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How to get a PhD in the USA?

by Fiona Christie on January 8, 2010

This guest post is contributed by Shannon Wills. She is based in the US and her specialist area of interest is Online Engineering Degrees . She welcomes your comments/questions at her email id:

“It’s the highest degree you can earn in any discipline, and one that takes at least three years of your time and a considerable amount of effort on your part. But once you have a PhD under your belt, your opportunities increase and you have the potential to secure higher paying and more prestigious jobs. If you’re planning to earn your PhD in the USA, here’s what you need to do:

  • Ensure that you’re qualified for the research programme: Each PhD programme comes with its own set of requirements, and if you’re from another country, you need to make sure that your educational and other qualifications will be accepted at the university of your choice. You need to check if you’re qualified to do a PhD in your chosen subject or if you need to take a few prerequisite courses to gain admission into the PhD course.
  • Apply to more than one university: Don’t limit yourself to just one institution when applying for a PhD. Select four or five schools that meet your specifications and send out your applications well before the due date.
  • Arrange for a loan: Education is expensive in the USA, so if you don’t have the funds to cover your tuition fees and other costs, check if you’re eligible for a student loan that you can pay back once you graduate. Individual schools should be able to advise what funding may be available for their programmes (if any). If you are working already, see if your employer is willing to sponsor your education. Some students qualify to work as assistants or in other teaching capacities at the school where they enrol, and this allows them to save on a part of or their entire tuition costs.
  • Apply yourself: If you want to minimize your expenses and tuition costs, you need to get your PhD degree as quickly as possible. So apply yourself and work hard at your coursework and dissertation in order to finish in three or four years and move on to the next phase of your career as soon as possible. Most PhD students continue to work at their courses throughout the summer without taking breaks like undergraduates.
  • Check out online options: If you don’t have the luxury of going back to school full-time, you could check out online PhD options. They don’t cost as much and most of them are as good as the ones offered at traditional institutions. Just ensure that the school you choose is recognised and the degree accredited. It may take longer to earn your PhD this way, but you don’t have to give up your regular job in order to study. Online study is something that I have a specialist interest in.

Before you decide to do your PhD, you need to realize that it could take a long time, as much as six to seven years if you’re not fully involved and are side-tracked by other activities and interests like a job and family. Also, it requires a great deal of dedication and hard work, so unless you’re absolutely sure you have what it takes to go down this road, it’s best you don’t attempt it.

When getting started with your search make sure to use the Fulbright Commission which is the major agency advising on study in the US. Locally, the University of Manchester Careers Service acts as one of the Fulbright’s regional resource centres so you can use that too. There are also pages on Salford University’s website about Study Abroad.”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

jocob April 30, 2010 at 10:35 am

This is great information – its encouraging to see online education is becoming more widely accepted and the benefits are backed up by a range of studies.


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