By Hjoe Moono
PhD is Easy, if you are dedicated:
So people still have issues with Hon. Dr. Brian Mushimba’s PhD from UNZA?
I still see some sentiments questioning the credibility of his degree. I am very shocked that people think a PhD is an impossible undertaking. On the contrary, it isn’t , especially if one already has the deep academic training in research. I explain below why.
One can attain a PhD in two ways:
1. PhD by Academic Coursework + Research:
This is the path that mostly those who wish to take on a purely academic path embark on. It requires a minimum of one year of higher level academic training in the core courses of the degree one is embarking on. Here, one is basically being introduced to the arcane path of ‘first principles’ of the field of study, then build it up to advanced levels for future teaching and research. For example, in Finance, while at undergraduate they only teach us about how to price Assests using the CAPM – the Capital Asset Pricing Model, when doing advanced Finance courses, you learn how to derive the CAPM from individual utility functions based on basic assumptions. On this path, once you are done with coursework and you pass, you then progress to the PhD Research component – where you write your paper or essays. This path takes about 4 – 5 years.
2. PhD by Research:
This is a path taken on by those who already have depth in research and industry experience. They do not get into course work but rather proceed straight to writing their research papers. Usually they would have had prior training at Master’s Degree level and have immense industry experience that they want to research on.
For example, Hon. Dr. Brian Mushimba’s thesis was based on his experience in industry where he served in various cement production portfolios in Zambia and abroad. Such vast experience, augmented by his prior training at Master’s and undergraduate level provides the basis upon which a PhD essay could be written on without needing academic coursework. This path is typical of the British system, unlike the American system which will require you to get back to class for two years before you begin your PhD research. In fact, until recently, many UK universities never required PhD coursework as long as you have a Masters Degree from a reputable university. You could, however, while in PhD class attend classes at advanced Masters level to “refresh” your memory as you write your PhD. The Zambian PhD system is still deeply anchored on the British system.
With the above, one can therefore start and finish their PhD in two years if they take the second path provided the following:
1. They have all the required data for their research.
2. They are dedicated to the research.
3. They have dedicated supervisors.
It should therefore not be a surprise that the Hon. Minister finished his PhD while serving as Cabinet Minister – has has both the high academic aptitude and experience coupled with dedication required to achieve such. Furthermore, the School of Engineering at UNZA is one of the most efficient schools that graduates it’s students on time even at Master’s level so this does not come as a surprise to me.
Are we together, class?
Now go and register for your PhD already!