Top Countries for Ph.D.
Top Countries for Ph.D.

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) - Admissions & Scope

Ph.D. or DPhil is the postgraduate doctorate in any subject which is provided after the submission of an original thesis generally on a new area in the respective subject or contributing significantly to your desired subject. It is usually the highest form of degree or education in a particular field and is therefore also referred as a terminal degree. Earlier a masters degree was said to be the highest level of education that one can attain in a subject but as the emphasis changed to new ideas and knowledge Ph.D was introduced to encourage those interested in research.

Types of PhD degrees

Traditionally,  one earned a title of “Doctor” after attaining it. However, today it depends on the type of degree and the subject area of the person. Different types of doctoral degrees are-

Professional Doctoral Degree: Usually provided in USA and Canada in which study supports a specific profession, such as psychology, medicine, engineering, education, or law etc. It focuses on applied research and courses like MD, Ed.D., JD are also known as the first professional degrees.

Research Doctoral Degree: It is awarded to candidates who have conducted research publishable enough to be published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. The most common research doctoral degree is the Doctor of Philosophy, or PhD.

Honorary Doctoral Degree: It is more advanced and professional than a common Ph.D as it is  based on a candidate’s achievements and contribution to a particular field or cause. The college or university usually waives all the formalities. Even though being common, most of the renowned universities deny to provide it.

Terminal Academic Research Degrees:  No higher degree than this that can be awarded such as PhD in USA. But sometimes even though being a terminal degree in a profession, it may only amount to prerequisites to research degrees in the same subject area.

Some of the institutions provides different types of Ph.D. programmes as well, some of them are-
The integrated PhD programme (based on a Bachelor’s degree): One can begin a PhD study while studying Master’s degree. Bachelor’s degree must be completed and must be selected for a Master’s degree or must have begun it. An integrated PhD will consist of two parts; one part is completed when Master’s degree is obtained and another part begins immediately thereafter. It is two years of full time PhD study.

The business-oriented industrial PhD programme: It is a 3 year research project focused on industry and is carried out in collaboration between a company, the candidate and the university.

PhD double/joint degree: A joint PhD includes a collaboration between two or more universities and a joint or a double PhD degree is awarded.  In double PhD degree the student receives two diplomas,  one from each university.
In Joint PhD degree the student receives one joint PhD diploma, signed by both universities.

Executive doctoral programs: It mostly includes business and management, business leadership, theology, counseling and professional studies, public health, education management etc. It helps working professionals to enter into the academia. Classes are often offered during evenings/ weekends, as well as online, thus providing flexibility and usually ending with a dissertation.

Duration of a PhD degree

Usually a person’s Ph.D. continues from 2-10 years on average. However the timing of completion is dependent on various other factors like one’s experience, institution offering it and the subject you are studying but nearly all programs set out time limitations of how long an individual has to complete. A typical PhD normally involves literature review; original research and collecting data; thesis presenting one’s observations; submitting a dissertation; presenting research reports and projects to be reviewed by a committee and a viva exam where one is supposed to present and answer questions on the thesis. One needs to defend the PhD thesis to an international scientific jury. Mostly the first year includes foundational classes in research work, while the second and third year focuses on specific courses. In most part of the time one does a literature study and collect data or samples and make analyses. One also learns the methodologies to analyse and interpret results. In Executive Doctoral Program, some variations are generally included such as research methodology seminar; global marketing strategy; dissertation seminar; Data analysis; Research design or Advanced business theory etc.

While doing the Ph.D. course apart from research students also need to take care of the following-

  1. One must be active in the scientific forum of their research field. One must present at congresses and workshops to learn and network, to present “work in progress”, to get feedback and to build a network of contacts.
  2. Scientific publications are a must. The results must be published through papers in scientific journals. A minimum number of good publications is required to defend PhD.
  3. Good Supervisor is very important for a person’s thesis as he/ she is an active researcher in the research topic of the candidate who warrants the quality of the PhD candidate’s research plans. They help the PhD candidate with the process and follow-up while jointly being responsible for the project ; must challenges the PhD candidate to think critically while seeing that research integrity and honest scientific conduct is maintained and provide corrective actions when necessary.

Cost of a PhD degree

The cost of a doctorate degree depends on the type of degree that is being pursued and may require a significant investment. The U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)  2011-2012 cost information specific to doctoral degree programs is $36,600. Universities also provide for funding packages for a certain time period. These packages usually includes- Academic tuitions, Insurance, Study materials, Living and Travel stipend etc. as deemed fit.  However, to keep getting such benefits the students are required to maintain a minimum GPA or teach students of undergraduates or masters programme as an assistant ( usually get six years (in contrary to four years for a PhD) during which time is divided between the preparation of PhD and rendering of services towards the faculty, usually consisting of teaching). Many companies, NGOs, employers, Fellowships, grants, scholarships, annual stipends, on-campus teaching jobs, Student loans etc. offer further financial aid to the students.

Admission requirements

Admission to these programmes is not easy and requirements do vary from institution to institution but most require submission of transcripts from their bachelor's and master's degree programs usually from the same subject; minimum GPA standards, reference letters from professors and seniors and  passing a standardized test for admission which usually consist of GRE (Graduate Records Examinations) or GMAT(Graduate Management Admission Test). Most Universities do ask for a statement of purpose which must convey why an individual wish to pursue doctorate; how they have prepared themselves for this level of research; mentions their academic and future career goals; why they are a suitable candidate and how this doctorate helps in enhancing their life goals.

Kaplan University

Regent University

Capella University

City University of Seattle

Abilene Christian University

University of Fairfax

Harvard University

University of Pennsylvania

Stanford University

Duke University; main campus of Ohio State University

University of California-Berkeley

University of Illinois

University of Minnesota

University of Wisconsin

University of Virginia

are some of the universities famous for their doctoral programmes in the USA. Some of the universities that also provide Ph.D. without an GRE are Purdue University- PhD in Chemistry; Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine- PhD in Clinical Psychology; MIT- PhD in Media Arts and Science; Oregon State University- PhD in Physics; University of Wisconsin- PhD in Philosophy; University of Idaho- PhD in Civil Engineering etc.

Anesthesiologists; Audiologists; Computer and information research scientists; Family and general practitioners; Obstetricians and gynecologists; Optometrists; Orthodontists; Pediatricians; Physical therapists; Architectural conservationist, curatorial consultant, artist representative; Curatorial and historical studies; Podiatrists; Psychiatrists; Surgeons; Chiropractors; Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists; teachers(postsecondary) are some of the jobs with growth rate of median 10-20% and an average salary of $75,000/- that requires Ph.D. as an specific eligibility criteria. In an executive doctoral program which is to advance a candidate  professionally, the career positions are: Chief financial officer; Chief operating officer; Vice president of finance; Vice president of marketing; Academic professor; Professional consultant; Financial analyst etc. University professors often earn additional income by publishing their research, speaking at conferences, consulting with companies and teaching at area schools etc. Those with a management doctoral degree can expect a median salary of over $70,000 in the United States.

Therefore, Ph.D. is a great course for people with an inclination towards research and development of new ideas and knowledge and the career aspects, less cost and personal growth makes it a must consideration.

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