Meaning of PhD Degree, Requirements and How to Apply

Find Out the Meaning of a PhD Degree, Admission Requirements and How to Apply, this is a complete guide for all students.

What is the meaning of PhD? or what is PhD?

Of course you know it is a degree, just the highest of them all, lol. PhD is the highest university degree conferred after a masters holder has completed a further study in any field. It is mainly a research degree; if you want to study PhD, you will be required to undertake an original research (thesis or dissertation) that either set the pace in discoveries or expounds the boundaries of knowledge.

You will be required to defend your work against experts in your field. If you don’t possess a PhD, you can’t be addressed as a doctor of academics (Dr). PhD is the short form of Doctor of Philosophy abbreviated as DPhil, or Dr. Philos. It originated from the Greek word Philosophia – meaning; love of wisdom. It requires specialization in a particular field. It takes 3 to 4 years to study and acquire this degree. Some institutions  allow students to pass directly  from bachelors to PhD depending  on the nature of the degree they studied , and they will definitely do it  for 4 years. If you want to take the program as a part-time studies, you may take up to 6 years to finish.

Nowadays, instead of the traditionally taught and supervised classroom PhDs, some schools have introduced distance learning and part-time PhD studies.

Admission Requirements for a PhD Studies

  • you need a good bachelors and masters degree result
  • proof of language proficiency
  • evidence of sufficient funding
  • medical fitness report
  • research proposal or thesis
  • publication of former research work if application

Note; These may not apply to your university of choice, find out from them to get specific details. Some universities require that you find a professor in your field of choice, discuss with him or her for approval before you proceed with admission application. The person will supervise you throughout your studies in the school.

Language Proficiency Requirement

Some applications for PhDs require proof of competence in the language in which you wish to study. You may either include the results of a recently agreed standardized language test, or display proof that you have completed undergraduate or postgraduate studies in the related language.

PhD Employment/Academic references Requirements

Some institutions may also request a record of your jobs, such as a resume, and/or all your academic transcripts, as part of your PhD application, including specifics of course modules and module material. Your application will also be helped by knowledge of other research projects you have done and any articles you have been published in.

Many PhD candidates, such as their undergraduate or postgraduate tutors or professors, are often asked to provide references from two or three individuals who know them well in an academic environment. Your academic success, coursework and research skills, your research ability and your interest in your chosen field of study must be a specific focus of these references. For this reason, during your pre-PhD studies, it is necessary to establish relationships with faculty members.

PhD Personal Statements for Application

Many organizations ask for a personal statement – a short essay that you can use to express your enthusiasm for the topic you have chosen. You should explain your reasons for choosing to pursue a PhD, personal motives to do so, any extracurricular activities that are or should be highlighted in particular, and any versatility in your research area(s) chosen. Many organizations have a guide on their website for personal statements if you need guidance, which can also help you customize your personal statement to each institution.

PhD Applications; PhD Research Proposals

Lastly, candidates are expected to submit a PhD research proposal in order to be considered for a position in a PhD program. A request for research:

  • In the background of previous work, it outlines your proposed research topics,
  • Emphasizes your interpretation of current debates in the area,
  • Demonstrates an acceptable degree of research,
    Identifies acceptable holes in present information,
  • Suggests a relevant hypothesis for study to fill some of these holes,
  • Explains your intended methodology of study in adequate detail,
  • Relate the consequences that your PhD proposal could impose to real-world ordinance.

This will allow admission tutors to evaluate your potential for PhD study, as well as to decide whether your research interests are consistent with their own research goals and facilities available. They would also consider whether they have the necessary employees to provide you with adequate experience in supervision.

In particular, for this reason it is important to thoroughly apply to research institutions before applying for a PhD. If your research interests match in with those of your chosen institution, not only would you be happier, but institutions will be compelled to refuse your application solely on the basis of disparities between their research interests and yours. Remember that this initial research proposal is not inherently binding-it is typically a starting point from which the research concept can be further established.

Certain subject areas (such as science and engineering) do not request original proposals for study. The institution instead offers a set of PhD research projects that are conceived and peer-reviewed by the supervisor(s) concerned. Depending on the organisation, this can be achieved at a specific time of year or year-round. Students should then provide a declaration indicating a clear understanding of the study to be carried out and their suitability for it to be carried out.

In consultation with another organization which may provide funding/scholarships for the successful candidate, these PhD research projects may also have been conceived. These pre-defined PhD projects are less common in subjects related to the arts, humanities and social sciences, where students are more likely to submit their own proposals.

Applying for a PhD without Relevant Qualifications

If you plan to do a PhD but do not have the requisite qualifications or comparable qualifications, you will still be eligible to apply for a PhD program by following the additional criteria set out by your institution of choice. Any potential criteria may be to undergo or pass a qualifying exam for a stated additional thesis.

You might also be eligible to grant your selected institution a special case, either on the basis of a non-graduate technical qualification and substantial practical experience, or on the basis of an international qualification. The strong backing of your potential supervisor will be needed for special case PhD applications, so you will need to seek his/her advice and guidance before applying in this way. Only apply to any school of your choosing when you know that all justice has been served by you. You should employ a consultant or agent of studying abroad to help you apply.

PhDs through MPhil

Apply as a general research student or an MPhil degree, that’s another option. This is a typical route taken by applicants for PhDs. The MPhil is an advanced master’s degree awarded for research and may be sufficient for students without a clear background in research. In order to get you up to speed with topics such as analysis techniques, you will need to take some teaching courses.

The successful completion of a one-year taught program will lead to the award of the MRes degree, which contains more components taught than the MPhil and can be awarded to students who have not completed the requisite PhD study period instead of a PhD. Alternatively, the successful completion of original research can result in the award of the MPhil degree, which can be awarded without the applicant having to defend their dissertation (a requirement to achieve a PhD).

If the institution is pleased with the progress of your work during the first or second year of your study i.e. during your MPhil), you will then be able to apply for full registration for a PhD. Your boss or mentor will typically be in charge of deciding whether you are prepared to progress to a PhD. You will then need to create a title for your thesis and select your PhD program if you are considered to be ready.

Starting a PhD Studies

You should be officially told of: your supervisor(s) and their area(s) of expertise when registration has been completed; the subject or field of PhD study for which you have been accepted; the minimum period of time needed before submission of your thesis; the institution’s preferred formal evaluation methods.

A detailed list of requirements and facilities available to PhD and research students at university will also be offered to you by most institutions. In order to obtain a PhD, they will also provide a comprehensive overview of the milestones you must meet on your journey. Your boss will be responsible for traveling with you through these milestones, reporting on your success, and advising you on your next steps. In order to pursue your PhD studies, you will need to make sufficient progress each year.

Alternatives to a PhD Studies

There are many forms of degrees that have the word “doctor” in their title when searching for PhD programs, such as the Juris Doctor (common in the US, Canada, Australia, Mexico and parts of Asia), the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) or the Doctor of Pharmacy (DPharm) and the US and Canada version of the Doctor of Medicine (Doctor of Medicine) (MD).

Generally, these degrees are not categorized as PhDs because they lack the essential aspect that really distinguishes the PhD: academic study. Instead, these other types of doctorate degrees are known as ‘entry-level doctorate degrees’. Afterwards, applicants who want to obtain a PhD can do so, and this may be referred to as a ‘post-professional doctorate.’

In order to be awarded the degree title, neither the JD nor the US/Canada MD programs uniformly require students to complete a specified academic research portion. There are also several research degrees, however, such as the MD, which performs scientific research (in the case of the MD, medical) that is published in peer-reviewed journals. This makes them somewhat similar to PhDs, and they are considered equivalent by some countries. Therefore some colleges offer combined degrees in technical and research training, such as the dual MD-PhD program, which is beneficial for medical practitioners seeking to pursue a research career.

Degrees that some people term higher than a PhD

There are also some ‘higher doctoral courses’ considered to be a level above the Doctor of Philosophy, in addition to different degrees that might be considered similar to a PhD (PhD). While they are increasingly awarded as honorary degrees, these are most common in UK universities and in some European countries. There is no scheme for higher doctorates in the US and the titles are given solely as honorary degrees. By adding ‘hc’ (for honoris causa) to the end of the title of the degree, honorary degrees are thus signified. They don’t seem greater to me because you’re always going to be addressed as a doctor and not a professor.

Some higher doctorate degrees include;

  • Doctor of Science (DS/SD); Awarded in recognition of a significant and sustained contribution beyond that needed for a PhD to scientific knowledge.
  • Doctor of Literature/Letters (DLit/DLitt/LitD); Awarded to recognize contribution to humanities or when you have contributed originally to creative arts.
  • Doctor of Divinity (DD); Awarded to the Doctor of Theology (DTh) above, typically to honor the ministry-oriented achievements of the recipient.
  • Doctor of Music (DMus); Awarded on the basis of a significant portfolio of compositions and/or academic publications on music in the UK, Ireland and some Commonwealth countries.
  • Doctor of Civil Law (DCL); the highest doctorate, with the exception of the DD, given on the basis of exceptionally detailed and distinctive publications containing important and original contributions to the general study of law or politics.
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