How to Survive a PhD

Posted August 28, 2012 by
Dr. Jason Karp

Dr. Jason Karp

With the bleak job market and lackluster economy, many young adults are staying in school to pursue graduate degrees or returning to school after a layoff.  To advance your career and get ahead in the competitive job market, the trick is to graduate as quickly as possible so you don’t waste more time than necessary out of the job market.  This is especially true for people finding themselves out of work and needing to return. How to Survive Your PhD covers many of these tricks, offering a no-nonsense approach to getting in and out of school with your PhD in hand. Here’s some tips to complete your PhD quickly and not have to spend seven years getting it:

1) Choose your academic advisor carefully.
Your academic advisor can make or break your PhD experience.  Make sure you choose one whose research interests match yours, who gets things done quickly and efficiently, who gives you the freedom to thrive, and whose former graduate students completed their PhDs quickly.

2) Know your research interests.The sooner you can isolate exactly what you want to study, the sooner you can begin writing your dissertation.

3) Learn the formula.
 Dissertation writing, especially in the sciences, is a formula.  If you have trouble writing, as many doctoral students do, spend some time reading other dissertations and learn the formula to make your dissertation a breeze.

4) Know what is expected of you.
 Ask your committee members what they want to see from you, what kinds of things you should know, and how to study.  The more information you can get from them, the easier your qualifying exam and dissertation defense will be.

More on Dr. Jason Karp:

Jason Karp is a nationally-recognized speaker, writer, and owner of, a state-of-the-science running coaching and personal training company in San Diego. Jason is the 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and holds a PhD in exercise physiology. He has written more than 200 articles for international fitness, running, and coaching magazines, is the author of How to Survive your PhD.

 For more information or Dr. Jason Karp, please visit

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