You've completed a Bachelors, perhaps even a Masters too. A PhD is just the next degree, right?
It sounds logical and it's technically true (you'll certainly struggle to get a place on a doctorate without previous academic qualifications). But it's also misleading. Because a PhD isn't just the 'next degree' and you shouldn't think of it that way.
The right expectations
It's all too easy to think of a PhD as just being a 'harder' version of a Masters: an incremental step up the academic ladder in the same way as your Masters was a step up from your Bachelors.
But that's not really true - particularly if you've already experienced postgraduate study.
You'll find that a lot of the material you study and seek to understand on a PhD won't necessarily be much harder than the work you did for your Masters. There'll be a lot more of it and you'll be expected to tackle it more or less independently. But it won't be significantly more complex. That was the point of your Masters, after all: gaining 'mastery' of your academic subject.
The challenge now is to make your own contribution to that subject through a sustained original research project. And that's a very different kind of challenge.
It's a challenge you may well be ready for, but it's important to approach it with the right expectations. Our introduction to PhD research can help.
The right timing
It can be surprisingly easy to slip straight into a PhD after a successful Bachelors and Masters, particularly if you've been lucky enough to earn a scholarship as a result.
But be wary of coasting into what's going to be a very demanding three (or more) years of research. And don't fall into the trap of assuming you have to begin a PhD right away.
In fact, it can be helpful to take a break and find a bit of space - particularly if you've just emerged from a challenging Masters dissertation. After all, three years of full-time PhD work is a long time. Seven years of uninterrupted Bachelors, Masters and PhD work is even longer.
It's true that specific PhD opportunities are time limited, but more will be available in future. Trust us, we've been listing them for over ten years.
So, if your dream project comes up and you're ready, go for it! But don't be afraid to take a step back. It's better to go into a project later with the enthusiasm to see it through. Our newsletter and course listings will keep you updated in the meantime.