British PhDs (was:postdocs to faculty)

Bart Janssen bjanssen at ag.arizona.edu
Mon Aug 18 17:22:28 EST 1997


David Shivak wrote:

> While I'm at it: what is the general time to PhD in other systems than
>
> Canada and the US?  Do you think the time is justified?

In New Zealand, when I went through you were required to get an MSc (2
years) prior to getting a PhD.  Like the Australian system the PhD is
minimum 3 years maximum 7 years, with an average about 4 and a half
years.

Partly as a result of criticism from my generation the system has been
changed to allow some students to do a six month honours course attached
to their BSc and then go straight into the PhD program.

The minus of the intermediate MSc is that it adds 2 years to the time
taken to get a PhD.  The plus to that system is it gives a really solid
grounding in the literature (1 full year in the library with three three
hour exams at the end of the year) as well as an opportunity to do a
shortish research project (1 year) and write a thesis.  This gives those
people who aren't certain about a career in science to spend a whole
year in a lab doing research and talking with the PhD students and the
post-docs.

The other big minus is that there is absolutely no recognition or value
given to that extra time taken in the MSc, so in the final analysis you
end up 2-3 years older and in exactly the same position as someone from
Britain who did a 3 year PhD straight after their BSc.  That in the end
is what changed the system in our department in NZ.

cheers
Bart




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