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I am going to finish my PhD in the Netherlands within one year. Ideally I would like to get a postdoc here. However, due to competition or other factors I might not find a postdoc position. Then, there are two options:

1- Searching for a postdoc outside of the Netherlands which is not the best option for me currently.

2- Doing a second PhD here.

I want to know if doing a second PhD makes it harder to get a tenure track position later.


I am asking about the effect of doing a second PhD after I finished my first PhD regardless if I extend it for some period of time or not. Will people see it as a failure? To me it does feel like failure!

One good point in the Netherlands is that PhD students are employed as research assistants. Thus, I think when I am able to search for postdocs in other countries it might not look as bad as I think.

1 Answer 1

I don't know how it is in your country, but typically in Germany (and I expect also in other countries) the following holds.

You cannot get a second PhD in the same field as you already have a PhD awarded.

Hence, you'd need to swap to another field, say to Mathematics from Computer Science, which might be hard to impossible.

There are ways for a further education, however.

  • Some people still manage to get a second PhD in a different field.
  • A honorary title, "Dr. h.c.", might be viable, but it's more a political thing.
  • Germany and some further European countries have a notion of a Habilitation or a "higher Doctorate", it's basically the second, "wider" PhD in the same field, that qualifies you (in old German tradition) for a professorship. An Assistant Professor on a tenure-track is roughly the same.
  • A Habilitation for a Dr. med. is sometimes called a PhD to mimic the anglo-saxon manner.

Finally, is a second PhD really the thing that would advance your career? I'd think about it similar to a second MSc. It not really does.