PhD is an abbreviation for Doctorate of Philosophy. In essence, someone who has a PhD in a certain field has obtained a level of knowledge and understanding in their field deep enough to have allowed them to conduct a substantial amount of original research on the topic. PhDs must submit a thesis or dissertation in order to receive their doctorate, and will also need to defend their research orally as well – sometimes in front of a small panel, or in front of a large group.
A PhD will allow you to work in very specialized and high-level positions related to your field of study. It also gives you the ability to teach your subject in colleges and universities. The course of study is rigorous and can be stressful, but it is also very rewarding. If you have decided on a PhD, you are likely now facing the task of finding the perfect school. Typically a PhD candidate will have a master's degree in their field of study, but some programs do accept candidates with undergraduate degrees.
Things to consider when looking for a program:
- Time: Typically, a PhD takes between three and four years to complete. However, if you are attempting to get a degree on a part-time basis while working in your career, the degree can take longer. There are online PhD degree programs available in some subjects. If you are the type that does well with online classes and programs, then an online PhD program might be a good solution for those trying to work full time and go to school at the same time.
- Location: Location can be important for several reasons. You might have a personal preference of where you want to go to school. You may want to find a school near you, if you are also working in your career. You may wish to find a location where there are several positions available in your chosen field.
- Cost: The cost of attendance is an important factor. If you've made it far enough to be looking at a PhD, then you likely already have at least some student debt. Continuing your education can substantially add to that debt. When you are researching schools, you'll want to look at, not only tuition cost and other costs of attendance, but also funding sources such as scholarships and grants. If you are working in your chosen field already, you may want to investigate any tuition assistance options offered through your employer.
- The program itself: This may take the longest time to research. You'll want to make sure that the PhD programs offered by your prospective schools will meet your education needs. PhD programs tend to be very specialized.
Applying for PhD Programs.
- Admission requirements: Like we said earlier, most programs require a master's degree. Be sure you understand and meet the qualifications needed for your PhD Program
- References: You'll need to provide employer or academic references as part of your application. Choose your references wisely. Typically, you must give two or three. Choose someone who knows you well and can give detailed information to admissions departments.
- Research Proposal: It's important to read carefully and follow the guidelines for your proposal for each school. In your proposal you will outline the research you have already done, identify gaps in the research and propose the research you plan to do during your PhD research. This includes an explanation of your general thesis topic and a hypothesis on what you think your research will uncover.
If you're looking for a few quick and easy search categories, here are some popular searches for PhD programs that you might want to review: