Phd Programs in US Schools


Before we dive into details of phd programs , do you know what phd stand for ?

Phd :  Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy is the highest degree of education offered in the United States.  There is a PhD degree offered in all subject of studies.  For example, biology, chemistry, physics, philosophy, philosophy/law (combined PhD/JD), politics/law (combined PhD/JD), etc.  A more common dual degree is the MD/PhD which provide training in both medicine and research.  These programs are designed for those who want to become research physicians, or physician-scientists.  A MD/PhD graduate normally goes on to become a faculty member at medical schools or research institutes.

Choosing a PhD program is very important because it requires a lot of interest, passion, and commitment on one specific subject.  The USA’s Board on Higher Education and Workforce has published studies and research on ranking of all PhD programs offered at universities around the nation. Click here for a quick glance of all universities that offer PhD programs, who also participated in the studies.

It is difficult to determine what universities are best to pursue a PhD program.  Rather, it makes more sense to pursue the top PhD programs based on your interests.  However, to give you rough idea of the top rated PhD programs in the US, here is a list of universities ranked by their research findings (normally measured by Federal research funding):

  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Columbia University
  • Stanford University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • University of of Pennsylvania
  • Duke University
  • University of California – Los Angeles
  • Yale University
  • University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  • Cornell University
  • University of Chicago
  • Boston College
  • Princeton University
  • Harvard University
  • Northwestern University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Brown University
  • Rice University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Tufts University
  • Emory University
  • University of Virginia
  • Georgetown University
  • College of William and Mary

Indeed, more popular and higher ranked universities are more selective of their candidates.  Next post, we will be talking about PhD application application.

Difference between Phd and Masters

When it comes to higher education, one of the most popular debates is on whether you should pursue a PhD or a Master’s degree.  First off, let us help you dissect and understand what and how each degree is like, before deciding which to apply for.  Both degrees are huge commitments, so it’s important to consider different factors.

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The fundamental differences between a PhD and a Master’s degree are:




Career objectiveAcademic and research careerTraditional professional career
Length of study5-6 years full time1-2 years full time, or longer part time
CostsFull scholarships and a living stipendPossible scholarships but do not come with admission automatically
StyleIndependent work, research including writing and readingMore group work, projects, cases, problems
Path to obtain the degree
  • First three years you take core courses to fulfill degree requirements
  • Choose an academic advisors
  • Write a dissertation proposal / thesis
  • Work as research or teaching assistant
  • At the end of the second of third year, PhD students complete a thesis, take comprehensive exams, or both
  • From year four through six, you take fewer to no courses and focus on writing your dissertation.  You are required to present and your thesis in front of a faculty committee.  You will be given a chance to revise your dissertation if need be.
  • First year Master’s students take core courses to fulfill degree requirements and choose their specific concentrations, or electives, during the second year
  • May or may not have to complete a thesis
  • Has option to continue towards a PhD program

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