Search PHD/Doctoral degree offered by 1300 accredited US universities

What does PHD stand for?

PHD is the doctorate degree in any field. Historically phd stood for Doctorate in Philosphy. There is an interesting theory about why phd is doctorate of philosophy. Previously around 1700s science did not exist. There was no physics and chemistry. It was called natural philosophy or philosophy. That's why when Newton's published his ground-breaking work, it was called "the principles of natural philosophy."

The Doctor of Philosophy is the highest degree of education offered in the United States. There is a PhD degree offered in all subjects 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 provides 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 a 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 a 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):

Indeed, more popular and higher ranked universities are more selective of their candidates.


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Engineering Technologies

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Human Development and Family Empowerment

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Library and Information Science

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Biology, Biomedical and Biological Sciences

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Applied Mathematics and Statistics

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Recreation, Fitness, and Leisure Activities

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Fine, Visual, Applied and Performing Arts

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Health Professions

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History Studies

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Can you get a PhD unrelated to your undergraduate or Master’s program?

The short answer is: it doesn’t matter but the devil is in the details.

In order to pursue a PHD degree, you need a bachelor's degree.  Some students have a Master’s degree, but this is not mandatory.  In terms of field of study, there will not be any university that tells you you can’t apply for a degree because your Bachelor’s degree is in an unrelated field.  However, that could be a disadvantage to you compared to other candidates, because graduate level by definition is an advanced level of something.  At the same time, it has become more common for people to pursue a different field for their Master’s to broaden their knowledge or to change career direction.

For PHD it may be harder to go from B.A. in Political Science to PHD in Economics but if you are able to prove your interest and connect the two fields using your work experience and transferable skills, you probably will be able to convince admission that you are a strong candidate that brings in a diversity of thinking.  Again, PHD is research, so if taking an internship or project in research is something that could help your case, you will have to do so.

Is work experience required for a PHD?

The short answer is: NO.

You want to be creative and do whatever you can to prove your case and why you are a good PHD candidate for the school.  Hypothetically, if you are suddenly hoping to change the direction of your career and have not done research at all in your life, that would raise a red flag to the admission office.  In that case, taking up a research analyst position or internship is a good idea, then you can relate that to show your interest in doing academic research.

Another example is if you want to study PHD in Economics, you should make sure your math is solid, especially if you did not study math or something quantitative in your Bachelor’s.  Depending on your motivation to pursue your PHD field, just be sure to make a linkage to your previous academic or professional experience.

Can I do phd without doing Masters or without a Graduate degree?

Sometimes students like to go for a phd right after completing their undergraduate or graduate degree for international students. The question is can you do a PHD without having a master's degree or a graduate degree? The short answer is yes you can do it but then it varies across various universities and programs.

When it comes to choosing between PHD and Masters, 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. It is not just about getting a degree. Either of those degrees will sail your career ship in a different direction

PHD programs that don’t require a master's degree include the Cognitive Science, Ph.D. offered by Brown University, and the Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. program offered by Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus.

What are the differences between a PHD and a Master’s degree?

A PHD and a Master's degree differ in several key aspects, including the level of specialization, duration of study, research requirements, and career implications.

Find the difference between a PHD and a Master’s degree program on our blog Phd Programs in US Schools 

How much does a Ph.D. cost?

At American universities, there are various scholarships specifically for the Ph.D. program. However, the average cost of a Ph.D. in the USA ranges from $28,000 to $55,000 per year, depending on the program, specialization, and university. For example, 

  1. The Department of Statistics and Data Science at Yale University offers a Ph.D. program in which students can study the fundamentals of statistical theory, probability theory, information theory, bioinformatics and genetics, classification, data mining, machine learning, neural nets, network science, optimization, statistical computing, and graphical models and methods. Ph.D. programs cost $44,500 annually and the total cost is $89,000.
  2. The University of Massachusetts-Boston offers a Ph.D. degree in information systems for data science and management. Data analytics has emerged as a key necessity in a variety of sectors, including marketing, government, and the healthcare and financial services industries. The University of Massachusetts Boston is providing a cutting-edge and adaptable Ph.D. program in this area by utilizing the faculty's capabilities in the College of Management. The overall cost is $72,970, with an average annual cost of $36,485. 

How to Apply for a PHD Program?

Like any typical graduate school application, a typical PHD application process involves a few steps.  Use this as a checklist because this is the most standard of a PHD application.  It is recommended that you double-check with the school(s) you are applying to.  If you are n international, the application is nothing different but you might have to provide the financial statement.  Be sure you indicate correctly your immigration status, and apply for the correct visa.  Often you will need to submit more, and not less, than the following list:

PHD Application Process and Checklist

  • Application form: This is normally in an online format. You will need to create an account with the school you have chosen.  This is where you will be uploading your personal statement, writing sample, and resume.
  • Personal Statement: This should consist of a 2-3 page statement describing your reasons for pursuing a doctoral degree, your educational objectives (or why you choose this field of study), and your future professional objectives.  Strategies to write a winning personal statement are ultimately showing your passion and interest in your chosen field.
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts of all previous colleges, both undergraduate and graduate courses.  GPA is super important to apply for a PHD.  In other words, as you are pursuing a degree in academics, presumingly, your past academic performance has to be proven excellent.
  • GRE Score: official score reports of the last five years should be requested by you to the specific school code(s).
  • TOEFL Score: official score report from the TOEFL, addressed to the specific school code(s). Required mostly from International applicants
  • Resume: Include all relevant employment, internships, volunteer experiences, community services, etc. The key here is relevant to your application, and your chosen field of study, following a logical sense of why this field of study interests you.
  • Writing Sample: A piece of writing to show your ability to think critically, and creatively, and communicate your thoughts in written words.  If you have publications, a master’s thesis, or papers, feel free to include them.
  • References (or Letter of Recommendation): Normally 3 of them, but depending on the school.  This is crucial for PhD application because a lot of candidates go from undergraduate and their lack of professional experience is compensated by academic performance and scholarly work recommended by their advisors or previous supervisors, preferably in research if you have done so in the past.  Though it’s not all the time true because there are Master’s degree holders or working professionals who pursue PHD as well.  In either case, you are becoming a PHD to do research and academic work, so you have to demonstrate your ability to do impactful research.
  • Application Fee: Remember this is non-refundable and can be paid online.

Strategies to have a winning PHD are a little different.  As mentioned before, the career objective and motivation to pursue a PHD are more research and academic-driven than professional or graduate school.  Be sure to indicate that clearly as a theme of your application.

The test required in your PHD application is the GRE test, which is the general test.  It has verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills that are not directly related to any specific field of study.  It is the baseline test that graduate schools require, for the Master’s or PhD level. It provides a standard way of scaling and comparing candidates to each other. 

There are computer-based and paper-based GRE General tests. It is advised that you plan to take the test ahead of time and spend enough time studying.

Are the GRE test scores required for PHD programs?

GRE Subject Tests are optional, or recommended, and are used to highlight your strengths in a specific field of study, such as Physics, Biology, or English; and you will choose the subject in which area of study you want to get your PHD in.  The GRE Subject Test cannot be used to replace the General Test. However, it can be used to supplement your undergraduate records, recommendation letters, etc. Some Subject Tests report subscores that can identify the strengths and weaknesses in an individual’s profile.  It is not common that any university will require this but they wouldn’t say no if you asked.  Whether taking this test or not depends on how strong you are as a candidate.  You may not submit your Subject Test score if you did not score well.

The Subject Tests are given as paper-based tests worldwide three times a year, in September, October, and April. 

Refer to this link to register:

What are the different types of PHD?

The doctorate research degree PHD (Doctor of Philosophy) represents the pinnacle of academic achievement. A PHD typically requires three to four years of full-time study. You'll carry out research for and write a thesis that adds something new to the field. Each discipline has a different variety of doctorates. While an applied doctorate is offered in some subjects, research-based doctorates are accessible in others.

Different doctoral degree types are as followed:

  1. Business Administration Doctorate (DBA): A highly respected professional doctorate in business and management is a doctor of business administration. Typically, it is the highest level of training that is offered in these professions. Programs often combine instruction on the processes and strategies required to conduct doctoral research in business and management with a discussion of advanced management principles and practices.
  2. Doctor of Education (EdD): The Doctor of Education (or Doctorate in Education) degree is intended for seasoned teachers and educational professionals and combines practice-based work with the chance to conduct your original research. These EdD programs are distinct from a PHD in Education that focuses solely on academic research by emphasizing the connections between educational practice. Candidates looking to advance into senior leadership or policy positions in the field of education offer the right qualification.
  3. Joint PHD and Cotutelle Programs: A joint PHD is a doctoral program that is granted in cooperation between two or more universities. These degrees, sometimes known as cotutelle PhDs, give students the chance to study at many universities while reaping the advantages of parallels between various research specialties at each institution.
  4. Programs for Integrated PHDs: A route into doctoral study for persons without a Master's degree or specializedṣ research expertise is an integrated PHD. They typically last four years and are made up of three years of PHD research followed by one year of Masters-level study.
  5. Ph.D. in engineering (EngD): A professional doctorate in engineering with a concentration on industry specialization is the Doctor of Engineering. The EngD has a sizable taught component, unlike a PHD You gain the technical and managerial abilities necessary to succeed in your future job as a result. Research engineers are people pursuing an EngD. Research engineers collaborate with a collaborating business and an academic advisor to finish an independent research project that addresses a current industrial challenge.

Is the financial aid for PHD programs different from that of other graduate programs?

Grants, work-study opportunities, and low-interest loans totaling $150 billion are given out annually by the US Department of Education. You must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for any type of federal aid. Your school should give you a package detailing the sorts of financial aid you are qualified for once you have finished this stage. Grants, fellowships, scholarships, assistantships, and loans will all be part of your package. Tuition and fees, books, accommodation and board, transportation, and computers can all be covered by grants. The US Department of Education provides the following government grants:

  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants

Online doctoral students are eligible for numerous types of financial aid, including institutional funding, federal student aid, private foundation funding, and funding from trade groups. Many Ph.D.  students also get help from their university in addition to federal funding. Tuition reimbursement and stipends are frequently included in graduate assistantships and fellowships. Doctoral students in these positions can assist professors with their research, mark papers or exams, or take part in research teams. Doctoral students can also apply for grants and fellowships from private foundations and professional groups.

Why must you get a doctoral degree? Is it worth getting a PHD degree?

A PHD  is undoubtedly valuable. With the research, knowledge, and experience you demonstrate in your research projects, regardless of the research or PHD degree you're pursuing, you can have an impact on the world. Benefits of doing a PHD program:

  1. Using Research to Change the World: Passion for research is one of the motivating factors for an expected PHD student. Researching something you're passionate about might provide you with happiness and satisfaction that are priceless. All the effort was worthwhile because of what you do with this research.
  2. Expand Career Possibilities: A research degree is ideal for you if you hope to work as an academic researcher or lecturer. With a PHD, you can pursue employment opportunities that you might not be able to with a bachelor's or master's degree. You can find your career doors in any industry, except for academia. Your PHD program will prepare you with all the abilities that businesses look for in career candidates.
  3. Cultivate transferable skills: While pursuing a PHD , you develop several transferable skills in addition to conducting research and writing your thesis. Learning abilities that will aid you in your career for the rest of your life is one of the key advantages of getting a PHD. You can present your work at academic conferences while taking the PHD course, and you'll also gain outstanding presentation and public speaking abilities. As a PHD candidate, you also develop teaching skills because you can instruct undergraduate students.
  4. Obtain Knowledge in the Selected Studying Field: A PHD signifies that you have developed proficiency in the chosen research area. By deciding on a more specialized PHD research topic of your choice, you can expand the information you earned during your master's degree. The best information is obtained through in-depth research on the subject. You can learn more about the topics and problems in the field, develop conceptual strategies, and apply those concepts through the research you perform with the help of a PHD. Decide on your area of specialization carefully because it will serve as the foundation for your entire PHD.
  5. Excellent Networking Possibilities: A PHD degree gives you a fantastic opportunity to network with professionals, academics, and fellow graduates who are passionate about the same area of research as you are. Additionally, by going to international conferences, you can make new contacts for your PHD. Networking with classmates and subject-matter experts helps you learn more, gain fresher viewpoints, and get academic support when you need it. Additionally, if necessary, ties with peers may benefit you in the future when looking for employment.

Can I get a PHD without a Master's Degree?

Yes, some PHD  programs accept applicants without a master's degree. The prerequisites of each program can differ greatly, though, so potential applicants should do their studies. For example,

1. University of South Florida- College of Nursing

A bachelor's through a doctoral degree program in nursing is offered at the University of South Florida College of Nursing in Tampa, Florida. Before enrollment, the student must complete the Graduate Record Examinations, hold a bachelor's degree in nursing from a recognized institution, and pass the admissions interview. Additionally, applicants must include a statement of intent, be certified vocational nurses in Florida, and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 at the bachelor's level. Only the fall semester of each year's enrollment is open to applicants for the B.S. to the Ph.D. program at the USF College of Nursing.

2. Purdue University- School of Nuclear Engineering

The direct Ph.D. program at the School of Nuclear Engineering at Purdue University, which is situated in West Lafayette, Indiana, is a B.S. to Ph.D. program.

To be accepted into the program, applicants must pass both an exam and an interview. The student's academic history and the advisor's endorsements are taken into account while determining admission to the program. Before the Ph.D. preliminary test, engineering students may submit a letter of intent to acquire a non-thesis Master of Science degree. Typically, preliminary exams are taken during the program's final two semesters.

How long does it take to get a PHD?

A number of variables, such as the subject of study, program requirements, individual advancement, and personal circumstances, can affect how long it takes to achieve a PHD. After earning a bachelor's degree, a Ph.D. typically requires 4-6 years of full-time study. It's crucial to remember that this is only a rough estimate, and the time needed may differ.

Conducting original research and advancing the field of study are key components of PHD programs. The complexity of the study topic, data collection, data processing, and the particular program requirements can all affect how long it takes to finish the research phase.

Are there fully-funded PHD programs?

Yes, there are many fully funded PHD programs offered by the top-ranked universities. Typically, students in fully-funded Ph.D. programs receive what are known as "tuition exemptions," which cover all university tuition and other associated costs. PHD Programs with full funding might provide more than just free tuition. Most programs that are fully supported also give stipends, and some universities also provide health insurance and research funding. 

Some of the fully funded programs include the PHD in Computer Science or Computer Engineering offered by Washington University in St LouisPh.D. in Chemical Engineering offered by University of Notre Dame, and the Psychology PHD program offered by Miami University-Oxford.