A PHD, or Ph.D., is a type of diploma awarded to students
at colleges and universities in the United States. This is an
abbreviation for Doctor of Philosophy, though it applies to a number of majors
and courses of study that don’t fall within the philosophical area. The PHD is a
type of doctorate degree, although there are other doctorate degrees as well.
This is regarded as a terminal degree in most fields, because it is the highest
degree a student can earn.
There are three major phases or steps
associated with a PHD program. The student begins by studying in their chosen
field. They take advanced courses that go beyond anything they learn in
undergraduate school, and the classes only fit their major. Unlike undergraduate
coursework, where the student takes elective classes in other areas, all of
these courses relate to the area of the degree they are seeking. For example, a
student studying forensic psychology only takes classes in this area. It
typically takes a minimum of 1-3 years to finish their studies.
step involves the student taking a test in their field. This test is highly
involved and covers a wide range of information learned in their studies. It can
essentially cover anything the student has studied. Most programs also contain
an oral exam stage. In this stage, the student meets with professors from their
field, where they answer questions relating to the field they studied.
The last stage in the PHD program is writing a dissertation. The dissertation
is fairly long, involved, and complex. The minimum page length for this is 50
pages, although some programs require a longer paper. It’s not uncommon for a
dissertation to run several hundred pages long. Students even publish their
dissertation in a book form after finishing the program.
The dissertation is
the longest and most involved step in the process of obtaining a PHD college
diploma. Students spend up to four years or longer working on their paper.
The paper covers current and past research into the topic, as well as the
student’s own thoughts or opinions on the subject. It’s up to the student to
create the topic and outline of the paper.
This process culminates with
defense of the paper, which some view as the hardest part of all. A board
comprised of the student’s advisor, professors, and other professors in the
field ask questions regarding the methodology of the paper, as well as the
student’s own thoughts about the topic. Successful completion of the oral
defense is required for possession of a PHD.
Admission to the PHD
program requires successful completion of a Master’s degree
program, including a thesis or final project in that program. Students
typically spend a minimum of four years in undergraduate
school and another four years or longer working on their PHD. Many
students who finish the program work as a teacher or professor in their field.
Most schools require this type of degree for all of their full-time
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