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How Do You Get a Doctorate Degree?

Before you decide to pursue a doctorate degree, it’s important to understand all of the necessary steps and requirements.

Steps to Pursue a Doctoral Degree

Depending on your university of choice, the sequence in which you will complete your doctoral studies may vary. For your reference, here is an example of what a Northcentral University doctoral student will experience.

1. Complete an Undergraduate Degree

The first step in the journey toward completing a doctoral degree is to obtain an undergraduate degree. For the best start, choose a bachelor’s degree program at a regionally accredited university. Undergraduate degrees typically take around four years to complete; however, the length could be shorter or longer depending upon the number of credits taken per semester. During your time as an undergraduate student you should strive to maintain a high grade point average (GPA) and pursue a degree that will prepare you for advanced coursework and research in your field of interest.

2. Complete a Master’s Degree

Your next step is enrolling in a master’s degree program. A master’s degree focuses primarily on a specific field of study or professional practice of applied and theoretical topics. Pursuing a master’s degree may take about two years to complete, depending on your chosen field of study, and whether or not you choose an accelerated program that is geared toward working professionals. Should you choose an accelerated program, you may be able to complete your master’s degree in as few as 12-14 months. While your acceptance into a master’s degree program will rely upon your previous academics, be aware that some colleges and universities may require you to complete a graduate entry exam such as:

  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)
  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

For this reason, you’ll want to conduct thorough research to choose the right college or university for your educational goals. This means making sure you understand the admissions requirements as well as the program and specialization offerings. But remember, not all schools require graduate exams as a contingency to enrollment. You should check with your school of interest for admission requirements and plan accordingly. Once you have narrowed your search to a few schools, choose your best options and then work with the admissions departments to start the application process. When you finally choose the school that best meets your needs and you’ve gone through the enrollment process, you’re now reading to get started toward completing your master’s degree!

3. Complete a Doctorate Degree

Getting Started

Now that you’ve completed a bachelor’s and master’s degree, you are qualified to pursue a doctoral degree to enhance your knowledge on research and theory within a specific subject or field of study. First, you should research to find the doctoral degree program that best fulfills your interest in theory or applied research. Next, start looking for the best college or university that matches your personal and professional interests. Much like in your master’s program, you’ll want to make sure you understand the admissions requirements and programs and specialization offerings before moving forward. Once you’ve chosen the right school, work with admissions to start the application process and get started toward completing your degree! Typical required materials for enrollment in a doctoral program may include but are not limited to:

  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • Resume or CV
  • Recent GRE or GMAT scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
How Long will does Take To Get a Doctorate Degree?

The average student takes 8.2 years to obtain a doctoral degree, that figure is assuming you begin your bachelor’s and stay a student all the way to doctoral completion. In most cases, students return to school at a later time to complete their PhD or Doctoral degree. The true answer is, it depends. If you take breaks between courses, if you require more time to complete your dissertation, if your schedule doesn’t permit you to manage a full course load, your completion time will vary significantly. It’s best to research the program you are interested in and speak to your enrollment advisor about your time concerns.

What to Expect Throughout Your Doctorate Program

The beginning of your doctoral study will focus on your field of study. You’ll expand your knowledge in scholarly writing, improve your research skills and enhance your understanding of your specialization of choice. Of course, you’ll also be preparing for your ultimate accomplishment as a doctoral student during this time – your dissertation. The final few years of doctoral study will be focused on the preparation of your doctoral dissertation or thesis. Your doctoral dissertation is a written document focused on the research interest you chose and spent your time developing through academic research in the first portion of your doctoral program. Depending on your degree program of choice – PhD or professional doctorate – you may focus your dissertation on a newly developed theory or practical application of research you conducted. You should be prepared to orally defend your dissertation to your committee in a semi-public forum. You should not be intimidated. Take this opportunity to passionately defend your research and findings and use this as a springboard to your next personal, professional or educational triumph. Once you’ve successfully defended your dissertation, you’ll be awarded with your doctoral degree and can add that coveted «Dr.» to your title.

How to get into a PhD program

Imagine my constant surprise, seven years later, at how much still remains unsaid about doing a thesis – even about the basics, such as how to get into a PhD program. Consider this letter which, eerily, happened to land in my inbox just as I was preparing my pitch for prospective students for ANU Open Day this coming weekend.

Getting into a PhD program can be very complicated. I’d value regular readers sharing their stories in the comments – I think think this is a good example of where newbies can learn a lot from existing students’ experiences… Here’s the letter I received:

Hi Inger,

Long-time reader, first time contacting you. I am just getting my bits and bobs finalised to apply for entry into a PhD at (an Australian University) as a mature-ish age (36) student.  I have found the application process in itself daunting!  I think it’s the first test.  I wonder whether you would consider a post about the entry requirements/proposal as I have found your site invaluable even though I’m yet to enrol!

The application form itself, is entirely geared towards students coming straight through without having had a career first, which is quite off-putting for those of us who undertook an undergrad years ago without concern of the GPA. I am assuming many like me, have no access to university library resources (given we’re out in the non-academic workforce) and whilst potential supervisors are great, they can’t be relied upon for doing all the groundwork.

There’s not a lot of guidance about what the university expects this proposal to look like, how complete it is, how much weight is placed on it when considering your application, how much you’re held to it over the candidature etc. For example I am assuming my approach to evolve once I’ve been able to undertake a literature review, which I can only do once I’ve gained entry!

Thanks in advance,
Potential PhD student.

This is what I wrote back:

Dear Potential,

First I want to validate your experience by saying you are not alone. For those coming strai

How to get into a PhD program

Jess Drake (aka @soilduck) suggested she write a post on how to get into a PhD program a little while ago. I thought it would be a good follow up to Ehsan’s popular “Should you do a PhD?” because it can be surprisingly difficult to get into a program. After helping a few friends and family members through the process of getting in, I am aware of how much ‘insider knowledge’ can be required.

Jess struggled initially to write this post as she only has experience of getting into a science program, so I advised that she just write it for scientists. I was planning to write one a follow up for humanities people. As it happens, I think the majority of the advice she offers holds for both cases. I don’t think a follow up post is needed – but I am open to the idea. Let us know at the end if you think more specific advice is required.

So, you have decided to do a PhD (in science).

You have found something that you are really really passionate about, and you want to learn more. You’ve worked out that a PhD fits in your life plans. You have the income you need, and some savings to get you out of tight spots. You have talked about it with your family and loved ones, and they are all on board the PhD roller-coaster. And you are pretty excited and wondering when you can start!

It is hard not to let the excitement get the better of your judgement. Before starting, you need to find the right university, team and supervisor for you. Remember, you will be dedicating 3+ years of PhD discovery, and you need to make sure you have the right match to make it that much more comfortable and fun.

Here are a few steps to help you find your PhD match.

How to Get a PhD – Complete Steps for Getting a PhD Degree, Career & More|Recruitment, Result, Application Form, Admit Card

How to Get a Ph.D

A doctorate degree is the highest level of academic degree. A PhD Degree can helps you get a position as professor, a researcher in a government or industrial laboratory etc in Concern College or university. If you have the curiosity to explore a subject in depth, than you should have a PhD in that subject.

If you want to make career as Professor, consultant and Researcher you should have degree of PhD in concern filed. If you don’t know How to Get a PhD Degree you may read this page. Here we have brought Complete Steps for Getting a PhD Degree. You can go through this page of to get complete details about steps to get PhD Degree.

How to Get a Ph.D

Steps for Getting a Ph.D Degree

Essential Requirements:

To get Ph.D Degree students should have degree of Graduation and Post Graduation in concern field. Graduation and Post Graduation should be done in the same discipline for which students want to get admission in PhD course. In some cases, students can take admission in PhD degree program with only a bachelor’s degree and get a master’s degree midway through the program.

Applicant should usually supply a statement of purpose, transcripts from previous post-secondary schools and letters of recommendation from professional references to enter graduate school. Candidates may also require qualifying Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test as it is essential in many schools. Other examinations and writing samples may be also required.

Some universities require National Eligibility Test administered by the University Grants Commission / GATE/ JRF Test Score for Admission in Doctoral Programmes. On basis of score in the given test candidates can be chosen for this program. In some cases you may also be required to attend an interview at your university.

Top Colleges in India

Preparation Needed for Doctoral Programme:

First of all you should analyze is it a right time for you to go in Research field as it require so many commitments. Your Research topic should be definite and related to your past study. Many universities want to get a guide before you apply, so for this you may take help from teachers or your friends, who are doing PhD.

You may publish some articles on your area of research which will be more effective. It will give more value to your work. It’s not difficult to take get a PhD but the main thing is that how you approach it.

Best Career Opportunities

Register for PhD:

Write an outline on your topic with the help of your Guide. If you think it is sufficient to impress the panel of the university / Institution you may apply with your application. Head of that department will decide to choose you or not. A written test/ interview or both can be conducted according to the rules of institution to select eligible candidates.

Careers and Employment

By getting a Ph.D from an Indian university you will have sufficient skills to work in fields related to your specialism. For some universities NET exam is also required for admission on to a PhD programme, which also fulfills part of the necessities for a teaching post in India’s growing higher education system. Your experience living and studying in India will be admirable if you want to get employment with one of the many domestic and international companies.

Something That You Should Put An Eye On

How to get a PhD *and* save the world

‘Tis the season for graduate school applications and associated angst. Several aspiring political scientists and economists have asked me for my thoughts and advice, and I’ve generally started by pointing them to Greg Mankiw’s excellent Advice for Aspiring Economists and Advice for Grad Students.

Mankiw’s advice does not quite cater, however, to those of us that are young, idealistic, and want to pursue PhD research that makes life better for those less fortunate. For those so inclined, I offer the following addenda.

  1. Use graduate school to tech up. You’ll have time to learn how save the world later, when you’re actually in it. Learn all of the theoretical, statistical and other difficult-to-acquire skills you can while in grad school, because you won’t have the time later on. You, your cause, and your job prospects will be well-served by the technical skills you build.
  2. Hang in there. In the first year of any grad program you will encounter a lot of required material that will feel too theoretical, too divorced from social change, and (occasionally) like too much nonsense. Much of it is good for you (see point 1), even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. After a year of metrics and micro theory, I was ready to run to the real world to do what I thought I really wanted to do. The best advice I ever got (from one of my pre-PhD advisers) was, “Shut up and hang in there; by your second to third year you will discover all the people doing interesting applied work soon enough and be free to work on whatever you want by your third year.” He was right.
  3. Take chances. The second best piece of advice I ever received came from my dissertation chair, shortly after my oral examinations committee told me that my prospectus was poorly thought out, uneconomic, and overly risky. They were 100% right, and I benefitted from hearing it (although at the time I was miserable). Where I think they were wrong is that they told me to abandon my plans for risky and expensive field work. They favored the less risky route that could get me to a completed dissertation faster. My chair’s response: “Hey, if you really want to do this, why not? Give it a shot. If it doesn’t pan out after three months, then come back and work on something else. Worst case scenario: you lose a few thousand dollars and a summer, but you have a great experience.” I plan to give the same advice to my students.
  4. But minimize your risks by being prepared. Don’t embark on a big project, especially field work, without a solid

How To Get Into a Fully Funded PhD Program: Contacting Potential PhD Advisors

The application process for a PhD has some important – yet, mysterious – steps that are often not spelled out anywhere on graduate school application instructions, leaving many applicants at a disadvantage. One of these application steps is identifying and contacting faculty in the PhD department who could serve as your PhD advisor. This step is particularly important when applying to a competitive, fully funded PhD program.

What is a PhD advisor? Good question. A PhD advisor is a faculty member who will be assigned by the university to serve as the head of your dissertation committee and will be officially responsible for advising you throughout your career as a PhD student. She or he will meet with you regularly – quarterly, monthly, or in some cases, weekly – to give technical feedback on your research topic and process, review your draft writing, provide introductions to colleagues in the field, suggest publications to read, and other academic support. An appropriate advisor is someone who has done research in your field or topic of interest.

Ideally, your advisor will also provide some minimal level of emotional support as you navigate the ups and downs of a PhD, including writer’s block, scathing feedback, dead-end experiments, ethics roadblocks and other challenges. Not everyone gets this level of support from their PhD advisor, but there are some ways to increase your chances of securing a great PhD advisor. One of these is outreach to potential advisors during the process of preparing your PhD applications.

It is not required, but it is highly recommended that you try to connect with potential PhD advisors before you begin your PhD application. Here’s why:

  1. Most PhD program applications ask you to state your desired PhD advisors.
  2. Your desired PhD advisor may not be taking on new doctoral students the year you are planning to enter the program.
  3. If they are taking on new advisees, they are likely speaking with other applicants who are competing with you for a spot in the PhD program.
  4. A conversation with a potential PhD advisor can completely change your decision to apply to that program because of new knowledge they provide about the research areas, philosophies, pace or funding available.

If you do not personally know any professors on the faculty of the PhD program you are applying to, you can contact professors by email to introduce yourself. Put some thought into this email – you are making a first impression. It should be brief, carefully spell-checked and have a professional tone.

Your most important goal in this initial email is to determine if the professor is taking on new PhD students the academic year you are hoping to enter the program. It is good to make these inquiry emails in summer or early fall since PhD application deadlines begin as early as October. This article and this article provide some excellent templates for a brief, polite inquiry email. Attach your polished academic CV highlighting your academic background, research experience, relevant coursework and any publications or papers you have written or contributed to.

If the professor replies that they are considering taking on new PhD students, your next email should indicate an interest in speaking with her or him further. Request an opportunity for a brief phone call, and include 2-3 specific questions you have about the PhD program. These questions should serve the purpose of helping you learn more about the program and develop a strong application for the program if you ultimately choose to apply. For example, a good question would be:

I am interested generally in researching [insert areas of interest]. What specific areas of ongoing research could I contribute to as a PhD student in your program?

The professor may not be willing to do a phone call, but they may respond to your email with answers to your questions. The tone and level of detail in the email may also give you some clues as to whether they’ll be a supportive PhD advisor (although, like any written email, don’t jump to too many conclusions!). With this level of exchange, the professor is more likely to remember your name when the department is reviewing applicants and may even advocate for your selection.

If she or he is not taking on new students, there is no need for further discussion and you can respond with a polite note of thanks. You may want to see if there is another faculty available if you are still interested in that particular PhD program.

If there is no reply at all, do not despair. Professors are famously busy people. You can also call the Admissions or Department office and ask them if they know if that professor is taking on new students. They may be able to assist or suggest another professor to contact.

The information that you gain from this exercise will help inform your decision on where to apply. Make the most of it!

View lists of PhD programs providing full funding. 

© Victoria Johnson 2016, all rights reserved.

How to Choose a Master’s Degree if You Want to Get a PhD Later

For those who have a yearning for academia, the doctorate of philosophy (PhD) is a natural continuation of their aspirations for knowledge.

This is their last step before they embark on a journey of research and teaching. But before that is even possible, you have to obtain a Master’s degree.

A doctorate degree is all about research. You have to be comfortable with the idea that most of your time will be spent reading books, debunking hypotheses, teaching college freshmen and hanging out with colleagues that will probably make you feel ashamed of your IQ. If that sounds like your thing, you are on the right track to becoming a PhD aspirant.

Here you will find 4 important tips to consider when contemplating what Master’s programme to follow in order to be a successful PhD candidate later on.

Choose the right type of Master’s programme

Aside from the obvious personal traits necessary to thrive in an academic environment, you will also have to be prepared for the academic format.

In one of my previous posts, I explored the differences between a Master of Arts (MA) and a Master of Sciences (MSc). To summarise: “an MA gives you the skills and knowledge to be a great professional and an MSc gives you the skills and knowledge to understand your profession in great depth.”

Master of Sciences programmes are heavy on theory and research, making them the ideal choice for students who plan on pursuing a PhD afterwards. The obvious reason for this is the similarity in the teaching format. However, another important factor to consider is the fact that contrary to MA programmes which tend to focus on specialised professional skills, the MSc degree offers an understanding of the theories and models that shape entire industries (Economics, Engineering, Physics). This means that an MSc graduate will be better prepared to face the similarly vast amounts of in-depth knowledge about their particular field that the PhD will both require and provide.

Finally, you must remember that while a Master’s degree is a prerequisite for a PhD, the type of Master’s is not. It is up to each university to set the criteria for PhD applicants. Do not be afraid to choose an MA over an MSc just because you plan to pursue a doctorate degree later on.

Have specific interests in a particular topic

In order to acquire the title of “doctor” in your chosen field, you must complete a dissertation. Dissertations focus on specific topics and will generally have to bring some kind of innovative approach or idea to your professional or academic community.

Admittedly, most of you are probably quite far from this point, but when considering a Master’s programme, it is advisable that you already have an underlined interest in a specific topic within your field. Some examples of this are: Content Curation in Marketing Communications; the emergence of the BRICS countries in Macro Economics; and Angel Investment in Banking Finances. It will be much easier for you to continue your research efforts in that particular subject matter once the Master’s degree is out of the way. In fact, many students choose to explore the same or a very similar topic for both their Master’s thesis and PhD dissertation – a practice often encouraged by academic supervisors across every type of postgraduate education.

Be aware of employment risks

Like all major decisions in life, the choice to pursue a PhD is a combination of desire, ability and risk evaluation.

Although a doctoral degree does not necessarily mean that you will spend the rest of your life in a university or a think tank doing endless research, it does mean that your opportunities for employment will be influenced by this broadly accepted perception.

The current job market values applied skills, and people who have dedicated their studies to knowledge rather than practice are often underappreciated.

A survey by the National Science Foundation in the US suggests that PhD’s find it progressively harder to get a job upon graduation (right after graduating):

This graph illustrates “the entire market for Ph.D.’s, including those graduating from humanities, science, education, and other programs. The blue line tracks students who are able to get a job immediately after graduation. The green line tracks those who sign up for a post-doctorate study programme. The red line stands for the jobless (though a sliver of them are heading to another academic programme).”

This is a risk that should not be overlooked, but one that could be alleviated. A possible solution would be to choose a Master’s type and programme that will make you suitable for employment in the private sector, but still be relevant enough to allow you to follow through with your ambition to acquire a PhD at a later point. A good example is an MSc in Finance or even an MA in Marketing. It is also not uncommon that PhD holders move to MBA studies if they want to make a career change or move to managerial positions.

The good news is that the median salaries for PhD’s  in fields like business management and administration are at the top of the chart.

Understand the commitment

Doctorate degrees are the last frontier of education. There is very little that you can do afterwards in terms of the classic classroom-based education, although a PhD will probably mean that you will remain close to the academic environment for the rest of your life. PhD’s last anywhere from a year or two, to five or even ten.

This is important to remember. In contrast to a Master’s degree that lasts a maximum of 2 years and can lead to either a professional or academic commitment, the PhD will nudge you decisively towards research-based work, the sciences, and the idea that you will teach others one day.

Bearing that in mind, it is best to think very carefully and be smart when choosing your Master’s programme. Be truthful to yourself and answer these questions: “Is this Master’s degree merely a step before my ultimate commitment to become a PhD” or “Am I going to take this one step at a time, get a solid Master’s degree that will allow me to work anywhere, and see what happens next”?

Or in other words, are you doing a Master’s degree just because you need it in order to get a PhD, which will commit you more one-sidedly than a Master’s or are you doing it because you want to become better in your field and increase your chances for overall employment?

Once you answer these two simple questions and think about the other points discussed in this post, you will know what Master’s degree to aim for.

Have questions or comments?  Just post them below this article. PrepAdviser’s admissions and test preparation experts will be glad to reply.

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