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What is a Ph.D.?

  10-Dec-2014  |   Post By: Ph.D.online

About Ph.D

A Ph.D. is short for a Doctor of Philosophy and is the most common type of doctorate degree in the U.S. Most doctorate degrees like the Ph.D. are referred to as terminal degrees, which mean that it is the highest level of education that can be attained in a field of study. Therefore, the best Ph.D. programs are usually highly competitive.

Although only certain disciplines award a Doctor of Philosophy, most do have doctoral degree program. Although the PhD is only 1 kind of doctorate degree, the 2 terms are often used interchangeably in the academic sphere since the Ph.D. is by far the most common type of doctoral degree.

In most cases, Ph.D.s prepare students to conduct research and analysis and to possibly teach at the college level. Other doctorate level degrees place less emphasis on research and more on the practical use of existing research and knowledge.

The total number of Ph.D.s recorded for the last 10 years was 45,561. The number of students who enter at the doctoral education level is quite low (only 0.25 of the total number who enrolled at the graduate level enrol at the PhD level). Further the completion rate of Ph.D. in India is only about 50 percent. With respect to gender, of the total number of Ph.D.s awarded, 66.4 per cent of the PhDs (i.e. 30,264) has been obtained by men, and only 33.6 per cent of the Ph.D.s (15,297) has been obtained by women. The percentage of women’s enrolments in higher education drops from 40 percent at the graduate level and 42 percent at the post-graduate level to 38 percent at the Research level.

Source: National Institute of Advanced Studies (2013)


Why earn a PhD?

There are several reasons why you should consider enrolling in a Ph.D. program, but your career choice is often the most important. If you are interested in teaching at the college level, almost all traditional 4-year colleges and universities require you to have a Ph.D. in the field in which you wish to teach. Most students who earn a Ph.D. in liberal arts disciplines like literature, history and philosophy become professors after they graduate. This is not the only career path open to you if you have a Ph.D. in liberal arts. However, it is by far the most common.

If you decide to earn a Ph.D. in a field outside the liberal arts like mathematics or the natural sciences, you may find that you may have more career options after you graduate. Ph.D. graduates from math, physics, chemistry, geology and biology programs often find jobs with government agencies or private companies as well as research and teaching positions at colleges and universities.

Doctoral degrees significantly improve your chances of finding employment and can often raise your level of income

However, you should be aware that Ph.D.s and professional degrees require a large investment of time, energy and sometimes money. In general, most Ph.D. programs in India  last between 2.5 and 4 years, although some professional degrees like law degrees can be earned in less time. In many programs, Ph.D. students must not only take classes, research and work on their dissertation but also teach classes for undergraduates.

Pros and Cons of a Ph.D.?

The pros and cons of earning a Ph.D. most likely depend on your reasons for earning the degree as well as your personal preferences.


Higher Income and Lower Unemployment: With a Ph.D. from an accredited university, you are far more likely to find a job than people at other education levels. And as an expert in your field, you will also likely to earn better pay for your knowledge and skills. A Ph.D. does not necessarily guarantee higher income and full-time employment, but it can greatly improve your chances of having both.

Prestige and Recognition: Prestigious professions like physician, attorney and professor all require you to earn a doctorate degree. Ph.D. programs are competitive, rigorous and time-consuming, and people who earn PhDs are usually recognized as experts in their field of study.


Cost: Some Ph.D. students are able to pay for their studies with federal and private grants, fellowships and teaching and research assistantships. However, not all students are able to find this kind of funding and must instead take out student loans to pay for their degree. Although there is no fixed price for a Ph.D. education, 2.5 to 4 years of graduate study have a huge difference in fees when charged by government institutions and those by in the private sector. A Ph.D. in humanities will cost Rs. 10,000-20,000 per year at a government institution but will cost Rs. 50,000-100,000 per year at private universities. In case of science and technology subjects, fees may be higher. Government scholarships like UGC-JRF are available to scholars in both the government and private institutions.

 Not Everyone Finishes Their PhD: Most Ph.D. programs will take you between 2.5 and 4years to complete and require you to complete a significant research project or dissertation. Given the pressures of academia, some Ph.D. candidates choose to drop out of their programs once they earn their masters degrees. There is nothing wrong with deciding that a Ph.D. is not right for you, but this decision can often limit your career prospective.