The Process of Acquiring a Doctorate

The Process of Acquiring a Doctorate

  • Arya Vishwaroop
    Arya Vishwaroop

Introduction

Education is one of the most important aspects of a student’s life, and the higher advanced they are in their education, the more respect and more opportunities they get. However, where does it end? How far can move up the academic ladder? The answer is the doctorate, commonly referred to as the PhD or Doctor of Philosophy.

What it Means to Have a Doctorate

A doctorate is an academic degree that is awarded by universities to students who have achieved the highest level of academic achievement. It is essentially the highest degree you can study for. There are several different types of doctoral degrees but the most common one is the PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy. A doctoral degree is considered a PhD if the subject being studied is purely theoretical. However, when it comes to applied research there are different types of doctoral degrees such as EdD, MD(doctorate in Medicine), JD(doctorate in law), and so on.

Requirements of a Person to be Eligible for PhD

Not every Tom, Dick, and Harry can get a PhD. Given that the title is quite well-respected, there is a requirement to live up to its reputation and hence, there are very specific criteria to enter a doctoral program.

The first and foremost requirement is that all PhD candidates must have a qualification of nothing less than a master’s degree from an accredited institution. Most colleges give PhD admission to only students who have completed their M. Phil degree. Since the selection process is purely meritorious in nature, there is a requirement to have a high GPA.

Another important requirement is a statement of purpose where PhD candidates will describe why they are seeking a PhD, what they have done so far to prepare themselves, and what goals they plan to achieve later. As a final requirement, PhD applicants are required to have several letters of recommendation.                              

Keep in mind that the requirements of PhD vary from institution to institution the requirements might vary somewhat from one school to the next, so it’s important to do your research and decide ahead of time where you’ll apply.

Steps to Acquiring a PhD

So how is it that a person acquires a PhD? The process of acquiring a doctorate is quite long-winded and laborious since there is a lot of research involved. However, if you are someone who enjoys doing research then a doctorate would be a great addition to your academic achievements.

So how can a person achieve a doctorate? Here is the step-by-step process:

Complete a Bachelor’s Degree

If you are looking to get a PhD, it is safe to say that you will have at least completed your school education. After that, your first stop would be to get a Bachelor’s Degree in the field you are trying to pursue. For example, a person who wants a PhD in Education would have to first do a Bachelor’s Degree in the same, called the B.Ed. The marks for this exam also matter because it is only students with a relatively high GPA who stand a chance of getting a doctorate.

Complete a Master’s Degree

The next step to getting a doctorate would be to get a master’s degree in the subject. The reason why you need a Masters Degree is because it  gives the student a way to test the waters before diving into the subject. It introduces the student to the complicated world of graduate study which is much more complex than the world of UG study.

Get an M. Phil Degree

While the last two were compulsory for acquiring a PhD, an M.Phil is optional. However, it is better to have an MPhil because it adds value when applying for a PhD admission.

Apply for PhD

Once done with the graduate program, it’s time to apply for PhD. There are several doctoral programs to choose from, so research and find the best field of study. During the application process, the following have to be submitted:

  • A completed application
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • A student CV
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A statement of purpose

Complete Coursework

There are likely going to be some required courses and electives to study. Generally, students prepare their own plan of study for the courses they will take over the next couple of years.

Prepare a Research Proposal

A research proposal is a document outlining what exactly a PhD student will focus on during research. It must include the major question or questions they plan to answer with their dissertation, and how exactly they are planning to arrive at that answer. Even though the proposal will not be part of the final thesis, it plays a vital role in shaping the end result.

Do a Literature Review

Before starting the project report, the literature review must be done. An in-depth study of all the research in the field must be done. During this phase, the doctoral student will critically analyze the existing literature on the topic and find gaps they might be able to fill with their research.

Research & Collect Data

Once the PhD student has completed the literature review, they will have to do first-hand research by performing experiments to help answer the questions they are exploring for their dissertation.

Produce a Research & Write a Dissertation

Once the research is complete and sufficient results have been gathered, it is time to write the final thesis and dissertation.  Even though these terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two. The thesis is the argument or conclusion the student arrives at, while the dissertation is where the thesis is demonstrated. The dissertation is the culmination of all the research that was conducted and will contain the original work of the student. It often focuses on a newly developed theory, so it will take a lot of years to produce. It is usually the length of an entire book.

Viva Voce

This is the last and final stage of the PhD journey and is the most grueling stage yet. Unlike other degrees, where there is a final exam, a PhD candidate has the unique task of defending their thesis in front of a panel of appointment examiners. The examiners will then ask several questions - the process can often take several hours.

Once the candidate successfully completes the viva voce, they will be awarded the doctorate and can add the prestigious “Dr.” to their title.

Conclusion

As can be seen from the process, it is not an easy one. There is a lot of tedious research and methodical protocol that must be followed. Only if you are truly invested in the subject and want to contribute to it should you embark on this endeavor. However, if you do, the reward is quite high and is quite advantageous in the long run.

A person with a doctorate is someone who has quite a high demand. A doctorate means that the person has a great degree of knowledge in the subject, which means that they will be apt for subject-specific jobs. They can also be hired as consultants when any subject related problem arises and there is a requirement for the same.