How Long Does It Take to Get a Ph.D. Degree?

Earning a Ph.D. from a U.S. grad school typically requires nearly six years, federal statistics show.

How Long It Takes to Get a Ph.D. Degree

phd length in usa

Caiaimage | Tom Merton | Getty Images

A Ph.D. is most appropriate for someone who is a "lifelong learner."

Students who have excelled within a specific academic discipline and who have a strong interest in that field may choose to pursue a Ph.D. degree. However, Ph.D. degree-holders urge prospective students to think carefully about whether they truly want or need a doctoral degree, since Ph.D. programs last for multiple years.

According to the Survey of Earned Doctorates, a census of recent research doctorate recipients who earned their degree from U.S. institutions, the median amount of time it took individuals who received their doctorates in 2017 to complete their program was 5.8 years. However, there are many types of programs that typically take longer than six years to complete, such as humanities and arts doctorates, where the median time for individuals to earn their degree was 7.1 years, according to the survey.

Some Ph.D. candidates begin doctoral programs after they have already obtained master's degrees, which means the time spent in grad school is a combination of the time spent pursuing a master's and the years invested in a doctorate. In order to receive a Ph.D. degree, a student must produce and successfully defend an original academic dissertation, which must be approved by a dissertation committtee. Writing and defending a dissertation is so difficult that many Ph.D. students drop out of their Ph.D. programs having done most of the work necessary for degree without completing the dissertation component. These Ph.D. program dropouts often use the phrase " all but dissertation " or the abbreviation "ABD" on their resumes.

According to a comprehensive study of Ph.D. completion rates published by The Council of Graduate Schools in 2008, only 56.6% of people who begin Ph.D. programs earn Ph.D. degrees.

Ian Curtis, a founding partner with H&C Education, an educational and admissions consulting firm, who is pursuing a Ph.D. degree in French at Yale University , says there are several steps involved in the process of obtaining a Ph.D. Students typically need to fulfill course requirements and pass comprehensive exams, Curtis warns. "Once these obligations have been completed, how long it takes you to write your dissertation depends on who you are, how you work, what field you're in and what other responsibilities you have in life," he wrote in an email. Though some Ph.D. students can write a dissertation in a single year, that is rare, and the dissertation writing process may last for several years, Curtis says.

Curtis adds that the level of support a Ph.D. student receives from an academic advisor or faculty mentor can be a key factor in determining the length of time it takes to complete a Ph.D. program. "Before you decide to enroll at a specific program, you’ll want to meet your future advisor," Curtis advises. "Also, reach out to his or her current and former students to get a sense of what he or she is like to work with."

Curtis also notes that if there is a gap between the amount of time it takes to complete a Ph.D. and the amount of time a student's funding lasts, this can slow down the Ph.D. completion process. "Keep in mind that if you run out of funding at some point during your doctorate, you will need to find paid work, and this will leave you even less time to focus on writing your dissertation," he says. "If one of the programs you’re looking at has a record of significantly longer – or shorter – times to competition, this is good information to take into consideration."

He adds that prospective Ph.D. students who already have master's degrees in the field they intend to focus their Ph.D. on should investigate whether the courses they took in their master's program would count toward the requirements of a Ph.D. program. "You’ll want to discuss your particular situation with your program to see whether this will be possible, and how many credits you are likely to receive as the result of your master’s work," he says.

How to Write M.D.-Ph.D. Application Essays

Ilana Kowarski May 15, 2018

phd length in usa

Emmanuel C. Nwaodua, who has a Ph.D. degree in geology, says some Ph.D. programs require candidates to publish a paper in a first-rate, peer-reviewed academic journal. "This could extend your stay by a couple of years," he warns.

Pierre Huguet, the CEO and co-founder of H&C Education, says prospective Ph.D. students should be aware that a Ph.D. is designed to prepare a person for a career as a scholar. "Most of the jobs available to Ph.D. students upon graduation are academic in nature and directly related to their fields of study: professor, researcher, etc.," Huguet wrote in an email. "The truth is that more specialization can mean fewer job opportunities. Before starting a Ph.D., students should be sure that they want to pursue a career in academia, or in research. If not, they should make time during the Ph.D. to show recruiters that they’ve traveled beyond their labs and libraries to gain some professional hands-on experience."

Jack Appleman, a business writing instructor, published author and Ph.D. candidate focusing on organizational communication with the University at Albany—SUNY , says Ph.D. programs require a level of commitment and focus that goes beyond what is necessary for a typical corporate job. A program with flexible course requirements that allow a student to customize his or her curriculum based on academic interests and personal obligations is ideal, he says.

Joan Kee, a professor at the University of Michigan with the university's history of art department, says that the length of time required for a Ph.D. varies widely depending on what subject the Ph.D. focuses on. "Ph.D. program length is very discipline and even field-specific; for example, you can and are expected to finish a Ph.D, in economics in under five years, but that would be impossible in art history (or most of the humanities)," she wrote in an email.

Kee adds that humanities Ph.D. programs often require someone to learn a foreign language, and "fields like anthropology and art history require extensive field research." Kee says funding for a humanities Ph.D. program typically only lasts five years, even though it is uncommon for someone to obtain a Ph.D. degree in a humanities field within that time frame. "Because of this, many if not most Ph.D. students must work to make ends meet, thus further prolonging the time of completion," she says.

Jean Marie Carey, who earned her Ph.D. degree in art history and German from the University of Otago in New Zealand, encourages prospective Ph.D. students to check whether their potential Ph.D. program has published a timeline of how long it takes a Ph.D. student to complete their program. She says it is also prudent to speak with Ph.D. graduates of the school and ask about their experience.

Online Doctoral Programs: What to Expect

Ronald Wellman March 23, 2018

phd length in usa

Kristin Redington Bennett, the founder of the Illumii educational consulting firm in North Carolina, encourages Ph.D. hopefuls to think carefully about whether they want to become a scholar. Bennett, who has a Ph.D. in curriculum and assessment and who previously worked as an assistant professor at Wake Forest University , says a Ph.D. is most appropriate for someone who is a "lifelong learner." She says someone contemplating a Ph.D. should ask themselves the following questions "Are you a very curious person... and are you persistent?"

Bennett urges prospective Ph.D. students to visit the campuses of their target graduate programs since a Ph.D. program takes so much time that it is important to find a school that feels comfortable. She adds that aspiring Ph.D. students who prefer a collaborative learning environment should be wary of graduate programs that have a cut-throat and competitive atmosphere, since such students may not thrive in that type of setting.

Alumni of Ph.D. programs note that the process of obtaining a Ph.D. is arduous, regardless of the type of Ph.D. program. "A Ph.D. is a long commitment of your time, energy and financial resources, so it'll be easier on you if you are passionate about research," says Grace Lee, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and is the founder and CEO of Mastery Insights, an education and career coaching company, and the host of the Career Revisionist podcast.

"A Ph.D. isn't about rehashing years of knowledge that is already out there, but rather it is about your ability to generate new knowledge. Your intellectual masterpiece (which is your dissertation) takes a lot of time, intellectual creativity and innovation to put together, so you have to be truly passionate about that," Lee says.

Curtis says a prospective Ph.D. student's enthusiasm for academic work, teaching and research are the key criteria they should use to decide whether to obtain a Ph.D. degree. "While the time it takes to complete a doctorate is an understandable concern for many, my personal belief is that time is not the most important factor to consider," he says. "Good Ph.D. programs provide their students with generous stipends, health care and sometimes even subsidized housing."

Erin Skelly, a graduate admissions counselor at the IvyWise admissions consulting firm, says when a Ph.D. students struggles to complete his or her Ph.D. degree, it may have more to do with the student's academic interests or personal circumstances than his or her program.

"The time to complete a Ph.D. can depend on a number of variables, but the specific discipline or school would only account for a year or two's difference," she wrote in an email. "When a student takes significantly longer to complete a Ph.D. (degree), it's usually related to the student's coursework and research – they need to take additional coursework to complete their comprehensive exams; they change the focus of their program or dissertation, requiring extra coursework or research; or their research doesn't yield the results they hoped for, and they need to generate a new theory and conduct more research."

Skelly warns that the average completion time of a Ph.D. program may be misleading in some cases, if the average is skewed based on one or two outliers. She suggests that instead of focusing on the duration of a particular Ph.D. program, prospective students should investigate the program's attritition and graduation rates.

"It is worthwhile to look at the program requirements and the school's proposed timeline for completion, and meet current students to get their input on how realistic these expectations for completion are," Skelly says. "That can give you an honest idea of how long it will really take to complete the program."

Searching for a grad school? Access our complete rankings of Best Graduate Schools.

Tags: graduate schools , education , students

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How Long Does It Take to Get a Ph.D. Degree?

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Earning a Ph.D. from a U.S. grad school typically requires nearly six years, federal statistics show.

phd length in usa

(CAIAIMAGE/TOM MERTON/GETTY IMAGES)

A Ph.D. is most appropriate for someone who is a “lifelong learner.” 

Students who have excelled within a specific academic discipline and who have a strong interest in that field may choose to pursue a Ph.D. degree. However, Ph.D. degree-holders urge prospective students to think carefully about whether they truly want or need a doctoral degree, since Ph.D. programs last for multiple years.

According to the Survey of Earned Doctorates, a census of recent research doctorate recipients who earned their degree from U.S. institutions, the median amount of time it took individuals who received their doctorates in 2017 to complete their program was 5.8 years. However, there are many types of programs that typically take longer than six years to complete, such as humanities and arts doctorates, where the median time for individuals to earn their degree was 7.1 years, according to the survey.

Some Ph.D. candidates begin doctoral programs after they have already obtained master’s degrees, which means the time spent in grad school is a combination of the time spent pursuing a master’s and the years invested in a doctorate. In order to receive a Ph.D. degree, a student must produce and successfully defend an original academic dissertation, which must be approved by a dissertation committtee. Writing and defending a dissertation is so difficult that many Ph.D. students drop out of their Ph.D. programs having done most of the work necessary for degree without completing the dissertation component. These Ph.D. program dropouts often use the phrase “ all but dissertation ” or the abbreviation “ABD” on their resumes.

According to a comprehensive study of  Ph.D. completion rates  published by The Council of Graduate Schools in 2008, only 56.6% of people who begin Ph.D. programs earn Ph.D. degrees.

Ian Curtis, a founding partner with H&C Education, an educational and admissions consulting firm, who is pursuing a Ph.D. degree in French at Yale University , says there are several steps involved in the process of obtaining a Ph.D. Students typically need to fulfill course requirements and pass comprehensive exams, Curtis warns. “Once these obligations have been completed, how long it takes you to write your dissertation depends on who you are, how you work, what field you’re in and what other responsibilities you have in life,” he wrote in an email. Though some Ph.D. students can write a dissertation in a single year, that is rare, and the dissertation writing process may last for several years, Curtis says.

[ READ: What Is a Doctorate or a Doctoral Degree?  ]

Curtis adds that the level of support a Ph.D. student receives from an academic advisor or faculty mentor can be a key factor in determining the length of time it takes to complete a Ph.D. program. “Before you decide to enroll at a specific program, you’ll want to meet your future advisor,” Curtis advises. “Also, reach out to his or her current and former students to get a sense of what he or she is like to work with.”

Curtis also notes that if there is a gap between the amount of time it takes to complete a Ph.D. and the amount of time a student’s funding lasts, this can slow down the Ph.D. completion process. “Keep in mind that if you run out of funding at some point during your doctorate, you will need to find paid work, and this will leave you even less time to focus on writing your dissertation,” he says. “If one of the programs you’re looking at has a record of significantly longer – or shorter – times to competition, this is good information to take into consideration.”

Pierre Huguet, the CEO and co-founder of H&C Education, says prospective Ph.D. students should be aware that a Ph.D. is designed to prepare a person for a career as a scholar. “Most of the jobs available to Ph.D. students upon graduation are academic in nature and directly related to their fields of study: professor, researcher, etc.,” Huguet wrote in an email. “The truth is that more specialization can mean fewer job opportunities. Before starting a Ph.D., students should be sure that they want to pursue a career in academia, or in research. If not, they should make time during the Ph.D. to show recruiters that they’ve traveled beyond their labs and libraries to gain some professional hands-on experience.”

Jack Appleman, a business writing instructor, published author and Ph.D. candidate focusing on organizational communication with the  University at Albany—SUNY , says Ph.D. programs require a level of commitment and focus that goes beyond what is necessary for a typical corporate job. A program with flexible course requirements that allow a student to customize his or her curriculum based on academic interests and personal obligations is ideal, he says.

[ READ: Ph.D. Programs Get a Lot More Practical.  ]

Joan Kee, a professor at the University of Michigan  with the university’s history of art department, says that the length of time required for a Ph.D. varies widely depending on what subject the Ph.D. focuses on. “Ph.D. program length is very discipline and even field-specific; for example, you can and are expected to finish a Ph.D, in economics in under five years, but that would be impossible in art history (or most of the humanities),” she wrote in an email.

Jean Marie Carey, who earned her Ph.D. degree in art history and German from the  University of Otago  in New Zealand, encourages prospective Ph.D. students to check whether their potential Ph.D. program has published a timeline of how long it takes a Ph.D. student to complete their program. She says it is also prudent to speak with Ph.D. graduates of the school and ask about their experience.

Bennett urges prospective Ph.D. students to visit the campuses of their target graduate programs since a Ph.D. program takes so much time that it is important to find a school that feels comfortable. She adds that aspiring Ph.D. students who prefer a collaborative learning environment should be wary of graduate programs that have a cut-throat and competitive atmosphere, since such students may not thrive in that type of setting.

[ READ: 4 Fields Where Doctorates Lead to Jobs.  ]

Alumni of Ph.D. programs note that the process of obtaining a Ph.D. is arduous, regardless of the type of Ph.D. program. “A Ph.D. is a long commitment of your time, energy and financial resources, so it’ll be easier on you if you are passionate about research,” says Grace Lee, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and is the founder and CEO of Mastery Insights, an education and career coaching company, and the host of the Career Revisionist podcast.

“A Ph.D. isn’t about rehashing years of knowledge that is already out there, but rather it is about your ability to generate new knowledge. Your intellectual masterpiece (which is your dissertation) takes a lot of time, intellectual creativity and innovation to put together, so you have to be truly passionate about that,” Lee says.

Erin Skelly, a graduate admissions counselor at the IvyWise admissions consulting firm, says when a Ph.D. students struggles to complete his or her Ph.D. degree, it may have more to do with the student’s academic interests or personal circumstances than his or her program.

“The time to complete a Ph.D. can depend on a number of variables, but the specific discipline or school would only account for a year or two’s difference,” she wrote in an email. “When a student takes significantly longer to complete a Ph.D. (degree), it’s usually related to the student’s coursework and research – they need to take additional coursework to complete their comprehensive exams; they change the focus of their program or dissertation, requiring extra coursework or research; or their research doesn’t yield the results they hoped for, and they need to generate a new theory and conduct more research.”

Skelly warns that the average completion time of a Ph.D. program may be misleading in some cases, if the average is skewed based on one or two outliers. She suggests that instead of focusing on the duration of a particular Ph.D. program, prospective students should investigate the program’s attritition and graduation rates.

“It is worthwhile to look at the program requirements and the school’s proposed timeline for completion, and meet current students to get their input on how realistic these expectations for completion are,” Skelly says. “That can give you an honest idea of how long it will really take to complete the program.”

Searching for a grad school? Access our  complete rankings  of Best Graduate Schools.

  • Graduate School

How Long Does it Take to Get a PhD?: A Go-Getter’s Guide to Graduation

Featured Expert: Dr. Charlene Hoi, PhD

How Long Does it Take to Get a PhD?

How long does it take to get a PhD? On average, PhD programs are 4 or 5 years long. The time it takes to get a PhD is slightly longer in the US, between 4-6 years, because these programs tend to be more structured. If you want to know how to get a PhD in Canada or Europe, you can expect it to take 3-5 years. However, there are PhD programs that take longer, such as part-time programs, or are extremely short, like online accelerated PhD programs. Ultimately, how long it takes to get a PhD is up to you. In this article, we’ll look at the average PhD program lengths, the typical PhD timeline, and tips on how to get your PhD finished faster.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

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Article Contents 13 min read

How long does it take to get a phd.

On average, it takes 4-5 years to complete a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program. In the US, most PhD programs are between 4-6 years, while in Canada they are typically shorter, around 3-4 years.

Some students take longer than 6 years to complete their PhD, but in general the longest time it takes to get a PhD is capped at 8 years. If you’re enrolling in a part-time PhD program, for instance, your timeline will probably be extended to 6-8 years.

The shortest PhD programs out there are accelerated or sometimes online PhD programs. Some of these are only 1-2 years long, but there are comparatively fewer programs available, and they are only suitable for certain fields and careers which require less intensive research which defines most PhD programs.

One of the main reasons why it takes many years to get a PhD is because these programs are comprehensive and the requirements to graduate are extensive. Most have a set number of credit hours you need to complete, examinations to write, plus you’ll need to write your PhD thesis or dissertation, unless you pursue a PhD without dissertation .

There are certainly ways to shorten the PhD application timeline and time to graduate, which includes enrolling in a shorter program if possible, increasing your course load or the number of research hours you can dedicate per week, but generally a PhD will still take some time.

Even if you want to do a PhD without a master’s degree first, such as by applying to a direct entry PhD program, the program is still usually 4-5 years long.

We’ll take a look at the typical PhD timeline and how long it takes to get a PhD normally. After, we’ll cover some tips on how to get your PhD done faster or how you can avoid dragging things out.

In North America, the typical PhD program is divided into two stages. The first stage is where you complete all the required coursework, comprehensive exams and other academic requirements, depending on the program. The second stage is when you submit a proposal for original, independent research, get it approved and start working on your thesis or dissertation. Your PhD culminates with your thesis defense. Once your thesis has been approved, you’ll be eligible to graduate.

This timeline is somewhat flexible, as you might complete the first stage in 1 or 2 years but take longer to complete your dissertation. For the purpose of this general PhD schedule, we’ll assume your PhD program is a typical length of 4-6 years.

Application Stage

We’ve included the application stage of getting your PhD here first because the grad school application timeline can take several months to put together your application package and hear back about acceptance to a program. Secondly, because the application stage involves some critical steps you’ll need to complete in order to get your PhD.

1. Research proposal

To apply to a PhD program, you’ll most likely be required to submit a research proposal and be prepared to answer any research proposal questions your advisor will have. This is your “proposal” of what research question you will explore during your studies at a program, or an outline of what research topic you want to pursue. If you’re not sure how to write a research proposal, check out these Oxford PhD proposal samples or a Cambridge PhD proposal sample.

2. Application materials

The admission requirements for a PhD can vary from program to program, but here are the general components of a PhD application:

  • Required prerequisite coursework
  • Official transcripts (and minimum GPA)
  • Graduate school statement of purpose
  • CV for graduate school or research resume
  • PhD motivation letter

Some programs may also ask you to submit additional essays, such as a letter of intent, research interest statement or grad school career goals statement .

Many PhD programs also invite you to a grad school interview to get to know you better. Be ready for common graduate school interview questions such as “ tell me about yourself ” and “ why do you want to do a PhD ?”

Writing a grad school statement of purpose? Check out these examples:

PhD Years 1-3: Coursework Stage

1. orientation.

Your PhD program will usually begin with your orientation, where you’ll learn about the program’s individual structure, requirements and expectations. You’ll also either choose or be assigned an academic advisor and schedule an initial meeting with them. Your advisor will be a member of the university faculty who will act as your support while you complete your research and write your thesis.

2. Coursework

The first year or two of your PhD will involve completing required advanced coursework in your field. You’ll attend lectures and seminars and you may participate in research projects with department faculty or fellow graduate students or even lab work, depending on your field.

3. Electives

Along with required coursework, you’ll have the chance to take elective courses that interest you or relate to your field. It’s important to choose electives that will enrich your program. Choose ones that really interest you, that might help inform your PhD research or that will help you fulfill your credit requirements.

4. Extracurriculars

PhD programs sometimes have extracurricular activities or additional requirements outside the classroom. This can include internships or a practicum you need to complete for credit, or you might be interested in attending academic conferences or relevant events to socialize and network you’re your colleagues in the field.

5. Comprehensive exams

The coursework stage of your PhD program will end with comprehensive exams , sometimes called qualifying or preliminary exams. These are your “final exams” to make sure that you completed the necessary PhD coursework and that you’re ready and qualified to take on your own independent research in the next phase.

1. Thesis proposal

You may recall that you submitted a research proposal as part of your PhD application, and this step of the process is similar. Your thesis proposal is just like your research proposal, but it’s a more refined and developed version. Throughout your coursework, your research question might have changed or you might have changed course a little bit. If you’re still thinking about your PhD topic , take the time to solidify it before you reach the thesis proposal stage.

Your research proposal might have been a first draft, while your thesis proposal is your official announcement of: this is what I propose to research in this PhD program.

Depending on your field and the program, you thesis research might involve a great deal of lab work, or data collection or fieldwork. Whatever the case, your thesis proposal is a complete outline of what you intend to do for this independent research project and the steps you’ll take.

2. Thesis approval

Once your proposal is written, you’ll submit it for approval. Your academic advisor, PhD supervisor or the PhD committee overseeing your program will review it and either approve it or make suggestions for changes. Once it’s been polished and finalized, you’ll be given the go ahead to start conducting your research.

3. PhD research

Your research alone will probably take you several semesters to complete. On top of the fieldwork, lab work or data collection and analysis you’ll be completing, you’ll be using this time to write and review. Writing your thesis or dissertation takes a fair number of hours to outline, draft, edit and complete. It also means hitting the books to complete a literature review of your research topic so you have a complete background understanding of your chosen topic and how it will inform your research.

Your research and the preparation of your thesis is really the biggest part of this second stage, and is probably the longest part of your PhD altogether.

4. Extra requirements

When you’re not deep in your research, you’ll be completing other requirements of your PhD program or additional duties that enrich your education. Some programs require you to dedicate some hours to teaching, whether it be leading seminars for undergraduate students or acting as a teaching assistant for university faculty.

You’ll also be strongly encouraged to publish as a graduate student , so you may be involved in the research projects of faculty members or other grad students when you’re not working on your dissertation.

5. Thesis submission and preparation for thesis defense

When you’re finished writing your thesis and you’re ready to submit it, it’s critical to know how to prepare for thesis defense . Because not only do you have to complete this original, new body of research work, you have to get the approval of your PhD committee to put it out into the world.

Your thesis defense is essentially the final presentation of your PhD.

6. Thesis defense

Your thesis defense is an oral presentation of your research project, but it also involves submitting your written document to be reviewed. Essentially, you’ll present the entirety of your thesis to the PhD supervising committee, including your findings and conclusions. From there, the committee will ask thesis defense questions . Your answers will defend your methodology and results to the committee, basically proving the value and validity of your work. While this is an evaluation of sorts, it is also your opportunity to share your original ideas and invite further research into your topic.

After your defense, the PhD committee will either approve your thesis or send it back to you with edits or changes to be made before it can be formally approved.

Graduation and Postdoc

Once your thesis has been approved, congratulations! You’ll be eligible for graduation and be awarded your degree. Now that you’ve finished this marathon, you can choose to pursue further studies or start looking for a job after grad school .

With a PhD, you have many different options for positions in your field. You might want to know how to find a job in academia or how to get a tenure track position at a university if you’re interested in teaching others. PhD graduates who decide to transition from academia to industry or who would rather work outside the realm of academia can find industry jobs after PhD that suit their skills and experiences.

Either way, you’ll need to prepare for how to find a postdoc position, explore what the career options are for you, decide what your career goals are and start sending out applications. Remember to prep your postdoc resume and get read for postdoc interview questions , since the job hunt will begin soon after you finish your PhD!

Is it possible to get your PhD done faster? What are some ways you can speed up the process and avoid taking 8 years to complete your graduate studies? Luckily, there are many key ways you can make your journey through grad school easier and speed things up a little, from the type of PhD program you choose to the habits and skills you cultivate during your program.

#1 Enroll in an accelerated program

The first way to guarantee it will take less time to get your PhD is to, of course, enroll in a shorter PhD program. Direct entry PhD programs allow you to enroll once you’ve completed your bachelor’s degree in exceptional circumstances. Note that these are not the easiest PhD programs to get into , as your academic record needs to be excellent, and you’ll likely need prior research experience and you may even need to have publications already. However, a direct entry PhD program is around 4-5 years, but it allows you to skip the 1-2 years it would take to earn a master’s degree.

You can also choose to enroll in an online or accelerated PhD program that is designed to be much shorter than the traditional PhD. Once again, though, these programs are not available to students in every field, so you may need to research whether there are any options for you.

#2 Choose the right mentor

One of the first things you can do to ensure your PhD is smooth sailing is to choose the right mentor or academic advisor. Many programs allow you to choose your advisor, while some assign one to you. Whatever the case, it’s important to establish a strong working relationship and clear expectations early on.

One of the first things you’ll do as a PhD student is meet with your advisor. Take the time to discuss with them what your expectations for the program are, ask questions and ask them what their expectations are of you. Your advisor is there to help you and advise you, and they have resources and connections you can use to your advantage. But they are also working with a busy schedule and might be advising more than one PhD student, too. A mutually respectful relationship with open communication will ensure fewer interpersonal hurdles down the road.

#3 Earn credit hours faster

One way you can shave some time off your PhD is by earning your credit hours faster and getting to the research and thesis-writing stage faster. This might mean you take on a full-time course load or ask your advisor for ways to earn extra credit, such as participating in research projects. Some PhD programs will give you course credit for previous graduate level coursework you might have completed during your master’s degree, or for certifications and professional education you completed outside of school.

#4 Keep your thesis focused

When you get started on your research, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the amount of work you need to complete, with the writing of your thesis on top of it all. One way to keep your research hyper-focused and on point is to keep your thesis topic narrow. If your subject is too broad, you’ll be spending way too much time in your research. Give yourself clear objectives and scope, and don’t deviate from your PhD proposal if you don’t have to.

There may be a million questions you want to explore within your PhD topic, but there will be other opportunities to explore them. Keep your focus narrow so you don’t spend years and years asking and answering research questions!

One of the best things you can do to get your PhD done faster and adjust to the experience of graduate school is to change your thinking. Adopt a growth mindset so that you’re open to new learning, willing to listen to constructive feedback on your proposal or thesis and willing to grow your skills. A PhD is an advanced program, and you’ll already be very skilled, but it is also an opportunity to learn and grow. There will be challenges for you, so be ready to meet and overcome them instead of letting them draw you back or slow you down.

#5 Develop your professional skills fast

A PhD is an opportunity to grow your professional skillset as much as it is an opportunity for you to contribute meaningfully to your field. If you haven’t already been working on skills such as communication, presenting or lecturing and writing, now is the time to start.

Strong writing skills will help you get your thesis finished and edited faster, as you’ll be more familiar with the process and understand what makes a strong document. It’s also a useful skill to learn how to write effective funding proposals or grant proposals. You may need to do so to secure funding for your research, but it’s a highly valuable skill in the workforce, too.

Good presentation skills will help you during your thesis defense or if you’re asked to present during a conference. They will also help you build confidence in your voice and ideas and make you a better communicator when you’re networking or job searching.

#6 Keep to your schedule

This is maybe the most important skill if you want to finish your PhD faster: make a detailed schedule and hold yourself accountable to it. If you like, you can plan out your entire PhD week by week from Day 1. Write down what your course schedule is, when you’ll do research and how many hours, when you’ll write and how many hours, what extracurriculars or personal activities will take up your time and so on.

A detailed schedule gives you an overview of your PhD and a timeline of when you’ll finish. It will keep you organized and accountable, so you can avoid procrastinating or avoidable speed bumps that might slow you down. It also helps you compartmentalize the many items on your to-do list so you don’t stress out about how much you need to accomplish.

When creating your schedule, especially during the research stage when there is no formal class schedule for you to adhere to, focus on deliverables. Set a date when you will submit a section of your thesis to your advisor, or when you will complete your literature review. Setting goals and clear outcomes will keep you on track and focused.

#7 Take initiative and be independent

The last tip to help you get your PhD done faster is to take initiative. Remember that a PhD is a largely independent endeavor. You’ll have the support of a committee or advisor, but you can’t rely on them to do the work for you or put everything on hold if they aren’t available when you need them. Be flexible and adaptable so you can keep working and moving forward, even if your schedule gets interrupted or needs to change to suit your situation.

It's also important to take the initiative in your learning. Take advantage of opportunities for growth, networking, and gaining experience where you can. Get the most out of your PhD program and use your experiences to fuel your end goal of completing your thesis.

On average, it takes 4-5 years to get a PhD. There are a few factors that can influence the time it takes to complete your PhD, from program length and structure to what country you are earning your PhD in, to your own personal work ethic and schedule.

PhD programs in the US are on average 4-6 years. In Canada and the UK, they are usually 3-5 years long. Part-time PhD programs may take up to 7-8 years to complete. Direct-entry PhD programs and dual master’s and PhD programs are typically 5 years long. If you’re enrolling in an online, hybrid or accelerated PhD program, the timeline is usually 2-3 years, but there are some extremely short 1-year PhD programs offered online for specific disciplines.

Yes, you can finish your PhD before the “normal” timeline. For example, if you complete your coursework early, if you finish writing your thesis faster than average and get it approved, or if you otherwise complete all your PhD program requirements before the anticipated finish date. 

Yes, there are online PhDs available for certain fields and disciplines. These typically range from 2-3 years, although there are some traditional 4-year PhD programs offered online. There are also some “accelerated” online PhDs which last 12-18 months.

A PhD program is not necessarily shorter if you first complete a master’s degree, but having gone through a master’s program can better prepare you to finish your PhD faster. Some PhD programs accept credit hours from your master’s degree towards the coursework requirements for a PhD, and if you’ve previously written a master’s thesis or completed some research during your graduate studies, this will be an advantage. Since you’ll already be familiar with the process of writing a thesis and conducting your own research, you can avoid some stumbling blocks in your PhD program that might otherwise slow down your progress.

Yes, it is possible to get a PhD without first completing a master’s degree. There are direct entry PhD programs that allow students with a bachelor’s degree to enroll, so long as they meet the admission requirements and have exceptional academic records. Some online PhDs also waive the master’s degree requirement.

Yes, it is possible to complete a traditional PhD program in a shorter amount of time than anticipate. This usually means dedicating yourself to full-time study or taking on a larger course load and increased research hours. It takes significant work, but it can be done with the right schedule and commitment.

The fastest PhD programs are the short, 1-year accelerated programs. These programs have fewer credit hours to complete, and some have no dissertation requirement, only qualifying exams to finish. However, there are not many programs out there, and they are not available for every field of interest.

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How Long Does It Take To Get a PhD?

A PhD program typically takes four to seven years, but a variety of factors can impact that timeline.

[Featured Image] A woman in a library is holding a pen to her temple and looking at her laptop.

A PhD , or doctorate degree , is the highest degree you can earn in certain disciplines, such as psychology, engineering, education, and mathematics. As a result, it often takes longer to earn than it does for a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

While many PhD programs are designed to be finished in four or five years, the average completion time is much longer when you factor in the time it takes to research and write a dissertation. In 2020, for example, doctoral students took between six and twelve years to complete their PhDs [ 1 ]. By comparison, you can complete a master's degree in one to three years.

In this article, we'll explore the requirements of a PhD, what often ends up adding to the length of time, and important factors you should consider when deciding whether it’s the right choice for you.

PhD requirements + general timeline

Doctoral programs typically require PhD candidates to take take advanced courses, pass a comprehensive exam (sometimes called "comps"), and produce an original body of research, such as a dissertation, to obtain the degree. In some cases, you may also be expected to fulfill a teaching assistantship or research assistantship, both of which are meant to prepare you for a career in academia or research.

PhD requirements

The precise requirements you'll need to complete in order to get your PhD vary from one program to another, but some common tasks include:

Advanced coursework: Graduate-level coursework that explores a number of advanced sub-topics related to your field

Comprehensive exam: An exam that requires you to show knowledge of your field, such as its history, important figures, major theories or research, and more

Dissertation: An original body of research you contribute to your field

PhD timeline

The specifics of a PhD program vary by college and university, but the following estimates give you an idea of what to expect during your time in graduate school:

Year 1: Complete advanced coursework.

Year 2: Complete advanced coursework and begin preparing for your comprehensive exams.

Year 3: Study, take, and defend your comprehensive exams. Begin researching your dissertation proposal.

Year 4: Submit your dissertation proposal to your committee chair, and, once approved, begin working on your dissertation.

Year 5: Finish writing your dissertation and submit for committee approval. Defend your dissertation and apply for graduation.

Note that while this timeline gives a general timeline of how long it will take to complete a PhD program, it's very common for candidates to take more than one year to research and compose their dissertation.

Read more: Should You Go Back to School? 7 Things to Consider

PhD timelines by focus

Some PhD programs take longer to complete than others. For example, earning a doctorate in a science and engineering field typically takes less time than earning a doctorate in the arts or humanities, according to data from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) [ 1 ]. The list below shows the median length of time it took doctorate students to earn their degree in 2020:

Physical and Earth Sciences: 6.3 

Engineering: 6.8 years

Life sciences: 6.9 years

Mathematics and computer science: 7 years

Psychology and Social Sciences: 7.9 years

Humanities and arts: 9.6 years

Education: 12 years

Learn more: What Is a Terminal Degree and Do I Need One?

Why does it take so long to complete a PhD?

There are a few reasons why it takes more time to complete a PhD compared to other advanced degrees.

1. Dissertations

Once a doctoral student has successfully passed their comps, they are considered “All But Dissertation” or “ABD.” Yet, the number of students who successfully complete their PhD program remains low—estimates show that nearly 50 percent of students drop out, often after reaching the dissertation phase [ 2 ].

The dissertation phase can often take much longer to complete than the other requirements of a PhD. Researching and writing a dissertation takes significant time because students are expected to make an original and notable contribution to their field.

2. Assistantship obligations

Teaching and research assistantships are beneficial because they can help pay for a PhD program, but they may also take time away from working on your dissertation. Some students are expected to teach at least one class per semester on top of their other obligations as graduate students.

For universities that reduce the teaching or research load that students have as part of their assistantship, times to completion tend to improve. Humanities students at Princeton University began finishing their degree in 6.4 years (compared to 7.5 years) thanks to the institution's financial support and the reduced number of classes students taught [ 3 ].

3. Other responsibilities

Doctoral students tend to be older. Graduate students pursuing a PhD in science or engineering were an average of 31.6 years old by the time they earned their degree in 2016, according to the National Science Foundation [ 4 ]. In effect, some PhD students may have competing obligations, such as family. If a student’s funding has run out, and they have to find full-time work, it also may affect the time they can dedicate to writing their dissertation.

Is a PhD right for you?

People pursue PhDs for various reasons: Some want a job that requires the degree, such as teaching at a university, while others want the challenges or intellectual engagement that a graduate program offers. Identifying why you want to earn a PhD can help indicate whether it’s your best choice.

If your career aspirations don't require a PhD, it might be better to focus on gaining professional experience. Or if you're interested in an advanced education, a master's degree may be a better option. It takes less time to complete than a PhD and can lead to more career opportunities and larger salaries than a bachelor's degree.

Learn more: Is a Master’s Degree Worth It?

Benefits of a PhD

The primary advantage of earning a PhD is your increased demand and marketability in the workforce.

In 2018, less than 5 percent of the United States population had a doctorate degree, compared to about 48 percent with a bachelor's degree and 21 percent with a master's degree, according to the US Census Bureau [ 5 ]. As a member of this elite group, the potential for advanced roles, promotions, or pay raises may be greater.

Even before you have a degree in hand, working toward a PhD gives you opportunities to hone valuable skills , including writing, research, and data analysis . Furthermore, completing a PhD program can demonstrate to potential employers that you have specialized knowledge and the fortitude to finish such an advanced degree.

Costs of a PhD

Beyond the time they take to complete, PhD programs can be expensive. The average cost of a PhD program in the United States is just under $100,000. At some schools, the cost of a PhD can even exceed $200,000 [ 6 ]. While many institutions offer funding support in the form of assistantships or scholarships, many PhD students still graduate with student loan debt. In 2023, the average student loan debt for PhD was $134,797 [ 7 ].

Another factor to consider is the loss of income you might incur while you're working toward your degree. Some graduate students accept teaching or research assistantships to help fund the cost of their program, but these may not pay as much as full-time positions. Working on your education may also mean pausing the professional experience you’d gain in the workforce—and potentially losing out on promotions and raises. However, it’s worth noting that graduate degree holders earn much more over the course of their lifetime than bachelor’s degree holders, according to the US Social Security Administration [ 8 ].

Read more: How to Pay for Graduate School: 8 Ways

Set yourself up for success

A PhD is a major accomplishment. As you think about your long-term goals and whether a PhD will help you achieve them, it's important to understand ways you can set yourself up for success. According to the University of Georgia, success in a PhD program often means [ 9 ]:

Understanding the demands and expectations of the program

Receiving adequate program orientation

Getting support from peers and faculty

Feeling a sense of belonging as a member of an academic community

These conditions underscore the importance of choosing the right program and school to fit your personal and professional goals. Take time to research the ways your potential institution offers financial support, mental health support, and career placement support, among other program features.

An advanced degree can be a lucrative credential. You can earn your master’s in a number of in-demand fields from top universities on Coursera. Earn a degree in computer science , business , management , or public health , all while enjoying greater flexibility than an in-person degree program tends to offer. Earning your master's can also help you discern whether a PhD makes sense for your larger objectives.

Article sources

Survey of Earned Doctorates. " Path to the doctorate , https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf22300/report/path-to-the-doctorate." Accessed January 30, 2024.

International Journal of Higher Education. “ Who Are the Doctoral Students Who Drop Out? , https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1188721.pdf.” Accessed January 30, 2024.

The New York Times. " Exploring Ways to Shorten the Ascent to a PhD , https://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/03/education/03education.html." Accessed January 30, 2024.

National Science Foundation. " Science and Engineering Doctorates , https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2018/nsf18304/report/age-at-doctorate-award-what-are-the-overall-trends-and-characteristics/characteristics-of-doctorate-recipients-sex.cfm." Accessed January 30, 2024.

US Census Bureau. " About 13.1 Percent Have a Master’s, Professional Degree or Doctorate , https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/02/number-of-people-with-masters-and-phd-degrees-double-since-2000.html." Accessed January 30, 2024.

Education Data Initiative. " Average Cost of a Doctorate Degree , https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-a-doctorate-degree." Accessed January 30, 2024.

Education Data Initiative. " Average Graduate Student Loan Debt , https://educationdata.org/average-graduate-student-loan-debt." Accessed January 30, 2024.

Social Security Administration. " Education and Lifetime Earnings , https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/research-summaries/education-earnings.html." Accessed January 30, 2024.

 A Data-Driven Approach to Improving Doctoral Completion. " Chapter 2: Description of Projects , https://cgsnet.org/cgs-occasional-paper-series/university-georgia/chapter-2." Accessed January 30, 2024.

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Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

What Is The Average Time to Obtain a Ph.D.?

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Pursuing a Doctorate Degree

Making the decision to pursue a Ph.D can be an exciting time. Those seeking terminal degrees are often exhilarated by the thought of spending years immersed in research pertaining to their field of interest, having the opportunity to teach classes, and publishing academic articles. Before embarking on the long educational journey, most learners wonder how long the process will take.

Explore Online PhD Programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online PhD degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online PhD programs.

The 5 Year Ph.D

In previous years, it was common to finish a master's degree and then for those who wished to continue in their studies, the next five years would be spent working towards a doctoral degree. Those five years were spent learning new materials, teaching undergraduates, working as a lab assistant, and doing research for a dissertation. According to the  science and communications blog  Figure One, a decade ago it was very rare for a dissertation program to take longer than seven years. Today however, a person entering a doctoral program can expect to spend at least six or seven years earning that degree.

Averages by Field of Study

According to Joseph Berger of the  New York Times , the average length of a dissertation program today is 8.2 years (2). Terminal degrees in the hard sciences typically take a slightly shorter time to complete than do degrees in education and the humanities. The field of physics has a current average of five years. The psychology field averages five to seven years. New doctoral students in the fields of history or english can expect to spend eight years completing the degree. Some fields of study require a significantly longer degree process. For example, in the field of education, the current average is 13 years.

Why Does a Ph.D Take So Long?

Today's doctoral students have significantly more demands placed on them than ever before. Most students today are earning their degrees while raising a family and working full time. The first two to three years of the doctoral program will likely be spent taking required and elective classes. Many of these courses have research components that can cause those courses to be time consuming. Students are often working a second job as a teaching assistant or research assistant during this phase of the program. Some fields of study, like teaching and psychology, can also require a residency or internship during the doctoral process.

Following the coursework, students must then study for and pass a comprehensive examination. This exam allows the faculty to ensure that the students have met all academic criteria needed to gain expertise in the field of study. This process can take several months to complete.

Once the comprehensive exam has been passed, Ph.D candidates begin the research and dissertation phase. In some fields of study, this can be accomplished in a year or eighteen months. However, many areas of research demand a dissertation process that is three years long or longer due to more intensive Institutional Review Board (IRB) requirements, study design, and data analysis. Today's doctoral students are also expected to participate as an assistant in research to be published in journals during their Ph.D process.

The Bottom Line

When deciding to pursue an advanced degree, it is essential that the student considers the significant investment of both money and time. Today's doctoral student can expect to spend almost a decade studying and researching to become experts in the field. This highly demanding process can also be immensely rewarding at the end of the process when you finally earn the title of "doctor".

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Studying a PhD in The USA - The Complete Guide

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PhD USA

The USA is a favourable postgraduate study destination for international students due to the high standard of academic study and the wide variety of subjects. By undertaking a PhD in the USA, you will find yourself becoming an internationally recognised expert in your chosen field.

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the USA is considered the highest awarded degree in many US universities and institutes for most fields of study. For many international students, it's a dream course that offers an exciting new life chapter.

Attending Grad School for a PhD in the USA is not the same as undertaking a PhD in Europe or the UK , it can often be a different experience. However, studying abroad will improve your global cultural understanding in addition to your network of contacts for your future career. A PhD degree is often required when you apply for high-level management jobs, government expert positions, and careers like a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields.

There are a multitude of reasons why the United States is a fantastic choice for your PhD studies. Here’s everything you need to know about studying a PhD in the USA.

1. PhD course length

The total length of a PhD in the USA is between 4-8 years for full-time students and 8-10 years for part-time students, depending on your field of study. PhDs can be completed in 4-5 years for students with a masters degree in an appropriate subject. Students typically dedicate 1-4 years on coursework, followed by 2-4 years of dissertation work. In the USA, the academic year is divided into two teaching semesters: August to December and January to May. 

Having a longer duration for your PhD allows for greater opportunities to adjust to your course and find your footing. This enables you to concentrate on developing a more comprehensive understanding of your chosen subject at a more relaxed pace.

2. World-class universities

The US repeatedly tops the charts of worldwide ranking universities, so what better place to do your PhD studies? Although rankings shouldn’t be the main deciding factor when making your PhD choice, they're a great indicator of educational expertise.

There are many factors to consider when choosing the location for your PhD. Does the university have a high employability rate after graduation? Are you wanting to go public or private university? What kind of research facilities do they have? 

Be sure to do some research before making a decision on your perfect place of study.

3. International community

The United States is a popular choice for international students from all over the world – making it an inspirational and cosmopolitan choice for your PhD studies. No matter what your choice of academic study is, you are guaranteed to find a diverse community that welcomes students from all backgrounds. 

4. Affordable tuition fees 

There are various tuition fee options available for PhD students regardless of your budget. The American higher education system is often associated with high fees and substantial student debt, but in fact, studying at an American university isn't always expensive, and many institutions offer affordable courses. For instance, PhD costs range from $28,000 to $55,000, which shows that finding a PhD course that’s more affordable is possible. 

5. Student experience

American universities typically have vibrant campus communities with a wide range of extracurricular activities, clubs and organisations. As a student, you will have the opportunity to engage in various social, cultural and recreational activities alongside your academic studies.

6. Student Support

American universities typically provide comprehensive support services to assist you on your PhD journey. These services may include academic advising, counselling, career services, libraries, writing centres and various student organisations aimed at fostering your personal and professional development.

7. Land of opportunity

It's fair to say that student life in the USA offers something for everyone, regardless of what you're looking for from a PhD. With 50 states, six time zones, and thousands of higher-education providers, there's an opportunity waiting for every individual across the globe.

So let’s take a look at some of the key factors to consider when studying for a PhD in the USA.

Studying a PhD in the USA: top tips

Who is eligible for a phd in the usa.

To be eligible for PhD in the USA, generally students should have completed a graduate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, provide proof of English language proficiency, GRE scores and other supporting documents.  The eligibility criteria for a PhD in the USA can vary depending on the specific university and program. 

Can I get a PhD without a masters degree?

Yes, you can pursue a PhD without having a masters. Universities in the USA do not require a masters for you to apply. Because of the graduate programs in the US, you will receive your masters degree once you have completed your coursework stage. This practice combines the masters and PhD into one.

The eligibility criteria and requirements for direct entry PhD programs vary among institutions and fields of study, so it is advisable to check the entry requirements of the specific university or course you are interested in.

How to apply for a PhD in the USA

When applying for your chosen subject in the USA, you should expect to provide relevant information and statements to the university. This will include:

Completed application form – provided by your preferred university.

A personal statement – on why you want to study the subject, your research interests and career goals. Be sure to include any extracurricular activities and achievements within the body of your statement.

References – universities will expect that your referees will recommend you for the chosen course.

Test scores and grades – you will generally need to submit scores from standardised tests like the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). 

English Language Proficiency – international applicants whose native language is not English usually need to provide proof of English language proficiency through tests like the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). It varies from institution to institution, but international students in the USA are required to have a TOEFL score of about 90.

Samples of work – it is recommended that you provide some work you have done that is relevant to your chosen subject. You may even be asked to complete a small task during the application process.

The application fee. 

Method of study

Compared to the UK and Europe , studying a PhD in the USA involves several key differences. Students in the USA are usually in direct contact with their professor, compared with those in the UK where students might find that their PhD program is headed by a professor who gives them a little less flexibility to change their research and study areas. There can be several cultural differences between UK, Europe, and USA university lifestyles. US students are expected to undertake a great deal of teaching and marking, as opposed to PhD students in Europe. 

As a result, you may have less free time outside of the university when pursuing a PhD in the USA.

Application for PhD In USA

When applying for your chosen subject, you should expect to provide relevant information and statements to the university. This might include:

A personal statement on why you want to study the subject. Be sure to include any extra-curricular activities and achievements within the body of your statement.

References. Universities will expect that your referees will recommend you for the chosen course.

Test scores and grades. It is important that you provide a list of your awarded grades from previous courses you have studied.

Samples of work. It is recommended that you provide some work you have done that is relevant to your chosen subject. You may even be asked to complete a small task during the application process.

UK and Europe students decide on their PhD thesis subject area before they apply . While taking classes at a graduate level, prospective PhD students in the USA spend up to a year or two deciding on their specific research subject. It is normal to apply for up to six institutions for a PhD in the USA, and students apply to each institution separately as there is no central organisation. 

Students in the UK and Europe are expected to apply with an understanding of the subject already, usually in the form of a masters degree, and be ready to start studying at the PhD level straight away. In the USA it is expected that students do not have an in-depth understanding of their subject as they usually only have an undergraduate degree when they apply. 

When should I start applying for a PhD in the USA?

Deadlines for applications to PhD programs in the USA tend to be between December and February, and institutions should let you know about your application by April. Most US institutions recommend that you apply as far in advance as you possibly can to give them, and you, plenty of time to make arrangements. 

Universities in the USA do not require a masters for you to apply as well. Because of the graduate programs in the US, you will receive your masters degree once you have completed your coursework stage. This practice combines the masters and PhD into one.

It varies from institution to institution, but international students in the USA are required to have a TOEFL score of about 90.

Funding your PhD in USA

PhD students are very likely to receive financial support in the form of PhD scholarships ; some USA PhD students also receive PhD studentships .

Making your PhD application in plenty of time allows you more time to apply for and arrange your PhD funding. Many students find that funding can cover much, or all, of the cost of their PhD studies in the USA, which ranges between $28,000 and $40,000. Deadlines for funding applications can be as early as December before starting your studies in the Autumn/Fall. 

There are two types of PhD funding: fully funded, which pays for the student's graduate school tuition fees, accommodation, and living expenses, or partially funded, which pays for the student's tuition only partially or fully.

Can a PhD be fully funded?

Yes, many top universities in the USA offer fully funded PhD programs for eligible students. This funding pays for the student's graduate school tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses. Partially funded PhDs only cover the student's tuition in part or in full.

Some PhD students will receive a stipend from their institution with an assistantship position, but this varies between institutions and between departments within institutions. Other students can find funding from both their own and the American government, and there are plenty of American government schemes like The Fulbright Program that offer funds.

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How long does it take to study a PhD in the USA?

For part-time students in the USA, a PhD can take eight to ten years, but it usually takes five to six years for full-time students. PhDs can be completed in four to five years rather than five or six for students with a masters degree in an appropriate subject.

Top 10 ranked American universities

Based on 2023 worldwide rankings, the following table shows which US universities rank the highest.

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A PhD is right for you if:

  • Your goal is to become a professor at a university or some other type of professional researcher.
  • You love research and are passionate about discovering the answer to a particular question.
  • You are willing to spend years pursuing your research even if you have to put up with a lot of dead ends and roadblocks.

A master’s degree is the better choice if any of the following apply:

  • You want to continue studies in your field, but you’re not committed to a career as a professional researcher.
  • You want to develop professional skills for a specific career.
  • You are willing to pay a higher upfront cost if it means finishing with your degree (and thus being able to work) much faster.
  • You want the option to study part-time while working.

The length of time required to complete a PhD or master’s degree varies. Unsurprisingly, PhDs take much longer, usually between 3–7 years. Master’s degrees are usually only 1–2 years.

Length of a master’s

Master’s degrees are usually 2 years, although 1-year master’s degrees also exist, mainly in the UK.

Most of the degree consists of classes and coursework, although many master’s programs include an intensive, semester-long master’s thesis or capstone project in which students bring together all they’ve learned to produce an original piece of work.

Length of a PhD

In the US, a PhD usually takes between 5 and 7 years to complete. The first 2 years are spent on coursework. Students, even those who choose to leave without finishing the program, usually receive a master’s degree at this point.

The next 3–5 years are spent preparing a dissertation —a lengthy piece of writing based on independent research, which aims to make a significant original contribution to one’s field.

Master’s degrees tend to prepare you for a career outside of academia, while PhDs are designed to lead to a career in research.

Careers for master’s graduates

There are two types of master’s degrees: terminal and research-intensive. The career prospects are different for each.

Terminal master’s degrees are intended to prepare students for careers outside of academia. Some degrees, known as professional degrees, specifically prepare students for particular professions; these include the Master of Public Policy (MPP), Master of Business Administration (MBA), Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), and Master of Public Health (MPH) degrees.

Other master’s degrees, usually Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Sciences (MS or MSc) degrees, do not necessarily lead to a specific career, but are intended to be a final degree. Examples include an MS in Communications or MS in Data Analytics.

In research-intensive master’s programs, students take coursework intended to prepare them for writing an original piece of research known as the master’s thesis . Such programs are usually intended to prepare for further study in a doctoral program.

Careers for PhD graduates

As research degrees, PhDs are usually intended to lead to an academic career. A PhD can be thought of like an apprenticeship, where students learn from professional researchers (academics) how to produce their own research.

Most students aspire to become a university professor upon the completion of their degree. However, careers in academia are highly competitive, and the skills learned in a doctoral program often lend themselves well to other types of careers.

Some graduates who find they prefer teaching to producing research go on to be teachers at liberal arts colleges or even secondary schools. Others work in research-intensive careers in the government, private sector, or at think tanks.

Below are a few examples of specific fields and non-academic careers that are common destinations of graduates of those fields.

  • Computer Science
  • Lab Sciences

Many government jobs, including economists at a country’s central bank, are research-intensive and require a PhD. Think tanks also hire economists to carry out independent research.

In the private sector, economic consulting and technology firms frequently hire PhDs to solve real-world problems that require complex mathematical modeling.

Graduate students from the humanities are sometimes hired by museums, who can make use of their research and writing skills to curate exhibits and run public outreach.

Humanities PhDs are often well-suited to research and grant-writing roles at nonprofits. Since so much of research is funded by grants, PhD students often gain a lot of experience applying for them, which is a useful skill in the nonprofit sector.

There are a wide range of non-academic research jobs for lab scientists with doctorates in subjects like chemistry, biology, ecology and physics.

Many PhD graduates are hired by pharmaceutical companies that need to perform research to create and test their products. Government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), also hire lab scientists to work on research projects.

Job prospects after graduation vary widely based on the field. In fields like management, computer science, statistics, and economics, there’s little underemployment—even graduates from less well-known programs can easily find jobs that pay well and use the skills they’ve gained from the PhD.

However, in other fields, particularly in the humanities, many PhD graduates have difficulty in the job market. Unfortunately, there are far more PhD graduates than assistant professor roles, so many instead take on part-time and low-paid roles as adjunct instructors. Even non-academic careers can sometimes be difficult for PhDs to move into, as they may be seen as “overqualified”  or as lacking in relevant professional experience.

Because career options post-PhD vary so much, you should take the time to figure out what the career prospects are in your field. Doctoral programs often have detailed “placement” records online in which they list the career outcomes of their graduates immediately upon leaving the program. If you can’t find these records, contact the program and ask for them—placement information should play an important role in your choice of PhD program.

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phd length in usa

Although PhDs take far longer to complete, students often receive a living stipend in exchange for being a teaching or research assistant. Master’s degrees are shorter but less likely to be funded.

Both master’s degrees and PhDs lead to increased salaries upon graduation. While PhDs usually earn a bit more than those with a master’s degree, in some fields, the wages are identical, meaning that no financial benefit is gained from going on to a PhD.

Cost of a master’s

The upfront cost of a master’s degree is usually higher than a doctoral degree due to the lower amount of financial aid available. However, increased salaries also arrive faster than with a doctoral degree, because people graduate much earlier from a master’s program.

Some master’s students do receive stipends for their degrees, usually as compensation for being a teaching or research assistant. In addition, many people complete master’s degrees part time while working full-time, which allows them to fund their living costs as well as tuition.

The cost varies significantly by school and program. Public schools are usually cheaper than private ones. Some master’s degrees, such as MBAs, are notoriously expensive, but also result in much higher wages afterwards that make up for the high cost.

The master’s wage premium , or the extra amount that someone with a master’s degree makes than someone with just a high school diploma, is 23% on average. Many universities provide detailed statistics on the career and salary outcomes of their students. If they do not have this online, you should feel free to contact an administrator of the program and ask.

Cost of a PhD

PhDs, particularly outside the humanities, are usually (though not always) funded, meaning that tuition fees are fully waived and students receive a small living stipend. During the last 3–5 years of a PhD, after finishing their coursework (and sometimes before), students are usually expected to work as graduate instructors or research assistants in exchange for the stipend.

Sometimes students can apply for a fellowship (such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Program in the United States) that relieves them of any obligations to be a teaching or research assistant. Doctoral programs in the US tend to be better funded than in the rest of the world.

Sometimes, PhD degrees can be completed part-time, but this is rare. Students are usually expected to devote at least 40 hours a week to their research and work as teaching or research assistants.

The main cost of doctoral programs comes in the form of opportunity cost—all the years that students could be working a regular, full-time job, which usually pays much better than a graduate school stipend.

The average wage premium for PhDs is 26%, which is not much higher than the master’s degree premium.

In the US, the application process is similar for master’s and PhD programs. Both will generally ask for:

  • At least one application essay, often called a personal statement or statement of purpose .
  • Letters of recommendation .
  • A resume or CV .
  • Transcripts.
  • Writing samples.

Applications for both types of programs also often require a standardized test. PhDs usually require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), which tries to measure verbal reasoning, quantitative, critical thinking , and analytical writing skills. Many master’s programs require this test as well.

Applying for a master’s

Master’s degrees programs will often ask you to respond to specific essay prompts that may ask you to reflect upon not just your academic background, but also your personal character and future career ambitions.

Northwestern University’s Kellogg Business School requires Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) applicants write two essays, one about a recent time they demonstrated leadership and the second about their personal values.

Who you should ask for your letters of recommendation varies by program. If you are applying to a research-intensive master’s program, then you should choose former professors or research supervisors. For other programs, particularly business school, current work supervisors may be a better choice.

Some professional master’s programs require a specific test. For example, to apply to law school, you must take the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT. For business school, you must take either the GRE or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT).

Applying for a PhD

When applying for a PhD, your resume should focus more on your research background—you should especially emphasize any publications you’ve authored or presentations that you’ve given.

Similarly, your statement of purpose should discuss research that you’ve participated in, whether as an assistant or the lead author. You should detail what exactly you did in projects you’ve contributed to, whether that’s conducting a literature review, coding regressions, or writing an entire article.

Your letters of recommendations should be from former professors or supervisors who can speak to your abilities and potential as a researcher. A good rule of thumb is to avoid asking for recommendations from anyone who does not themselves have a PhD.

If you want to know more about college essays , academic writing , and AI tools , make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

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A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

This depends on the country. In the United States, you can generally go directly to a PhD  with only a bachelor’s degree, as a master’s program is included as part of the doctoral program.

Elsewhere, you generally need to graduate from a research-intensive master’s degree before continuing to the PhD.

This varies by country. In the United States, PhDs usually take between 5–7 years: 2 years of coursework followed by 3–5 years of independent research work to produce a dissertation.

In the rest of the world, students normally have a master’s degree before beginning the PhD, so they proceed directly to the research stage and complete a PhD in 3–5 years.

A master’s degree usually has a higher upfront cost, but it also allows you to start earning a higher salary more quickly. The exact cost depends on the country and the school: private universities usually cost more than public ones, and European degrees usually cost less than North American ones. There are limited possibilities for financial aid.

PhDs often waive tuition fees and offer a living stipend in exchange for a teaching or research assistantship. However, they take many years to complete, during which time you earn very little.

In the US, the graduate school application process is similar whether you’re applying for a master’s or a PhD . Both require letters of recommendation , a statement of purpose or personal statement , a resume or CV , and transcripts. Programs in the US and Canada usually also require a certain type of standardized test—often the GRE.

Outside the US, PhD programs usually also require applicants to write a research proposal , because students are expected to begin dissertation research in the first year of their PhD.

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  • PhD in USA – A Guide for 2020/21
  • Finding a PhD

A PhD in USA takes approximately 5 – 6 years of full-time study and can cost between $12,000 – $45,000 per academic year. PhD programs in USA differ from that in the UK and Europe in that students must first take taught classes, coursework and exams before starting their research project.

Why Do a PhD in USA?

The United States has long had some of the most distinguished universities and advanced PhD programmes in the world. Combined with curriculum flexibility, rigorous teaching methods, vast funding opportunities, breathtaking campuses and significant career prospects, it’s no wonder that it is one of the most sought-after study destinations for research students.

In addition to comprehensive training standards, here are a few other reasons why a student may choose to undertake their PhD in the United States:

  • Longer learning timeframes – A PhD in the US lasts longer than a PhD in the UK or Europe. This allows students to more confidently transition from undergraduate to postgraduate studies; more commonly referred to as ‘graduate studies’ in the US. This gives you the opportunity to learn more about your subject, research methods and academic writing in general before starting your research project.
  • World-class universities – It’s no secret that some of the most well-known higher education institutions that continue to dominate global rankings are based in the United States. Although many factors go into determining whether a position is right for you, a PhD at a high-ranking American university will undeniably have many benefits, from excellent learning standards to access to innovative equipment and deep expertise.
  • International network – The US has long been a popular choice among PhD students around the world. As such, the US hosts a diverse and multicultural learning environment in which many research students will quickly feel at home.
  • Opportunities – With over 4,000 universities in the US, we can safely say you will have plenty of opportunities to find the ideal combination of project, supervisor and university that works for you.

Universities in USA

Universities in the United States can be divided into two types: public universities and private universities.

Public universities are financed by the state in which they are based. Because of this, public universities charge less for students from within the state and more for students from outside the state, including international students.

Private universities are not financed by their state, but by private donors, research funds and tuition fees. For this reason, private universities generally charge higher tuition fees than public universities and require all students to pay the same amount, regardless of whether they come from out-of-state or abroad.

According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021 , eight of the top ten universities in the world are located in the United States. These are:

Method of Study

The main difference between a PhD in the US and a PhD in Europe lies in the program structure. Whereas a European PhD essentially consists of a single phase lasting three to four years , an American PhD consists of three different phases, each with its own time frame.

  • Phase One – The first phase lasts approximately two years and focuses on building a basic foundation for the doctoral student. This phase consists largely of taught components such as lectures, tutorials and laboratory sessions, in which the student learns more about theoretical concepts and research methods within their discipline.
  • Phase Two – The second phase can be considered an assessment phase, which runs both periodically alongside and at the end of the first phase. Here, students complete coursework and take exams on the basis of the material they have covered of which they must pass in order to proceed to the third phase.
  • Phase Three – The third phase lasts approximately three years and resembles the European PhD structure. During this period, the student undertakes an independent research project, including forming a research design, conducting experiments, writing a thesis (more commonly referred to in the USA as a dissertation) and sitting a viva exam.

Teaching Requirements

Besides structure, a key difference between a PhD program in the US and in Europe is the focus on teaching requirements. In the US, doctoral students are expected to lecture, lead tutorials, host laboratory sessions, mark coursework and provide office hours for undergraduate students. Although students studying in European will likely contribute to these at some point during their study, this would normally be on a voluntary basis and involve less time commitment.

Research Flexibility

Another difference is project flexibility. In Europe, students typically apply to a PhD project predetermined by a supervisor, and although there may be some scope to adapt the project, depending on the funding provider , it will usually be limited to how the project is carried out rather than what it is about. In the US, however, a student applies to become a doctoral candidate within a department rather than applying for a particular research project. This is because students are expected to decide on their thesis topic (also commonly referred to as a dissertation research topic) near the end of their first phase after they have developed a better understanding of their subject and know where their interests lie. Therefore, research students in the US generally have more flexibility and influence in the direction of their research than students in the United Kingdom or Europe.

PhD Admission Requirements in USA

PhD admission into US universities can be highly competitive, both because of the limited number of positions and the large number of annual applicants.

The eligibility requirements for a doctoral program in the USA can generally be divided into four sections:

How to Apply for a PhD in USA

  • Grade Point Average (GPA) – in the US, a scoring system known as Grade Point Average is used to measure academic ability. A student’s GPA is calculated as a weighted score of the subjects they study during their undergraduate degree; an equivalent score is calculated by universities for international applicants. Although universities rarely set minimum GPA requirements for doctoral study, it’s worth being aware that a GPA of 3.0 is equivalent to a UK second class honours (2:1); the typical entry requirement for UK universities.
  • Graduate Records Exam (GRE) – most universities will require you to take a series of examinations known as Graduate Records Exams, which are used to determine your suitability for graduate study. GREs will assess your analytical, reasoning and critical thinking skills as well as your depth of your subject.
  • Student aptitude – in addition to academic ability, US universities also look for characteristics of a strong researcher. These include traits such as engaging in the subject in your own time, e.g. by attending talks and conferences, demonstrating a high degree of independence and enthusiasm, and a general passion for your subject.
  • English Language Proficiency – international students whose first language is not English must sit language exams such as IELTS or TOELF to demonstrate their English language proficiency.

International students will also require a F1 student visa in order to study in the US, however, you would typically apply for this after you have secured a place into a doctorate program.

How to Apply for PhD in USA

When applying for a PhD position at a graduate school, the application process will differ between universities, however, they will all typically ask for the following:

  • Academic CV – a short document summarising your educational background and current level of experience .
  • Personal statement – a document which outlines why you believe you are suitable for PhD study and your passion for the subject.
  • Academic transcripts – a complete breakdown of the modules and their respective marks you have taken as part of your previous/current degree.
  • GRE scores – a transcript of your Graduate Records Exam results.
  • Research statement – a condensed version of a research proposal outlining your general research interests, if required.
  • Recommendation letters – references from several academic referees who endorse your qualities as a person, your abilities as a student and your potential as a doctoral researcher.

Application Deadlines and Fees

Since PhD programs in the United States have taught components, they commence at the same time as all other taught degrees, and therefore share the same application deadlines and start dates. This corresponds to an application period that typically begins in August and ends in February. Admission decisions are typically made in April, with successful students starting in August/September.

When you apply to a graduate school, you will be expected to pay a fee for each doctorate application to cover the school’s administrative costs for processing your application. The fee varies from university to university, but typically ranges from $50 to $100 .

Funding your PhD in USA

It’s very common for a PhD student to receive financial aid in the form of a PhD scholarship; in fact, this will be the case for the vast majority of students in the US.

PhD funding can be ‘fully funded’ covering the student’s graduate program tuition fees, accommodation and living costs, or ‘partially funded’ covering the student’s tuition fee only in part or full.

Besides funding, a graduate student can take on an assistantship, such as a graduate teaching assistant or research assistant, in which they take on a part-time salaried position at the university alongside their studies.

Due to the international and collaborate nature of American universities, there are also a number of international scholarships available, such as the Fulbright Scholarship and the AAUW International Fellowship .

PhD Duration in USA

In the US, a PhD takes approximately 5 – 6 years to complete if studying full-time, and 8 – 10 years if studying part-time.

If you already have a Master’s degree, your first phase can be shortened by one year at the discretion of the university.

Cost of a PhD in USA

The cost of a PhD program in the US can vary considerably depending on the type of university, i.e. whether it’s a public or private university, the doctoral course, i.e. whether it’s in a STEM subject such as computer science, engineering or a non-STEM subject, and whether you are a home or international student.

In general, however, the typical annual tuition fee for a PhD in the US is between $12,000 and $45,000 per academic year.

As with any doctoral degree, additional costs may include travel for collaborations, bench fees, accommodation and living expenses.

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Application requirements for all doctoral programs (phd).

All of our doctoral programs are designed to develop outstanding educational researchers who have a deep understanding of the scientific, practical and policy issues they study. All require full-time study, and we promise five years of full-time financial support for every student we admit. Our doctoral programs are small, typically ranging from about 25 to 35 new students a year. The small size of our doctoral cohorts creates big educational advantages for students: the classes are almost always small, students receive individualized attention from their advisors, and they have many opportunities to develop close collegial relationships with fellow students.

It is extremely important to demonstrate in your statement of purpose that your interests converge closely with the current research of faculty who work in the program to which you are applying. Other doctoral applicants will certainly do this, and if you don't, you will forfeit an important competitive advantage to them. 

If you wish to contact faculty, please read our Which Degree Which Program article, by Professor Eamonn Callan, which outlines the appropriate process for contacting faculty with whom you share research interests. 

  • Program website:  Degrees and Programs/PhD
  • Length of Program:  5 years (average length)
  • Tuition: fellowship/assistantship salary and tuition guaranteed for first five years of the program (autumn, winter and spring quarters) for all students, including international students. Funding includes two summers.

Application Requirements:

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Complete and submit Stanford's graduate online application .

Application Fee

The application fee is $125 , is non-refundable, and must be received by the application deadline.

Application Fee Waivers

Stanford offers three types of application fee waivers for which GSE applicants may apply and be considered:

  • GRE Fee Reduction Certificate-Based Waiver
  • Diversity Program Participation-Based Waiver
  • School-Based Waiver

Please visit the Stanford Graduate Diversity website for instructions, deadlines, and the fee waiver application form.

Statement of Purpose

A Statement of Purpose is required. Your statement should be typed, single-spaced and should be between one to two pages . Describe succinctly your reasons for applying to the proposed program, your preparation for this field of study, and why our program is a good fit for you, your future career plans, and other aspects of your background as well as interests which may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for graduate study. You may indicate potential faculty mentors as part of your study and research interests. Be sure to keep a copy for your records. What's a Good Statement of Purpose?

A resume or CV  is required of all applicants, depending on which document is most appropriate for your background. There is no page limit for resumes or CVs, though we typically see resumes of one page in length. Please upload your resume or CV in the online application.

Three (3) Letters of Recommendation

Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation . In the online application, you will be asked to identify your recommenders and their email addresses. Please notify your recommenders that they will receive an email prompt to submit their recommendation online. You can submit your request for letters of recommendation through the system without submitting the entire online application.  Stanford GSE only accepts online recommendations through the application system ; Stanford GSE cannot accept mailed, emailed or faxed recommendations.

Recommendations should be written by people who have supervised you in an academic, employment, or community service setting. We very strongly recommend that at least one of these letters be from a university professor familiar with your academic work. Your recommendations should directly address your suitability for admission to a graduate program at Stanford GSE.

It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all three letters of recommendation are submitted through the system by the application deadline , so please work closely with your recommenders to remind them of the deadline.

College and University Transcripts

Transcripts are required from every college and university you have attended for at least one academic year as a full-time student. When submitting your online application, transcripts should be uploaded to the application as a scanned copy or PDF ; this is sufficient for the application review process. Please refrain from sending a secured PDF/transcript with a digital signature as our system cannot upload these properly. The best way to ensure we receive an upload-able document is for you to print out the secured transcript, scan it, and upload the scanned copy (not to exceed 10MB) as a PDF. 

If you earned a degree at the institution from which you are submitting a transcript, please ensure that the degree conferral date and the degree conferred is clearly visible on the document. If you are currently enrolled in a degree program and will not have earned the respective degree by the time of submitting your GSE application, you should submit your most recent in-progress transcript from your institution.

Only if admitted will we contact you with instructions on sending two copies of your official transcripts to our office. We cannot accept mailed, emailed or faxed copies of your transcripts during the application process. Please note: the instructions for sending transcripts on the online application and on the general Stanford Graduate Admissions Office website differ from this Stanford GSE requirement.

Concerning course work completed in a study abroad program

If the coursework and grades are reflected on the transcript of your home institution, you do not need to submit original transcripts from the study abroad institution.

Concerning foreign institutions

If your institution provides a transcript in a language other than English, we require that you submit a translation of the transcript that is either provided by the institution or a certified translator. Translations must be literal and complete versions of the original records.

If your transcript does not include your degree conferral date and the degree conferred , please submit a scanned copy of your diploma, a conferral statement, or a conferral document in addition to your transcript . If you are currently enrolled in a degree program and will not have earned the respective degree by the time of submitting your GSE application, you should submit your most recent in-progress transcript from your institution.

Stanford University requires the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) from all applicants whose native language is not English. The GSE requires a minimum TOEFL score of 250 for the computer-based test, 600 for the paper-based test or 100 for the internet-based test in order to be considered for admission. The Test of Written English (TWE) portion of the TOEFL is not required. Applicants who have completed a four-year bachelor's degree or a two-year master's program (or its equivalent) in the U.S. or at an institution where English is the main language of instruction are not required to take the TOEFL. For more information on TOEFL requirements, please refer to the Required Exams  page on the main Stanford Graduate Admissions website. You may register for the TOEFL test directly at the ETS website .

TOEFL Dates and Deadlines

PhD applicants who are required to take the TOEFL should plan to take the internet-based TOEFL test and have official TOEFL scores sent electronically to Stanford at institution code 4704 (department code does not matter) no later than November 1 . This will give your official TOEFL scores time to be sent from ETS and be received by our system in time for the December 1 deadline. PhD applicants to Knight-Hennessy Scholars should plan to take the internet-based TOEFL test no later than October 16 so your scores can be received by our system in time for the November 16 KHS GSE deadline. Please note that the TOEFL may be taken no earlier than 18 months prior to the application deadline.

Does Stanford accept tests other than TOEFL?

No. We accept only TOEFL scores; we do not accept IELTS or other test scores.

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How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD?

If you aspire to rise to the top of your field, then you may have your sights set on a PhD.

PhD students in a group study

Earning a doctoral degree can be a years-long process, but choosing an accelerated doctoral online program may help you complete your program more quickly.

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Whether you’re wanting to earn one of the highest paying doctoral degrees or you have a specific one in mind, this guide can help walk you through how long it takes to complete your PhD program.

a watch showing years

For a traditional, campus-based PhD program, the average time to finish a PhD is 8 years. Fulfilling the program’s requirements will often demand a serious investment of your time.

Even still, some people are able to finish their programs in just 3 to 6 years. Multiple factors may influence the overall length of your program.

Required Credit Hours

Many PhD programs require you to earn 120 credit hours before entering the exam and dissertation phases.

Fortunately, there are PhD programs without such high credit-hour demands. For example, at some universities, you may earn a PhD with only 60 credit hours.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Schedule

Enrolling in a doctoral program part-time may allow you to keep up with your regular job. You’ll have to decide whether you prefer the flexibility of part-time schooling or the faster schedule of full-time studies.

Final Project Requirements

Many PhD programs end with the completion of a dissertation. This assignment may take years to complete, so PhD students often end up in the all-but-dissertation (ABD) phase for quite some time.

University Scheduling

Some schools promote their ability to help you through the PhD process faster than normal. Accelerated class schedules with eight-week online courses may speed your studies along. Focused attention from dissertation advisors may help as well.

PhD Program Components

students in class

Before you enroll in a PhD program, it’s important to know some of the basic requirements:

Prerequisites

Most schools require you to already hold a master’s degree, but some offer bachelor’s-to-PhD programs.

Length to Completion

On average, it takes eight years to earn a PhD. Even still, completing doctoral coursework and a dissertation in three to four years is not unheard of.

Topic of Interest

PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be getting a philosophy degree. Your field of study will depend on your interests and the programs that your university offers. You may tailor your doctoral focus though your choice of a dissertation topic.

Steps to Completion

You’ll take advanced classes before sitting for comprehensive exams. After passing your exams, you’ll likely begin working on a dissertation. You must defend your dissertation before finishing your program.

Doctoral studies begin with a series of classes through which you may increase your knowledge of your field of study and learn about conducting research. These are advanced classes, so they should be more in-depth than the ones you took during your undergraduate and master’s programs.

The number of courses that you need to take can vary significantly. It’s not uncommon for PhD programs to require 120 credit hours of coursework. That amounts to about 40 classes.

At other schools, the requirements are lower. Your university’s program may involve just 60 credit hours or, possibly, even fewer. A less intense course load may significantly slash your time to completion.

Your university may require you to maintain a GPA above a minimum threshold. An unsatisfactory GPA may keep you from moving on to the next step of the PhD process.

Comprehensive Examinations

Universities often require students to demonstrate their readiness for a doctoral project before advancing to the next stage of their studies. Readiness is proven through comprehensive exams , which may also be known as:

  • Preliminary examinations
  • Major field examinations
  • General examinations

Often, comprehensive exams take the form of written or oral tests. In other situations, faculty may assess students’ readiness on the basis of a portfolio evaluation or a written paper.

Dissertation and Defense

PhD dissertation paper

A dissertation, also known as a graduate thesis, is a body of work that presents original research in your field. This manuscript focuses on a unique idea and includes evidence to support your thesis. During your doctoral studies, there are classes designed to help prepare you for your dissertation work.

The dissertation process may take several years. Once your manuscript is complete, you must defend it to the doctoral program faculty. After your defense, you may need to do further work on your manuscript, or the committee may decide that your dissertation is complete.

Not all programs require a dissertation. Instead, there may be an alternative doctoral project. Although both dissertations and capstone projects are rigorous, projects can sometimes be completed within a shorter time frame.

Average Time to Complete PhD by Field of Study

Students in some disciplines usually take a lot more time to finish their doctoral work than students in other fields.

If you’re studying in the following scientific fields, you may be more likely to earn your on-campus degree in seven years or less:

  • Physics — average of five years
  • Psychology — average of five to seven years

On the other hand, if your field of study relates more to the humanities, your on-campus degree program may take longer:

  • History — average of eight years
  • English — average of eight years
  • Education — average of 13 years

These are the traditional figures. There are ways to finish faster.

Why Does It Take So Long to Finish a Traditional PhD?

student studying in a college library

Some schools require doctoral students to take around 40 classes, which, in a traditional on-campus setting, may take years. After completing the coursework, you must write your dissertation and defend it. The dissertation process alone might take multiple years.

Doctoral programs online may help shorten the PhD process to three or four years. Fewer credit hours may be required, and the classes may be delivered in an accelerated format.

Schools with an emphasis on quick doctoral programs may also offer dissertation advisors to efficiently guide students through that phase. Alternatively, some universities allow students to complete capstone projects that don’t take as long as dissertations.

Getting a PhD Online vs. Campus

student working on her laptop

Online education has changed students’ options for earning a PhD. These days, aspiring students may choose whether to attend classes on a college campus or online.

Traditional programs may require you to relocate to the university’s campus and attend school full-time. On average, it takes just over eight years to complete those programs. The benefits of choosing an online school instead may include:

Faster Progress

Accelerated eight-week courses may allow you to finish your course load sooner. You may complete your entire program in just three or four years.

Multiple Start Dates

Online programs often let you join throughout the year, so you don’t have to put your studies on hold until the fall semester.

Flexibility

Not being required to move to campus or come to class at set times may allow you to work your studies around your schedule.

Equal Status

Online programs are just as rigorous as on-campus ones. As long as your university is accredited, your degree will be just as valuable as one from a traditional university setting.

Cost-Savings

Finishing your doctoral studies faster may mean that you pay less tuition.

How to Finish Your PhD in Less Time

PhD graduation ceremonies

Although you can’t earn a doctoral degree overnight, you shouldn’t have to spend the majority of your working years striving toward PhD-completion. The following tips for accelerating the PhD process may help you finish your studies more quickly than the average doctoral student.

1. Use What You Already Know

Every school requires a minimum number of credit hours that you must earn in the pursuit of your degree. To help you meet this threshold, some schools will allow you to transfer in credits from other doctoral programs. Universities may also give you credit for your professional experience. Reducing your class load may save you both time and money.

2. Look for Short Classes

Accelerated course schedules are one of the best ways to speed through the degree process. Every eight weeks, you’ll begin a new set of classes. Over the course of a year, there may be five different sessions during which you can take classes.

3. Work on Your Dissertation Throughout the Program

Traditionally, dissertation work begins once the classroom portion of your studies is over. Quick doctoral programs may allow you to begin the dissertation process while you’re still taking other classes. This approach, known as an embedded dissertation, may reduce the likelihood that you’ll drop out before finishing your final project. It might also speed up your doctoral timeline.

4. Ask for Help

A lack of support can lead some doctoral students to drop out. On the other hand, having a good support system can help you push through and finish your program more quickly. Build a team of family, friends, and academic mentors who can encourage you, guide you, and lend practical help when you’re feeling overwhelmed by school.

Why Get a PhD?

You may need to earn a doctoral degree to achieve your career goals . For example, if you want to become a clinical psychologist, this level of study is essential. Many scientific and research positions require doctoral studies. University faculty typically need to hold terminal degrees as well.

Even if a doctorate is not a requirement for your desired line of work, it may help you achieve greater success. You might be granted higher levels of responsibility, and you may earn more money. In some fields, those who hold PhDs make around 20% more than those with master’s degrees, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics .

Do You Have to Have a Master’s Degree to Get a PhD?

Many schools consider a master’s degree an essential prerequisite for PhD admission. If you don’t already have a master’s degree, a bachelor’s-to-doctorate program may allow you to earn a master’s and a PhD for less time and money than it would take to pursue them separately.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD After a Master’s?

You may be able to complete your doctoral program in three to four years if you opt for an accelerated online program. On average, traditional on-campus PhD programs take around eight years to complete.

How Hard Is It to Finish a PhD?

Doctoral studies are challenging. That shouldn’t come as a surprise; if doctorates were easy to acquire, nearly every college graduate would end up with a PhD behind his or her name.

Approximately 50% of students who begin a PhD program don’t end up finishing. Many quit within two years of starting. Another large portion gives up upon reaching the dissertation phase.

Although all PhD programs are challenging, the flexible nature of online programs may help you find success. Choosing a doctoral track that doesn’t require a dissertation may help as well.

What Is the Easiest PhD to Get?

Easiest PhD to Get

All PhD programs are demanding, but you might have an easier time if you select a program that aligns with your interests and your career goals. The flexibility of online study may help your doctoral program seem less burdensome. In addition, capstone projects are sometimes easier than writing dissertations.

If earning a doctoral degree in a short time frame is important to you, then consider the many potential benefits that online programs have to offer. Within just a few years, you may be able to place the letters “PhD” at the end of your name.

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Studying PhD in the USA 2023 - 2024: Your Complete Guide

Thinking about PhD? Think America!

PhD in the USA comes not only with a substantial recognition of your expertise but also impacts your overall growth in person. Learning shoulder to shoulder with the best minds that walked on this planet is a privilege. Starting from engineering, computer science, applied sciences, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medicine to management, you may earn your PhD in the USA in the program of your choice. There are many fully funded PhD programs in America for international students in 2023 that you may opt for, too. Overwhelmed? Don’t worry; reading this blog is the first step which may guide you to your dreams of studying PhD programs in the U.S.A. Let’s keep scrolling!

Why Study PhD in the USA?

The top reasons to study in the USA include unparalleled academic excellence, American prestige , choices of flexible college programs alongside the best Universities like Stanford and Harvard and a diverse range of courses offered for PhD in the USA.

1. Course Length of PhD in the USA

Students prefer to earn their degree in the USA for the flexibility of the PhD programs in the USA for international students in 2023. The duration of your PhD in the country may vary from program to program. The maximum no. of years a part-time doctoral student spends is ten years. In other cases, full-time enrollment in PhD programs in the United States of America demands a minimum of 4 years. There are many online PhD programs in the country you may go for. Adding more to the best things about studying in the USA, you will also have the option of one-year PhD programs in the USA.

2. Top-Notch Universities

If the USA were to be a person, it would have definitely boasted about being the top destination country with its cities encompassing every aspect of a student’s dream. The hunt for knowledge seems never ending in the top institutes for PhD in the USA. The USA is home to distinguished universities like Harvard and Stanford. Studying Doctor of Philosophy in the USA means you will never have to look back. 

And, just in case you are very prepared and have the merits for pursuing a PhD in the U.S.A. for international students, the chances are high that you might get an acceptance letter from the oldest universities in the world. The fully funded PhD programs in the U.S.A. for international students 2023 add to the glee of every applicant. Most public and private universities conduct intakes year-long. Also, the intakes for 2023-2024 in the USA are ongoing. You may go ahead and plan accordingly and not miss the opportunity of studying at world-class universities and the best faculty. 

3. Diversity in the College Campuses 

The USA is the pioneer in neo-cultural globalisation or, let us rather say, the initiator of cultural diversity. The USA is home to approximately 9,50,000 international students, making up 5.5% of the international diaspora in the US. The whooping number of students choosing the USA as their destination for higher studies is a testimony to the diversity of the beautiful campuses host. 

4. Availability of Scholarships for PhD in the USA

The education system of the USA is very well devised to serve the needs of every student enrolling for PhD degree in the USA. There are many scholarships available for PhD students in the American universities. The scholarships allow you to pursue a fully funded PhD in the USA for international students 2023. There are entities such as the Government of the USA, universities and various private organisations that extend scholarships to students with merits and credible need of funds to pursue their PhD programs in the USA. We will be discussing it further in some moments. 

5. Availability of Jobs after PhD in the USA

American universities typically have vibrant campus communities with a wide range of extracurricular activities, clubs and organisations. As a student, you will have the opportunity to engage in various social, cultural and recreational activities alongside your academic studies.

Best Universities for PhD Programs in the USA

1. harvard university.

Tuition Fees: $78,000 ‍Acceptance rate: 4% QS Ranking: 4th

US Ranking: 2nd

Top Courses: Arts & Humanities, Business & Management, Engineering & Technology, Life Sciences & Medicine, Social Sciences & Management

Intake Seasons: Fall/Spring

Famous Alumni: Bill Gates

Harvard University stands as one of the best universities in the USA and the entire world. The university enrols close to 22,947 students annually, making it one of the toughest universities to get into as well. The university hosts a range of PhD programs in the U.S.A. for international students 2023, including chemical biology, engineering, immunology and neuroscience, among other top PhD programs in the U.S.A. The campus is also home to the largest library system in the world. 

2. Stanford University

Average Fees: $80,000 ‍Acceptance rate: 16% QS Ranking: 5th

US Ranking: 3rd

Eligibility: GPA: 4, SAT: 1465, ACT: 31.5, IELTS: 6.5, TOEFL: 90, GMAT: 690, GRE: 162

Intake Seasons: Fall

Famous Alumni: Elon Musk

Located in the silicon valley, the university is a pioneering institution brimming with knowledge. As a campus that is spread across more than 8,000 acres and home to 16,000+ students flocking in from various parts of the world each year, it is one of the best choices for PhD programs in the U.S.A. for international students 2023.

3. University of Chicago

Average Fees: $78,000 ‍Acceptance rate: 6.5% QS Ranking: 11th

US Ranking: 12th

Intake Seasons: All Seasons

Famous Alumni: Susan Sontag

The University of Chicago introduces you to a world that's transformational, effective and always on the go. The campus is home to more than 17,000 students and boasts of one-of-its-kind diversity. A wide number of PhD programs in the U.S.A. for international students 2023 makes it one of the top choices for students in the world. 

Top 3 PhD Scholarships in the USA

There may be situations where you wish to pursue PhD in the USA but are unable to take your leap of faith due to financial constraints. You may enroll in fully funded PhD programs in the U.S.A for international students 2023 with the help of the scholarships provided for PhD in the U.S.A. We have listed below the best scholarships for PhD in the United States of America. 

1. Fulbright Foreign Student Program

Amount: $35,000

Provider: Binational Fullbright Commission/US Embassies

Deadline: 17th May, 2023

Expenses Covered: Tuition and fees, Round-trip travel, Living expenses and others

The scholarship offered by the organisation for PhD in the U.S.A. comes by as a ray of hope in your tough times. The scholarships help you move further towards a bright future backed by the PhD programs in the U.S.A. from top educational institutions. 

2. AAUW International Fellowships

Amount: $20,000

Provider: American Association of University Women 

Expenses Covered: Full tuition and Fees

Deadline: 1st December, 2023

The scholarship is one of the oldest, largest and most competitive scholarships for PhD in the U.S.A. The scholarship or fellowship is offered to women from across the world. The scholarship aims at boosting the contribution of women in the field of research and development. And transforming the world. 

3. Campbell Fellowships for Transformative Research

Amount: $54,000

Provider: School of Advanced Research

Expenses Covered: Stipend, Tuition fees waiver, Registration costs

Deadline: November, 2023

The scholarship is among the best short-term scholarships for PhD in the USA for women scholars. The duration of the Campbell fellowship lies between 6 months to 9 months. The scholarship is awarded to female scholars who are working in global research for women in developing nations. 

Application Requirements for PhD in the USA

Pursuing a PhD on American soil sounds like a dream come true. However, the process of application is extensive and requires due diligence and the best research before the selection of the scholarships and the colleges or the courses. We have tried to help you out below with some of the many requirements for applying for scholarships for PhD programs in the U.S.A. for international students 2023. Scroll for the list below:

1. Applying 

The first step is completing the application form before the deadline. You may check out the websites of the scholarships and universities and keep track of deadlines.

There are two types of scholarships. One is an easy scholarship which might not require an essay, and there are scholarships for PhD in the U.S.A. demanding essays. Thus, depending on the requirement, prepare an essay describing the needs of the scholarship for you.

3. Credible References

You must collect credible sources of references while applying for the scholarships. The reference must align with the PhD programs in the USA for international students 2023 you are applying for.

4. Competitive Exam Scores

Receiving a scholarship for PhD in the United States of America comes with criteria of scores in competitive exams like IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT, SAT, and ACT, among many others. Take your tests well to qualify for the applications of scholarships to transform your PhD into fully funded PhD programs in the U.S.A. for international students 2023.  

Top 3 Jobs Options After PhD in the USA

1. professor/ lecturer.

After completing your PhD in the U.S.A., you become eligible for the position of lecturer or professor in the top universities in the world. 

2. Scientific Assessor

The job of a scientific assessor is also available post you earn your degree in any of the PhD programs in the U.S.A. for international students 2023.

3. Research & development

A PhD in the U.S.A. makes you eligible to apply for jobs in the research and development field. If your field of study is research-oriented, you may have job opportunities in some of the best research institutes in the world nestled in the USA. 

Hope you are ready to resume or take forward the academic journey you have been aiming for. The blog was just an initiative for you to understand the overall landscape of PhD in the U.S.A. You may get in touch with us via the comment section below or DM us on our Instagram channel for additional info you might need. 

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Guide to Study PhD in USA

Rohini Pandey Image

Dec 9, 2022 | 6 min read

Studying PhD in USA is a matter of prestige and great significance as American graduate schools are some of the best in the world. Unlike PhDs in the UK and Europe, PhDs in the USA are more comprehensive with a focus on independent research.

Guide to Study PhD in USA

A PhD in USA is one of the most popular courses to study in the United States. The duration of a PhD program in the USA is usually 4-6 years. In addition, the cost of pursuing PhD in the USA is around 20,760 USD - 141,000 USD for international students. 

A PhD in USA is very different from one from the UK or EU in that a PhD from the USA has a structured degree program that has a combination of comprehensive training and independent research. The standard of training and professional development resulting from America’s rigorous approach to graduate education makes their PhD programs stand out from the rest of their international counterparts.

Table of Contents

Top Universities in the USA to Pursue PhD

Why study phd in usa, phd courses in the usa, course structure: stage 1, course structure: stage 2, course duration, applications for phd in usa, eligibility requirements for phd in usa, fees and funding, living expenses.

The table below shows the top universities (as per the World University Rankings by Times Education) to pursue PhD in USA:

There are many benefits of pursuing a PhD in USA. Given the sheer size of international students pursuing PhDs in America, which is close to 1 million, it comes as no surprise that the USA is a premier destination for PhD studies. Following are the major reasons to study PhD in USA:

Best Institutions for Research

Focus on fundamentals, forefront of innovation, scope for ample opportunities, accreditations and rankings.

The table above gives a glimpse into the quality and reputation of research institutions in the USA. The United States of America has continuously dominated the top echelons of the Global League Tables. Furthermore, the USA is known for investing substantially in research output and expertise.

Unlike pursuing a PhD in countries like the UK and some EU nations, a PhD in America takes longer to finish, as institutions stress understanding the fundamentals of each subject before even getting to the dissertation project. A detailed understanding of the subject will form the basis for a student’s research in American institutions.

The USA is undoubtedly at the forefront of innovation, being the country with one of the highest GDP per capita in the world. One cannot deny that the USA is the first mover of trends in almost all domains. The USA is also the trendsetter for graduate studies, given the sheer volume of higher education institutions offering research-based programs to students. The USA was the second country after Germany to structure its approach for doctoral training.

On average, students take 8 to 10 years to finish their PhD studies, which is a long time. The course duration can provide ample exposure to a PhD student in the USA, which can prove to be a valuable experience for international students looking for a global perspective. Furthermore, the USA is a melting pot for many cultures, and diversity is celebrated across the many institutions in the USA.

There is no official body for accrediting all the universities in the USA since there is no government body given the size of the federal structure of the USA. Instead of a governing body, many accreditors are responsible for accreditation at the regional and national levels. The US Government maintains a database containing all the universities and programs that have been accredited.

The United States of America has some of the best universities in the world. The USA is home to 30 of the Top 100 universities globally as per the OQ Global Rankings 2021. According to the World University Rankings of 2021 by Times Education, the USA has 19 of the 30 best universities in the world offering PhD programs. The number of international students pursuing their PhD in the States is also sizable, amounting to approximately 1 million PhD students in America.

There are a wide variety of PhD programs that universities across the USA offer. The names of some of the most popular subjects that students pursue their PhD in are as follows:

  • Biological Sciences
  • Anthropology
  • Engineering

PhD Method of Study in USA

Unlike those in the UK and some EU countries, a PhD in USA is not a pure research degree. The American graduate education system follows a modern approach where the program defends the student's substantial thesis. The PhD program in the USA has regular classes for students, assessments and an organized and comprehensive program in the initial years of the course.

Once students clear the first stage of assessment and exams, they will be required to confirm the final dissertation topics for their field of research.

The first stage of the PhD program is taught like a Master's program. The first stage has core classes in the form of regular classes and continuous assessments. This stage also has electives that a student can take at their discretion. In addition, students may opt for one or more electives which might help them in the later stages of their course.

Depending on the nature of the program, students will have the option of selecting classes. In addition, some PhD programs have requirements in terms of personal and professional activities like learning a foreign language, volunteering placements and completing work.

Once the coursework is completed, students will be considered as fully realized PhD candidates. Students that opt to stay after the Master's program will be eligible to pursue their doctoral dissertation. This is the 'capstone project' stage of the PhD program.

Students will then have to research topics and areas of their subject and develop their research proposal. The student will be required to submit an outline of their dissertation, methodology and bibliography included within the scholarship parameters.

For full-time students, a PhD usually takes between 4 and 6 years to complete. Students generally take the first four years to work on their program's coursework and two years to work on their dissertation. The classes will be conducted in 2 sessions during an academic year - the Fall semester from August to December and the spring session from January to May.

Unlike places like the UK and EU, where students are expected to have a prior understanding of the subject before applying - PhD programs in the USA assume the student does not have prior knowledge of the subject matter, where the course work is designed to keep undergraduate students in mind. Students can apply to up to six universities simultaneously. There is no centralized organization in the USA to help students with the same.

Admissions for PhD in USA

For universities in the USA, the deadlines for PhD applications are usually between December and February. Institutions usually get back to students on their applications in April. It is recommended that students begin their applications well in advance so that they (and the university) can have enough time to make the necessary arrangements.

PhD admission requirements in US vary based on the university and the field of study. But in general, most universities in the US require the below from international students applying for PhD degree there:

  • Completed application form
  • Transcripts for your university degree or courses
  • Statement of Purpose
  • GMAT or GRE scores
  • Recommendation letters
  • English language test, such as IELTS or TOEFL
  • Application fee

PhD programs usually cost between USD 28,000 and USD 40,000 a year. Sending in an application in advance can give ample time for the aspirant to arrange funds for their preferred PhD program. International students can avail themselves aid in the form of tuition fee waivers and scholarships by the US Government, as well as their own. There are also non-government scholarships that students can avail.

On average, students spend between USD 6,000 and USD 14,000 a year on accommodation alone. This is exclusive of the tuition fees. However, students may opt for on-campus accommodation, which is expensive compared to taking up private residences or living in homestays. Apart from tuition fees and accommodation costs, students also have to account for their living expenses.

Generally, the average living expenses amount to between USD 10,000 and USD 25,000 on living expenses in the USA. The living expenses have been detailed in the table below:

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Study PHD in USA | Eligibility, Application Process (2022 Guide)

phd in usa : Application, eligibility, requirements, experience and life after phd in usa

Accessibility

  PhD student in USA does not require  to focus immediately on dissertation proposal but will  have the time to first develop a more detailed understanding of your subject as the basis for your own research. That is why PHD in USA are longer as compared to UK.

World-leading universities and research

Rankings aren’t everything, but the upper reaches of global league tables continue to be dominated by US institutions. As there is a substantial investment in research output and expertise.

International community

  Whatever and wherever you study you’ll be welcomed as part of a diverse academic community .

Innovation :

America was the second country (after Germany) to adopt the modern PhD degree and its own structured approach to doctoral training is now influencing PhD study in the UK and Europe.

Breadth of opportunity :

With 50 states, six time zones and thousands of higher education providers you will find a huge opportunity after your PHD

NOTE : The fact that matters is, one needs to look for the quality and the number of research paper’s that are being published in the top journals in the industry country wise. 

In most cases the US is the best place to do your PHD. But do your research and find which country produces the best research work and go there for better learning and growing experience.

1.2) 5 Reasons Why one should pursue a PHD in the USA rather than a Master's/ Bachelors?

why phd is better | Reasons why phd is better than BTech or masters in USA

PHD is free/Cheap:

When it comes to Bachelors and Master’s, there are quite some options for us to get funding from or get scholarships. But the problem is that not a lot of students get full scholarships and they would be forced to pay the remaining tuition fees and alot of other costs that comes along while living in the USA.

We are all aware that education in the US is more on the expensive side and a lot of students find a way to pull it off with as many part time jobs as possible. But this affects their schedule and routine and drains their mental energy and consumes alot of their study time

Whereas PHD in the USA is a different story. The programs are fully funded and you even get paid to study there and there is no need to pay the tuition fee.

Fee waivers, assistantships and stipends are guaranteed in a PHD program and the stipends are quite high for PHD students in the US when compared to any other country. So for doing PHD, US can be considered the best place!

PHD saves us from the worst possible outcome:

When it comes to pursuing a degree abroad, what is the worst possible outcome that could come out of it?

We finish the degree there and yet we get shipped back to our home country with a bunch of huge educational loans and we have to find a job here with a currency that much lower in value and work hard to pay back all the educational loans

Whereas a PHD student wouldn’t have to be too scared about this fact since their educational expenses are usually taken care of via stipends and assistantships and other funding sources. And even if one doesn’t secure a job there, they could always get well paying great jobs back in India or any developing country which has so many universities.

Networking:

“ You are the average of 5 people that you hang around with the most”

Imagine getting enrolled into a good university in the US for PHD. What would be the quality of people there? 

While doing your bachelor’s degree, one would be surrounded by all kinds of people from all around the world with different lifestyles and mindsets and there you could find alot of people who tend to fool around and be less focused or live by ideologies that you might totally disagree with. 

Whereas when it comes to master’s degree, the quality of the crowd increases tremendously and with PHD, only the most motivated, interested and focused people get here. So you could learn and grow as a community while doing your PHD. Another important fact is, everyone doing a PHD is there by their own choice which makes them a group of highly interested and talented people with whom you would be spending most of your time with.

Friendships with Mentors:

“ PHD students are like 10 year projects”

  • University Mentors

In research based universities, most of the professors tend to spend a huge amount of time with the PHD students than the ones in bachelors and master’s degree programs. Bachelors students are more focused on learning the basic concepts and master’s students are usually busy with course work and won’t stay for too long in the campus.

So, one of the biggest advantages of being a PHD student in the US is that you get to spend 4-6 years researching and further continue the work for years to come and hence the mentors and the professors would be more open to building a good relationship with you and that would make way for so much of learning and growth.

Come out of it matured and better:

One of the things that a PHD student would experience is this : They start earning money a lot later than the general population. Some would even take over 30 years to get their first paycheck and when you spend your 20s learning and researching and focusing while managing the possible financial hardships that come your way, makes you financially mature.

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Pros and Cons of Studying in USA

Pros of studying in the usa .

  • Education in the USA is something that many of us look out for. The quality of education in the USA is recognized worldwide as the best. They give practical learning experiences. International student enrollment for higher education is always higher in this country.
  • The Association to Advance Collegiate School of business recognition is given to the best business schools in the world. Globally 531 business schools were given AACSB, and 400 schools belong to the USA.
  • The USA is the home to some of the best universities globally, the top-ranked universities.
  • There is a wide variety of subjects to choose from, such as marine education, nursing, ecology, etc.
  • The Universities in the USA are recognized globally for their world-class education and good facilities.
  • There is exposure to multiple cultures in the USA. There are also student exchange programs to diversify the learning objectives.
  • They provide an all-rounder education by enabling the students to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities.
  • The job opportunities are ample when you get a degree from one of the Universities in the USA. These degrees are recognized worldwide, and you can be assured of getting good employment opportunities.
  • You can specialize in subjects and study according to your interests.
  • The labs and libraries in the USA are excellent, and students have a significant amount of exposure to writers from different backgrounds.
  • Some scholarships are designed for students. These scholarships vary from University to University and according to the type of degree you choose. Grabbing these scholarships will make it easier to manage your financial expenses

Cons of studying in the USA

  • To be a student in the USA, one of the primary requirements is to write a TOEFL exam. This ensures that you have a good command of the English language.
  • For other engineering and business studies, you will be required to write GRE, TOEFL, GMAT, SAT, etc. To be a doctor, you will be required to write a different set of entrance examinations.
  • The cost of education and accommodation in the USA is higher when compared to your home country. Due to this, you may have to get a student loan.
  • It is not that you will get a job if you study in any university in the USA. More of your knowledge and skills matter the most. But studying in the prestigious universities in the USA will be a feather on your cap!
  • The standard of education will be initially hard to manage as you need to get used to the different curricula.
  • The climatic conditions in the USA are very different and hence you should be able to adjust to them.
  • The living expenses can also be higher. To manage this, you need to take up a part-time job.
  • The testing in these universities can be rigorous and challenging, especially if you are a student of the most prestigious universities in the USA.

1.3) Is PHD the right choice for you?

Some students might be wondering if pursuing a PHD is a right thing for them.

It depends on the career you are in and if you are interested in research. For instance if you have a master’s in biology or in any of the languages or history, the jobs available for you would be scarce. So doing a PHD in such instances can open up a whole new alot of opportunities.

Now when it comes to research it can be categorized into two things : Discovering phenomenons in nature and inventing new stuff.

If research, discovery and inventions are something you desire, then PHD is the right choice for you.

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Top ph.d. programs in the usa :, ph.d. in management.

To become a scholar in business and management, you can do a Ph.D. in this field. This is a globally sought-after course. Doing a Ph.D. creates an avenue for several research work in this field 

  • The University of Arizona
  • Walden University
  • Auburn University
  • Campbellsville University

Ph.D. in psychology

To conduct research in psychology, you can do a Ph.D. in this field. To complete this course may take three years or even more than that. The eligibility for this course is the completion of a master’s in psychology.

Stanford University

Yale university, university of california.

  • University of Arizona

Ph.D. in Computer science

Completing a Ph.D. in this field can take up to three years or more, but it would be beneficial in your career when you’re interested in research in this field. You’ll also be a master in your particular area of research.

Harvard University

  • Massachusetts University of Technology
  • Carnegie Mellon University 

Ph.D. in Marketing

Marketing is a broad field, and currently, it is the trending area of study as most of us use smartphones, and marketing here is unbeatable.

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Michigan 

Ph.D. in Biotechnology

This is a doctorate course in the field of Biotechnology. You get to study Scientific communication, trends in Biotechnology, and so much more. This takes three to five years to complete.

Maschasuettes institute of technology

John hopkins university, ph.d. in microbiology.

Doing a doctorate in this course means you get to research microbiology. You get to research microorganisms and other things. 

This course can take around four to six years to complete.

Ph.D. in Physics

Ph.D. in Physics will get you a lot of good job opportunities. You will deal with theory, research, and experiment in this field. This will be a three-year doctorate course.

Princeton University

  • University of Chicago

Ph.D. in Public Health

If you want to be an administrative head and want to have extensive knowledge in the field of medicine, you can do this doctorate course.

  • Ohio State University

Ph.D. in Pharmacology

This course deals with medical drugs and their usage. You can work in clinics, hospitals, and medical centers.

  • University of Washington

Ph.D. in Design

This is a creative course and can be pretty challenging. This is a practical degree program, and you have a wide range of streams to diverge in, such as animation, design, and much more.

  • University of Buffalo
  • Cornell University
  • Kansas State University

PHD FAQ’s: Eligibility and More

2.1) intake seasons for phd programs, two teaching semester’s:.

The academic year in the USA consists of two teaching semesters: 

  • August-December 
  •  January-May.  

These will be when your classes and assessments take place. 

Most graduate programmes admit students in the autumn (or ‘fall’) semester because of the following reasons:

  •  The scholarships and financial aids are aimed at this semester.
  • There are not many financial aid opportunities as well as job opportunities available for the Spring semester

2.2) Duration of the PHD Program

The length of a PhD program in the USA is usually 4-6 years (full time ). 

Students spend 2 years on the coursework stage of their programme and 2-4 years working on their dissertation.

The minimum and the maximum durations would vary depending on the university and the field of study but traditionally a PHD program is for 5 years and there will be a year limit within which one should potentially finish their research to get their PHD.

There are students who find a way to get their PHD in 3 years as well. So expect anywhere between 4-6 years to get your PHD

Coursework : 

  • Core classes (Essential )
  • Elective classes (Optional )

Dissertation : 

  It’s the research proposal submitted as part of a PhD application.

2.3) AGE A FACTOR FOR PHD?

Is there any age limit for pursuing PHD or is it a good choice to start doing PHD after the age of 30? Would the age be a factor in getting jobs after?

Age is not any issue and there are people who start their PHDs even after the age of 40. So there are no age limits and in the United States they value the background and the profile and will not discriminate based on their age. So go for it if you really want to.

2.4) PHD AFTER BTECH?

Can we do a PHD right after bachelors or B.Tech Degree?

If one has decent research experience in Bachelors level itself and if it’s good quality research and if you have published papers and have some achievements to show, then yes, your chances of getting admissions into PHD would increase.

But it is generally recommended that we spend a little more time exploring the topic of interest in our master’s before jumping into a PHD program. Doing a master’s also strengthens your knowledge on the field which would be needed to be able to successfully complete your PHD.

But yes, it is totally possible to do your PHD right after bachelors. Even if the background of your profile doesn’t match with the PHD course you want to pursue, you can still get admissions if you can impress the professor you want to work with and these scenarios have happened in the past.

2.5) INTERNSHIPS DURING PHD:

Internships during PHD, Recommended or not?

The answer to this question would depend on the field you are in. 

Here’s the logic you need to look for. PHD is a degree where you are trying to become a researcher. Internships are jobs where you “work for the company and find ways to make them money”. Sometimes these two do not add up.

For instance, if you are in the Computer and software field, it’s completely alright to work in google or facebook or in some booming startups because it would help you become better in the particular field which would help with the research.

In most fields it is generally not recommended to do internships while being a PHD student since it would take your focus away from research.

What are the requirements to do a PhD in the USA?

3.1) phd in usa - requirements:.

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Universities and graduate schools will set their own admissions procedures, but for most of the universities have following requirements :

  • Academic transcripts  
  • Research Statement
  • Writing Samples
  • Test Scores: General GRE And GRE Subject.

PS :   Some PhD subjects may use other graduate entry tests in place of (or in addition to) the GRE. The most common tests are:

GMAT – for DBA degrees and other programmes in Business and Management

LSAT – for JD programmes

MCAT – for MD programmes

DAT – for dental programmes

  You won’t necessarily need a Masters to apply for a PhD in the USA.  

This is because American graduate programmes effectively combine Masters and PhD study –some students actually receive a Masters at the end of their coursework stage.

If you do already have a Masters you may be able to receive credit for it and spend less time on the coursework stage of your program. This decision is made by your graduate school , who will decide how relevant your existing degree is.

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Application Process :

 The Application process for the USA is easy and these are the following stages for same :

Step 1 : Be accepted for a PhD at an SEVP-approved institution

Step 2 : Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee of $200 

Step 3 : Begin your application online

Step 4 : Schedule a visa interview 

Step 5 : Receive your visa 

Application and Visa Fee details :

  • Typical application fees for PhD study in the USA are between $50 and $100.

You will also need to budget for the cost of any graduate entry tests and for your visa.

  • In most cases you will need to pay fees of at least $360 during your visa application. This is made up of a $200 SEVIS fee and a $160 application fee. Some students may also need to pay an issuance fee.)

3.3) How to shortlist Universities for your PHD in the USA?

Which universities should one apply to for the best learning experience for the particular field and have the most chances of getting admissions into for a particular profile and work experience and research experience?

While it is hard to list out the top universities for every field out there, here’s a procedure one can follow to make sure they are in the right place:

  • Select the field : Decide on which field you want to get PHD in
  • List of universities : Make a list of universities in the US that is offering the particular PHD course.
  • Get your CV Ready : It is very important to create a professional and detailed CV with your Work and research experience 
  • Now compare your profile with theirs and get a good idea of what kind of profile one would need to be a PHD student in that particular university and the level of expertise present there

Additional Information

Phd types :.

Most universities in the USA simply award the standard PhD (or Ph.D.) as an academic doctorate. However they some different categories are DBA (Doctor of Business Administration), EdD (Doctor of Education) JD (Doctor of Laws) and MD (Doctor of Medicine).

Fees and funding :

Public institutions charge an average of $12,737 per year. Private institutions charge an average of $43,300 per year. 

PS .Figures are based on data published by the US National Center for Education Statistics.

Common types of assistantship include :

  • Graduate teaching assistantships
  • Research assistantships 
  • Administrative assistantships 
  • Fellowships

PHD in US types of assistantships

Top Universities for pursuing PHD in USA

This University was founded in 1636 and was named Harvard College. This is a highly prestigious and the oldest University in the United States. This University is located in Cambridge, Maschasuettes, a private ivy league University. It is ranked as no.5 by the QS World university rankings.

Acceptance rate: 5%

Average fee: $75,000

List of the Ph.D. courses : Math, Physics, biotechnology, and so much more.

Website : https://gsas.harvard.edu/programs-study/degree-programs

  • Is it hard to get into the Harvard Ph.D. program?

The acceptance rate for a Ph.D. student is much higher in this University when compared to other degrees. With Good grades, you can get into this University.

  • How long does it take to complete a Ph.D. at Harvard?

A minimum of two years is required to complete a Ph.D. Although it sometimes takes up to six years.

This is a private university that is located in Cambridge, Maschasuettes. This University has been essential in research that deals with modern technology and sciences. It is one of the top universities globally and is ranked as no 1 by the QS world rankings.

Acceptance rate: 7%

Average fee: $75,462

List of the Ph.D. courses :  https://gradadmissions.mit.edu/programs/degrees/doctoral-degrees

  • How long does it take to complete a Ph.D. in MIT?

It takes around five years to complete a Ph.D. at MIT.

  • Is GRE required for Ph.D. in MIT?

Yes, the GRE general test is required for Ph.D. in MIT.

This is a private university that is highly prestigious and is ranked as no 3 by the QS World university rankings. This University is located in Stanford, California, and it is the largest University with a large enrollment of students.

Average fee: $78,218

List of the Ph.D. courses

https://gradadmissions.stanford.edu/applying/frequently-asked-questions

A Ph.D. in MIT takes around five to seven years to complete.

  • What GPA do you need to get for a Ph.D. in MIT?

A GPA of 3.6 on a scale of 4 is required.

California Institute of Technology

This is a private university located in Pasadena, California. This University is known for its science and engineering courses and is ranked as the best academic institution in the USA. This University is ranked as no.9 in the world’s best universities.

https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-graduate-schools/california-institute-of-technology-110404

  • How hard is it to get a Ph.D. here?

The acceptance rate here is only 6.4%; hence it can be pretty competitive.

  • How long does it take to complete a Ph.D. here?

It takes around four to six years to complete a Ph.D. here.

This is one of the oldest private research universities in the USA. It was named after the philanthropist John Hopkins. This was one of the few universities to include both teaching and research. This University has produced more than 38 Nobel laureates.

Acceptance rate: 11%

Average fee: $67,667

https://www.jhu.edu/research/

  • Does John Hopkins University require GRE for Ph.D.?

GRE scores are optional; however, you will require that to do a master’s degree.

  • Does John Hopkins offer Ph.D. programs?

Yes, they offer Ph.D. programs.

This is a public land grant university that has over ten campuses. It is located in the state of California. This University is known for its best research activities and its numerous research centers. This University is more than a century old and was established in 1868.

Acceptance rate: 14%

Average fee: $52,000

https://graduate.universityofcalifornia.edu/admissions/

  • Is it hard to get into the University of California?

Compared to the other universities, this University is not that hard to get into as they have reasonable acceptance rates.

  • Does the University of California offer Ph.D. programs?
  • Yes, they do offer Ph.D. programs.

This is a private ivy league research university in Princeton, New Jersey. This University was established in 1746, and it is the fourth oldest University in the USA. They also offer a lot of scholarships for international students.

Acceptance rate: 6%

Average fee: $68,044

List of the Ph.D. courses: 

https://gradschool.princeton.edu/degree-options/phd

  • How long does it take to complete a Ph.D. at Princeton University?

 It takes around five years to complete a Ph.D. at Princeton University.

  • Can I apply to two Ph.D. programs at Princeton?

No, you cannot apply to two Ph.D. programs at Princeton. You can do only one at a time.

This is a private university in New Haven, Connecticut. It is an ivy league research university as well. It is one of the most prestigious and third oldest institutes in the USA. This University is ranked as the 17th best University globally by the QS world ranking.

Average fee: $45,700

https://www.yale.edu/academics/graduate-professional-study

It takes around four years to complete a Ph.D. here.

  • Can you get a Ph.D. at Yale?

Yes, you can apply for Ph.D. programs at Yale.

Columbia University

This is a private ivy league research university in New York and is the oldest University in New York. This University was established in 1754. This University is ranked as the sixth-best university in the world.

https://gsas.columbia.edu/content/phd-programs

  • How hard is it to study here?

It is highly competitive, and your GRE scores should be around 154 to 167.

Duke University

This is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina. It was established in 1838 by methodists and Quakers. This University is ranked as the 23rd best global University.

Acceptance rate: 8%

Average fee: $40,000

https://gradschool.duke.edu/academics/programs-degrees

  • Is Duke a top university?

Yes, it is a top university, ranked as the 9th best national University.

  • How hard is it to get into Duke?

It is competitive here, and the acceptance rates are also lower.

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For the first two years one would be required to take courses and will have to maintain a GPA over 3 -3.3.

Now remember there are various types of PHD programs available and what you experience might be a bit different from what’s described here but one can get a rough picture of what they will be up against.

The courses that you take in the first two years will mould you to become a better researcher and many of these courses would have projects which could potentially turn into a journal publication.

Selecting Dissertation Advisors:

Within the first year or the first two years, the student would have to analyze the professors, their areas of interest and expertise and their character to better select their own dissertation advisors.

In most cases we might have to select and come up with our own projects and research ideas whereas in some cases your dissertation advisor might already be working on the topic of your interest and in such cases you could join the research and contribute

Comprehensive/Qualifier Exam:

After completing the required set of courses in the first two years, the phd students are then required to take a comprehensive exam or a qualifier exam. Now the way in which this exam is conducted varies a lot based on the field and the university that’s conducting it.

In some cases, the students who fail this comprehensive exam would have to quit the PHD program. We do get to attempt this exam more than once and the number of re-attempts would also depend on the university conducting it. So this is an important step.

This exam most probably won’t be like the written 3 hour exams that we are used to writing. This exam would test your ability to be a successful researcher and the students might be given tough time intervals to complete research based tasks and even oral tasks.

Anyways reach out to the students in the university you are planning to take to get accurate details about what you would be facing in this comprehensive/Qualifier exam

Committee of professors and Proposal Defense:

In a proposal defense, the students have to be ready with the complete dissertation plans stating the papers and the projects that one has planned to work on. What kind of data one needs to collect, the kinds of analysis that one needs to do.

We also need to select a committee of professors and one of the professors in the committee should be outside your own department or university and schedule a meeting where you propose to them your project details

After the proposal defence, the professors would have to analyse if the research project is worthy for a PHD degree and if it is realistic and achievable

Once your proposal defence is approved, you would be working full time on your dissertation and would be expected to complete the research project proposed.

In many universities the PHD students are required and expected to teach subjects to B.Tech and Master’s students for a few semesters.

NOTE : Even within the same industry, different universities would have very different PHD programs where some universities would completely focus on quantitative research and some would focus more on a case study approach. So to get a clear idea, reach out to the PHD students in the university you are hoping to get admissions into.

PHD Experience FAQs

How many papers should we publish in our dissertation and is there a minimum requirement of any sort.

The number of papers that one can publish completely depends on the area of study and research since in certain areas one can publish over 10 papers easily whereas in other areas publishing 2 or 3 would be a great achievement.

There are students who just publish one paper in their dissertation and there are other who publish over 10. So it depends on your field of study and your dissertation advisors expectations and your capabilities.

How much stipend can one expect during their PHD in USA?

The stipends could vary from $10,000 or lower to over $50,000 depending on the university, the city and the cost of living in that area, the university and the area of study. Again to know exactly what to expect, reach out to PHD students in the university that you want to get into.

What kind of research assistantships and teaching assistantships can we expect to get during PHD for funding?

Research and teaching assistantships are for masters programs and by default traditional PHD programs in the US are fully funded. 

The point to note here is that in many universities, the PHD student has to teach and if one doesn’t do so, their stipend would not be given. So the fact is you are already working and researching for a stipend which should be enough to live through your PHD days in the US.

LIFE AFTER PHD:

Employment opportunities after phd in usa.

Here’s what could potentially happen after you finish your PHD:

Note : This is a generic question and the answer’s vary vastly based on the area of study, area of specialization and the country you live in. Anyways here’s all the possibilities that one could face after a PHD.

POST DOC POSITION :

Post doc basically means that after getting the doctorate degree one would continue do their research potentially in a university or research setting

Basically once you go from being a PHD student to a PHD graduate, you would still get to continue the journey you started during your PHD days and having a post doc position would mean it would be fully research oriented.

Usually you could get the Post doc position in the same university that you got your PHD from. There are three types of people who use a research center in an university

  • Professors 
  • PHD students

RESEARCH ORIENTED WORK IN THE INDUSTRY IN THE SAME AREA:

This is the dream job for any PHD student who has a love for research and publishing papers. In this job you would be researching and innovating full time publishing papers and journals and will have the funds and the space to explore and work on deeper research for the company.

JOB IN A ACADEMIC RESEARCH SETTING IN THE SAME FIELD:

With an impressive profile and a recognizable PHD from the US, there is a good chance that one could land a job in the same field that they did their PHD in. This way the work they do is directly aligned with their training 

PROFESSOR JOB IN A TEACHING FOCUSED UNIVERSITY:

Becoming a professor who could also be a researcher is a hard position to get and so many PHD graduates do take professor jobs that primarily or entirely focuses on teaching

PROFESSOR JOB IN A RESEARCH UNIVERSITY:

Only 5% of PHD graduates become assistant professors in research based universities right after graduation.

The research expectations in these colleges are way higher than the smaller universities or community colleges that are focused on teaching. Here in these universities there will be less number of classes to teach so the professor could have enough time for research.

CONTRACT BASED TEACHING POSITIONS IN UNIVERSITIES:

These are positions where you would be called a visiting professor/asst.professor. These would mostly consist of teaching work and there won’t be too much expectations or needs for research.

JOB IN A NON-ACADEMIC RESEARCH SETTING IN A DIFFERENT FIELD:

It has been seen that people who have PHD’s in mathematics, statistics and so on get jobs as data scientist and similar roles where they partly use the skills they have learnt in PHD

OPPORTUNITY IN AN UNRELATED FIELD:

There are cases where people get PHD in a certain field and yet work in a completely unrelated field where there are more job opportunities

UNEMPLOYED:

It would not be true if anyone said that after PHD there is no chance of being unemployed. This does happen in some cases.

ENTREPRENEUR:

The last and yet the best option for anyone is entrepreneurship. PHD students in general are smart and work on innovation and research and invention and sometimes they start a company based on the research work they started during the PHD journey. 

For instance, the tech giant google itself is a company that was started by a PHD student who dropped out of a university to eventually become a billionaire.

So, the outcome that one could expect from a PHD in US could vary vastly from being unemployed to becoming a professor, researcher and an entrepreneur 

OTHER FAQs ON LIFE AFTER PHD IN USA

What is the difference between a phd career and a mba career.

The main difference is that PHD is a research based degree and MBA is a management degree. But oftentimes PHD students do take management roles in companies for their sound experience and knowledge about the subject involved.

What is the main difference between being a professor in a university and being a researcher in a lab?

Being a professor in a university means there will be alot of teaching responsibilities whereas a researcher wouldn’t have to teach. But professors do have this added advantage of having the freedom to pick the topic of interest and work on it

What should students do in their master’s to get better chances of getting into a PHD program and prepare for the transition as well?

The first thing the master’s student should do is to start making friends who are currently doing PHD and try and be a part of their research. This way one can understand if they are interested in the deep level of research that a PHD student would be doing.

Is it better to have an older dissertation professor or a younger one?

First things first, your whole PHD experience relies a lot on your dissertation professor and hence it is an important factor to consider. 

Now generally students would prefer an older dissertation professor since they would have more seniority in the particular field and more experience in publishing. But if there are younger professors who are more energetic, enthusiastic and with many interesting ideas, then go with them.

Just look at that professor’s passion for research and if his personality matches with yours because having a good relationship with your advisor is the most important factor because there are cases where students even quit their university because of the bad relationships they develop with their advisors.

So it is advised that we first take courses and check if you like your professor and if you think you could potentially get along well with them and if they publish quality work.

How to deal with leaving family and mental health during your PHD in USA?

One just cannot afford to be home sick if they have big ambitions and dreams. Right? Not just about studying abroad but just about anything in life has it’s good and bad sides. We cannot avoid the bad aspect of the things in our lives

So what’s the answer? Learn to deal with it. Adapt. Shift your focus towards the mission. Grow. 

Mental Health is becoming a huge issue in today’s world and the best way to deal with it is to be open and honest about everything in your life to yourself. Maintaining a journal, meditation and self help books do come in handy.

Is it okay to take our family with us during our PHD program and will the stipend be enough to get by?

In most cases the students are either already married or they get married during the course of the PHD. The stipend itself can be enough to run a family but it is recommended that you stay in an affordable neighborhood with your partner working as well so there will be less financial burden on you.

Getting admissions for MS and PHD. What are the differences in the admissions process?

When it comes to PHD, the student would have to explain why they are interested in research and where they wish to work on and for what reason and with which professor. In addition to that the aspiring student would have to sit for either multiple interviews with the professors from the particular university or a panel interview.

Whereas getting admissions for a master’s degree generally won’t require any interviews and would be as simple as stating why you wish to pursue a MS course offered by the university.

This is because master’s programs take 1-2 years whereas when it comes to PHD the professors would have to invest a lot of time in you (Around 10 years) and hence they would access what kind of person you are and if your interests and personalities match.

How do we approach professors? And is it necessary to approach professors even before getting admissions and how do we find the professors?

Any student can find the profiles of the faculty of a university on their website and they can examine their profiles for their current topics of interests and research. It is recommended that we approach professors even before admissions to look for guidance and form a bond with them if possible and the best way to approach is to reach them via email.

Written by Sai Subramaniam

Guided by Pavitra Srinivasan and the Galvanize In-house Experts

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Quite informative. I will like to know of any University in the USA that can take me o PhD student I research intrest of Infrastructure and development. I have two masters in Project Development and Implementation 2011 and Economics 2022 ( Public Private Partnership) respectively.

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8 big differences between the US and UK PhD experience

And one important similarity. 

Helen Robertson

phd length in usa

Credit: Malte Mueller/Getty

And one important similarity.

11 March 2020

phd length in usa

Malte Mueller/Getty

In 2019, I took a risk by moving halfway around the world as a postdoctoral researcher in molecular evolution.

Since then, I’ve been struck by how different the grad school experience is here at the University of Chicago in the US, compared with my time at the University College London in the UK, where I completed my PhD in 2017.

Here’s what I’ve noticed:

1. UK grad school interviews are shorter and more lab-specific

In the UK, you’re likely to apply directly to a lab for an advertised project or one that you develop with your supervisor.

In the US, the application process is more centralized. You usually apply to a school instead of a lab. Some programs even require you to take a standardized Graduate Entry Program test, though this seems to be on the decline .

Grad school interviews in the US tend to be longer. They can involve a series of interviews, tours, and faculty events over a number of days.

2. In the US, a work-life balance is harder to achieve

I’ve been surprised by how all-encompassing a US doctorate can be. Even after the first year of teaching, the number of seminars, journal clubs, and university-related activities make the US PhD experience very grad school-centric.

I was fortunate during my UK-based PhD to approach it more like a full-time job than a continuation of my masters year. There were intense periods that required late nights in the lab, but I had time to pursue other interests , which provided some balance and made me more productive at work.

Of course, it’s difficult to generalize about working patterns. Demanding schedules are not wholly dictated by the country you’re studying in. A recent study found that 76% of surveyed grad students spent more than 41 hours a week on their project.

3. It takes longer to complete a PhD in the US

Probably the best-known difference is the time it takes to complete a PhD.

UK PhD programs tend towards three years in length, although it’s increasingly getting closer to four years – a trend that might soon be reflected in funding arrangements .

It’s a different story in the US, where, according to the Survey of Earned Doctorates , students take an average of 5.7 years to graduate.

4. UK PhD fees tend to be lower

Fees err on the more expensive side in the US, as they do for undergraduate degrees – although this isn’t always true for international students.

US PhD fees, coupled with the longer study time, means that the costs associated with grad school are generally higher than in the UK, even before living costs are considered.

If you have a funding body attached to your project, it will likely pay your tuition fees as part of its finance package. But this flags a major difference between the two countries: funding and scholarships.

5. Many US students need to apply for their own funding

From my understanding, most advertised science-based PhD projects in the UK are attached to funding, which covers tuition fees, bench costs, and living expenses. The tax-free PhD stipend set by all UK Research Councils is £15,285 (approximately US$20,000), although other funding bodies pay more.

In the US, there is no national funding level – your level of financial support will be dictated by your school or lab. This means there is generally much more encouragement for US PhD students to apply for their own funding than there is in the UK.

This is good experience for a future scientific career, but if you have to work additional hours to supplement scholarships, you’ll ultimately end up with less time for your project.

6. US PhD programs are more structured

This is particularly true in the first year for US PhDs, which includes lectures, exams, and lab rotations. Only at the end of the first year, after passing your qualifying exam, do you have the opportunity to pick the lab you’re going to pursue your PhD research in.

In the UK, I started in the lab that I spent the duration of my studies in. This meant no structured classes or rotations in my first year, and I began my own research right away.

PhDs that are run through a Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) – centres that manage the Research Council-funded PhD degrees – are increasingly popular in the UK, and include classes and rotations during the first year, but often without the frequent exams and coursework that characterize grad school in the US.

7. There is more focus on defending your thesis in the UK

Writing my thesis was the final hurdle of my UK PhD experience. It gave me the opportunity to document my ideas, successes (and failures), and the context of my project. I defended my thesis in a closed session with two examiners: one internal to my institution, and one external.

From what I’ve seen, finishing a doctorate in the US is less focused on a thesis. Instead, your committee determines that you have completed sufficient work and skill attainment to warrant your defense. Only then can you write your thesis, and defend it in a public session.

In the UK, it’s unlikely you’ll know your examiners well, but a US PhD defense is assessed by the same thesis committee that have known you for the duration of your studies.

8. Teaching is an added bonus in the UK

My UK PhD funding set no teaching requirements: instead, I was free to teach labs and mark coursework at the discretion of my supervisor. And I was paid for any teaching hours I did.

Teaching requirements in the US vary from school to school. For some students, working as a teaching assistant is necessary to pay fees and living expenses – particularly if you don’t have comprehensive funding.

There might also be minimum teaching requirements for the duration of your PhD in the US. In this respect, the time commitment and financial compensation of teaching is very institution-specific.

One important similarity: The lab you join will determine your experience

Despite the differences in structure and requirements between UK and US PhDs, one thing that is common to them all is that, ultimately, your PhD is going to be shaped by the lab you decide to join.

If have a positive working environment and appropriate guidance and support from your supervisor, and you’re interested in and motivated by your thesis topic, then your grad school experience will likely be rewarding.

And that’s true regardless of the country you’re studying in.

Doing a PhD in Europe vs. the US

Are you thinking of doing a PhD abroad? There are some considerable differences between European and American PhD programs that you should know about before applying. Read on to determine which program is right for you.

Qualifications

It is often not possible to do a PhD in Europe without first earning a Master’s degree. In the US, many PhD programs accept applicants who only have a Bachelor's degree. Students usually earn a Master’s as part of the PhD program after they have completed a few years of coursework and passed certain exams. This doesn't mean that all doctoral candidates in American PhD programs have entered the program straight from undergrad. Several still choose to do a Master’s first before applying for a PhD. In some programs students who already have a Master's might not be required to take as many courses as students with just a Bachelor’s, but this isn't always the case. 

Time to Degree

European PhD programs are shorter than those in the US. For example, it takes three years to complete a PhD in France, Norway, the UK, and Germany. Across Europe, a three to four year PhD in common. In comparison, six years is the average time to degree in the US with many PhDs in the humanities taking seven or eight years to earn their degree.

Thesis Topic

PhD candidates in Europe must choose their thesis topic and supervisor during the application process. Students apply for specific vacant doctoral projects that are usually tied to a professor’s research. As part of their application, they must create a research proposal for this project. It is also possible (in the UK for example) to apply to a department rather than a specific position, but applicants must still include a research proposal and are advised to contact potential supervisors before applying. In the US, candidates apply to a department’s PhD program, rather than a specific PhD project. While they have to discuss their research interests and identify potential supervisors in their applications, students do not decide on their thesis topic until their second or third year. In fact, many science and engineering programs have students rotate between different labs in their first year before deciding on their supervisor and dissertation project.

Teaching Requirement

PhD candidates occasionally have the opportunity to teach in Europe, although teaching is not a requirement in many countries. In the US, PhD candidates are often required to teach undergraduates, often as teaching assistants for a large lecture class. A teaching assistant leads smaller tutorials for 20-30 students and grades their exams and papers. Most PhD students will TA one class each semester for two to three years. Several American PhD programs also have mandatory pedagogy courses for graduate students.

Many European PhD programs require students to do little to no coursework. Candidates start working on their dissertation projects right away. American PhD programs, regardless of the field, require students to take two to three years of courses and seminars about topics across the discipline before they being working on their dissertation.

Funding and Salary

In several European countries, PhD students are seen as employees and have work contracts. As employees, PhD students pay into health insurance, pension, and unemployment insurance. In countries where PhD students are not employees (such as the UK and Italy) students apply for university scholarships, external fellowships, or research grants for funding. Tuition fees are drastically lower in many European countries compared to the United States. Funding at American universities varies widely, as do tuition fees. Private universities have higher tuition than public state schools (though international students usually higher tuition at state schools). The top schools offer five-year funding packages which cover tuition and fees and provide a monthly stipend. They also often include health insurance and conference travel. At other schools, students must compete for fellowships at the university, state, or national level to fund their PhDs. In some departmnets students will be paid and receive partial tuition credit for take teaching assistantship or research assistantship positions.

Comprehensive Exams

Most European PhD programs do not require students to pass qualifying exams to progress through their PhDs. There are some notable exceptions, like Sweden, where PhD candidates do an oral and written exam at the halfway point of their PhD. In the US, students usually have to pass a series of comprehensive exams before they can start working on their dissertation. The exams test the student’s knowledge of the major fields within their discipline. While every university will have a slightly different exam structure, there is usually an oral and a written component. Sometimes students also have to orally defend their dissertation proposal. After the candidate has completed their coursework and passed all the required exams they are considered ABD (all but dissertation).

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11 Secrets of a PhD in Europe vs USA that Matter

A PHD in Europe or USA?

They’re VERY different!

If you are trying to decide between pursuing a PhD in the US vs a PhD in the UK, you should think more about which fits you best. There are 11 major differences between the two systems and you need to choose the one that fits you best:

Masters Degree

Typically, in Europe, you would join a PhD program after completing your Master’s degree. In the US, you would spend a few years taking courses (alongside research) to get your Master’s degree.

If you already have a Master’s degree, you may get a course waiver, which could reduce the time needed to complete your PhD.

Most of the US universities ask for GRE and TOEFL in your application for PhD program. But this not mandatory for European, including UK and German universities. Though TOEFL, preferably above 90, is highly recommended for international students.

2 Choose your project before starting your PhD

In the UK (and Europe) , you typically choose a project before starting your PhD.

This is different from the US , where you typically apply to a department for your PhD first and your thesis and research evolves in a year or two.

There are no class requirements for a PhD in the UK . You begin your research right away. The assumption is PhD students know their research areas. After all, you start by applying to a professor / lecturer with a research area in mind.

Now, that might be true for some students. Others may want to get exposed to new ideas and potential research topics. In addition, they may also want to have a wider peer group that gets formed in classes.

Time to completion

PhD programs in the UK (and rest of Europe) take around 3 to 4 years to complete .

After a PhD in the UK, students generally go on to their postdoctoral research.

In the US , a PhD may take up to 5 or 6 years.

After a PhD in the US , students tend to go directly from graduation to academia or research jobs without a postdoc.

In many UK (and European) universities, there are firm guidelines on just how long a PhD takes and those are more important than individual decisions by a student’s advisers. In comparison, in the US, some students can fly through their PhD in 3 years with tremendous amounts of research, while others can take as long as 8 to 10 years to complete their PhD.

There are different systems within Europe.

In Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, a PhD takes 4 to 5 years and includes additional teaching duties. Students in these schools are considered as employees. They receive monthly salaries which are comparable to the salaries earned by graduate students working in various industries and are taxable as well. A PhD student is allowed to either present or attend at least one conference anywhere in the world, expenses for which are taken care of by the research group.

In Germany, a 4-year PhD is considered too long and funding might not be available after the first three years of the PhD program.

Work-life balance

This point is less about the PhD in question, and more about the cultural difference between the UK (and Europe) and the US, but this could be a factor in your decision making if you are particular about the type of culture around you and the kind of lifestyle you wish to have.

The PhD lifestyle is much more relaxed in the UK (and in Europe). You will have more time for yourself as well as your friends and family in the UK, while pursuing your PhD.

In the US, PhD students are often overworked with more teaching and grading responsibilities. They also have a lot of class work.

Hierarchical structure

In the US, PhD students report to and directly interact with their professors, but some of the PhD programs in the UK are headed by the Professor but there is also a Reader and a Lecturer. Students sometimes feel this hampers their flexibility to work, while restricting their exposure to the lab as well as the head of the lab.

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Future opportunities.

Some students feel that the US offers more opportunities to PhD students in academia as well as jobs. This can be true as the US has many universities offering teaching positions as well as companies offering jobs to PhD students. H

owever, irrespective of whether you earn your PhD from Europe or the US, some experts say you may have to hustle to find a great job after your PhD.

Different stipend (salary)

For most PhD in the UK (and Europe), stipend (or salary) comes centrally from the universities or from Government research organizations. These stipends (or salaries) may be limited to only 3 years.

In the US , stipend (or salary) comes directly from your supervisor without any limitation on the duration of the PhD. Unlike in big US universities, there are fewer TA responsibilities for PhD students in UK universities.

In many cases, you don’t need to pay tax on your income as a graduate student in the UK (and Europe).

In Germany , international PhD students are funded for 3 years by the German government.

Less publications

In the UK , you have less chances of getting published . Your time is more focused on your thesis document.

Less chance of faculty position afterwards

In the US , students opt for faculty positions after receiving their PhD .

This isn’t necessarily the case with PhD students in the UK , who opt for postdoc positions to remain in academia.

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More similarity than differences

The UK (and European) universities are being influenced by the US system. Many UK universities’ Computer Science schools have Doctoral Training Programs which are essentially 4-year PhD programs, with the first year focused on teaching. These programs offer more flexibility about what you end up doing and who you end up working with. Also, these programs often are sponsored by industries, which means these have higher stipends and you may get an adviser in industry.

So, which one to choose – UK (or Europe) PhD vs US PhD?

Apart from the factors mentioned above, you should focus on the quality of the research group and reputation of the professor. You should look at the top conferences about your topic of interest and note where the papers come from. That’s your best clue as to which university / school you should choose.

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A degree in artificial intelligence: Penn becomes first Ivy to offer AI major for undergrads

phd length in usa

As artificial intelligence continues to advance its grasp on humans, humans are following suit.

Starting this fall, students at the University of Pennsylvania can major in AI. In a news release this week, the school unveiled plans to become the first of the Ivy League universities to offer an undergraduate degree focused on AI.

The Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Artificial Intelligence degree , will teach students the principles of AI and how to utilize its abilities in "a responsible and ethical way." Students will study the sharp rise of generative AI and how it has transformed various aspects of life from health, energy, transportation, commerce, and national security.

"This new degree program represents a leap forward for the Penn engineers who will lead in developing and deploying these powerful technologies in service to humanity," Interim President J. Larry Jameson said in the news release.

Student debt relief: Biden proposes new loan relief plan for borrowers ‘highly likely’ to default

What it means to major in AI

Students pursuing the B.S.E will take high-level courses from topics like computing algorithms, machine learning, data analytics and advanced robotics, the university said.

Intro courses include "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence" and "Data, Systems, Decisions" while other required classes consist of "Control For Autonomous Robots," "Natural Language Processing" and "Signal and Information Processing."

The major also offers elective classes like "Trustworthy AI," "Machine Perception" and "Brain Computer Interfaces." A full list of the curriculum and available courses can be found here .

Based on their specific interests, students can choose between the following concentrations:

  • Vision/Language
  • Machine Learning
  • Data/Society
  • Health/Systems

Students will learn how to build 'trustworthy AI'

Penn's program reflects the reality that AI has become it's own academic discipline, according to Computer and Information Science Department Chair Zachary Ives.

"Not only because of the many amazing things it can do, but also because we think it’s important to address fundamental questions about the nature of intelligence and learning, how to align AI with our social values, and how to build trustworthy AI systems," Ives said in the news release.

Vijay Kumar, a dean at Penn Engineering, said the program will prepare the next generation of engineers on how to use AI as a tool and a "fundamental force for good."

"Realizing the potential of AI for positive social impact stands as one of the paramount challenges confronting engineering," said George J. Pappas , who will lead the program.

The program will officially commence in the fall 2024 semester. Applications for existing Penn students who want to transfer into the 2024 cohort will be available this fall, the news release said. Prospective students can apply for the Fall 2025 cohort this fall as well.

Newsweek

Marjorie Taylor Greene Confronted With Her Own Tweets at Hearing

R ep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was confronted with her own anti-vaccination tweets at the House Oversight Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic on Thursday, with Rep. Robert Garcia accusing her of causing enormous harm with her social media posts.

Top federal health officials appeared to discuss how COVID-19 vaccine campaigns were run and how to strengthen trust in vaccines in the future. Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation & Research at the Food and Drug Administration said that "about 3.2 million" lives in the U.S. have been saved by the COVID-19 vaccines, to which Greene vehemently reacted.

"I'm not a doctor, but I have a PhD in recognizing bullshit when I hear it," she said.

The Georgia Republican said that the only people at risk of being hospitalized or dying of COVID-19 were only those who were obese, had diabetes or were over the age of 65—accusing Marks of rushing through the vaccination process. Greene attributed to the COVID-19 vaccines "all kinds of injuries, miscarriages, heart attacks, myocarditis, permanent disability, neurological problems."

Garcia, a California Democrat, intervened after Greene and apologized to those at Capitol Hill for having to listen to "a lot of conspiracy theories and wild accusations, which we know have been debunked by medical science."

He then brought up printed versions of several of Greene's tweets that he said aimed to undermine trust in the COVID-19 vaccines, saying the Georgia Republican "spread misinformation, encouraged parents to refuse routine vaccination...and even compared our pandemic [response efforts] to the Holocaust."

Bringing up a 2021 tweet from Greene , Garcia said: "The same person that is actually attacking vaccines said that 'vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi's forced Jewish people to wear a gold star.' That is the level of insanity and attacks that we're having here."

During Garcia's remarks, Greene could be seen talking to a colleague. Newsweek contacted Garcia's office and Greene's spokesperson for comment by email on Friday morning, outside of standard working hours.

He also mentioned Greene's previous comments saying that COVID-19 was a bioweapon and vaccines could cause "turbo cancer." The California Democrat then deemed the comments "insanity" and asked Marks to clarify if the COVID-19 vaccine caused "turbo cancer."

Marks said he didn't know what "turbo cancer" was, adding that no increase in cancer diagnosis was linked to the taking of COVID-19 vaccines. He then apologized to "the thousand or so parents of children under 4 years of age who have died of Covid-19, who were unvaccinated. Because there were deaths and there continue to be deaths among children, and that is the reason why they need to get vaccinated."

The World Health Organization notes that billions have received a COVID-19 vaccine, the benefits of which outweigh the risks of getting ill with the disease. In the U.S, as of January 1, 2024, there were 12,854 Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program claims regarding COVID-19, including 9,682 that alleged death or injury due to a vaccine, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. The HRSA noted before the subcommittee that these represented 0.001 percent of vaccines given.

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U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) speaks on President Trump's involvement with January 6 during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on February 06, 2024 in Washington, DC.

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An evening with PhD Comics’ Jorge Cham

Come hear from Jorge Cham, the genius behind PhD Comics, for a fun-filled evening of laughter, wit, and relatable academic humor focused on the graduate journey!

Jorge Cham

The NC State Graduate School and NC State Friends of the Libraries presents “An evening with PhD Comics’ Jorge Cham”

Join us for a hilarious and enlightening evening with Jorge Cham , Stanford PhD and the creator of the popular PhD Comics ! Get ready to laugh and relate as Jorge shares his unique perspective on the ups and downs of academic life.

In his talk, Jorge Cham recounts his experiences traveling to over 150 universities and research centers in the US and across the world, lecturing and listening to graduate students and researchers from all walks of life share their stories of anxiety and de-motivation. Thought-provoking yet humorous, Jorge Cham’s talk examines the sources of stress for creative and scientific professionals, explores the myth of procrastination, and helps students and staff figure out how to connect to their inner passion.

Date: Thursday, March 7

Time: 5:30 p.m. 

Location: James B. Hunt Jr. Library, Duke Energy Hall 

illustration provided by PHD Comics

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear Jorge’s witty anecdotes and insightful commentary on the world of academia. Whether you’re a student, researcher, or just curious about the PhD journey, this event is sure to entertain and resonate with you. 

Space is limited ! So, mark your calendars and register today. 

A light reception will immediately follow the talk.

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IMAGES

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COMMENTS

  1. How Long Does It Take to Get a Ph.D. Degree?

    Earning a Ph.D. from a U.S. grad school typically requires nearly six years, federal statistics show. By Ilana Kowarski | Aug. 12, 2019, at 10:20 a.m. Caiaimage | Tom Merton | Getty Images A Ph.D....

  2. How Long Does It Take to Get a Ph.D. Degree?

    Earning a Ph.D. from a U.S. grad school typically requires nearly six years, federal statistics show. By Ilana Kowarski Aug. 12, 2019, at 10:20 a.m. U.S. News & World Report (CAIAIMAGE/TOM MERTON/GETTY IMAGES) A Ph.D. is most appropriate for someone who is a "lifelong learner."

  3. How Long Does it Take to Get a PhD? A Go-Getter's Guide

    On average, it takes 4-5 years to complete a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program. In the US, most PhD programs are between 4-6 years, while in Canada they are typically shorter, around 3-4 years. Some students take longer than 6 years to complete their PhD, but in general the longest time it takes to get a PhD is capped at 8 years.

  4. How Long Does It Take To Get a PhD?

    A PhD program typically takes four to seven years, but a variety of factors can impact that timeline. A PhD, or doctorate degree, is the highest degree you can earn in certain disciplines, such as psychology, engineering, education, and mathematics. As a result, it often takes longer to earn than it does for a bachelor's or master's degree.

  5. Average Time To Obtain A Ph.D.

    According to Joseph Berger of the New York Times, the average length of a dissertation program today is 8.2 years (2). Terminal degrees in the hard sciences typically take a slightly shorter time to complete than do degrees in education and the humanities. The field of physics has a current average of five years.

  6. Studying a PhD in The USA: The Complete Guide

    The total length of a PhD in the USA is between 4-8 years for full-time students and 8-10 years for part-time students, depending on your field of study. PhDs can be completed in 4-5 years for students with a masters degree in an appropriate subject. Students typically dedicate 1-4 years on coursework, followed by 2-4 years of dissertation work.

  7. Master's vs PhD

    Length of a PhD. In the US, a PhD usually takes between 5 and 7 years to complete. The first 2 years are spent on coursework. Students, even those who choose to leave without finishing the program, usually receive a master's degree at this point. ... In the United States, PhDs usually take between 5-7 years: 2 years of coursework followed ...

  8. What a PhD Course in the USA Actually Looks Like

    The duration of a PhD degree at an American university usually takes around 4-6 years of full-time study to complete. Students spend 1-4 years on the coursework stage of their programme and 2-4 years working on their dissertation. The academic year in the USA consists of two teaching semesters: August-December and January-May.

  9. How Long Does A PhD Take?

    In the vast majority of cases, the adopted deadlines are four years for full-time PhDs and seven years for part-time PhDs from the date you were officially registered onto your programme, as shown below from the University of Leicester's registration guidance page.

  10. PhD in USA

    A PhD in USA takes approximately 5 - 6 years of full-time study and can cost between $12,000 - $45,000 per academic year. PhD programs in USA differ from that in the UK and Europe in that students must first take taught classes, coursework and exams before starting their research project. Why Do a PhD in USA?

  11. Application Requirements for All Doctoral Programs (PhD)

    Length of Program: 5 years (average length) Tuition: fellowship/assistantship salary and tuition guaranteed for first five years of the program (autumn, winter and spring quarters) for all students, including international students. Funding includes two summers. Application Requirements: Application Form

  12. Your Roadmap to a PhD in the USA: The Ultimate Guide

    However, most PhD programs require students to complete a minimum of four years of study and research. Upon completion of the program, graduates are well-prepared for careers in academia, research, and industry. Universities worldwide highly regard and recognize the PhD program in the United States.

  13. How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD?

    For a traditional, campus-based PhD program, the average time to finish a PhD is 8 years. Fulfilling the program's requirements will often demand a serious investment of your time. Even still, some people are able to finish their programs in just 3 to 6 years. Multiple factors may influence the overall length of your program. Required Credit Hours

  14. PhD duration in the USA

    Keep in mind that, in many fields, the time to PhD in the US also includes the coursework (master's) component, so the research phase can be anywhere from one semester to almost two years shorter than the "time to PhD." - aeismail Mar 24, 2014 at 17:02 4

  15. PhD Study in the USA

    Topic: Discipline: Location: PhD Study in the USA - 2024 Over one million international students choose the USA as their study abroad destination, making it the most popular international study destination in the world!

  16. Studying PhD in the USA 2023

    Nov 15, 2023 | Last updated on Nov 15, 2023 Thinking about PhD? Think America! Why Study PhD in the USA? 1. Course Length of PhD in the USA 2. Top-Notch Universities 3. Diversity in the College Campuses 4. Availability of Scholarships for PhD in the USA 5. Availability of Jobs after PhD in the USA Best Universities for PhD Programs in the USA 1.

  17. Applying for a PhD in the USA

    To apply for a PhD at an American university, you'll need to submit a list of documents which include: academic transcripts; personal statement; letters of recommendation; CV; research statements - A research statement is different from a research proposal (required if you're applying for a PhD in most other countries).

  18. Guide to Study PhD in USA

    A PhD in USA is one of the most popular courses to study in the United States. The duration of a PhD program in the USA is usually 4-6 years. In addition, the cost of pursuing PhD in the USA is around 20,760 USD - 141,000 USD for international students. ... PhD Length. 4-6 years. Tuition Fees. USD 28,000-40,000. Academic Year. August to May ...

  19. Study PHD in USA

    The length of a PhD program in the USA is usually 4-6 years (full time). ... How much stipend can one expect during their PHD in USA? The stipends could vary from $10,000 or lower to over $50,000 depending on the university, the city and the cost of living in that area, the university and the area of study. ...

  20. 8 big differences between the US and UK PhD experience

    It takes longer to complete a PhD in the US Probably the best-known difference is the time it takes to complete a PhD. UK PhD programs tend towards three years in length, although it's...

  21. Doing a PhD in Europe vs. the US

    Time to Degree. European PhD programs are shorter than those in the US. For example, it takes three years to complete a PhD in France, Norway, the UK, and Germany. Across Europe, a three to four year PhD in common. In comparison, six years is the average time to degree in the US with many PhDs in the humanities taking seven or eight years to ...

  22. 11 Secrets of a PhD in Europe vs USA that Matter

    In the US, a PhD may take up to 5 or 6 years. After a PhD in the US, students tend to go directly from graduation to academia or research jobs without a postdoc. In many UK (and European) universities, there are firm guidelines on just how long a PhD takes and those are more important than individual decisions by a student's advisers.

  23. Live updates: Fani Willis hearing resumes in Trump election ...

    Wade and Willis each testified under oath that their relationship began in spring 2022 and ended in summer 2023. But defense lawyers contend the relationship began as early as 2019 and that Willis ...

  24. How Long Does a PhD Take?

    In the USA, a PhD takes four to six years. There are several reasons for this. While in the UK, you tend to apply for a specific project, in the US, your application is aimed at a certain department and your actual proposal takes shape in the first couple of years of PhD study.

  25. Penn is first Ivy League school with artificial intelligence track

    Starting this fall, students at the University of Pennsylvania can major in AI, becoming the first Ivy League school with a degree focused on AI.

  26. Marjorie Taylor Greene Confronted With Her Own Tweets at Hearing

    Marks said he didn't know what "turbo cancer" was, adding that no increase in cancer diagnosis was linked to the taking of COVID-19 vaccines. He then apologized to "the thousand or so parents of ...

  27. Shipping CEO Angela Chao, sister of former Cabinet member Elaine ...

    Angela Chao, CEO of the shipping company the Foremost Group and sister of former US cabinet secretary Elaine Chao, was killed in a car crash in Texas on Sunday, according to a spokesperson for her ...

  28. An evening with PhD Comics' Jorge Cham

    The NC State Graduate School and NC State Friends of the Libraries presents "An evening with PhD Comics' Jorge Cham". Join us for a hilarious and enlightening evening with Jorge Cham, Stanford PhD and the creator of the popular PhD Comics!Get ready to laugh and relate as Jorge shares his unique perspective on the ups and downs of academic life.