Going to graduate school is a tough decision to make but the tougher challenge is staying in the program. During the application period, students have to state their intended degree whether it’s a master’s or PhD degree. Often, students who are enrolled in a full-time master’s program are allowed to proceed toward a doctoral degree if they have shown exemplary performance.
Here is an overview of the challenges involved in obtaining a PhD.
- Comprehensive Examination – this test is usually given during the first year of doctoral study and is used as an evaluation of the student’s level of undergraduate knowledge. Not all disciplines give comprehensive exams but are more commonly given for some social science, humanities and natural science degrees.
- Coursework – the first two years of working for a Ph.D. involves extensive coursework on the discipline and specialty areas that the students choose to focus on.
- Qualifying Exams – before doctoral students can proceed to working on their dissertations they have to pass more examinations before they are allowed to proceed further in the program. Most programs require a Qualifying Examination or a PhD Candidacy Examination to determine thee student’s level of knowledge on the discipline. This is one of the most stressful stages in obtaining a PhD because it requires a lot of time studying for the comprehensive exams and it puts a lot of pressure on students since those who fail the tests may be dropped from the program or recommended for re-take after a semester or a year.
- Dissertation Writing and Defense – students devote the final years of their doctoral study doing research and completing their dissertation. This process usually takes on average 3 to 8 years and varies for every discipline, topic and requirements set by their own dissertation committees. Not all dissertations are defended before a committee since some academic bodies may not require an oral defense after the paper has already been read and evaluated. If an oral defense is required, the author must be ready to present the summary of the research, justify the significance of the study and the results as well as answer the questions form the jury or dissertation committee.
Students who desire to take the next step towards getting a more advanced degree should come to terms with the demands of the task before making a final decision. If you think you can rise to the challenge then it’s time you apply for the doctoral degree that you desire.