The Right PhD Programs Will Help You Shine
Completion of one of the many PhD programs available today represents the ultimate academic achievement. A PhD degree is a summit of knowledge from which a vast plain of possibilities comes into view. Less than 1 percent of the population ever earns a PhD, so it’s no wonder society shows respect for this achievement by addressing the degree holder as “Doctor.”
To earn a PhD, one must accomplish two things. First, one must master a specific subject completely. Second, one must extend the available body of knowledge about that subject. At PhD.com, we’ve gathered information on some of the top programs available to working professionals across the country. Whether you’re looking for a program in medicine, psychology, business or some other subject, we’ve got the tools you need to reach the top.
The application process to enter PhD programs varies from university to university. Many programs require applicants to take an entrance exam, write a personal essay, and submit recommendations from former professors or employers, in addition to completing an application form to be considered for admission. Experts recommend that you thoroughly research the schools that you plan to apply to prior to beginning the application process. Learning as much as you can about the schools you hope to attend should not only help you gain admission, but also increase your chances of ultimately getting your degree. And anything that can increase those chances should be welcome, as obtaining a PhD degree can be quite challenging — to date, more than 50 percent of all students seeking PhDs never graduate.
What to Research
The questions you ask about the PhD programs you are interested in will depend on your particular needs and goals. For instance, if you are interested in becoming an academic or scientific researcher, you may want to ask a school’s admission’s officer about courses, research opportunities and employment obtained by recent graduates. You might also ask about innovative research conducted by faculty and students. It is also a good idea to evaluate the quality of the professors employed by the program in terms of their educational background and work history. Other things to consider include the following:
- Major field of interest
- Research facilities/laboratories, technical resources, library holdings
- Total cost of attendance
- Financial aid
Consider PhD Programs That Offer Teaching Opportunities
In making your decision about whether or not to choose a particular PhD program, if you are interested in ultimately becoming a university professor, you should consider if the program offers a teaching practicum as part of its curriculum. As competition for university teaching jobs is very keen, a teaching practicum can prove invaluable in that it can provide you with the opportunity to gain work experience, which can help you land a job after graduation.
In order to ensure that your PhD degree is valid and recognized by future employers, you must be certain that the school you attend is accredited by either a state or national accreditation board. Without such accreditation you may not be able to get a job after graduation. Experts suggest that you thoroughly check on the accreditation of the PhD programs of any schools you are interested in. Ask the schools’ admissions officers for information about the institutions’ accreditation records.
Fields of Study
Thousands of students are enrolled in PhD programs in the U.S. and around the world. The most popular fields of study for PhD students are Counselor Education and Supervision, Education, Health Services and Human Services. Many students also seek PhD degrees in the following academic fields:
- Molecular/Cellular Biology
Students Must Consider Career Goals
In order to select the right PhD program you must determine your career goals. It would be unwise to enter a PhD program that does not provide you with the training necessary to pursue your chosen career path. If your goal is to become a high school administrator, for example, you should select a school that offers a PhD in Education. If you plan to conduct medical and scientific research, a PhD program in Chemistry or Molecular/Cellular Biology would be the right course of study for you.
Students who graduate from PhD programs are hired to fill a diverse range of public- and private-sector jobs. Many grade school and high school teachers obtain a PhD degree so they are able to obtain more lucrative principal and vice principal positions in school districts. Universities employ PhD students to teach and conduct research. Psychologists, sociologists and geologists are hired by federal, state and local government agencies to perform psychological exams, sociological research and geological studies, respectively. As part of your pre-application research, it is a good idea to find out which companies and government agencies have hired graduates of your chosen PhD program.
A PhD program is an excellent training ground for gaining advanced knowledge and skills in your area of expertise. A PhD degree can help you earn a job promotion, seek new employment opportunities, and enhance your professional credibility. Before applying to PhD programs, however, you should thoroughly research and evaluate different schools’ programs to aid you in selecting the right one for your needs. Choosing the wrong program could cost you money and lost time. But if you choose wisely from the vast selection of available PhD programs, you can ensure that you end up graduating and ultimately landing the job you want.