or a research grant yourself, and sometimes you have to do the PhD for free. The monthly income varies therefore from nothing up to more than USD $ 5000 per month.


The working conditions varies from institution to institution. It is quite common that PhD candidates are employed only at partial-time (50%, 60%, ...) or even not at all. Sometimes, you can use the whole time of employment for your research, sometimes you have to give lectures or to supervise students beside research. The working conditions and tasks must be specified in the specification sheet or in the contract of employment. Sometimes, it is usual / allowed to work besides the PhD (e.g. in arts and humanities where PhD candidates often have several jobs), sometimes you are thought to spend the whole time on your research project (often in life sciences).

How to proceed?

First figure out what subject you are interested in, then find out which university or company is doing research in this field, then find the professor or research group in whose work you are interested most. Contact him/her directly to ask for opportunities.

The other way is to look for PhD positions and junior research position in the job portal of myScience.