Can you finish a PhD in 5 years?

In this post we are going to answer the question ‘’Can you finish a phd in 5 years?’’ We will explain what a doctorate consists of, and we will give you the steps to follow so that you can finish your doctorate in 5 years.

Can you finish a PhD in 5 years?

Yes, you can finish a PhD in 5 years, but that depends on the field you are working in and your university.

Have you ever considered being a university professor? Does the idea of dedicating yourself to research sound interesting to you? If the answer to these two questions is yes, maybe you should start thinking about a PhD.

But what is a doctorate? How many years does it last? Of course, obtaining a doctorate degree doesn’t mean that you cannot continue studying. If you want to, you can enroll in another career, in another master’s degree and even do another doctoral thesis.

To start doctoral studies, it is essential that you have previously passed a university degree and an official master’s degree. This last requirement is especially important: keep in mind that your own degrees don’t give access to the third cycle.

Doctoral studies usually last between three and five years. However, the duration may vary depending on the interests of the student, since the thesis often has to be combined with work or other obligations. Nowadays, the possibility of studying doctorate remotely facilitates the achievement of both objectives.

Broadly speaking, this third university cycle has two purposes:

  • Provide advanced research training.
  • Train the student as a future university teacher.

If you want to obtain a doctoral degree, you will have to write a doctoral thesis. The doctoral thesis is a research project in which the future doctor applies the scientific method to reach a series of conclusions.

Any field of knowledge is suitable for doctoral studies, from literature and art history to economics or medicine. Once the thesis is finished, you will have to present the written text to a court and defend it orally in front of it.

The first steps to follow

We are going to see a series of important steps to face the doctoral thesis. Remember that, during the two-year doctorate, it is convenient to reduce obligations to the maximum to focus completely on these higher studies.

Universities require high competence and motivation to pass the doctorate. Therefore, the performance has to be maximum. So, before starting your studies, consider that:

1. You must request access to the doctoral program: an important step in which you will request the university access to its programs according to the proposed academic offer in postgraduate studies. Each institution will inform you of the particular access conditions.

2. Previous research training: it is important that, before undertaking a doctorate, you receive specific training for research. This will be a basic part of your doctoral thesis, to which you will spend many hours over many days, months and sometimes even years.

Therefore, if you opt for a previous course, you will have a lot of ground gained to advance at a good pace in your subsequent doctoral research.

3. Research proficiency: once the teaching phase has finished and the appropriate credits have been taken, you must obtain a certificate of research proficiency. To do this, you have to do various research works.

You will be in constant coordination with the experts from your university and it will be another important part that enables you to start your doctoral thesis.

4. Preparation phase: it is said that this phase is most desired by doctoral students. This is when the thesis begins to be definitively elaborated.

The research on the chosen topic begins, which should not have been touched previously and which will mark the final grade that you will be awarded to pass your already mentioned doctorate.

How to write a good thesis?

After years of attending long class sessions, preparing countless papers and presentations, and passing dozens of exams, you are faced with a key event in your life: you are about to graduate from university! 

But, before taking this important step, there is only one obstacle in your way: the thesis or final degree project. Although many consider this research work as another step in their careers, for others the thesis becomes a kind of monster of enormous proportions, the elaboration of which can even extend for years, delaying that enormous moment of happiness that is graduation.

To help you prevent this from happening, we present you the 10 keys to writing a successful thesis.

1. Make a work plan

To carry out any investigation, it is essential to have an organization of all the activities to follow. Do you have to do interviews? Looking for material? Spend a lot of time reading?

2. Don’t try to cover impossible topics

As this is the crowning work of our careers, we often set ourselves the goal of conducting in-depth investigations that can take years to complete. Take out a problem beforehand and avoid it.

3. Find material and organize it

The search for material is a fundamental stage of the process that should not be overlooked. Take your time to be able to cover as much as possible, but always consider that for the material to be useful it has to be carefully classified.

4. Make an outline

This must include the definition of the problem, its justification, the theoretical framework, the objectives of the research and the hypotheses posed by the thesis.

5. Form a study group

It does not necessarily have to be a group thesis; no matter how much each one is doing their own work, establishing joint study and exchange instances can be very motivating.

6. Find an appropriate place to study

If you constantly change your workplace, your productivity will decrease considerably. Choose a quiet, suitable place where you can have all your materials at hand.

7. Set deadlines

It is important that you do not extend the time to prepare your thesis indefinitely. To do this, you must commit to certain deadlines for the delivery of advances to your tutor, taking into account that it may take a little while to deliver the corrections.

8. Stay in permanent contact with your tutor

If you have questions to ask, do not hesitate to contact your tutor. Although it is true that some tend to pay more attention than others, if you establish a bond of mutual trust and manage to awaken their interest in your work, it will make all the difference.

9. Respect the corrections

Continuing in line with the previous point, it is essential that you always respect the corrections of your tutor. You can always give your opinion, but try to follow his advice since he knows best what it takes to approve the work. 

10. Stay away from distractions

Close Facebook, get away from Twitter, turn off your cell phone and cancel the 200 WhatsApp notifications that come to you all the time. The more you can concentrate on your work, the sooner you will end this tedious stage.                                                                                                         

Advantages and disadvantages of the doctorate

A doctor is one who has prepared a doctoral thesis and obtains the highest possible university degree.

Original and innovative ideas are born in doctoral programs, but they also require considerable sacrifices on the part of students. Therefore, I want to share with my readers the advantages and disadvantages of doing a PhD. The doctorate is the highest degree in studies. and it can open many doors for us on a professional level. Especially for those who aspire to obtain a university professor position.

The doctoral studies together with the master’s degree make up the postgraduate and the vast majority of universities have a school for their training.


The doctorate prepares the professional to produce new knowledge through research, something fundamental for the development of science and technology, as well as for social advancement.

The doctor always occupies managerial or highly responsible positions, which allow him a lifestyle where intellectual activity prevails over operational activity, which is why his salary is the highest in the market

In addition, his wisdom and experience are always requested for undergraduate and graduate university teaching, which does not occupy much time in their schedule but does ensure good remuneration.

Invitations to international conferences and seminars are never lacking, either as speakers or participants, with all expenses covered as the distinction of the doctor highlights the importance of these events. In the same way, work internships in various countries are done with the most prepared and doctors are the preferred ones for these positions.

 Worth less than a master’s degree


They consume three to five years of our lives, but in some institutions, the failure rate exceeds 40%. During that time, the degree work (that is, the thesis) stands above the candidate like the sword of Damocles, even in moments of supposed rest.

In the United States, only 57% of doctoral students obtained their doctorate 10 years after enrollment. In humanities, the figure dropped to 49%, a PhD is not intellectually difficult, but it does require discipline and perseverance.

When looking for work, at least in Spain, they do not take into account the maximum level of studies, but rather value the candidate’s professional experience more.

Few companies and universities support post-doctoral research.

Our family must accept the fact that we do not have a full-time job, or even a part-time one, depending on the requirements and the intellectual rigor of the program, for several years.

Consider whether we are willing to study the same subject for several years. It is important from the beginning of the doctorate, to be clear about the topic you want to investigate.

In my experience, I can tell you that the PhD is the beginning, not the end, of your career as a researcher. 

Do not become obsessed with developing the work of a Nobel Prize winner, better focus on doing quality work that demonstrates to your director and the panel of your thesis that you are capable of continuing to develop quality work and defend your thesis as soon as possible.

Remember the words of Fred Brooks: All “theses don’t end; are abandoned.

FAQS: Can you finish a phd in 5 years?

How quickly can you complete a PhD?

In two years, a select group of students complete their PhDs, while in 12 months, a limited number of elite students will get it completed. How unusual and amazing this is is impossible to overstate, but it is still a chance. Setting up a good academic CV before you even start is the secret to a fast-track PhD.

What is the shortest PhD?

Shortest Doctoral Programs Online and On-campus

HAMPTON UNIVERSITY – Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Management, online PhD, 60 credit hours.

INDIANA UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA – Safety Sciences, online PhD, 54 credit hours.

EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY – Doctor of Nursing Practice, hybrid online DNP.

Can you get a doctorate in 6 years?

It usually takes four to six years for a doctoral degree to complete, although this timing depends on the nature of the curriculum, the subject field you are researching, and the institution offering the program.

What is the minimum duration of PhD?

Graduate studies: Minimum duration: 3 years (including coursework) Maximum duration: 6 years Under 4.4: Maximum duration for women & PWD: 16 semesters or 8 years

What is the hardest PhD to get?

PhD in Electrical Engineering.

In this post we answered the question ‘’Can you finish a phd in 5 years?’’ We explained what a doctorate consists of, and we gave you the steps to follow so that you can finish your doctorate in 5 years.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know!


Dinham, S., & Scott, C. (1999). The Doctorate: Talking about the Degree. University of Western Sydney, TES, UWS, Nepean, PO Box 10, Kingswood, NSW 2747, Australia.