PhD, the highest academic achievement, is a research doctorate degree.
A PhD degree usually requires three to four years of full-time study. You’ll carry out research for and write a thesis that adds something new to the field.
What a PhD is, what it entails, and what you should know before applying for a PhD research project or enrolling in a doctorate program are all explained on this page.
What does PhD mean?
PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy. It is one of the highest academic degrees that a person can be awarded. (Ph)ilosophiae (D)octor is an abbreviation of PhD in the Latin term. Traditionally, the term ‘philosophy’ does not refer to this subject, but to its original Greek meaning, roughly translated as ‘lover of wisdom’.
What is the difference between a PhD and a doctorate?
A doctorate is a qualification in any field that leads to a doctoral degree. For a person to qualify, you need to do innovative work or make a discovery that makes a significant new contribution to your field of knowledge. Doing so will earn you the title of ‘Doctor‘.
This degree is offered in almost all disciplines at universities around the world. Other doctorates are more specialized or for more practical and professional skills and unique projects.
Basically, all PhDs have doctorate status, but not all doctorates have PhD status.
How long does it take to achieve a PhD degree?
The duration of a PhD is usually three to four years of full-time study, or five to six years part-time. How long it takes you to complete your PhD will depend on the structure of your project, arrangements with your funding sources and any additional training you may undertake.
Is Masters necessary for PhD?
Not necessarily a Master’s in a specific subject, it is common for Arts and Humanities students to complete an MA (Master of Arts) before a PhD to gain research experience and techniques. While science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students do not always need an MSc (Master of Science) for a PhD, lab techniques and other skills are trained during a masters or undergraduate degree.
The Master’s requirement for a PhD degree varies from country to country. PhDs in Australia may require a Masters equivalent to their own ‘honours year’ (where students do research work). US PhD programs often include Masters.
We have a complete guide that can help you decide whether getting a PhD without a Masters is right for you.
The reality of PhD
As its name suggests, the PhD is not actually an ancient Greek degree. Instead it depends on a much more recent development. As we know, the PhD degree was introduced in Germany during the nineteenth century along with the modern research university.
This happened when the focus shifted to the production of new knowledge and new ideas.
In the first year of PhD
Starting a PhD is about finding your place as a researcher and getting a solid grounding in your topic in current scholarship.
You will have initial meetings with your supervisor to discuss a plan of action based on your research proposal.
The first step to this will definitely be your literature review. With the guidance of your supervisor, you will be able to begin surveying and evaluating existing scholarships. This will help you do your research and ensure that your work is original.
Your literature review will provide you with a logical jumping-off point to begin your research and gather your findings. This will involve designing and implementing experiments, or getting stuck in a pile of primary sources.
An MPhil year can end with an upgrade. When this happens, PhD candidates are initially registered for an MPhil degree and when sufficient progress is made, PhD candidates are ‘upgraded’. You will submit material from your literature review, or draft your research findings and discuss them with members of your department in the upgrade exam. All going well, then you can continue your research as a PhD student.
In the second year of PhD
Your second year will probably be when you have done most of your basic research. The process will vary depending on your field, but your primary focus will be on gathering results from experiments, research, surveys, or other sources.
As your research develops, so will your thesis (or argument) build on it. You will even begin writing the chapters or other pieces that will form part of your thesis.
You will still need to meet regularly with your supervisor. They will check your progress, give feedback on your thoughts, experiences, ideas and maybe even read a draft of your product.
This year will be an important stage in your development as a scholar. You will be well aware of the current research and you have to start gathering some important data or material or developing your own insights. But you will not yet face the demanding and time-consuming task of finalizing or completing your dissertation.
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Therefore, this part of your PhD is the best time to think about presenting your work at academic conferences, gaining teaching experience, or selecting some material for publication in an academic journal.
In the third year of PhD
In the third year of PhD you will sometimes face writing phases.
Traditionally, this year is the final part of your doctorate, in which your main work will be to gather your findings and incorporate your thesis into a thesis.
In reality, it’s not always that simple.
It is unusual for these final-year PhD candidates to still be validating experiments, collecting results or pursuing some additional sources. This is especially possible if you spend part of your second year focusing on professional development.
In fact, some people actually take all or part of the fourth year to complete their thesis. Whether you are able to do this will probably depend on your PhD funding and the conditions of your enrollment.
Eventually, though you have to face writing your thesis and submitting your thesis.
Your supervisor will often be involved in this process. They will read your final draft and tell you when they think your PhD is ready for submission.
This will be followed by your final oral exam. This is a formal discussion and defense of your thesis involving at least one internal and one external examiner. This is normally the only assessment procedure for PhD Once you pass, you’re done!