What is PhD Degree? A Brief Introduction


What is PhD

Recently for students, obtaining a PhD along with their Masters has become a preferred option. Pursuing a PhD requires a good score in the candidate’s MS degree in much the same way as the GRE scores depend on the admission into a university which the candidate prefers.

Doctorate of Philosophy(PhD) is the highest academic degree that can be awarded to a student. It is a mark of one’s expertise in the selected field and a prerequisite to qualify a person to teach a subject at university level. Indeed, the PhD course is attempted by few students, since it requires strong academic work ethics and dedication, since this degree can last for 3-4 years. A PhD can be attained in any academic topic, from medicine to geography. This degree involves a research element which leads to a dissertation followed by the viva, all of which are crucial for the students while attaining their PhD degree.

Why Should You Do A Phd?

A PhD is not a walk in the park. It demands heavy reading, writing, giving up a regular job, etc. henceforth, many uncertainties linger in a candidate’s mind before boarding the PhD train. Therefore, for the ideal PhD persuasion a candidate must require to do meaningful research, make significant contributions to ongoing projects, etc. Here are some right reasons to do a PhD. If you:

  • Want To Learn Or Discover Something New

A person who is curious about many things in a particular subject and always asks questions regarding them, makes a perfect candidate for pursuing PhD.

  • Want To Achieve Something Different

A person motivated by money may make a great businessman. But a person who is having a thirst for in-depth knowledge about a specific topic and willing to push the new findings of the subject to the next advanced level makes a good researcher.

  • Wants To Improve Skills And As A Person

Going through the process of PhD teaches you some great skills (discussed later). A person who looks to make use of these skills like communication, drafting policies, to boost his confidence and look for a better job, is a good candidate for a PhD.

  • If You Feel You’re Made For It

Some people are just made for a PhD. Some may have picked a fascination at a young age and would have read a lot about it. Their natural thirst for knowledge about it may have made it their obsession and desire to do something more. These people are the perfect candidates for a doctorate.

PhD Research Process

Many people don’t have a clear idea as to what is required to be done by a PhD candidate to conduct research and complete the degree. Many universities have compulsory courses to be done by the candidate along with the research. A PhD candidate needs to have motivation, perseverance and should be comfortable spending large hours in a library or the laboratory. Normally a PhD research process is conducted in the following manner :

  • Surveying the current available material in your field (Literature Review)

The first step in research is carrying out the literature review. Although most of the time is spent in libraries and reading books, there are other modes of review too. A candidate may visit other facilities to get hold of data that may be significant or they can be a resident scholar in other institutions.

  • Conducting original research under a supervisor or build on top of existing work

While surveying the literature, the candidate will get hold of a topic of interest or an area of research upon which the candidate thinks he/she can further build their original work.

  • Documenting Results and finding implications, uses.

After the candidate finds a logical cut-off where one can conduct original research, they have to start conducting surveys or experiments. These experiments form the major base of the work that the scholar does.

  • Writing a thesis that showcases your results and conclusions

While conducting the experiments, the candidate usually starts writing a draft of the thesis. Gathering results from the experiments, research or surveys will help to form the basis of the argument(thesis).

  • Cataloging the thesis and submitting it as a dissertation

Regular meetings with the supervisor will help to understand the shortcomings present and any other improvements that can be made. The PhD candidate will start writing chapters which will be part of the final dissertation.

  • Defending your dissertation in front of a jury also called as viva-voice

Once the final dissertation is complete and reviewed by the supervisor, the candidate may start proceeding to apply to academic conferences or research publications. They will form a jury, in front of whom the candidate has to present and defend the dissertation. This process of cross-questioning takes place orally, and hence is called viva-voce.

If the jury deems the research as up to the mark, then the candidate is awarded the PhD degree.

Read Also: Who can pursue PhD?

Life after PhD

The successful PhD scholars are entitled with the prestigious ‘Dr.’ as a prefix to their name. Most scholars go on to work as an academic at an university. Every university requires professors who hold PhD degrees now-a-days, because the strength of PhD staff impacts the ranking of the universities.

Non-Academic Careers after PhD

Of late, researchers have been moving into alternate careers, making full use of the skills they’ve acquired while writing the thesis. Some key skills and qualities which PhD candidates acquire/learn are:

  • Negotiation skills
  • Confidentiality and Diplomacy
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication/Presentation to large audiences
  • Event Planning
  • Analyzing complex data

These skills enable them to work in a variety of jobs, from banking sector to public sector. Many PhD holders have made a successful jump to new careers like:

  • Investment Banker
  • Financial Analyst
  • Public Policy Maker
  • Patent Lawyer
  • Government Advisor

A PhD degree holder is well-respected in the society. He/She will have exposure to great research materials if it is done from the right university.

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