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How the PhD Program Works

Program Overview

Completing your doctorate at Wharton requires 5 years of full-time study. The first 2 years in the program prepare you for admission to candidacy by taking courses, qualifying exams, and starting research projects. In the last few years, you are primarily conducting research full-time including writing and defending your doctoral dissertation.

Admission to candidacy.

You begin by taking courses required for your program of study. All programs requires a preliminary exam, which may be either oral or written.

Some programs may have further requirements, such as an additional exam or research paper. If you enter with a master’s degree or other transfer credit, you may satisfy the formal course requirements more quickly.

Beginning the Wharton PhD Curriculum How the first two years of the Wharton program helped students discover their interests, learn the tools of the profession, and fuel their passion for teaching.

The Doctoral Dissertation

Upon successful completion of coursework and passing a preliminary examination, you are admitted to candidacy for the dissertation phase of your studies.

Your doctoral dissertation should contain original research that meets standards for published scholarship in your field. You are expected to be an expert in the topic you choose to research.

You are admitted to candidacy for the dissertation phase of your studies upon successful completion of coursework and passing a preliminary examination, but you can start thinking about and working on research of relevance at any time.

The dissertation process culminates with a “defense,” in which you defend the proposal orally before your dissertation committee.

While working on your dissertation, you interact extensively with Wharton faculty. Together with interested faculty, you create your own research community that includes your dissertation advisor and dissertation committee.

Policies and Procedures

Get more detailed explanation of course requirements, academic standards, the Teacher Development Program, time limits, and dissertation procedures and requirements.

Sample Program Sequence

Years 1 & 2.

Coursework Examination Research Papers Research Activities Field-Specific Requirements

Directed Reading & Research Admission to Candidacy Formulation of Research Topic

Years 4 & 5

Continued Research Oral Examination Dissertation

Hear From Our Doctoral Community

Phd student creates a new pipeline for women in academia, wharton is the "perfect" place to do research, why this phd student chose to study business ethics at wharton.

phd requirements usa

  • PhD in USA – A Guide for 2020/21
  • Finding a PhD

A PhD in USA takes approximately 5 – 6 years of full-time study and can cost between $12,000 – $45,000 per academic year. PhD programs in USA differ from that in the UK and Europe in that students must first take taught classes, coursework and exams before starting their research project.

Why Do a PhD in USA?

The United States has long had some of the most distinguished universities and advanced PhD programmes in the world. Combined with curriculum flexibility, rigorous teaching methods, vast funding opportunities, breathtaking campuses and significant career prospects, it’s no wonder that it is one of the most sought-after study destinations for research students.

In addition to comprehensive training standards, here are a few other reasons why a student may choose to undertake their PhD in the United States:

  • Longer learning timeframes – A PhD in the US lasts longer than a PhD in the UK or Europe. This allows students to more confidently transition from undergraduate to postgraduate studies; more commonly referred to as ‘graduate studies’ in the US. This gives you the opportunity to learn more about your subject, research methods and academic writing in general before starting your research project.
  • World-class universities – It’s no secret that some of the most well-known higher education institutions that continue to dominate global rankings are based in the United States. Although many factors go into determining whether a position is right for you, a PhD at a high-ranking American university will undeniably have many benefits, from excellent learning standards to access to innovative equipment and deep expertise.
  • International network – The US has long been a popular choice among PhD students around the world. As such, the US hosts a diverse and multicultural learning environment in which many research students will quickly feel at home.
  • Opportunities – With over 4,000 universities in the US, we can safely say you will have plenty of opportunities to find the ideal combination of project, supervisor and university that works for you.

Universities in USA

Universities in the United States can be divided into two types: public universities and private universities.

Public universities are financed by the state in which they are based. Because of this, public universities charge less for students from within the state and more for students from outside the state, including international students.

Private universities are not financed by their state, but by private donors, research funds and tuition fees. For this reason, private universities generally charge higher tuition fees than public universities and require all students to pay the same amount, regardless of whether they come from out-of-state or abroad.

According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021 , eight of the top ten universities in the world are located in the United States. These are:

Method of Study

The main difference between a PhD in the US and a PhD in Europe lies in the program structure. Whereas a European PhD essentially consists of a single phase lasting three to four years , an American PhD consists of three different phases, each with its own time frame.

  • Phase One – The first phase lasts approximately two years and focuses on building a basic foundation for the doctoral student. This phase consists largely of taught components such as lectures, tutorials and laboratory sessions, in which the student learns more about theoretical concepts and research methods within their discipline.
  • Phase Two – The second phase can be considered an assessment phase, which runs both periodically alongside and at the end of the first phase. Here, students complete coursework and take exams on the basis of the material they have covered of which they must pass in order to proceed to the third phase.
  • Phase Three – The third phase lasts approximately three years and resembles the European PhD structure. During this period, the student undertakes an independent research project, including forming a research design, conducting experiments, writing a thesis (more commonly referred to in the USA as a dissertation) and sitting a viva exam.

Teaching Requirements

Besides structure, a key difference between a PhD program in the US and in Europe is the focus on teaching requirements. In the US, doctoral students are expected to lecture, lead tutorials, host laboratory sessions, mark coursework and provide office hours for undergraduate students. Although students studying in European will likely contribute to these at some point during their study, this would normally be on a voluntary basis and involve less time commitment.

Research Flexibility

Another difference is project flexibility. In Europe, students typically apply to a PhD project predetermined by a supervisor, and although there may be some scope to adapt the project, depending on the funding provider , it will usually be limited to how the project is carried out rather than what it is about. In the US, however, a student applies to become a doctoral candidate within a department rather than applying for a particular research project. This is because students are expected to decide on their thesis topic (also commonly referred to as a dissertation research topic) near the end of their first phase after they have developed a better understanding of their subject and know where their interests lie. Therefore, research students in the US generally have more flexibility and influence in the direction of their research than students in the United Kingdom or Europe.

PhD Admission Requirements in USA

PhD admission into US universities can be highly competitive, both because of the limited number of positions and the large number of annual applicants.

The eligibility requirements for a doctoral program in the USA can generally be divided into four sections:

How to Apply for a PhD in USA

  • Grade Point Average (GPA) – in the US, a scoring system known as Grade Point Average is used to measure academic ability. A student’s GPA is calculated as a weighted score of the subjects they study during their undergraduate degree; an equivalent score is calculated by universities for international applicants. Although universities rarely set minimum GPA requirements for doctoral study, it’s worth being aware that a GPA of 3.0 is equivalent to a UK second class honours (2:1); the typical entry requirement for UK universities.
  • Graduate Records Exam (GRE) – most universities will require you to take a series of examinations known as Graduate Records Exams, which are used to determine your suitability for graduate study. GREs will assess your analytical, reasoning and critical thinking skills as well as your depth of your subject.
  • Student aptitude – in addition to academic ability, US universities also look for characteristics of a strong researcher. These include traits such as engaging in the subject in your own time, e.g. by attending talks and conferences, demonstrating a high degree of independence and enthusiasm, and a general passion for your subject.
  • English Language Proficiency – international students whose first language is not English must sit language exams such as IELTS or TOELF to demonstrate their English language proficiency.

International students will also require a F1 student visa in order to study in the US, however, you would typically apply for this after you have secured a place into a doctorate program.

How to Apply for PhD in USA

When applying for a PhD position at a graduate school, the application process will differ between universities, however, they will all typically ask for the following:

  • Academic CV – a short document summarising your educational background and current level of experience .
  • Personal statement – a document which outlines why you believe you are suitable for PhD study and your passion for the subject.
  • Academic transcripts – a complete breakdown of the modules and their respective marks you have taken as part of your previous/current degree.
  • GRE scores – a transcript of your Graduate Records Exam results.
  • Research statement – a condensed version of a research proposal outlining your general research interests, if required.
  • Recommendation letters – references from several academic referees who endorse your qualities as a person, your abilities as a student and your potential as a doctoral researcher.

Application Deadlines and Fees

Since PhD programs in the United States have taught components, they commence at the same time as all other taught degrees, and therefore share the same application deadlines and start dates. This corresponds to an application period that typically begins in August and ends in February. Admission decisions are typically made in April, with successful students starting in August/September.

When you apply to a graduate school, you will be expected to pay a fee for each doctorate application to cover the school’s administrative costs for processing your application. The fee varies from university to university, but typically ranges from $50 to $100 .

Funding your PhD in USA

It’s very common for a PhD student to receive financial aid in the form of a PhD scholarship; in fact, this will be the case for the vast majority of students in the US.

PhD funding can be ‘fully funded’ covering the student’s graduate program tuition fees, accommodation and living costs, or ‘partially funded’ covering the student’s tuition fee only in part or full.

Besides funding, a graduate student can take on an assistantship, such as a graduate teaching assistant or research assistant, in which they take on a part-time salaried position at the university alongside their studies.

Due to the international and collaborate nature of American universities, there are also a number of international scholarships available, such as the Fulbright Scholarship and the AAUW International Fellowship .

PhD Duration in USA

In the US, a PhD takes approximately 5 – 6 years to complete if studying full-time, and 8 – 10 years if studying part-time.

If you already have a Master’s degree, your first phase can be shortened by one year at the discretion of the university.

Cost of a PhD in USA

The cost of a PhD program in the US can vary considerably depending on the type of university, i.e. whether it’s a public or private university, the doctoral course, i.e. whether it’s in a STEM subject such as computer science, engineering or a non-STEM subject, and whether you are a home or international student.

In general, however, the typical annual tuition fee for a PhD in the US is between $12,000 and $45,000 per academic year.

As with any doctoral degree, additional costs may include travel for collaborations, bench fees, accommodation and living expenses.

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Graduate School

Ph.d. requirements.

  • Academics & Research
  • Programs & Requirements

Brown University awards more than 200 doctor of philosophy degrees annually.

The Brown Ph.D. is primarily a research degree. Teaching is an important part of many doctoral programs, and many departments require candidates for the Ph.D. to have teaching experience.

Brown University offers substantial financial support to doctoral students. All incoming doctoral students are guaranteed five years of support, which includes a stipend, full tuition remission, health-services fee, and a health-insurance subsidy. Doctoral students in the Humanities and Social Sciences are guaranteed six years of support. All promises of student support are subject to students making satisfactory academic progress, as determined by their programs of study. Please see related links for additional details regarding the University's commitment to doctoral education.

Ph.D. Funding

Funding guarantee, four general requirements for the doctor of philosophy.

The candidate must be formally admitted to his or her degree program.

The normal residency requirement is the equivalent of three Academic Years of full-time study beyond the bachelor's degree. Students who enter a PhD program at Brown already holding a master’s degree in a related field have a residency requirement equivalent to two Academic Years of full-time study upon entering the PhD program at Brown. Use of a previously earned master’s degree to reduce PhD residency requirements is contingent upon approval of the program Director of Graduate Study. Graduate work done at other institutions and not used in fulfillment of the requirements for any doctoral degree elsewhere may, on the approval of the program Director of Graduate Study, be counted in fulfillment of up to, but not exceeding, one year of the residency requirement. A student who desires credit for work done elsewhere should file a timely application with the program Director of Graduate Study; transfer credit forms are available through the  Office of the Registrar .

A student is advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. when he or she has completed satisfactorily all the requirements, departmental and general, requisite to beginning work on the dissertation. Candidacy is determined by the department or program of study and certified by the Registrar. Most departments require a preliminary examination before advancing any student to candidacy. Most departments also require a final examination or defense. The examination is conducted by professors in the department and by such other members of the faculty as may be appointed.

The candidate must present a dissertation on a topic related to his or her area of specialization that presents the results of original research and gives evidence of excellent scholarship. The dissertation must be approved by the professor or committee under whose direction it is written and by the Graduate Council. All requirements for the Ph.D. must be completed within five years after advancement to candidacy.

Faculty Member Leaves Brown

If a faculty member working with a doctoral student leaves Brown for any reason before that student has completed his or her degree requirements, it may not always be possible for that faculty member to continue working with the student as an advisor. In such cases, departments will work with students to help them locate a new advisor.

Additional Requirements

Individual departments and programs may have additional requirements regarding the number of courses to be taken, proficiency in foreign languages, special examinations, and theses. The department should be consulted for specific information.

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Application requirements for all doctoral programs (phd).

All of our doctoral programs are designed to develop outstanding educational researchers who have a deep understanding of the scientific, practical and policy issues they study. All require full-time study, and we promise five years of full-time financial support for every student we admit. Our doctoral programs are small, typically ranging from about 25 to 35 new students a year. The small size of our doctoral cohorts creates big educational advantages for students: the classes are almost always small, students receive individualized attention from their advisors, and they have many opportunities to develop close collegial relationships with fellow students.

It is extremely important to demonstrate in your statement of purpose that your interests converge closely with the current research of faculty who work in the program to which you are applying. Other doctoral applicants will certainly do this, and if you don't, you will forfeit an important competitive advantage to them. 

If you wish to contact faculty, please read our Which Degree Which Program article, by Professor Eamonn Callan, which outlines the appropriate process for contacting faculty with whom you share research interests. 

  • Program website:  Degrees and Programs/PhD
  • Length of Program:  5 years (average length)
  • Tuition: fellowship/assistantship salary and tuition guaranteed for first five years of the program (autumn, winter and spring quarters) for all students, including international students. Funding includes two summers.

Application Requirements:

Application form.

Complete and submit Stanford's graduate online application .

Application Fee

The application fee is $125 , is non-refundable, and must be received by the application deadline.

Application Fee Waivers

Stanford offers three types of application fee waivers for which GSE applicants may apply and be considered:

  • GRE Fee Reduction Certificate-Based Waiver
  • Diversity Program Participation-Based Waiver
  • School-Based Waiver

Please visit the Stanford Graduate Diversity website for instructions, deadlines, and the fee waiver application form.

Statement of Purpose

A Statement of Purpose is required. Your statement should be typed, single-spaced and should be between one to two pages . Describe succinctly your reasons for applying to the proposed program, your preparation for this field of study, and why our program is a good fit for you, your future career plans, and other aspects of your background as well as interests which may aid the admissions committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for graduate study. You may indicate potential faculty mentors as part of your study and research interests. Be sure to keep a copy for your records. What's a Good Statement of Purpose?

A resume or CV  is required of all applicants, depending on which document is most appropriate for your background. There is no page limit for resumes or CVs, though we typically see resumes of one page in length. Please upload your resume or CV in the online application.

Three (3) Letters of Recommendation

Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation . In the online application, you will be asked to identify your recommenders and their email addresses. Please notify your recommenders that they will receive an email prompt to submit their recommendation online. You can submit your request for letters of recommendation through the system without submitting the entire online application.  Stanford GSE only accepts online recommendations through the application system ; Stanford GSE cannot accept mailed, emailed or faxed recommendations.

Recommendations should be written by people who have supervised you in an academic, employment, or community service setting. We very strongly recommend that at least one of these letters be from a university professor familiar with your academic work. Your recommendations should directly address your suitability for admission to a graduate program at Stanford GSE.

It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all three letters of recommendation are submitted through the system by the application deadline , so please work closely with your recommenders to remind them of the deadline.

College and University Transcripts

Transcripts are required from every college and university you have attended for at least one academic year as a full-time student. When submitting your online application, transcripts should be uploaded to the application as a scanned copy or PDF ; this is sufficient for the application review process. Please refrain from sending a secured PDF/transcript with a digital signature as our system cannot upload these properly. The best way to ensure we receive an upload-able document is for you to print out the secured transcript, scan it, and upload the scanned copy (not to exceed 10MB) as a PDF. 

If you earned a degree at the institution from which you are submitting a transcript, please ensure that the degree conferral date and the degree conferred is clearly visible on the document. If you are currently enrolled in a degree program and will not have earned the respective degree by the time of submitting your GSE application, you should submit your most recent in-progress transcript from your institution.

Only if admitted will we contact you with instructions on sending two copies of your official transcripts to our office. We cannot accept mailed, emailed or faxed copies of your transcripts during the application process. Please note: the instructions for sending transcripts on the online application and on the general Stanford Graduate Admissions Office website differ from this Stanford GSE requirement.

Concerning course work completed in a study abroad program

If the coursework and grades are reflected on the transcript of your home institution, you do not need to submit original transcripts from the study abroad institution.

Concerning foreign institutions

If your institution provides a transcript in a language other than English, we require that you submit a translation of the transcript that is either provided by the institution or a certified translator. Translations must be literal and complete versions of the original records.

If your transcript does not include your degree conferral date and the degree conferred , please submit a scanned copy of your diploma, a conferral statement, or a conferral document in addition to your transcript . If you are currently enrolled in a degree program and will not have earned the respective degree by the time of submitting your GSE application, you should submit your most recent in-progress transcript from your institution.

Stanford University requires the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) from all applicants whose native language is not English. The GSE requires a minimum TOEFL score of 250 for the computer-based test, 600 for the paper-based test or 100 for the internet-based test in order to be considered for admission. The Test of Written English (TWE) portion of the TOEFL is not required. Applicants who have completed a four-year bachelor's degree or a two-year master's program (or its equivalent) in the U.S. or at an institution where English is the main language of instruction are not required to take the TOEFL. For more information on TOEFL requirements, please refer to the Required Exams  page on the main Stanford Graduate Admissions website. You may register for the TOEFL test directly at the ETS website .

TOEFL Dates and Deadlines

PhD applicants who are required to take the TOEFL should plan to take the internet-based TOEFL test and have official TOEFL scores sent electronically to Stanford at institution code 4704 (department code does not matter) no later than November 1 . This will give your official TOEFL scores time to be sent from ETS and be received by our system in time for the December 1 deadline. PhD applicants to Knight-Hennessy Scholars should plan to take the internet-based TOEFL test no later than October 16 so your scores can be received by our system in time for the November 16 KHS GSE deadline. Please note that the TOEFL may be taken no earlier than 18 months prior to the application deadline.

Does Stanford accept tests other than TOEFL?

No. We accept only TOEFL scores; we do not accept IELTS or other test scores.

Contact Information

Admissions:  [email protected]  

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Studying a PhD in The USA - The Complete Guide

Find your perfect postgrad program search our database of 30,000 courses.

PhD USA

The USA is a favourable postgraduate study destination for international students due to the high standard of academic study and the wide variety of subjects. By undertaking a PhD in the USA, you will find yourself becoming an internationally recognised expert in your chosen field.

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the USA is considered the highest awarded degree in many US universities and institutes for most fields of study. For many international students, it's a dream course that offers an exciting new life chapter.

Attending Grad School for a PhD in the USA is not the same as undertaking a PhD in Europe or the UK , it can often be a different experience. However, studying abroad will improve your global cultural understanding in addition to your network of contacts for your future career. A PhD degree is often required when you apply for high-level management jobs, government expert positions, and careers like a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields.

There are a multitude of reasons why the United States is a fantastic choice for your PhD studies. Here’s everything you need to know about studying a PhD in the USA.

1. PhD course length

The total length of a PhD in the USA is between 4-8 years for full-time students and 8-10 years for part-time students, depending on your field of study. PhDs can be completed in 4-5 years for students with a masters degree in an appropriate subject. Students typically dedicate 1-4 years on coursework, followed by 2-4 years of dissertation work. In the USA, the academic year is divided into two teaching semesters: August to December and January to May. 

Having a longer duration for your PhD allows for greater opportunities to adjust to your course and find your footing. This enables you to concentrate on developing a more comprehensive understanding of your chosen subject at a more relaxed pace.

2. World-class universities

The US repeatedly tops the charts of worldwide ranking universities, so what better place to do your PhD studies? Although rankings shouldn’t be the main deciding factor when making your PhD choice, they're a great indicator of educational expertise.

There are many factors to consider when choosing the location for your PhD. Does the university have a high employability rate after graduation? Are you wanting to go public or private university? What kind of research facilities do they have? 

Be sure to do some research before making a decision on your perfect place of study.

3. International community

The United States is a popular choice for international students from all over the world – making it an inspirational and cosmopolitan choice for your PhD studies. No matter what your choice of academic study is, you are guaranteed to find a diverse community that welcomes students from all backgrounds. 

4. Affordable tuition fees 

There are various tuition fee options available for PhD students regardless of your budget. The American higher education system is often associated with high fees and substantial student debt, but in fact, studying at an American university isn't always expensive, and many institutions offer affordable courses. For instance, PhD costs range from $28,000 to $55,000, which shows that finding a PhD course that’s more affordable is possible. 

5. Student experience

American universities typically have vibrant campus communities with a wide range of extracurricular activities, clubs and organisations. As a student, you will have the opportunity to engage in various social, cultural and recreational activities alongside your academic studies.

6. Student Support

American universities typically provide comprehensive support services to assist you on your PhD journey. These services may include academic advising, counselling, career services, libraries, writing centres and various student organisations aimed at fostering your personal and professional development.

7. Land of opportunity

It's fair to say that student life in the USA offers something for everyone, regardless of what you're looking for from a PhD. With 50 states, six time zones, and thousands of higher-education providers, there's an opportunity waiting for every individual across the globe.

So let’s take a look at some of the key factors to consider when studying for a PhD in the USA.

Studying a PhD in the USA: top tips

Who is eligible for a phd in the usa.

To be eligible for PhD in the USA, generally students should have completed a graduate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0, provide proof of English language proficiency, GRE scores and other supporting documents.  The eligibility criteria for a PhD in the USA can vary depending on the specific university and program. 

Can I get a PhD without a masters degree?

Yes, you can pursue a PhD without having a masters. Universities in the USA do not require a masters for you to apply. Because of the graduate programs in the US, you will receive your masters degree once you have completed your coursework stage. This practice combines the masters and PhD into one.

The eligibility criteria and requirements for direct entry PhD programs vary among institutions and fields of study, so it is advisable to check the entry requirements of the specific university or course you are interested in.

How to apply for a PhD in the USA

When applying for your chosen subject in the USA, you should expect to provide relevant information and statements to the university. This will include:

Completed application form – provided by your preferred university.

A personal statement – on why you want to study the subject, your research interests and career goals. Be sure to include any extracurricular activities and achievements within the body of your statement.

References – universities will expect that your referees will recommend you for the chosen course.

Test scores and grades – you will generally need to submit scores from standardised tests like the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). 

English Language Proficiency – international applicants whose native language is not English usually need to provide proof of English language proficiency through tests like the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). It varies from institution to institution, but international students in the USA are required to have a TOEFL score of about 90.

Samples of work – it is recommended that you provide some work you have done that is relevant to your chosen subject. You may even be asked to complete a small task during the application process.

The application fee. 

Method of study

Compared to the UK and Europe , studying a PhD in the USA involves several key differences. Students in the USA are usually in direct contact with their professor, compared with those in the UK where students might find that their PhD program is headed by a professor who gives them a little less flexibility to change their research and study areas. There can be several cultural differences between UK, Europe, and USA university lifestyles. US students are expected to undertake a great deal of teaching and marking, as opposed to PhD students in Europe. 

As a result, you may have less free time outside of the university when pursuing a PhD in the USA.

Application for PhD In USA

When applying for your chosen subject, you should expect to provide relevant information and statements to the university. This might include:

A personal statement on why you want to study the subject. Be sure to include any extra-curricular activities and achievements within the body of your statement.

References. Universities will expect that your referees will recommend you for the chosen course.

Test scores and grades. It is important that you provide a list of your awarded grades from previous courses you have studied.

Samples of work. It is recommended that you provide some work you have done that is relevant to your chosen subject. You may even be asked to complete a small task during the application process.

UK and Europe students decide on their PhD thesis subject area before they apply . While taking classes at a graduate level, prospective PhD students in the USA spend up to a year or two deciding on their specific research subject. It is normal to apply for up to six institutions for a PhD in the USA, and students apply to each institution separately as there is no central organisation. 

Students in the UK and Europe are expected to apply with an understanding of the subject already, usually in the form of a masters degree, and be ready to start studying at the PhD level straight away. In the USA it is expected that students do not have an in-depth understanding of their subject as they usually only have an undergraduate degree when they apply. 

When should I start applying for a PhD in the USA?

Deadlines for applications to PhD programs in the USA tend to be between December and February, and institutions should let you know about your application by April. Most US institutions recommend that you apply as far in advance as you possibly can to give them, and you, plenty of time to make arrangements. 

Universities in the USA do not require a masters for you to apply as well. Because of the graduate programs in the US, you will receive your masters degree once you have completed your coursework stage. This practice combines the masters and PhD into one.

It varies from institution to institution, but international students in the USA are required to have a TOEFL score of about 90.

Funding your PhD in USA

PhD students are very likely to receive financial support in the form of PhD scholarships ; some USA PhD students also receive PhD studentships .

Making your PhD application in plenty of time allows you more time to apply for and arrange your PhD funding. Many students find that funding can cover much, or all, of the cost of their PhD studies in the USA, which ranges between $28,000 and $40,000. Deadlines for funding applications can be as early as December before starting your studies in the Autumn/Fall. 

There are two types of PhD funding: fully funded, which pays for the student's graduate school tuition fees, accommodation, and living expenses, or partially funded, which pays for the student's tuition only partially or fully.

Can a PhD be fully funded?

Yes, many top universities in the USA offer fully funded PhD programs for eligible students. This funding pays for the student's graduate school tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses. Partially funded PhDs only cover the student's tuition in part or in full.

Some PhD students will receive a stipend from their institution with an assistantship position, but this varies between institutions and between departments within institutions. Other students can find funding from both their own and the American government, and there are plenty of American government schemes like The Fulbright Program that offer funds.

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phd requirements usa

How long does it take to study a PhD in the USA?

For part-time students in the USA, a PhD can take eight to ten years, but it usually takes five to six years for full-time students. PhDs can be completed in four to five years rather than five or six for students with a masters degree in an appropriate subject.

Top 10 ranked American universities

Based on 2023 worldwide rankings, the following table shows which US universities rank the highest.

Our PhD bursary winner & funding opportunity

Mohammad Abdollahi is a 35-year-old Iranian student studying a PhD in Operational Research at the University of Essex. He was delighted when he found out he’d been awarded a Postgrad Solutions Study Bursary worth £500. As an international student coming to the UK with his wife and two children, it has proved to be an invaluable funding resource as he explains. “It was good news and exciting – I was overwhelmed with joy!”

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PhD Program Requirements

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Insider's guide: PhD requirements in USA for international students

Insider's guide: PhD requirements in USA for international students

Pursuing a PhD in the United States can be a life-changing experience for international students looking to enhance their academic qualifications, advance their careers, and expand their horizons. However, before embarking on this journey, it's important to understand the requirements and expectations of the US doctoral education system.

In this article, we'll delve into the essential PhD requirements in the USA for international students, covering academic qualifications, English language proficiency, standardised tests, funding, and visa procedures.

Table of Contents

Academic qualifications, english language proficiency, standardised tests, visa procedures, frequently asked questions.

Academic qualifications are an important requirement for international students seeking to pursue a PhD in the USA. Students are typically required to hold a bachelor's or master's degree from a recognised university, with a strong academic record and relevant coursework.

The specific academic qualifications required for admission to PhD programs can vary depending on the university and program. Some programs may require a bachelor's degree in a specific field, while others may accept students with a bachelor's degree in a related field. Some programs may also require a master's degree, while others may allow students to earn a master's degree as part of the PhD program.

In addition to the degree requirements, international students may be required to provide official transcripts and diplomas from all institutions attended, as well as a course-by-course evaluation of their academic credentials from a recognised credential evaluation service.

It is also important for international students to have relevant coursework and research experience in their field of study. PhD programs in the USA typically require students to conduct independent research and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in their field. Therefore, having a strong academic background and relevant research experience can increase a student's chances of being admitted to a PhD program.

International students should carefully review the academic qualifications required for each program they are interested in and ensure that they meet the requirements. If their qualifications do not meet the requirements, they may need to take additional coursework or earn a higher degree before applying to PhD programs.

Also read: Ultimate guide PhD in the UK

English language proficiency is also one of the essential PhD requirements in USA for international students. The ability to communicate effectively in English is crucial to succeed in academic and professional settings in the US.

Most universities require international students to demonstrate their proficiency in English by taking an English language proficiency exam. The most commonly accepted exams are the TOEFL, IELTS.

The minimum scores required for admission to PhD programs can vary depending on the university and program. Typically, a minimum score of 80 on the TOEFL or 6.5 on the IELTS is required, but some programs may require higher scores.

In addition to the TOEFL or IELTS, some universities may accept other English language proficiency exams, such as the PTE Academic or the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) exam.

Also read: PhD Scholarship for Pakistani Students

Standardised tests are an important requirement for international students seeking to pursue a PhD in the USA. Standardised tests are used to assess an applicant's academic abilities and potential for success in a PhD program. The most commonly required standardised tests for PhD programs in the USA include the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).

The GRE is a standardised test that assesses a student's verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills. The test is typically required for admission to graduate programs in a wide range of disciplines, including science, engineering, social sciences, and humanities.

The GMAT is a standardised test that assesses a student's analytical writing, integrated reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning skills. The test is typically required for admission to graduate programs in business and management.

The minimum scores required for admission to PhD programs can vary depending on the university and program. Typically, a minimum score in the 50th percentile or higher is required for the GRE, while a minimum score of 600 or higher is required for the GMAT.

The specific standardised tests required for admission to PhD programs can vary depending on the university and program. Some programs may require the GRE or GMAT, while others may require a different test, such as the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) for programs in the health sciences.

Funding can be a critical consideration for international students pursuing a PhD in the USA. Pursuing a PhD in the USA can be quite expensive, with tuition and living expenses often exceeding $50,000 per year. While federal financial aid is not available to international students, there are a variety of funding options that may be available to help cover the cost of tuition, living expenses , and research-related expenses.

One common source of funding for PhD students is through teaching or research assistantships. These positions typically provide a stipend or salary in exchange for work done in support of the department or faculty member providing the funding. Assistantship opportunities can be competitive, but they can provide valuable experience and financial support for students throughout their program.

Scholarships and fellowships can also be a valuable source of funding for international students pursuing a PhD in the USA. These awards may be offered by the university, private foundations, or other organisations, and can cover some or all of the cost of tuition and living expenses.

International students may also be eligible for funding from their home country or through external sources such as grants or fellowships. It's important for students to research these opportunities and understand any restrictions or requirements that may apply.

Finally, some students may choose to fund their PhD program through personal savings or by taking out student loans. While these options can provide flexibility in terms of funding, it's important for students to carefully consider the long-term financial implications of taking on debt to fund their education.

Also read: PhD in USA without GRE

The visa application process is an important step for international students seeking to pursue a PhD in the USA. International students who are accepted into a PhD program in the USA will typically need to obtain an F-1 student visa.

To begin the visa application process, students will need to provide proof of acceptance into a program, typically in the form of an acceptance letter from the university. In addition, students will need to demonstrate proof of financial support to cover the cost of tuition and living expenses in the USA. This can be done by providing bank statements or other documentation showing that the student or their sponsor has sufficient funds to cover these costs.

Once the initial documentation has been submitted, students will need to complete the DS-160 form, pay the visa application fee, and schedule an appointment at a US embassy or consulate in their home country. During the appointment, students will need to provide biometric data (such as fingerprints) and participate in an interview with a consular officer. The interview is an important part of the visa application process and can be a deciding factor in whether the student is approved for the visa.

It's important for international students to begin the visa application process well in advance of the start of their PhD program, as it can take several weeks or even months to complete all of the necessary steps. Students should also consult with the international student office at their university for guidance and support throughout the process.

Also read: PhD in abroad with scholarships (for Indian students)

Pursuing a PhD in the USA as an international student can be a challenging and rewarding experience. While the requirements for admission can be rigorous, they are designed to ensure that students have the academic qualifications, language proficiency, and aptitude needed to succeed in a doctoral program. With careful planning and research, international students can find funding opportunities and navigate the visa application process to achieve their academic and professional goals.

What is the typical academic qualification required for international students to apply to PhD programs in the USA?

International students are typically required to hold a bachelor's or master's degree from a recognised university, with a strong academic record and relevant coursework.

Do international students need to take the GRE or GMAT to apply to PhD programs in the USA?

Yes, in many cases international students are required to take the GRE or GMAT as part of the application process for PhD programs in the USA. The specific requirements can vary depending on the university and program.

Are there any language proficiency tests required for international students to apply to PhD programs in the USA?

Yes, international students whose native language is not English may be required to take an English language proficiency test, such as the TOEFL or IELTS, as part of the application process for PhD programs in the USA.

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Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Ph.D. Commencement robing Martin West and Christopher Cleveland

Additional Information

  • Download the Doctoral Viewbook
  • Admissions & Aid

The Harvard Ph.D. in Education trains cutting-edge researchers who work across disciplines to generate knowledge and translate discoveries into transformative policy and practice.

Offered jointly by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Ph.D. in Education provides you with full access to the extraordinary resources of Harvard University and prepares you to assume meaningful roles as university faculty, researchers, senior-level education leaders, and policymakers.

As a Ph.D. candidate, you will collaborate with scholars across all Harvard graduate schools on original interdisciplinary research. In the process, you will help forge new fields of inquiry that will impact the way we teach and learn. The program’s required coursework will develop your knowledge of education and your expertise in a range of quantitative and qualitative methods needed to conduct high-quality research. Guided by the goal of making a transformative impact on education research, policy, and practice, you will focus on independent research in various domains, including human development, learning and teaching, policy analysis and evaluation, institutions and society, and instructional practice.   

Curriculum Information

The Ph.D. in Education requires five years of full-time study to complete. You will choose your individual coursework and design your original research in close consultation with your HGSE faculty adviser and dissertation committee. The requirements listed below include the three Ph.D. concentrations: Culture, Institutions, and Society; Education Policy and Program Evaluation; and Human Development, Learning and Teaching . 

We invite you to review an example course list, which is provided in two formats — one as the full list by course number and one by broad course category . These lists are subject to modification. 

Ph.D. Concentrations and Examples

Summary of Ph.D. Program

Doctoral Colloquia  In year one and two you are required to attend. The colloquia convenes weekly and features presentations of work-in-progress and completed work by Harvard faculty, faculty and researchers from outside Harvard, and Harvard doctoral students. Ph.D. students present once in the colloquia over the course of their career.

Research Apprenticeship The Research Apprenticeship is designed to provide ongoing training and mentoring to develop your research skills throughout the entire program.

Teaching Fellowships The Teaching Fellowship is an opportunity to enhance students' teaching skills, promote learning consolidation, and provide opportunities to collaborate with faculty on pedagogical development.

Comprehensive Exams  The Written Exam (year 2, spring) tests you on both general and concentration-specific knowledge. The Oral Exam (year 3, fall/winter) tests your command of your chosen field of study and your ability to design, develop, and implement an original research project.

Dissertation  Based on your original research, the dissertation process consists of three parts: the Dissertation Proposal, the writing, and an oral defense before the members of your dissertation committee.

Culture, Institutions, and Society (CIS) Concentration

In CIS, you will examine the broader cultural, institutional, organizational, and social contexts relevant to education across the lifespan. What is the value and purpose of education? How do cultural, institutional, and social factors shape educational processes and outcomes? How effective are social movements and community action in education reform? How do we measure stratification and institutional inequality? In CIS, your work will be informed by theories and methods from sociology, history, political science, organizational behavior and management, philosophy, and anthropology. You can examine contexts as diverse as classrooms, families, neighborhoods, schools, colleges and universities, religious institutions, nonprofits, government agencies, and more.

Education Policy and Program Evaluation (EPPE) Concentration

In EPPE, you will research the design, implementation, and evaluation of education policy affecting early childhood, K–12, and postsecondary education in the U.S. and internationally. You will evaluate and assess individual programs and policies related to critical issues like access to education, teacher effectiveness, school finance, testing and accountability systems, school choice, financial aid, college enrollment and persistence, and more. Your work will be informed by theories and methods from economics, political science, public policy, and sociology, history, philosophy, and statistics. This concentration shares some themes with CIS, but your work with EPPE will focus on public policy and large-scale reforms.

Human Development, Learning and Teaching (HDLT) Concentration

In HDLT, you will work to advance the role of scientific research in education policy, reform, and practice. New discoveries in the science of learning and development — the integration of biological, cognitive, and social processes; the relationships between technology and learning; or the factors that influence individual variations in learning — are transforming the practice of teaching and learning in both formal and informal settings. Whether studying behavioral, cognitive, or social-emotional development in children or the design of learning technologies to maximize understanding, you will gain a strong background in human development, the science of learning, and sociocultural factors that explain variation in learning and developmental pathways. Your research will be informed by theories and methods from psychology, cognitive science, sociology and linguistics, philosophy, the biological sciences and mathematics, and organizational behavior.

Program Faculty

The most remarkable thing about the Ph.D. in Education is open access to faculty from all Harvard graduate and professional schools, including the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Harvard Kennedy School, the Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health. Learn about the full Ph.D. Faculty.

Jarvis Givens

Jarvis R. Givens

Jarvis Givens studies the history of American education, African American history, and the relationship between race and power in schools.

Paul Harris

Paul L. Harris

Paul Harris is interested in the early development of cognition, emotion, and imagination in children.

Meira Levinson

Meira Levinson

Meira Levinson is a normative political philosopher who works at the intersection of civic education, youth empowerment, racial justice, and educational ethics. 

Luke Miratrix

Luke W. Miratrix

Luke Miratrix is a statistician who explores how to best use modern statistical methods in applied social science contexts.

phd requirements usa

Eric Taylor

Eric Taylor studies the economics of education, with a particular interest in employer-employee interactions between schools and teachers — hiring and firing decisions, job design, training, and performance evaluation.

Paola Uccelli

Paola Uccelli

Paola Ucelli studies socio-cultural and individual differences in the language development of multilingual and monolingual students.

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View Ph.D. Faculty

Dissertations.

The following is a complete listing of successful Ph.D. in Education dissertations to-date. Dissertations from November 2014 onward are publicly available in the Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard (DASH) , the online repository for Harvard scholarship.

  • 2022 Graduate Dissertations (265 KB pdf)
  • 2021 Graduate Dissertations (177 KB pdf)
  • 2020 Graduate Dissertations (121 KB pdf)
  • 2019 Graduate Dissertations (68.3 KB pdf)

Student Directory

An opt-in listing of current Ph.D. students with information about their interests, research, personal web pages, and contact information:

Doctor of Philosophy in Education Student Directory

Introduce Yourself

Tell us about yourself so that we can tailor our communication to best fit your interests and provide you with relevant information about our programs, events, and other opportunities to connect with us.

Program Highlights

Explore examples of the Doctor of Philosophy in Education experience and the impact its community is making on the field:

Teacher standing happily in front of class

Reshaping Teacher Licensure: Lessons from the Pandemic

Olivia Chi, Ed.M.'17, Ph.D.'20, discusses the ongoing efforts to ensure the quality and stability of the teaching workforce

Maya Alkateb-Chami

Lost in Translation

New comparative study from Ph.D. candidate Maya Alkateb-Chami finds strong correlation between low literacy outcomes for children and schools teaching in different language from home

PhD Requirements

  • Graduate Programs
  • Programs Guide

The Ph.D. degree is achieved through an intensive program of coursework and independent research in any one of the following areas: (1)  Chemical and Environmental Engineering, (2)  Electrical and Computer Engineering, (3)  Fluids and Thermal Sciences, (4)  Materials Science, (5)  Mechanics of Solids and Structures  and (6)  Biomedical Engineering. Each Ph.D. student must be affiliated with one of these research groups, and the faculty in that group will play a central role in defining this program and evaluating student progress. 

New Ph.D. students are strongly encouraged to arrange meetings with individual faculty members in their groups during their first semester in residence and to select a research advisor shortly thereafter. At that point, the student, with the approval of his or her advisor, shall devise an appropriate program of study ensuring breadth of knowledge as well as depth of knowledge in a major area that supports the planned dissertation research. The normal residence requirement for the Ph.D. degree is the equivalent of three years of full-time study beyond the Bachelor's degree (i.e. 24 tuition units). At least two semesters beyond the Master's degree must be spent exclusively in full-time study at Brown, although most engineering Ph.D. students spend four to five years in residence at Brown.

General Requirements

The specific requirements for the Ph.D. vary between the different groups. However there are some general requirements that cover all Ph.D. candidates.  These can be summarized as:

  • Residency Requirement : (University Requirement). The student must complete three years full-time study beyond the bachelor’s degree (i.e. 24 tuition units).  Two semesters beyond the bachelor’s degree must be spent exclusively in full-time study at Brown University.
  • Research Thesis : The student must write and present (“defend”) a Ph.D. dissertation.  The thesis must embody the results of original research and significant creative thought and give evidence of high scholarship.  The dissertation and the oral defense must be approved by the faculty advisor, one other member of the engineering faculty, and one additional reader outside the School, or within the School but outside the research group, as appointed by the Director of the Engineering Graduate Programs in consultation with their faculty advisor.
  • Course Requirements:  Students in the Ph.D. program typically take a comprehensive series of courses in the area of their expertise, as well as several other courses in mathematics, physics, engineering and other related disciplines. There is also ENGN 2980: “Reading, Research and Design”, which can be taken for course credit. The number and choice of courses is made in close consultation with the student's advisor who must approve the student's choice at the beginning of each semester.  Each research group can define specific courses, which are considered essential for their Ph.D. students.
  • Preliminary Examination:   This is a comprehensive examination covering the student’s main area of expertise and  must be taken no later than the sixth semester of graduate study for a student entering with an Sc.B., and no later than the fourth semester of graduate study for students entering with an Sc.M. The exact timing and format of the exam varies between the different research groups.  The details are outlined in the sections below.  The results of the examination are presented to the Graduate Committee, along with the student’s academic record, and the recommendations of both the group representative and the student’s Ph.D. advisor.  The Graduate Committee then decides whether to certify the student as a Candidate for the degree of Ph.D. in Engineering. In the event of a failing grade, the Graduate Committee will decide whether to re-examine the student, require remedial action, or to request their withdrawal from the graduate program.
  • Minor Study:  Ph.D. candidates are required to demonstrate proficiency in at least one area outside their main expertise.  As with the preliminary examination, the number of minor areas of study, and the method by which proficiency is demonstrated is defined and administered by each of the research groups.
  • Other requirements:  Some of the research groups in the division have additional requirements including research proposals, progress summaries.  These are outlined in the following section.

Specific Requirements

Progress review.

An in-depth faculty review of the student’s progress at the end of the 2nd semester in the program. This report is shared with the student in writing.

Preliminary Examination

Before the end of the 5th semester in residence, the student will prepare and present a proposal for his or her thesis research, consisting of a written document followed by an oral examination of approximately two hours duration presented to a faculty committee of not fewer than three members including the advisor. The document and presentation should describe a plan for original research, including scientific or technological motivation, background on the relevant literature, statement of objectives, preliminary research results, and research plan with description of methods. The document should be submitted to the committee no later than two weeks prior to the oral portion of the exam.  During the presentation, the student will be expected to demonstrate a sound grasp of the fundamental concepts and methodologies of the field, not limited to the specific research proposed. The committee reports to the Engineering Graduate Committee on the outcome of the examination, which covers the document, oral exam, and a review of the student course work and research progress to date.  If the performance is unsatisfactory, the committee will also make on recommendation on whether or not the examination may be repeated after a certain time has elapsed.

The student will, in consultation with their advisor, select one minor area of study satisfied by passing at least two courses forming a cohesive subject, but distinct from the student’s main discipline.  Proficiency is demonstrated by receiving grades of B or higher in the courses constituting the minor.

An oral presentation of approximately 40 minutes duration to a forum of faculty and graduate students summarizing their research progress by the end of October in their 3rd semester (second year in residence). Their academic advisor and at least two other members of the faculty will formally evaluate this presentation and make a recommendation to the Engineering Graduate Committee regarding the student's ability to continue in the Ph.D. program and to undertake doctorate-level research.  Students normally prepare for this examination by completing ENGN 2980, and by conducting independent research during the summer months.

With the approval of their academic advisor, students must choose a Preliminary Examination Committee consisting of four examiners.  These examiners will conduct an oral examination of the student no later than the end of the sixth semester in residence. Two examiners must be in the student's major research area(s).  The two other examiners must be in minor areas outside the student's immediate research area. The Preliminary examination will presume that students are prepared in two minor areas outside the student’s main expertise. 

Minor Areas

Students are prepared in two minor areas outside the student’s main expertise by completing courses in each of the chosen minor areas, in consultation with their advisor.  These areas will be represented by two examiners in their oral preliminary examination.

An in-depth faculty review of the student’s progress at the end of the second semester in the program. This report is shared with the student in writing.

Before the end of the fifth semester in residence, the student should take the  preliminary exam , which establishes Ph.D candidacy. The students should prepare a written document describing a plan for the student’s own Ph.D. research, including scientific or technological motivation, background on the relevant literature, statement of objectives, preliminary research results, and research plan with description of methods. The research proposal should be submitted to the committee who are expected to provide feedback. 

The student should then schedule an oral presentation and defense of the research proposal.  The committee members and any other interested faculty should participate in the presentation and exam.  During the presentation, the student will be expected to demonstrate a sound grasp of the fundamental concepts and methodologies of the field, not limited to the specific research proposed.   The advisor and graduate director will work with the candidate to define which fundamental areas the student should be able to show proficiency in during the oral examination.  The committee reports to the Engineering Graduate Committee on the outcome of the examination, which covers the written proposal, the oral presentation, the oral exam, and a review of the student course work and research progress to date.  

As a guideline, the proposal should be 15-25 pages long (1.5 spacing, not-including cited references), and should be professionally formatted in a manner similar to a research publication.   The document must be submitted to the exam committee at least two weeks prior to oral defense.  For the oral proposal defense, the students should be prepared to present for 30 minutes and the entire exam should last less than two hours. 

The student will, in consultation with their advisor, select one minor area of study satisfied by passing at least two courses forming a cohesive subject, but distinct from the student’s main discipline. 

This portion is the official written portion of the preliminary exam taken in their fourth semester.  This exam consists of two parts to be taken in two three-hour sessions.  In the morning session, the students will be examined on thermodynamics and kinetics (paralleling the course work in ENGN 2410 and ENGN 2420).  In the afternoon session, the students will be examined on mechanical properties and crystallography (paralleling the course work in ENGN 2430 and ENGN 2490).

Students complete the oral portion of their preliminary exam through a presentation of their proposed research in their 5th semester.  In preparation for this presentation, they will be responsible for reading and understanding a number of seminal papers (typically on the order of 10) critical to the completion of their thesis research.  These papers will be chosen in consultation with the student’s adviser and another faculty member chosen by the student and his adviser. During the presentation, the student will be expected to demonstrate understanding of the important scientific and technical issues in his proposed research, as well as an understanding of the relevant issues contained in the assigned papers. 

Each student must show proficiency in two minor areas of study.  Proficiency is demonstrated by receiving grades of B or higher in the courses constituting the minor. Two courses are required to fulfill the minor, of which at least one must be a 200-level course.  The choice of appropriate courses for the minor areas will be determined by the Materials Science graduate student representative.  The sequence ENGN 2010 and ENGN 2020 may be used to fulfill the minor requirement in the area of applied math.

Progress Review  

The progress review is administered during the second semester in residence for students entering with the master's degree and during the third semester in residence for students entering with the bachelor of science degree.  It includes a one-half hour oral presentation of independent work by the student, based either on a project in progress or on completed work, and a review of progress in the academic program of study by the examination committee.  The committee’s recommendation to the Engineering Graduate Committee following this review as to whether or not a student will be allowed to continue will be based on an evaluation of the research presented and achievements in formal course work. Since students enter the graduate program with diverse backgrounds, this Review also should establish whether or not deficiencies exist in a student's preparation and, if so, he or she will be so advised.  The subsequent program can then be planned to correct any deficiencies prior to the taking of the Preliminary Examination. 

In the fifth semester an oral examination of approximately two hours duration is designed to test the student's knowledge of the major field of study as well as knowledge of two minor fields selected by the student and the research advisor. The student is expected to demonstrate a sound grasp of the fundamental concepts and methodologies of the major field, and to demonstrate a proficiency in specific topics in the minor areas.  The examination committee consists of a major area examiner, one examiner in each to the two minor areas, the Graduate Representative, and the student’s research adviser. This committee reports on the outcome of the examination to the Engineering Graduate Committee; if the performance is unsatisfactory, it also makes on recommendation on whether or not the examination may be repeated after a certain time has elapsed. 

The Preliminary Examination will presume that the student has a level of knowledge in each of two minor areas corresponding to successful completion of two graduate courses in each of the minor subjects. Possible minor subjects include applied mathematics, materials science, physics, biology, geology or another discipline in engineering or science. If applied mathematics is to be one of the minor areas, two courses beyond ENGN 2010 and ENGN 2020 or equivalents should have been successfully completed. 

Research Group Procedures

Each group administers their respective Ph.D. program and defines the details of coursework, the preliminary exam and other requirements (e.g. progress review). These requirements, along with the details of each group’s administration of the preliminary examination are outlined in the following sections. 

Milestones for Progress

Email forwarding for @cs.stanford.edu is changing. Updates and details here . CS Commencement Ceremony June 16, 2024.  Learn More .

PhD Admissions

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The Computer Science Department PhD program is a top-ranked research-oriented program, typically completed in 5-6 years. There are very few course requirements and the emphasis is on preparation for a career in Computer Science research. 

Eligibility

To be eligible for admission in a Stanford graduate program, applicants must meet:

  • Applicants from institutions outside of the United States must hold the equivalent of a United States Bachelor's degree from a college or University of recognized good standing. See detailed information by region on  Stanford Graduate Admissions website. 
  • Area of undergraduate study . While we do not require a specific undergraduate coursework, it is important that applicants have strong quantitative and analytical skills; a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science is not required.

Any questions about the admissions eligibility should be directed to  [email protected] .

Application Checklist

An completed online application must be submitted by the CS Department application deadline and can be found  here .

Application Deadlines

The online application can be found here  and we will only one admissions cycle for the PhD program per respective academic term.

How to apply for a PhD in the US

Lecturer giulia evolvi shares everything you need to know about applying for a phd in the us from start to finish.

Giulia Evolvi's avatar

Giulia Evolvi

PhD

GRE . TOEFL . Statement of purpose . I remember staring at these terms when visiting university websites and trying to understand what they meant. After studying at universities in Italy and France, I decided to apply for a PhD programme in the US.

There are useful online resources on how to write successful application essays or how to understand the differences between studying in the US and Europe, but not many discuss the PhD application process. Supervisors and mentors in non-US universities are often not able to offer much support. This guide will help you start your applications, based on my personal experience of applying for a PhD in the US.

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Getting your tests: gre and toefl.

Applications for a US PhD programme usually require scores from GRE and TOEFL tests, exams that international students might be unfamiliar with. These tests are time-consuming and expensive, so it is important to start planning for them as soon as possible, especially because it can be difficult to find test locations outside the US.

The GRE is a test that every student, American or international, needs to take when applying to join a graduate programme. It has three parts: first is quantitative reasoning, which includes mathematical questions; second is verbal reasoning, which tests the knowledge of English words and can be challenging for international students because it is designed for English native speakers; third is analytical writing, consisting of two short essays where the student needs to critically assess a statement or position. Each university might require different scores for these three parts, and you send the scores automatically after the test to your selected list of universities.

International students also need to take the TOEFL to prove their knowledge of English. Students who come from English-speaking countries or who graduated from English-taught programmes usually do not have to take it, but it is important that you verify this with the universities you want to apply to.

For instance, students from countries where English is one of the official languages (such as India or Kenya) might nonetheless be required to take the TOEFL. Also, the results you submit must be from a test taken within the past two years old.

Each university will have different requirements in terms of the TOEFL score. The TOEFL has four parts (reading, listening, speaking and writing), and even if you are fluent in English it is usually best to get familiar with the format of each part to obtain a score that is high enough for graduate programmes.

Both are computer-based tests done through multiple-choice questions and writing/speaking exercises. Some students choose to hire tutors or attend courses to prepare for the GRE and the TOEFL, but it is possible to study for them individually by buying ETS books with exercises and/or using online resources.

PhD diary: Preparing for a PhD Is it possible to do a three-year PhD as an international student? How to decide if a postgraduate degree is right for you

Recommendation letters and transcripts

Applying for a PhD always requires a lot of paperwork, but documents for PhD applications in the US can be difficult to obtain for some international students.

Something quite crucial is the transcript of previous qualifications such as diplomas and degrees. Some universities in non-English countries offer diploma supplements that they send directly to American universities for the application process. In other cases, US universities require a certified translation, which can take time and money. It is important to communicate early and clearly with the universities you want to apply to and also with your home university to make sure it is possible to access all these documents.

Usually, PhD applications also require two or three reference letters. While this is a common practice across the world, US universities often want professors to send or upload them personally, which is not always the case in other countries. Deadlines are often non-negotiable, so I suggest that you identify people who can write reference letters for you and make sure they can do them in English and understand the submission process.

In some cases, you might also need to submit a bank statement. If you apply for programmes that offer full scholarship/funding (which I recommend), this is usually not necessary, but some universities may ask you to submit proof that you can support yourself throughout the programme. This is also required when you apply for a visa if you are not offered a scholarship.

The academic part: statement of purpose and writing samples

You might think that a long and detailed PhD project outline is the most important part of the application. While this is often true in many non-US countries, it is not always the case for US programmes. Instead, you usually have to write a one- or two-page statement of purpose in which you describe why you would fit in a given department.

Applications for US PhDs do not require personal connections with professors, and you do not need to have a supervisor in mind when you apply, but I suggest contacting professors in the department to verify whether your research interests match with theirs. Once accepted to the PhD programme, you will then select a supervisor and start writing your project.

In some cases, applications require a writing sample. Usually, it is advisable to send a university essay or a portion of your thesis. If you did not previously study in a programme taught in English, it is often possible to send a translation of your work or even a sample in another language.

Once all these documents and papers are gathered, you can start your applications. They are usually online, and there may be a fee for each application. It can be a long and expensive process, but many US universities welcome international students and offer an excellent education. In my case, it certainly was worth the effort.

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How to Apply for a PhD in the US

Last Updated: January 18, 2024 Approved

This article was co-authored by Carrie Adkins, PhD . Carrie Adkins is the cofounder of NursingClio, an open access, peer-reviewed, collaborative blog that connects historical scholarship to current issues in gender and medicine. She completed her PhD in American History at the University of Oregon in 2013. While completing her PhD, she earned numerous competitive research grants, teaching fellowships, and writing awards. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 20 testimonials and 96% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 629,344 times.

Getting a PhD is a challenging undertaking that takes years to achieve. It can also be an incredibly rewarding experience: you'll become a true expert in your field, and you'll be able to apply for a number of interesting jobs, including academic ones. If you're considering a PhD, start by figuring out which programs best fit your needs (they may not always be the ones at the biggest or most prestigious schools). Once you know what those programs are, you can tailor your materials accordingly and put together the best possible application packages.

Ask the wikiHow College Coach

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Researching Schools and Programs

Step 1 Identify your research interests.

  • Keep in mind that it is not necessary for you to have a dissertation topic already chosen or even to have an extremely specific research focus. At this stage, you should just have a general idea of what you want to study and why. For example, if you are considering a PhD in English, then you should at least have an idea of the literary period that you wish to focus on.

Step 2 Search for programs that suit your needs.

  • For example, if you are planning to pursue a PhD in Chemistry, then you should find out more about the lab facilities at the university that you are considering.
  • Try to identify as many potential schools as you can. Graduate school is competitive and you will have a better chance of getting accepted if you submit multiple applications.

Step 3 Identify professors whose research interests you.

  • Keep in mind that you may be working closely with the professor(s) you identify, so it is important to select professors who you really admire and whose research genuinely interests you.

Step 4 Look for funding opportunities.

  • Keep in mind that funding opportunities are competitive. Putting forth a strong application may increase your chances of getting funding, but there are no guarantees.

"Even then, you need a back-up plan (or two or three) before you commit years of your life to a PhD."

Carrie Adkins, PhD

Carrie Adkins, PhD

Step 6 Consider other factors.

  • Location. If you plan to return to your home country during breaks, then some schools may make the trip home less time consuming than others. For example, if you will be flying back to India at the end of each school year, then choosing a school closer to one of the US coasts will make traveling easier than flying out of the Midwest. Keep in mind that it is not a good idea to select a school based solely on location. This will severely limit your choices.
  • Cost of living. Some US college towns can be quite expensive, which can make it hard to get by on your student stipend. Look into the average cost of housing, food, and other expenses in the university areas where you plan to apply.
  • Extracurricular opportunities. Clubs can other types of groups can make the transition to a US university a bit easier. Many schools have clubs for people from certain countries, who speak certain languages, or who share other interests. Check out the extracurricular opportunities that are available at the universities you are considering.

Meeting the Basic Requirements

Step 1 Obtain the appropriate degrees.

  • Taking the GRE three to six months in advance is a good idea. You may even want to take it about year before you plan to apply, just in case you do not get a good score and you need to retake it.

Step 3 Take the TOEFL or IELTS.

  • Score requirements vary by university, so check with each university to learn the score requirements before you apply. For TOEFL, you need to have at least a 600 on the paper-based test OR above a 95 to 100 on the internet-based test. For IELTS, you need to have above a 7.0 to 7.5.

Step 4 Ensure that you can afford the fees.

  • For example, if you plan to apply to 20 different programs, then you will need to ensure that you have about $2,000 for the application fees.
  • Keep in mind that the fees may vary drastically among schools. More prestigious schools may charge higher application fees than less prestigious schools.

Step 5 Compare special requirements for different schools.

  • For example, some programs require applicants to answer a specific question or set of questions in the statement of purpose.

Step 6 Request letters of recommendation.

  • For example, it would be better to ask a professor in your discipline than someone who taught an elective class that you enjoyed.
  • Having one letter of recommendation from an administrator or employer can be helpful to show a different perspective of your academic goals. For example, you might ask your department’s chairperson, one of the university’s deans, or a current or former boss. As with the professors you ask, the administrator who recommends you should be someone who will give you a glowing recommendation.

Step 7 Order transcripts.

  • Keep in mind that most schools require official transcripts.
  • Sending transcripts may or may not require you to pay fees, depending on your university’s policies.

Step 8 Choose a writing sample (if required).

  • If you have a piece that has been published, then this is an especially great choice for the writing sample, but unpublished pieces are fine as well.

Writing Your Statement of Purpose

Step 1 Check for special requirements before you start to write.

  • You may want to write one “basic” SOP and then alter or add to it as needed based on the special requirements of each university.

Step 2 Provide a bit of background.

  • For example, you might say something like, “Since I was a child, I had a passion for the natural world, and this passion led me to my desire to become a biologist.”

Step 3 Talk about your preparation for a doctoral program.

  • For example, you might say something like, “As an undergrad, I participated in on-campus research expos and even attended a local conference. Then, during my MA program, I had an article accepted to Biology Quarterly and presented at a national conference.” [2] X Research source
  • You can also talk about specific courses you took, professors who have supervised your work, and research that you conducted during your BA and MA programs.

Step 4 Explain the types of contributions you would like to make.

  • For example, you might say something like, “I hope to develop a new process for growing corn.”

Step 5 Mention professors with whom you would like to work and explain why.

  • Try reading each professor’s biography on the university website. You may also consider reading one of these professors’ publications, such as an article or book.
  • Try saying something like, “I hope to work with Professor Jones because she and I share a similar interest in botany.”

Step 6 Use examples to illustrate your points.

  • Make sure that you include examples throughout your entire SOP.

Submitting Your Application Packets

Step 1 Complete online application components.

  • Some schools also require letters of recommendation to be submitted via an online system. You may need to submit your recommenders email addresses so that they can access this system.

Step 2 Prepare your application items to mail.

  • Address the packets. Make sure that you double check the addresses for each of your packets to ensure that they will be delivered to the correct location.
  • Pay for postage. International postage can be quite expensive, so make sure that you reserve some money to pay for this cost. Pay the postage for each of your packets and send them out.

Step 3 Wait for responses.

What Are The Main Reasons People Go To Graduate School?

Expert Q&A

Carrie Adkins, PhD

  • Even if a university is unable to provide you with direct funding or a scholarship, there may be other opportunities for you to earn an income while you are there, such as research assistantships. Look into this before turning down an offer from a university you might otherwise want to attend. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 0
  • Once you are done with everything, do not forget to thank everybody who helped you, especially the referees who wrote letters of recommendation. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Gaining some sort of research or work experience in the field you plan to apply to will greatly improve your chances of admission. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

phd requirements usa

  • Keep your address consistent throughout - do not abbreviate or introduce variations. This makes it all the more difficult for the graduate office to file your documents. Thanks Helpful 18 Not Helpful 5
  • Use a reliable courier service to send documents to universities - FedEx, DHL, UPS, etc. Do not use a service for which you cannot track your package. Thanks Helpful 15 Not Helpful 7

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  • ↑ http://grad.berkeley.edu/admissions/apply/statement-purpose/

About This Article

Carrie Adkins, PhD

To apply for a Ph.D. in the US, earn a Bachelor’s degree and take the GRE, or Graduate Record Examination. Then, carefully read the application instructions of each school to increase your odds of getting accepted. In the mean time, request letters of recommendation from professors in your discipline or an employer. You will also need to have your transcripts on hand, and to write a statement of purpose. For tips on writing a great statement of purpose and nailing the rest of the process, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How Long Does It Take to Get a Ph.D. Degree?

Earning a Ph.D. from a U.S. grad school typically requires nearly six years, federal statistics show.

How Long It Takes to Get a Ph.D. Degree

phd requirements usa

Caiaimage | Tom Merton | Getty Images

A Ph.D. is most appropriate for someone who is a "lifelong learner."

Students who have excelled within a specific academic discipline and who have a strong interest in that field may choose to pursue a Ph.D. degree. However, Ph.D. degree-holders urge prospective students to think carefully about whether they truly want or need a doctoral degree, since Ph.D. programs last for multiple years.

According to the Survey of Earned Doctorates, a census of recent research doctorate recipients who earned their degree from U.S. institutions, the median amount of time it took individuals who received their doctorates in 2017 to complete their program was 5.8 years. However, there are many types of programs that typically take longer than six years to complete, such as humanities and arts doctorates, where the median time for individuals to earn their degree was 7.1 years, according to the survey.

Some Ph.D. candidates begin doctoral programs after they have already obtained master's degrees, which means the time spent in grad school is a combination of the time spent pursuing a master's and the years invested in a doctorate. In order to receive a Ph.D. degree, a student must produce and successfully defend an original academic dissertation, which must be approved by a dissertation committtee. Writing and defending a dissertation is so difficult that many Ph.D. students drop out of their Ph.D. programs having done most of the work necessary for degree without completing the dissertation component. These Ph.D. program dropouts often use the phrase " all but dissertation " or the abbreviation "ABD" on their resumes.

According to a comprehensive study of Ph.D. completion rates published by The Council of Graduate Schools in 2008, only 56.6% of people who begin Ph.D. programs earn Ph.D. degrees.

Ian Curtis, a founding partner with H&C Education, an educational and admissions consulting firm, who is pursuing a Ph.D. degree in French at Yale University , says there are several steps involved in the process of obtaining a Ph.D. Students typically need to fulfill course requirements and pass comprehensive exams, Curtis warns. "Once these obligations have been completed, how long it takes you to write your dissertation depends on who you are, how you work, what field you're in and what other responsibilities you have in life," he wrote in an email. Though some Ph.D. students can write a dissertation in a single year, that is rare, and the dissertation writing process may last for several years, Curtis says.

Curtis adds that the level of support a Ph.D. student receives from an academic advisor or faculty mentor can be a key factor in determining the length of time it takes to complete a Ph.D. program. "Before you decide to enroll at a specific program, you’ll want to meet your future advisor," Curtis advises. "Also, reach out to his or her current and former students to get a sense of what he or she is like to work with."

Curtis also notes that if there is a gap between the amount of time it takes to complete a Ph.D. and the amount of time a student's funding lasts, this can slow down the Ph.D. completion process. "Keep in mind that if you run out of funding at some point during your doctorate, you will need to find paid work, and this will leave you even less time to focus on writing your dissertation," he says. "If one of the programs you’re looking at has a record of significantly longer – or shorter – times to competition, this is good information to take into consideration."

He adds that prospective Ph.D. students who already have master's degrees in the field they intend to focus their Ph.D. on should investigate whether the courses they took in their master's program would count toward the requirements of a Ph.D. program. "You’ll want to discuss your particular situation with your program to see whether this will be possible, and how many credits you are likely to receive as the result of your master’s work," he says.

How to Write M.D.-Ph.D. Application Essays

Ilana Kowarski May 15, 2018

phd requirements usa

Emmanuel C. Nwaodua, who has a Ph.D. degree in geology, says some Ph.D. programs require candidates to publish a paper in a first-rate, peer-reviewed academic journal. "This could extend your stay by a couple of years," he warns.

Pierre Huguet, the CEO and co-founder of H&C Education, says prospective Ph.D. students should be aware that a Ph.D. is designed to prepare a person for a career as a scholar. "Most of the jobs available to Ph.D. students upon graduation are academic in nature and directly related to their fields of study: professor, researcher, etc.," Huguet wrote in an email. "The truth is that more specialization can mean fewer job opportunities. Before starting a Ph.D., students should be sure that they want to pursue a career in academia, or in research. If not, they should make time during the Ph.D. to show recruiters that they’ve traveled beyond their labs and libraries to gain some professional hands-on experience."

Jack Appleman, a business writing instructor, published author and Ph.D. candidate focusing on organizational communication with the University at Albany—SUNY , says Ph.D. programs require a level of commitment and focus that goes beyond what is necessary for a typical corporate job. A program with flexible course requirements that allow a student to customize his or her curriculum based on academic interests and personal obligations is ideal, he says.

Joan Kee, a professor at the University of Michigan with the university's history of art department, says that the length of time required for a Ph.D. varies widely depending on what subject the Ph.D. focuses on. "Ph.D. program length is very discipline and even field-specific; for example, you can and are expected to finish a Ph.D, in economics in under five years, but that would be impossible in art history (or most of the humanities)," she wrote in an email.

Kee adds that humanities Ph.D. programs often require someone to learn a foreign language, and "fields like anthropology and art history require extensive field research." Kee says funding for a humanities Ph.D. program typically only lasts five years, even though it is uncommon for someone to obtain a Ph.D. degree in a humanities field within that time frame. "Because of this, many if not most Ph.D. students must work to make ends meet, thus further prolonging the time of completion," she says.

Jean Marie Carey, who earned her Ph.D. degree in art history and German from the University of Otago in New Zealand, encourages prospective Ph.D. students to check whether their potential Ph.D. program has published a timeline of how long it takes a Ph.D. student to complete their program. She says it is also prudent to speak with Ph.D. graduates of the school and ask about their experience.

Online Doctoral Programs: What to Expect

Ronald Wellman March 23, 2018

phd requirements usa

Kristin Redington Bennett, the founder of the Illumii educational consulting firm in North Carolina, encourages Ph.D. hopefuls to think carefully about whether they want to become a scholar. Bennett, who has a Ph.D. in curriculum and assessment and who previously worked as an assistant professor at Wake Forest University , says a Ph.D. is most appropriate for someone who is a "lifelong learner." She says someone contemplating a Ph.D. should ask themselves the following questions "Are you a very curious person... and are you persistent?"

Bennett urges prospective Ph.D. students to visit the campuses of their target graduate programs since a Ph.D. program takes so much time that it is important to find a school that feels comfortable. She adds that aspiring Ph.D. students who prefer a collaborative learning environment should be wary of graduate programs that have a cut-throat and competitive atmosphere, since such students may not thrive in that type of setting.

Alumni of Ph.D. programs note that the process of obtaining a Ph.D. is arduous, regardless of the type of Ph.D. program. "A Ph.D. is a long commitment of your time, energy and financial resources, so it'll be easier on you if you are passionate about research," says Grace Lee, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and is the founder and CEO of Mastery Insights, an education and career coaching company, and the host of the Career Revisionist podcast.

"A Ph.D. isn't about rehashing years of knowledge that is already out there, but rather it is about your ability to generate new knowledge. Your intellectual masterpiece (which is your dissertation) takes a lot of time, intellectual creativity and innovation to put together, so you have to be truly passionate about that," Lee says.

Curtis says a prospective Ph.D. student's enthusiasm for academic work, teaching and research are the key criteria they should use to decide whether to obtain a Ph.D. degree. "While the time it takes to complete a doctorate is an understandable concern for many, my personal belief is that time is not the most important factor to consider," he says. "Good Ph.D. programs provide their students with generous stipends, health care and sometimes even subsidized housing."

Erin Skelly, a graduate admissions counselor at the IvyWise admissions consulting firm, says when a Ph.D. students struggles to complete his or her Ph.D. degree, it may have more to do with the student's academic interests or personal circumstances than his or her program.

"The time to complete a Ph.D. can depend on a number of variables, but the specific discipline or school would only account for a year or two's difference," she wrote in an email. "When a student takes significantly longer to complete a Ph.D. (degree), it's usually related to the student's coursework and research – they need to take additional coursework to complete their comprehensive exams; they change the focus of their program or dissertation, requiring extra coursework or research; or their research doesn't yield the results they hoped for, and they need to generate a new theory and conduct more research."

Skelly warns that the average completion time of a Ph.D. program may be misleading in some cases, if the average is skewed based on one or two outliers. She suggests that instead of focusing on the duration of a particular Ph.D. program, prospective students should investigate the program's attritition and graduation rates.

"It is worthwhile to look at the program requirements and the school's proposed timeline for completion, and meet current students to get their input on how realistic these expectations for completion are," Skelly says. "That can give you an honest idea of how long it will really take to complete the program."

Searching for a grad school? Access our complete rankings of Best Graduate Schools.

Tags: graduate schools , education , students

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PhD Degree Requirements

This webpage provides a quick overview of the requirements for our PhD program. More detailed information can be found in the Psychology Graduate Guide . This webpage and the Graduate Guide supplement the Psychology PhD requirements defined in the Stanford Bulletin and the policies for all Stanford graduate education as defined in the Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures Handbook . 

The most important component of our PhD program is engaging in scientific research. Students in our PhD program conduct in-depth research in at least one of five areas of study: Affective , Cognitive , Developmental , Neuroscience , or Social Psychology. All students are expected to spend at least half of their time engaged in research. Each quarter, students should register for 8 - 10 research units (PSYCH207: Graduate Research) and take no more than 10 units of coursework.

The sections below outline program requirements regarding coursework and teaching, as well as key milestones towards a PhD degree.

Course Requirements

  • Teaching Requirements  
  • Key Program Milestones

Core Courses, Statistics/Methods Courses, and Advanced Units must be taken for a letter grade and passed with a grade of B- or higher. Click each requirement to open the relevant sections in the Graduate Guide.  

Professional Seminar 

All incoming students are required to take PSYCH207 in the first quarter (Year 1 Autumn). This is a course taught by the Department Chair with guest lectures from faculty across all areas, and serves to introduce the first-year students to the Department. 

  • PSYCH 207: Professional Seminar for First-Year Ph.D Students

As a part of PSYCH 207, first-year students are also expected to meet with their advisor(s) early in the fall quarter of the first year to discuss mentorship expectations. 

Core Courses

Students are required to complete 4 of the following Core Courses by the end of Yr 3.

  • PSYCH 202: Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PSYCH 205: Foundations of Cognition
  • PSYCH 211: Developmental Psychology
  • PSYCH 213: Affective Science
  • PSYCH 215: Mind, Culture, and Society

Statistics / Methods Courses

Students must complete PSYCH 251 and one additional statistics/methods courses by the end of Year 2. At least one of the two courses must be taken in the first year. 

  • PSYCH 251: Experimental Methods (Required) 
  • PSYCH 249: Large-Scale Neural Network Modeling for Neuroscience
  • PSYCH 252: Statistical Methods for Behavioral and Social Sciences
  • PSYCH 253: Measurement and the Study of Change in Social Science Research
  • PSYCH 289: Longitudinal Data Analysis in Social Science Research

Some students may wish to take advanced courses in Statistics or CS not listed above; please consult with your advisor and send an inquiry to the Student Services Manager. These requests may be reviewed by the DGS and/or the GPC.

Advanced Units / PhD Minor  

Students must complete 12 units of advanced graduate coursework (“Advanced Units”, or AU), or complete a PhD Minor by the end of Year 4.  

Students and their advisor(s) should discuss the course requirements and create a plan together for completing the Advanced Units. To this end, rising 2nd year students must submit an Advanced Courses Form by the first Monday in October (usually the first Monday of the Fall Quarter) of the 2nd year. 

Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) Statu s

Students should apply for Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) status once they have accumulated 135 units of residency and have filed a Dissertation Reading Committee form . Students in TGR status should register for PSYCH 802: TGR Dissertation (0 units) and take no more than 3 units of coursework per quarter. Typically, students transition to TGR in the Winter quarter of 5th year. 

For more information about Course Requirements, consult the Graduate Guide and the Stanford Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures Handbook .

Teaching Requirements

All students serve as teaching assistants for at least 5 Psychology courses during their graduate study, regardless of the source of their financial support. Of these 5 TAships, students must apply for 2 of their TAships to be in one of the two tracks: 

  • PSYCH 1 Track (2 quarters of Introduction to Psychology)  
  • STATS Track (2 quarters of core statistics/methods course: PSYCH 10, PSYCH 251, PSYCH 252, PSYCH 253).  

Students can review the Department's complete  TA policy  for more details. Questions about TA assignments or TA policy should be directed to the Student Services Manager. 

Program Requirements and Milestones

Year 1: First Year Project (FYP)

At the end of their first year of graduate study, students must submit a written report of their first-year research activities, called the First Year Project (FYP) by June 1 The FYP is submitted to their advisor, second FYP reader (another faculty), and the students’ services manager. Students are also expected to present the results of their FYP in their area seminar. 

Year 2: Admission to Candidacy

In our department, a student’s application for candidacy must be filed as soon as all requirements for Year 1 and Year 2 are completed (and by the end of the 2nd year). The decision to advance a student to candidacy is made based on a holistic assessment of the student’s progress in the program. For more information, please refer to the Graduate Guide, section on Admission to Candidacy. 

Conferral of a masters degree: Graduate students in the Department of Psychology who have completed (a) the first-year and second-year course requirements and (b) at least 45 units of Psychology courses may apply for a conferral of the MA degree.

Master of Arts Degree in Psychology (Optional)

Graduate students in the Department of Psychology who have completed (a) the first-year and second-year course requirements and (b) at least 45 units of Psychology courses may apply for conferral of the MA degree. The application should be reviewed with the Student Services Manager. The  application process  typically occurs in 2nd or 3rd year.

Year 3: Research Plan and Dissertation Reading Committee   

Students in Year 3 are expected to:

(1) Form a dissertation reading committee (due Feb 1): The research committee includes the dissertation advisor and at least 2 additional faculty members, for a total of 3 members, at least two of whom should have primary appointments in the Psychology Department. 

(2) Schedule and hold the 3rd Year Committee Meeting to take place in Winter or Spring quarter (before June 1), and submit a research plan to their committee 2 weeks before the meeting

(3) After the committee meeting, submit the Research Plan to the Student Services Manager and report the meeting date using the Committee Meeting Google Form .

Year 4: Area Review and Research Roadmap (ARRR) and Committee Meeting

Students in Year 4 are expected to:

(1) Schedule and hold the 4th Year Committee Meeting in the Winter quarter and submit an Area Review & Research Roadmap (ARRR) to the committee two weeks before the meeting.

(2) After the committee meeting, submit the ARRR to the Student Services Manager and report the meeting date using the Committee Meeting Google Form . 

Final Year: Oral Examination and Dissertation  

Students in Year 3 and above are expected to hold a committee meeting every year. In their final year, students must form their Oral Examination Committee including identifying an external chair. Students must submit the Oral Exam Form to the Student Services Manager at least 2 weeks before the anticipated defense and follow the standard Department protocol for reserving a room for their defense.

Individual Development Plan

Every year, each graduate student completes an Individual Development Plan (IDP) and has a meeting with their advisor to discuss the IDP and set an Action Plan for the coming year. The goal of the IDP is for the student to step back from their daily tasks, reflect on the larger picture, discuss these topics with their mentor, and make an action plan for achieving their goals going forward. The IDP meeting must occur by June 1 each year. 

The IDP process has 4 steps:

1. Student completeness the IDP Self-Reflection form  

2. Student prepares the IDP Meeting and Action Plan form and schedules a one-on-one meeting with the advisor. 

3. Student and Advisor(s) complete the Action Plan (pages 3-4 of the IDP Meeting and Action Plan form ). 

4. Student submits the IDP Meeting Google Form to report the meeting to the Student Services.

Students can also use the IDP meeting to discuss mentorship expectations and schedule additional meetings if further conversations are needed. Note that first-year students must schedule a separate meeting with their advisors to discuss Mentorship Expectation as a part of their ProSem requirement

Graduation Quarter

Registration for Graduation Quarter is required for the term in which a student submits a dissertation or has a degree conferred. Please consult the Registrar's Academic Calendar for the quarterly deadlines for submitting dissertations; they are strict, and missing the deadline can have serious funding implications. For more information, please refer to the Graduate Guide and Registrar's Office website .

PhD Program Timeline At-A-Glance

  • FYP Proposal and name of 2nd reader due to Student Services

End of Fall Quarter 

  • Complete the mentorship expectations meeting with advisor
  • FYP due to Student Services, advisor, and 2nd reader

Summer of 1st Year

  • Meet and receive feedback from advisor and 2nd reader
  • Submit  Advanced Units coursework form  to Student Services

June 1  

  • IDP Meeting Due

By the end of 2nd Year

  • Submit  Candidacy Form  to Student Services
  • Submit  Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee form  to Student Services
  • Schedule 3rd Year Committee Meeting
  • Hold Committee Meeting (Research Plan to committee 2 weeks before meeting), and report meeting to Student Services; IDP Meeting
  • Schedule 4th Year Committee Meeting
  • Submit ARRR to the committee two weeks before the meeting
  • Hold Committee Meeting
  • Report meeting to Student Services
  • IDP Meeting

2 weeks before Defense: 

  • Submit the  Oral Exam form  to Student Services

End of Spring Quarter: 

  • Oral Examination
  • Submit Dissertation 
  • Schedule and hold a 5th Year Committee Meeting 
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Admissions & Financial Support

Application requirements.

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  • Application Requirements →

Admissions & Financial Support

Interested in applying to one of our fully funded PhD Programs? Before you begin, learn more about our application requirements. Please note that applicants are only required to possess a bachelors degree. Undergraduate applicants in their senior year are welcome to apply

We realize that the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, recent natural disasters, and other extenuating circumstances may have significant impacts on applicants’ academic and personal lives, including the ability to provide all required application materials prior to our stated deadlines. If this pertains to your circumstances, please review the information below for next steps.

Required Application Materials

  • Completed online application form
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Personal Statement
  • Transcripts for all college/university degrees and courses Self-reported transcripts are accepted for both all programs at the application stage. Applicants must upload copies of his/her transcripts to the online application system. Hard copy transcripts will only be required if admitted to a program, prior to enrollment.
  • Current GMAT or GRE scores (see details below)
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores (non-native English speakers see details below)
  • Three letters of recommendation (at least one from an academic source). Recommendation letters must be submitted online through the online application system. Hard copy recommendation letters will not be accepted.
  • $105 application fee via credit card
  • Optional writing sample (no more than 10 pages)

GMAT & GRE

All applicants are required to take either the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) or the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Submitted test scores are valid for no longer than five years. If you are applying for admission for fall 2024, you may submit scores from tests taken no earlier than January 5, 2019. There is no minimum test score requirement, and admissions committee does not have a preference in tests.

  • Institution Codes for PhD Programs
  • GMAT: HRL-X8-30

A department code is not required for score submission.

We realize that the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, recent natural disasters, and other extenuating circumstances may have significant impacts on applicants’ academic and personal lives, including the ability to provide all required application materials prior to our stated deadlines. If you are unable to take the GRE or GMAT before the deadline, we still encourage you to apply, even if your scores are missing. Our application form includes a section for you to let us know about any of your materials that may be unavailable or delayed.

International Applications

Adequate command of spoken and written English is required for admission. Applicants whose native language is other than English and who do not hold a Bachelor degree or its equivalent from an institution at which English is the language of instruction must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.

Submitted scores are valid for no longer than two years. If you are applying for admission for fall 2024, you may submit scores from tests taken no earlier than January 5, 2022. The committee prefers scores of at least 100 on the the TOEFL internet-based test and at least 7.5 on the IELTS test. Applicants are strongly encouraged to choose the TOEFL internet-based test when possible.

Institution Codes for Toefl score reports PhD programs: 3451

Instructions for submitting IELTS score reports Designate Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as a recipient of your test results. Our address, for the record only, to identify us in the IELTS system, is 1350 Massachusetts Ave. Smith Campus Center 350, Cambridge, MA 02138. Paper test report forms will not be accepted at this address.

Accomodations for COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, or other extenuating circumstances

Reapplicants.

Applicants who applied last year are considered reapplicants. Those reapplying must submit a completely new application. The new application must include all required documents to be provided by the applicant - we will not re-use material previously submitted. These materials include an updated statement of purpose, transcripts, test score reports, updated letters of recommendation, the application fee, and any other supporting materials

Please note, Harvard University will accept no more than three applications from any one individual over the course of their lifetime. If your 2023 application is incomplete and you are denied admission, GSAS will not count it toward our lifetime limit of three total applications that an individual may submit due to the global pandemic.

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  • PhD in USA: Cost, Programs & Admission Requirements

phd requirements usa

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Study PhD in USA

All you need to know to start your phd degree in the united states.

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree from USA is considered the highest awarded degree in many US universities and institutes for most fields of studies, it’s a dream course for many international students.

PhD degree is often required when you apply for high-level management jobs, government expert positions, and careers like a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields.

Top PhD programs in USA

PhD degrees in USA are offered in a wide range of studies , including technical fields, social sciences and humanities.

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How many years does it take for a PhD degree in USA?

Studying PhD in USA is a series of three phases , wherein, the 1st phase is a course work that requires 1-3 years for completion followed by a preliminary, a comprehensive examination, or a series of cumulative examinations.

In the first phase, examination focus is upon the breadth of knowledge instead of depth. For the composition of a substantial and original contribution to human knowledge in the form of a written dissertation, another 2 to 8 years are usually required.

Depending on the field of study, it takes 4 to 8 years of study after the bachelor's degree to complete PhD program; and it takes a year or two less to complete PhD for students who already have a master’s degree.

How much does it cost to do PhD in USA?

There are many scholarships dedicated for PhD programs at the universities of USA. But generally speaking, the cost of PhDs in USA varies between $28,000 to $55,000 annually depending on the program, specialisation and the university.

Check out more on the cost of study and living in the US

How to choose the right university in USA?

There are 282 universities in the United States that award the PhD degree. To choose the perfect place for your study, you need to consider some important factors, such as:

  • Program availability
  • University ranking
  • Faculty and staff reputation
  • Research facilities
  • Scholarships and funding options offered by the university
  • Graduate employability rate
  • Tuition fees

PhD requirements in USA

PhD admission requirements in US vary based on the university and the field of study. But in general, most universities in the US require the below from international students applying for PhD degree there:

  • Completed application form
  • Transcripts for your university degree or courses
  • Statement of Purpose
  • GMAT or GRE scores
  • Recommendation letters
  • English language test, such as IELTS or TOEFL
  • Application fee

Can I work while doing PhD in USA?

The F-1 student visa permits you to work on-campus for up to 20 hours a week during term-time and full-time during the holidays. Moreover, your Curricular Practical Training (CPT) as a PhD student includes work placements and opportunities that are a compulsory part of your PhD program.

However, practically-speaking, studying a minimal PhD can be done while working full time in an unrelated job, if you’re an extreme hard-worker. But that's a big if, though. The danger of working full time is that you won’t make progress without a continuous hectic effort. Thus, it’s generally unrecommend to hold a full-time job while studying a PhD unless you’ve very modest goals for what you intend to do with your degree.

Read more about USA student visa

Kick start your education journey to USA! Speak with your IDP Education counsellor now to turn your study ambition into action!

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  • UB Directory
  • School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences >
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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Office of Student Success and Engagement 270 Pharmacy Building Buffalo, NY 14214 716-645-2825 [email protected]

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The UB Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences is the foremost destination for PhD student scholars interested in challenging the boundaries of drug discovery, development and evaluation.

We invite you to study with our group of internationally renowned faculty as they advance the biotherapies and technologies of the future to improve human health and society. 

Sponsored through the university, this multi-year program provides enhanced nationally competitive funding packages to ensure the support and continuation of the next generation of scholars and researchers.

Support initiatives include: cost of broad-based fees for doctoral students who are full time and fully funded. Covered fees include the comprehensive fee, academic excellence and success fee, student activity fee, and the international student fee, where applicable.

Find out more: UB PhD Excellence Initiative.

Learn more about the many ways UB can support your career aspirations through innovative assistantships, fellowships, scholarships and other benefits.

Find out more: PhD Level Funding.

Doctoral students receive a full tuition scholarship and stipend. Additional amounts may be received through individual scholarships.

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree or higher in pharmacy, biochemistry, chemistry, biology, engineering or other science
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty knowledgeable of the student's ability and capability. Evaluators should comment on laboratory research, communication skills, creativity, and intangibles in the student's academic performance. An email request will be sent directly to your recommenders when you submit your application for formal review.
  • Personal statement: the personal statement is a general statement of purpose describing academic, professional, and research interests and should be no more than 500 words.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in organic and physical chemistry, biochemistry, biology and mathematics
  • Prior research experience and co-authorship in scientific publications are considered favorably.

Application Steps

International Application Requirements

The University at Buffalo is one of the  United States' most international universities  and offers a welcoming environment for students from over 100 countries.

Application Requirements

In addition to your program application, as an international student you will need to provide the following materials as electronic uploads. Please do not send any mail, unless instructed to do so. You do not need to submit an evaluated transcript through WES however, we will accept it if you have it.

  • A photocopy of your passport page Upload a photocopy of your passport (photo page) to the proper section on your application checklist
  • Copy of current 1-20 and visa If you are currently studying in the United States, you must upload a copy of your current I-20 and Visa to your application checklist. 
  • Official English Proficiency Scores In addition to meeting the standard academic criteria for the program to which you are applying, international applicants must also demonstrate English proficiency. Unless exempt, all international students must take one of the tests  indicated here  and meet the university minimum score requirement. Upon submission, please upload an unofficial copy of your English Language Proficiency test score to your application.
  • International Applicant Financial Form and Bank Documents - Not required for PhD applicants These documents can be submitted  after  students are accepted; feel free to leave it blank on the application checklist. You will be able to submit them later when prompted. Accepted students (except PhD) need to submit the Financial Form, along with bank documents showing funding for the first year of academic study (minus any scholarships you may be receiving).

Learn about the steps to receiving your I-20 documentation.

Information for Current BS/MS or MS Students

Current students in our BS/MS or MS programs who are interested in the PhD program are required to submit a new application with new recommendations. MS students may apply either during their first or second year of the program. BS/MS students must complete their entire BS/MS program before joining the PhD program (some exceptions considered).

MS students who are accepted to the PhD program during their first year in the MS program are transferred directly to the PhD program and do not receive their MS degree. MS students who are accepted to the PhD program during their second year in the MS program are encouraged to complete their MS project and confer their MS degree before joining the PhD program.

It is recommended that students interested in the PhD program consider taking the required courses for the PhD program that are offered during their MS studies. If admitted to PhD program, students who have completed all of the required PhD courses will be allowed to take the Preliminary Exams.

Students accepted to the PhD program from our MS program who have elected not to receive their MS degree can apply all of their required PhD courses and graduate course credits towards the 72 credits needed for the PhD. These students should develop an academic plan carefully so that the remaining credit requirements needed for the PhD degree are met without exceeding the 72 credits by a large margin.

Students formerly in our BS/MS or MS programs who are accepted to the PhD and have received their BS/MS or MS degree can apply part or all of their prior graduate credits from the University at Buffalo towards the PhD. The Director of Graduate Studies will waive the required PhD courses taken during the BS/MS and MS program for these students. These students should work closely with the Director of Graduate Studies so that remaining credit requirements needed for the PhD degree are met without exceeding the 72 credits by a large margin.

Review our Frequently Asked Questions

Email us at  [email protected] .

The Summer 2024 Schedule of Courses is now available.

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Admission Requirements

Undergraduate admission, u.s. high school graduate or ged.

Non-U.S. High School : Transcripts are required IF your high school diploma or its equivalent is from a non-U.S. secondary educational institution. Official transcripts may be required upon r equest.

24 Transferable Credits*

If you are not a high school graduate, admission will be based on your work at a U.S. College or University.

*must be in Good Academic Standing at your home institution. You are in good academic standing if you are neither on probation nor subject to suspension or dismissal.

Graduate Admission

Bachelors degree.

Non-U.S. College or University:  Transcripts and copies of your degree certificate are required  IF  your bachelor’s degree or its equivalent is from a non-U.S. college or university. Official transcripts may be required upon request.

English Proficiency

Applicants whose native language is not english.

If English is not your native language and you have never attended a fall or spring term at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, you must provide evidence of your English language proficiency.

Standardized tests must have been taken within the past two years . Scores must be at or above the minimums listed below.

Please submit documentation with your application if you meet one (1) of the following criteria:

  • TOEFL iBT: 61 or higher.
  • TOEFL Essentials: 7.0 or higher.
  • IELTS: 6.0 or higher.
  • Duolingo English Test: 95 or higher.
  • EIKEN Grade: Grade 2A, Grade Pre-1, Grade 1, 2150 or higher.
  • Cambridge English Scale (C1 Advanced & C2 Proficiency): 161 or higher.
  • Pearson Test of English-Academic (PTE-A): 44 or higher.
  • SAT Critical Reading AND Writing sections: 510 or higher.
  • ACT English AND Reading sections: combined 43 or higher; neither score was lower than 19.
  • Associate of Arts (AA) degree from a community college within the UH System
  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the U.S. or a recognized university in Australia, Britain, Canada (excluding Quebec), Ireland or New Zealand
  • An ENG 100 equivalent course from a regionally accredited U.S. institution with a “D” or higher grade
  • 60 transferable credits with a GPA of 2.0 or higher from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or from an institution that is recognized by UH Mānoa where English is the primary language of instruction
  • Six (6) years of full-time schooling with English as the medium of instruction at a middle school, high school, college, or university in American Samoa, Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Guam, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, or the United States (including American Samoa and Guam). Documentation of all six  years is required.
  • At least three years of high school in Hawaiʻi with a cumulative GPA of 3.2 and 460 on the critical reading AND writing sections of the SAT
  • UH Mānoa English Language Institute (ELI) placement examination test scores indicating that you qualify for enrollment

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Social Work

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The Penn State World Campus Master of Social Work program involves online coursework and in-person supervised fieldwork.  Students concentrate in clinical social work and specialize in one of two areas: 1) children and families across the lifespan; or 2) mental health and substance use.

The MSW program prepares students for advanced clinical social work practice is a range of settings.  The master’s program is designed to address the wide range of skills and functions required of a professional social worker.  Upon successful program completion, students can sit for licensure to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Pennsylvania and other states. 

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission . Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies .

ADMISSIONS CRITERIA .  We seek students passionate about helping their communities and striving for economic and social justice.  Applicants must exhibit potential and professional capabilities essential for effective functioning in the graduate school environment.  Applicants must also have personal qualifications essential for effective social work practice, including sensitivity and responsiveness in relationships, concern for the needs of others, adaptability, good judgement, critical thinking, creativity, integrity, and skill in oral and written communications.

An applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree with a broad liberal arts foundation from an accredited college or university
  • A minimum average of a B (3.0 GPA on a 4 point scale) in all undergraduate work
  • No admissions test (e.g., GRE) are required for admission.  

Consistent with the Council for Social Work Education’s Educational Policies and Accreditation Standards, the Penn State World Campus MSW program does not grant course credit, transfer credit, or exemptions for prior life, volunteer, or employment experience.

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. English proficiency test scores (TOEFL/IELTS) may be required for international applicants. See GCAC-305 Admission Requirements for International Students for more information.

Advanced Standing

Students who have received a social work degree (BSW) within the past five years and have a minimum 3.25 GPA  from a Council for Social Work Education accredited undergraduate program are eligible for advanced standing.  Students who are granted advanced standing during the admissions process can receive credit for the generalist courses offered during Year 1 of full-time study.  The number of advanced credits granted depends on the comparability of the student’s undergraduate courses to the Penn State World Campus MSW program’s courses and on the grades earned in those undergraduate course (i.e., must be a B grade or higher).

In addition, students entering with advanced standing can receive six (6) field education credits.  The six credits of field education are granted based on the number of hours of field experience completed at the undergraduate level, provided that the undergraduate social work practicum totals a minimum of 400 hours and the student achieved at least a B grade.

Application Components

  • A completed Graduate School online application form with the application fee
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended
  • Resume or CV
  • Goal Statement
  • Letters of Reference

Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies .

Students must receive a minimum of a B grade in all courses and field work. Required courses are:

MSW 800A , MSW 800B , MSW 800C may be taken in series to fulfill this requirement on a part-time basis.

MSW 801A , MSW 801B , MSW 801C may be taken in series to fulfill this requirement on a part-time basis.

MSW 802A , MSW 802B , MSW 802C may be taken in series to fulfill this requirement on a part-time basis.

MSW 894A , MSW 894B , MSW 894C may be taken in series to fulfill this requirement on a part-time basis.

MSW 894 represents the capstone project necessary for graduation.  Students identify an issue or problem in the field site agency, analyze the issue, and develop a solution/recommendation.  Students will present their capstone project in an oral presentation as well as submit an executive summary.

A graduate minor is available in any approved graduate major or dual-title program. The default requirements for a graduate minor are stated in Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies and GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies , depending on the type of degree the student is pursuing:

  • GCAC-611 Minor - Research Doctorate
  • GCAC-641 Minor - Research Master's
  • GCAC-709 Minor - Professional Doctorate
  • GCAC-741 Minor - Professional Master's

Student Aid

World Campus students in graduate degree programs may be eligible for financial aid. Refer to the Tuition and Financial Aid section of the World Campus website for more information.

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Social Work (MSW) Course List

Learning Outcomes

  • KNOW: Demonstrate knowledge of clinical social work practice theories and techniques and apply them to clinical social work practice.
  • APPLY/CREATE: Apply trauma-informed intervention techniques to clinical social work practice.
  • THINK: Demonstrate knowledge of DSM criteria and apply that knowledge to diagnosis and treatment.
  • PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE: Understand and apply the ethical standards of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) to professional practice.
  • COMMUNICATE: Identify the unique strengths and challenges of working in rural versus urban environments and apply to clinical social work practice.

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Master of Theology

Build on your MDiv, MTS, or other approved theological degrees and engage deeply with your faith. The Master of Theology (ThM) is an advanced degree that gives you insights into a focused area of study and lays a strong foundation for future doctoral studies or a lifetime of spiritual learning and practice.

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At a glance.

January 15 – Final deadline – merit scholarship applicants, international applicants

April 15 – Final deadline – US citizens and residents

Is the Master of Theology for Me?

  • Already have an MDiv, MTS, or other theological graduate degree?
  • Want to immerse yourself in a focused area of study?
  • Feel called to prepare for advanced research and scholarship?

Building on the foundation of your previous theological graduate work, the ThM degree program deepens your intellectual engagement with your chosen area of interest and sharpens your research and scholarship skills. Whether you plan to pursue a career in research, ministry, or another field, you develop advanced competency to support a lifetime of learning and service.

What You’ll Study

As a ThM student, focus your coursework on one of five specializations, creating a program of study in consultation with your faculty advisor. A faculty advisor may approve you to take classes in other areas, but your primary focus is on your chosen specialization. In general, introductory-level courses do not count toward the ThM degree.

What You’ll Do

Choosing a specialization to match your specific career goals, you may dive into topics such as Biblical theology and history of religion to pastoral care and traditions of Christian worship. In addition to your coursework, you have the option of completing a thesis with the approval and support of an advisor.

Throughout your experience, you encounter a variety of theological voices and perspectives on campus and in the community. Coursework emphasizes the development of your own individual spiritual life and goals while preparing you with the leadership skills and academic preparation you need to thrive.

ThM Program Details

Specializations.

Choose an area of study from five specializations:

  • Biblical Studies
  • History and Ecumenics
  • Practical Theology*
  • Religion and Society

*To specialize in Practical Theology, you must have an MDiv degree.

Curriculum Components

The ThM degree program requires you to complete 24 credits of courses in your chosen specialization, although you may be able to take courses in other topics with your advisor’s approval. You may also fulfill three or six credits with an optional thesis.

Sample Courses

  • Reformed Theologies and Public Life
  • Pastoral Care and the Life Cycle
  • Holy Scripture and Modern Criticism
  • Philosophies of Practical Reason

Application Requirements

To qualify for admission, you need to have:

  • An undergraduate degree (typically a BA or BS) from a school accredited by one of the accrediting agencies recognized by our faculty
  • A Master of Divinity degree or first graduate theological degree providing equivalent theological background, such as the MTS from an approved institution, and evidence of aptitude for advanced theological study (the MDiv degree is required for admission to the specialization in Practical Theology)

To apply, please submit the following:

  • A completed admissions application
  • Unofficial transcripts from all postsecondary institutions previously attended
  • Three letters of recommendation: one pastoral endorsement, one academic, and one additional
  • Academic writing sample
  • Application fee of $50

Outcomes with a Master of Theology Degree

The Master of Theology degree program provides opportunities to specialize a professional pathway, shape advanced research skills, deepen spiritual practices, and engage the theological disciplines with uncommon depth through a rigorous curriculum. Complete the ThM program poised to pursue PhD studies or advance your career.

Many of our graduates go on to lead traditional congregations, while others lead new forms of ministry in the nonprofit sector, entrepreneurial space, and other vocations, such as education and government. Still others influence and inspire the next generation of church leaders by teaching and serving at institutions around the world.

In Their Own Words

Ben Immanuel,

Ben Immanuel

Take the next step beyond your first graduate theological degree and pursue advanced research in your chosen area of specialization. Request more information about the Master of Theology degree, schedule a visit, or apply today.

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Canada to introduce new rules around off-campus work hours for international students

From: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

News release

International students enrich Canada’s social, cultural and economic fabric. That is why, in recent months, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has introduced reforms to the International Students Program, to ensure system integrity while protecting students from fraud and financial vulnerability.

April 29, 2024—Ottawa— International students enrich Canada’s social, cultural and economic fabric. That is why, in recent months, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has introduced reforms to the International Student Program, to ensure system integrity while protecting students from fraud and financial vulnerability.

The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced today that the temporary policy allowing students to work more than 20 hours per week off campus will come to an end on April 30, 2024, and it will not be extended. This fall, we intend to change the number of hours students may work off campus per week to 24 hours.

Students who come to Canada must be here to study. As such, allowing students to work up to 24 hours per week will ensure they focus primarily on their studies, while having the option to work, if necessary.

As we head into the summer session, students who have a scheduled academic break can continue working unlimited hours.

In developing this change, we looked at the needs of students, policies in other countries, as well as research that has shown that academic outcomes suffer the more a student works while studying. It also strikes the appropriate balance so students have the option to work without compromising academic outcomes. More details will be shared in due course.

We also continue to develop the new Recognized Institutions Framework to reward post­secondary institutions that set high standards for selecting, supporting and retaining international students. We will continue to support and protect international students from financial vulnerability and keep protecting the integrity of the International Student Program.

“Working off campus helps international students gain work experience and offset some of their expenses. As international students arrive in Canada, we want them to be prepared for life here and have the support they need to succeed. However, first and foremost, people coming to Canada as students must be here to study, not work. We will continue working to protect the integrity of our student program.” – The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Quick facts

Recent studies conducted in the US and Canada have shown that there is a considerable decline in academic performance for students working more than 28 hours per week, and that working more than 24 hours per week increases the chances that a student will drop out of their program.

Most countries that welcome international students set limits on the number of hours they may work while they study. Australia recently changed its policy to allow a student to work 48 hours every 2 weeks. In the US, students must meet additional criteria before being permitted to work off campus at all.

In December 2023, the Government of Canada raised the cost-of-living threshold that students must meet to be approved for a study permit so they are financially prepared for life in Canada and are not as dependent on working.

International students who begin a college program delivered through a public-private curriculum licensing arrangement on or after May 15, 2024, will not be eligible for a post-graduation work permit when they graduate. Those who already started this type of program prior to May 15, 2024, will still be able to access a post-graduation work permit, provided they meet all other criteria .

The new letter of acceptance (LOA) verification process has been a success. Since its launch on December 1, 2023, through April 1, 2024, IRCC has

  •  received almost 162,000 LOAs for verification
  • confirmed nearly 142,000 LOAs as valid directly with designated learning institutions (DLIs)
  • identified almost 9,000 LOAs that didn’t match any LOA issued by a DLI or that the DLI had already cancelled before the foreign national applied for a study permit

Associated links

  • Statement: Minister Miller issues statement on international student allocations for provinces and territories
  • Notice: Update on public-private college partnership programs for international students
  • Notice: Additional information about International Student Program reforms
  • News release: Canada to stabilize growth and decrease number of new study permits issued
  • News release: Revised requirements to better protect international students
  • News release: Changes to International Student Program aim to protect students
  • Website: Work off campus as an international student

Aissa Diop Director of Communications Minister’s Office Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada [email protected]

Media Relations Communications Sector Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 613-952-1650 [email protected]

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