Study in USA

Steps to Complete PhD [Milestone and Timeline]

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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  1. Hi Sir

    I completed my Master in Dietetics and Food Service Management from IGNOU. Iā€™d like to pursue Doctoral course in topics related to Food Safety/ Quality.

    Iā€™m an Indian settled in UAE. If i am enrolled for PhD in India, after the course work from India can i get back to UAE and complete my PhD with constant keeping up with my Supervisor through emails and phone calls?

    Also, is it possible that i can get back to India at my pace and complete my lab works at the approved research centers?

    Thank you

    1. Hai …I completed pharmd (doctor of pharmacy) now I want to masters in emergency medicine so can u sugest the procedure how to apply

  2. Hi Sir,
    Iam studying my doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) final year and I have aggregate of 75%.I want to do Ph.D. in America in Pharmacology. Can you please suggest me good universities with their admission requirements. Thank you.

  3. hii

    10th —>62% in 2005
    +2 —-> 62% in 2008—>59.03% in 2015
    I want to do phd program in USA can i eligilble for the qualification
    plz suggest me some good university with scholarship

    1. Sir ,
      I want to complete my phd in mechanical /industrial engineering?( completed )

      B.E. – Industrial production engineering – computer aided mechanical design and analysis ( completed ) ( 6.01/10)

  4. Hi Sir,

    I pursued my Masters in Computer science from Kansas State University,Kansas, USA (2011- Graduated)

    & Bachelors in Computer science from JNTU, Hyderabad (2010-Graduated)

    Masters GPA-3.0


    10+2 class -88 %

    10th class -82%

    GRE-910 (Quants -620 and Verbal- 290) – took GRE in 2010 which is going to expire in three months i.e September 2015

    TOEFL – 83 ( Reading- 28 ,Listening- 25 , Speaking–18, Writing–12 ) —–took TOEFL in 2010 its already expired

    Work Experience: ( 3 years -IT (USA) Experience) —I worked as Software developer in New york for 3 years & came back to India in 2014 due to H1B lottery issue (didn’t get selected in lottery) and this year 2015 also still no luck for me. So i am planning for PhD studies, Currently I am working at MNC Mumbai……

    My Questions:

    1) As i already had masters degree from USA …most of the universities gave me TOEFL/IELTS waiver.but while attending to F1 visa interview Do i need to retake TOEFL/IELTS?

    2) GRE is going to expire by oct 2015 inmean time if i get an admit for PhD by this september 2015 still i need to retake GRE while attending F1 visa interview?

    3) My current F1 visa is still valid till (Oct 2010-Nov 2015). Do i need to still attend for F1 visa interview? or i need to request for extension?

    4) What are my chances of getting admit for PhD Program?

    5) For my case what are the chances of getting Funding/scholarship etc?

    Please advise

    1. You are asking for Career consulting via a comment šŸ™‚

      You have to schedule a coaching call.

  5. Hi,
    Greetings from Kolkata.

    I sincerely look forward to your feedback and guidance for doing Phd/Practice led Phd in Film and Video in US universities.It would be a great support if you could suggest me the universities offering PhD studentship.
    I graduated from Edinburgh University in Nov 2011 .
    Best regards,
    Paramita Das

  6. Can i do master and phd in computer science as joint graduate degree? if yes which universities are providing such programs?how many years it will take to complete?

  7. I did M.Sc (Bachelor’s was 3 yr duration) in Biotech from India and I have about 2 yrs of work experience. Now Im in North Carolina from 9 months on dependent Visa.
    Could you please suggest me some good universities for applying for MS or PhD in Biotech in US? Am I eligible for applying directly for PhD? What are the requirements for applying? Do I need to have both GRE and TOEFL for applying? What would be the good scores? If I apply for the university in North Carolina, Will I be eligible for In-state tution fee?

    Please help.

  8. I did M.Sc (Bachelor’s was 3 yr duration) in Biotech from India and I have about 2 yrs of work experience. Now Im in North Carolina from 9 months on dependent Visa.
    Could you please suggest me some good universities for applying for MS or PhD in Biotech in US? Am I eligible for applying directly for PhD? What are the requirements for applying? Do I need to have both GRE and TOEFL for applying? What would be the good scores? If I apply for the university in North Carolina, Will I be eligible for In-state tution fee? Please help.

  9. Hi,
    This is Anil completed M.Pharma, having 2.5 years of experience in working in research and development…looking for Ph.D.from USA…kindly suggest me the possible requirement and entrance to get admission with scholarship….

    1. hey anil

      i am on the same track. most of the univs accept PhD applications only for Fall and deadlines for fall- 2013 are almost over.So better try for Fall 2014 and good scores are required for admission into PhD
      GRE > 310 and TOEFL >100 so try to reach these scores

  10. hello sir,
    i am sai completed my from hyderabad in 2010. ihave 3 years experience in teaching in engg colllege.please give me a suggestion to get admission in usa universities in phd electronics.

  11. Hi,
    This is Anuja and I completed M.S in USA and after working for a year on OPT status I returned to India after marriage. Now I am planning to go for PhD in USA with my husband. I have heard about the J1 and J2 visas. Will I be eligible for getting the J1 visa on a PhD admission. If not can you please suggest me an alternative so that my husband can accompany me.

    Thank you

  12. I am interstted in studing PHD prgrmn in USA Gorgia state ,
    would like any business feild like enterprise,electronic trade, project managment MIS or operation and supply chanin,
    pleas give me names of univisrties that give PHD degree in 2 year or 3 pleas at prefeabale at Gorgia state.

    my MBA degree is : 4.61 genaeral MBA
    my beachlore degree is 3.20 english & american literature and lingustistics
    need guidness for an easy study ,minimum cources a & years of studies pleas

  13. Dear Raghu

    I have 3.5 years of industrial experience and 9 year of teaching UG & PG in 3 different engineering colleges in ECE
    1. B.TECH – NIT (67.67)
    2. M.TECH – RTU (69.32)
    now I want to pursue for Ph.D from US. Can you tell me I am going on correct path or I should drop this idea.

  14. Hi.. I have a question.. I am mechanical from Kolkata..
    suppose I got admission in a good univ and started my course there, after taking the basic courses there is it possible to change the school and get enrolled in a better univ??

  15. sir ,i am doing my msc in molecular biology and biochemistry and i had completed my one year.
    plz tell me how can i get admission in phd. which exams i shall have to give .plz tell me all requriements plz better universities for phd in life sciences

  16. 10 std->80%(West Bengal board)
    12 std->75%((West Bengal board)
    UG(B-Tech-ECE)->7.6/10(WBUT,West Bengal)
    GRE-> V-156,Q-162,AWR-5
    publication-> 1
    exp->2 year
    can i do my phd in Computer Architecture and Embedded Systems or software engineering in us?

  17. I had completed my MCA thr IGNOU. my Ph.D guide told me to download frm IEEE,, ACM etc the journals.. how to download…

    1. You must have an account in to download ieee papers and to download acm papers. otherwise you can ask some of your friends studying/working in good colleges (IITs,NITs etc.,) or in research organizations

  18. Dear Sir,

    I stumbled upon this blog while looking for best US/UK universities suited to my profile. I have few basic queries, if you could kindly help me out.

    I have done B.Tech and M.Tech (under Dual Degree program) from one of the IITs way back in 2001 with a passing out CGPA of 7.08/10 (My transcript also bear few backlogs). I have taken few sample tests of GMAT and I am sure I can sore well (>650). Being out of touch from my graduating institution getting recommendation from IIT guide and professors would be difficult. But I can manage professional recommendations. After graduating I was working for a non-profitable non-governmental organization. For the last 2 years I have been teaching Engineering at a private engineering college.

    I am thinking of pursuing a doctoral course in finance/business economics/political economics (in the order of priority) from US/UK/Singapore with descent scholarship. With the above mentioned profile, what chances do I stand to succeed? Could you also recommend me some Universities?

    Thanks in advance.

  19. I have applied for MSEE and got admit from few universities and i have decided to opt UNT,denton. I found some interesting research work going in universities around dallas. I am now interested to do Phd in those universities, So i just want to know how can i apply to those universities after 1st semester so that i can save some time? Or is it better to complete MS and then go for Phd?

    are there any universities which offer Phd programs specially for students who have completed MS with comparitively less coursework?

    thank you

  20. Hello HSB and Friends,

    I'm quiet afraid about my education back ground. I think its not impressive to satisfy university’s and VO's, may be they have lots of questions about it while such person going to visa interview. Well My education back ground is follow.

    I have completed…

    # 10th with 56.55% in 1997 from Rajasthan Board.

    # 12th with 58.62% in 2000 from Rajasthan Board.

    # B.Sc with 57.13% in 2004 from Kota University.

    # M.Sc with 62.60% in 2008 from Periyar University.

    Extra qualifications-

    # DMLT with 61.62% in 2002 from reputed institute.

    # DISM in 2005 with B+ from reputed institute.(During job)

    # Currently pursuing PGDIPR from IGNOU (Jan 2001- Dec 2010 session) result awaited.

    I have many of gapes its just due to my financial and personal problems. Here I want to mention all gaps with you my with specific reasons.

    # First gape in 1998 which just due to grade improvement during 12th.

    # Second in 2002 after completing First year B.Sc( Regular) because I was stuck with financial problem, was unable to continue my study so I enrolled DMLT. That's the main reason to completing 3 years Bachelor Degree in 4 years. From 2002 to 2006 I joined some of Laboratories.

    # After that I went for M.Sc in Aug. 2006 and completed (July 2008) on right time and have one back log in first semester which I cleared in third semester, but after July 2008 I was busy in the preparation for CSIR but unluckily not selected (Dec. 2008) than in feb 2009 I joined one of food processing company on the the post of QC and resigned it in Aug 2009. Then I back to my study for the preparation GRE & TOEFL and wrote my first TOEFL exam on Oct 10, 2009 but the score was not so good and since that I'm working hard on GRE and now planning to write GRE in coming Sep 2010. I would like to apply for PhD (Biotechnology) for 2011 session.

    Of course I have gap in every steps but really it was not my fault. I can satisfy University as well as VO for all the gaps because I have valid reason, but sometime I regret myself.

    I have 4years work experience in medical laboratory after B.Sc and 7months after M.Sc and 2 projects on my hand (one of summer non thesis and second is final project with thesis). I have one national level training certificate and one best poster presentation certificate.

    After all my questions are..

    What do you say about it? M I eligible for PhD or not?

    I can finish 2-3 mini projects within 3-4 months, so can I add these projects in current CV which I’m going to join in Jan or Feb 2011? Because I think these projects will be enhance my skill and chance to get admission.

    Please reply and all comments will be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance

  21. Hi sir,

    im doing M.Tech final sem in computer science and engineering, i want do phd in u.s.a, i want to know the process how to get admistion in to phd. how much score needed in gre and toefl. some of my friends said that phd in u.s.a is free , and they will give aids dt, is dt correct.

    plz gv me the detail about phd schedule, fees, and how much score needed.

  22. I am interested in studying PhD in E-commerce law in USA Univs could you please tell me how long does it take and which Uni can I apply?

    Best Regard

    Abd Almageed

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