Steps to Complete PhD [Milestone and Timeline]

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Completing PhD is not an easy task. It takes special dedication and determination to even think of applying for PhD.

Following article will give in-depth idea about the steps required to complete PhD degree and approximate time to complete doctorate degree.

Steps To PhD Degree

You will need to follow these steps along the path to the Ph.D.

  1. PhD students should have knowledge about various area of their Major. So, first 2 years you will be taking variety of courses (Diversity courses).  You will do this at the same time you are doing the next step:
  2. Find a supervising professor and identify a research area (but not a specific topic at this point). In consultation with your advisor, choose three courses (in addition to your diversity course). Choose courses designed to prepare you for the research you plan to do.
  3. Schedule a Research Preparation Exam.
  4. Submit a Research Qualification (RQ) Document to the Graduate Office. In the RQ document, the student:
    • Provides evidence of satisfying the background requirements
    • Submits coursework (5 Diversity courses completed and 3 Depth courses, some of which may remain to be taken) with satisfaction of the GPA requirements
    • Provides evidence of completing the Research Preparation Exam
    • Formalizes dissertation advisor(s)

    The RQ document must be filed by the end of the 3rd year in the PhD program.

  5. Become PhD Candidate
    • With the assistance of your supervising professor, select a committee.
    • The Graduate Adviser must approve your committee prior to making final committee plans
    • Select a date and time when all committee members can be present for the proposal.
    • Pass the proposal exam.
    • After passing your proposal exam, you will need to complete an  Application for Candidacy
  6. Schedule and Pass the Final Defense
    1. At least 4 members of the 5+ member committee must be present. Non-attending members must provide written explanation for their absence and must agree to read and comment on the dissertation by the time of the defense.
  7. Submit the Dissertation to the Graduate School.

PhD Graduation Timetable

Milestone Time Since Admission
Completion of diversity courses 1.5 – 2 years
Submission of RQ proposal 2 – 2.5 years
Admission to candidacy 2.5 – 3.5 years
Dissertation defense 3 – 5 years

Timeline and procedure will vary between universities, but above listed steps will give an overall idea about completing PhD and time required to complete Doctorate degree. You can pply for PhD right after Bachelors degree (B.E., BSc or B.S.). You maybe be required to take additional coursework during first 2 years.

Next : The PhD Experience : Phase by Phase

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