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What is a PhD?
If you’re excited about learning and research, a PhD might just be the path for you! With the added bonus of adding “Dr.” to the beginning of your name, a PhD can help you excel in your career. Perhaps you are asking yourself, “exactly what is a PhD, and how do I go about earning one?” Fortunately, this guide has the answers to your questions, so keep reading!
What is a PhD?
To put it simply, a PhD is a doctorate of philosophy. It shouldn’t be confused with a doctorate of medicine, but they both usually require eight years of collegiate education.
It’s important to note that a PhD is a postgraduate degree based in research, so be sure to get your textbooks ready. However, you can get your PhD in a variety of different fields of study.
Why choose a PhD?
Deciding to get your PhD is a serious decision, and you’ll likely want to understand the benefits of this degree before you enter the classroom. Fortunately, there are many benefits to getting your PhD, but it’ll be up to you to make going back to school worth it. Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons to earn a PhD below.
Respect and expertise in your desired field
Continuing your education is no small feat, which means that postgraduate degrees carry a certain amount of respect in the professional world. Since a PhD is specifically focused on research, you stand to gain more expertise and knowledge than a standard bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Postgraduate degrees such as master’s and doctorates offer higher salaries and qualify you for upper-level positions in your desired field. However, a degree alone doesn’t guarantee getting a job, so be sure to build up your resume with related experience. Fortunately, PhD students get additional time to network in an educational setting. Getting to know your previous and current professors can make all the difference in your future career.
Also see: Average starting salary out of college
Variety of fields to study
Getting your doctorate can also mean that you have an opportunity to explore a new field of study or re-explore an old one! While some PhD programs require certain bachelor’s degrees, there’s usually still enough wiggle room for you to decide on a different academic path. Most schools prioritize a background in research, so focus on applying relevant experience in your application regardless of your major.
Also see: Top fully funded PhD programs
What is the cost of a PhD?
The cost of a PhD program varies, ranging from fully-funded to over $50,000 per year. The cost depends on the chosen field of study and university attended. Students accepted in a fully-funded program may even receive stipends that cover living expenses such as food, housing, and health insurance. Other PhD students receive financial support through assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships.
The cost of a PhD involves more than the actual dollar amount . Earning a PhD involves an extraordinary amount of time and effort, and usually requires a loss of earned income and other life opportunities. Potential PhD applicants should carefully consider the pros and cons that apply to their particular situation.
Further reading: How much does a PhD cost?
How long does it take to earn a PhD?
Similar to how much a PhD costs, how long it takes to earn a PhD depends on the field of study and the university attended. Additional factors include each student’s particular pace and whether they require additional time. Generally, earning a PhD takes from four to eight years.
The most common requirement for earning a PhD involves a combination of coursework (usually 1-2 years) followed by independent research and dissertation (usually two to six years, depending on field of study). In general, fields that require extensive writing, such as the humanities and social sciences, lean toward the longer end of completion.
What do I need to know to get my PhD?
First things first, you’ll have to receive your undergraduate degree before you can apply to the PhD program of your choice. It’s in your best interest to stay on top of your GPA and apply yourself in your classes so that your application stands out.
The colleges you submit your application to will likely require an unofficial transcript, letter of recommendation, and a personal statement. Some schools may also require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), which is a standardized exam. You can even get started on your test preparation today by taking a GRE practice test!
Related: Top scholarships for graduate students