Doctor of Philosophy [PhD]
The Ph.D. requires 36 credits of academic courses and 36 research credits. A written doctoral thesis is required. The Ph.D. degree is usually done on a full time basis and requires four to five years. Part-time study is also possible, but this can take significantly longer and is highly dependent on the individual students circumstances. Most students studying for a Ph.D. are supported as a Graduate Assistant (GA), a Teaching Assistant (TA) or via a Fellowship during their studies. The financial support package varies depending on the exact mechanism. It typically includes payment of full tuition, medical insurance, and a stipend of around $32,000/year.
Completing the Ph.D. is a multi-step process that requires the candidate to pass a qualifying exam after a year of studying. The exam is offered in January and May of each year. It is designed to determine that the candidate has demonstrated the intellectual ability to complete a Ph.D. and is capable of conceiving, organizing, proposing, and conducting high quality independent research. All students who wish to proceed to a Ph.D. must pass the qualifying exam. It can be taken a maximum of two times.
After the qualifying exam a thesis proposal is given by the candidate to their Ph.D. thesis committee, typically after two years of study. The proposal is intended to determine the candidate’s ability to write a short document (20 pages) and make an oral presentation based on their research project. Of particular importance is demonstrating how their research will extend the existing knowledge in the field and how they propose to complete the research in the available timeframe. At this stage the candidate may receive an MS degree if the thesis proposal has been successful.
The Ph.D. culminates with a written doctoral thesis and the candidate doing a defense of their research to an audience of faculty and students. This is followed by a closed question and answer session with the Ph.D. thesis committee. Link to more details.