US PhD Degrees

US doctoral degrees (PhD) confer considerable prestige and US universities are world-renowned for their quality research and for their research degrees. The application process can be lengthy and complex though. Funding issues, accommodation and entry requirements complicate matters further and the stakes are high. Let us help you to get it right the first time.

Exactly what does a PhD in the USA involve?

The PhD is a program consisting of taught coursework and research extending over four to six years, culminating in a dissertation or thesis. The thesis must present original findings that are, in principle, publishable. In some subjects such as art, the thesis may be replaced by an original major work and in the social sciences, several published articles may be accepted in place of a single thesis.

A US PhD differs from the UK PhD in that in the United Kingdom there are little or no taught courses whereas in the United States a typical PhD will include a taught element.

What is an MPhil?

The MPhil, in universities that offer it, is usually awarded after the master’s is awarded and the PhD candidate has completed all requirements for the PhD degree aside from the writing and defense of the dissertation itself.

What will a US PhD do for my career?

During the course of your doctoral studies you will produce an original piece of research that could give your career an important boost.

US universities are home to some world-renowned experts in all sorts of fields. As a doctoral student you will have access to these people; you could become one yourself.

Universities in the United States will educate you to world-renowned research standards that will stand you in good stead whether your ambitions lie in academia, or in private business.

How is the degree structured?

American students typically undergo three phases in the course of their work toward a PhD degree. The phases overlap and aren’t necessarily taken consecutively. So for example, a PhD student could be taking coursework concurrently with their research.

Phase one consists of coursework in your field of study and requires one to three years to complete.

Phase two usually starts with a preliminary, comprehensive examination or a series of cumulative examinations where the emphasis is on breadth rather than depth of knowledge. You are often later required to pass oral and written examinations in the field of your specialization, here the emphasis will be on depth.

Phase three is a two to four year period of original research work resulting in the composition of a written thesis, ranging typically from 50 to 450 pages. Depending on the discipline, a thesis consists of a comprehensive literature review, an outline of methodology and several chapters of scientific, social, historical, philosophical, or literary analysis. Upon completion, you will normally undergo an oral examination by your supervisory committee with expertise in the given discipline.

What are the entry requirements?

There are nearly 300 universities offering PhD programs in the United States so the entry requirements vary from school to school. Below are the general requirements

  •  English language requirement – usually 90-100 TOEFL iBT (6.5 IELTS)
  • Relevant bachelor’s degree. (PhDs in humanities often require a relevant master’s degree)
  • Satisfactory score in GMAT or GRE
  • Statement of purpose. This should outline the area of research in which you are interested, previous relevant research and academic work, why this research field interests you and your future goals
  • Reference letters (How many will depend on the university)