Summers for grad students can be the busiest time of the year. For master’s students, it may be the time that they do research credits to fulfill those requirements. For PhD students and candidates, summers are for research. Spring and fall semesters usually are the only times where grad courses are available, leaving summer for research or internships. I wrote a really good article about grad student internships. Go and check it out here. But for the most part, grad students usually work during summers as well as get some time off to go travel or go on vacation.
Summers for Grad Students
I wanted to start this section off with one of my favorite blog series. Go check out https://phdcomics.com/ for more. Ayway, this comic above pretty much sums up what summers are like in grad school, at least for most grad students. Though, this can relate to a select group of individuals. Because grad school is different for everyone and many people have different job titles, summers can be spent in labs, teaching, or on vacation.
Do Master’s Students Get Summers Off?
Master students will most likely take off their first summer and just enjoy the three or so months before coming back. Because their degree is mostly course based, they will spend summers away because grad courses are often not taught during summer. As for the second summer of a master’s degree, the individuals will more than likely be in lab, doing their thesis. For STEM degrees, master’s are usually split into thesis and non-thesis. Non-thesis master’s are course work only, so doing research is not common. Thesis-based master’s will require you to do some research, so the summer before you graduate is usually that time to get it done.
Do PhD Students Get Summers Off?
A PhD stands for “Piled higher and deeper”. You will have a ton of work to do to get your degree. Often, summers are the time to catch up on all that work. Many grad students teach or TA a class and their fall and spring semesters are busy with that work. Summers are the time to get caught up on all of the work you put off and it’s time to get some papers written.
I often find summers to get the best time of year for PhD students. 1) there’s hardly anyone on campus 2) you don’t have to deal with too many dumb meetings 3) The lab is not full of undergrads! Number 1 is my favorite because it means that not many people are at the gym lol. It is also the best time because you will be so bored with lack of things to do that you will get a ton of work and rest done.
For the most part, you will spend your summers at school. You won’t be required to work the entire time, but you will find working through summer will help you graduate on time.
What do grad students spend their summers doing?
So, as I stated earlier, master’s students might spend their summers away form campus at internships or off on vacation. PhD students might be spending their summers getting research done to prepare their PhD proposals. The proposals are their to formulate your thesis pretty much. Summers are a great time to do initial research on the subjects and write it up so you can present it at your oral qualifying exam. I wrote an article about how to prepare for that here.
PhD candidates have already gone through this process and will be spending their summers doing research or catching up on writing. I usually use summers as a time to write at least one research article for publication. Last year was my literature review and this year will most likely be a research paper dealing with my experiments.
Some PhD candidates do not work during the summer because they are not paid for 12 months of work. These students most likely pick up summer jobs or internships to make up for not getting paid. These individuals are usually getting paid during spring and fall as TAs or actual teachers, so during summer, they are out of work essentially. Some of these students will, however, continue to do research, while working full time elsewhere. These positions are usually in fields that do not require access to a lab.
Do Grad Student’s Get to Go On Vacation at Least?
The short is of course! Summer time is a great time to get work done but you also need to rest and relax. This is often a good time to go on trips and see family and friends. Since classes aren’t going on, you’ll usually have more time in the day to get work done. You’ll see that you will also have a ton of down time during summer as well. Use this time to go on trips. I have written extensively about the importance of rest and going on vacation.
Summers in grad school can be whatever you make it. Sometimes you will be busy, sometimes you will be bored out of your mind. It is a great time to take up hobbies, explore the town your in, and catch up on readings. Master’s students often get summers off while PhDs usually work. Summers can be slower or faster paced depending on what you do.
So, do grad students get summers off? It really depends on your program and how much work you want to do. If you are in the program to get work done, you’ll often not have summers off. If you want to have summers off though, take them off. It might be the best thing to do.
I have worked every summer that I have been in my PhD program. That doesn’t mean I don’t take time off to enjoy vacations and such. I just want to finish my degree on time so I do sacrifice a little during summer to assure myself and my committee that I will finish my degree. Anyway, if you are a grad student, let us know what you do during summer. Write it down in the comments.