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10 facts about getting a PhD

I write about this work I'm doing all the time, but I have never written anything about what really constitutes a PhD, so I thought this week you'll get 10 FACTS about how to get a PhD:

  1. After you get a master's degree, you can continue with a PhD
  2. The actual PhD work is 3 years, but many of us also have 25% teaching so that we have the job for 4 years in total (the teaching is normally done during the time you also work on the degree)
  3. To be admitted to the PhD program at the University of Oslo, you have to have quite good grades; B as an average on the courses in your master's degree, and at least B on your master thesis
  4. Most of the PhD degree is research, but you also have to take one semester (in total) with courses (one of the courses is a mandatory ethics course - which sounds like a good idea, but when I took the course, I thought it wasn't a particularly good course...:/ )
  5. My courses were the ethics course, one called "Communicating Scientific Research", a statistics course (STK9900), and a nuclear structure course ("advanced nuclear structure and reactions")
  6. The main part of the PhD is research; you have to do stuff that is new, and the results must be of such a quality that it's published in serious, peer reviewed joournals (if your work isn't worthy publishing, well, then that's too bad for you - no PhD!)
  7. The actual "thesis" is a collection of the articles you write (often it's something like three), and an "introduction" where you sort of sow everything together (which can be challenging when you feel like your articles have almost nothing in common), and write in detail about the methods you've used, and experimental setup, and theory and stuff (for example, I write about nuclear power in general, nuclear reactions that are interesting and important for nuclear reactors, simulations of nuclear fuel, and the Oslo Cyclotron Laboratory, and of course there is some kind of conclusion after the articles 🙂 )
  8. When everything is finished (your research, your article writing, your thesis writing, and your funding), the entire thing will be sent to a committee (experts in the field, of course 😉 ) that will read everything carefully and decide whether the thesis is worthy of defending, or not. (If they decide it's not at all worthy, you don't get a chance to make it better, and all your work is worthless for the degree - if still you want to get a PhD then, you have to start ALL.OVER.AGAIN.)
  9. After the committee says the thesis is ok, you'll get the date for the thesis defence, and two weeks before this, you get the title of you trial lecture that you have to prepare for the thesis defence. This could be almost anything (is my impression), but it's normally related to your research
  10. The last part is the day of the thesis defence: it starts with the trial lecture, and if this is approved, then you get to actually defend your thesis. The defence happens later the same day; first you give a short presentation of the work, and the two opponents will ask all kinds of questions about it and discuss with you. After they've finished, people in the audience can ask questions. All of this is public. At the end of the day, after the committee (hopefully) approves of your work, you have to have a dinner with the opponents and your supervisor, and maybe your friends and family <3
I guess you can say I've finished points 1-5, and more or less number 6, and now I'm mostly working on the rest of point number 6, and 7.
not sure which one is most correct for me, but I'm leaning towards the first...:P
This week my supervisor from Paris, Jon, is coming, and my goals for the work with him is to make a draft of an article about prompt fission gamma rays, discuss my thesis draft, finish my article about uranium-234 and send it off to all the co-authors. Really (!) hope we/I manage all this...!

3 kommentarer til “10 facts about getting a PhD

  1. Anonym

    But the B-average is only cursory right? In reality you need far greater grades than that. Is that not so?

    By the way, how did you get your funding? I assume from the Forskningsrådet. Also I would like to require a comparison between a PhD from a norwegian university and and a foreign one, like in Great Britain or U.S.A.

    With regards,

    Long time reader

  2. Sunniva

    I'm not sure if I understand what you mean by "cursory"...? The B-average is what you need to be qualified for the PhD program, but if there are two candidates that are equal, except a small difference in grades, then the one with the best grades would get the PhD position. But I don't get what you mean by "far greater"; since you can't get that much better than B average 😉 A B- average at the University of Oslo is at least very good - B is a real good grade (yes, of course, A is even better; I had mostly two Bs and the rest As from my master's, but I'm guessing that equally important was that I had the right experience for my position.)

    My funding comes from the Norwegian research Council, yes.
    Maybe I can make a blogpost about PhDs in Norway and other countries...

    Sunniva 🙂

  3. Anonym

    If you had two B's and 4 A's, you would have an A-grade point average. 5*4 + 2*4 = 28. 28/6 = 4.6667. The limit for an A-average is placed at 4.5.

    A B is at 3.5. Theoretically it is possible to get acceptance to a PhD-programme with that, but the competition is so high that very often you would need a higher grade point average (GPA).

    I am looking forward to your future PhD comparison, and please compare the norwegian one with some of the top universities (like Cambridge, Oxford, MIT and Harvard). I think UiO is ranked quite high, so it would only be appropriate.

    PS! I have to admit that I am confused by my use of the term "cursory" as well.


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