What Are the Education Requirements Needed for a PhD?

In addition to prerequisites for entering a Ph.D. program, doctoral candidates usually must complete a prescribed amount of coursework, pass a doctoral examination and complete a dissertation in their field of study. The following article discusses the educational requirements needed for a Ph.D.

Ph.D. Program Admission Requirements

Ph.D. programs vary in their entrance requirements. Some doctoral programs are highly selective. While the application process for online programs might be much less stringent, most universities require a bachelor's degree in a related field, reasonable grades, letters of recommendation and satisfactory graduate-level exam scores. Education requirements might also include a statement of interest, relevant coursework or research experience.

Important Facts About a Ph.D.

Possible Careers Academia, research, or government positions.
Concentrations Most disciplines have Ph.D. options. The most popular are Law, Sciences (Pharmacy, Medicine, Dentistry), Engineering, and Leadership.
Online Availability Many universities offer online options.
Key Skills Research skills, ability to work independently, and networking.

Ph.D. Coursework and Examination

Most doctoral programs require a prescribed amount of graduate-level coursework that generally takes one to three years to complete. For example, students pursuing a PhD in Communication Studies at Northwestern University who have already earned a master's degree are required to complete 18 courses, according to the university's website. In general, coursework should be relevant to the field of study. Some programs might require that specific courses be taken, while other programs may allow the student more flexibility in determining his or her plan of study. After coursework is completed, most programs require students to pass a written and oral examination in their field of specialization.

Ph.D. Research and Dissertation

Throughout the Ph.D. program, the doctoral candidate is expected to conduct original research in their field of study. The dissertation is the culmination of the doctoral program. A dissertation is the written findings and analysis of the research performed during the program. They might range in length from 50 to over 400 pages. Most universities require the doctoral candidate to orally defend the dissertation before a board or committee.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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