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A Ph.D. is the terminal degree for some fields, and it prepares graduates for faculty and research positions at universities. Earning a Ph.D. requires advanced coursework, examinations and a dissertation analyzing original research. This article discusses what must be done to obtain a Ph.D.
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.
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:
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!
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:
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 get the 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.