Doctors of Philosophy

PhDs in the USA take four years to complete, giving you room to develop your academic interests and develop your professional capabilities as an academic and a researcher. There are no pure research degrees in the USA.

Unlike the UK, it is not usually a requirement in the for PhD entry in the US to complete a master's degree first. Students interested in PhDs typically apply to PhD programmes, and are required to take taught classes in their first two years.

Some PhD programmes will award a master's degree en route to PhD candidacy.

There will be core requirements in terms of the classes you have to take in the first two years, with some room for flexibility inside and/or outside of your department.

Some PhD programmes (especially in the humanities) require candidates to become proficient in another language, and most have professional development requirements such as:

  • Teaching undergraduate classes
  • Presenting at conferences
  • Co-authoring academic papers with faculty

If you have already completed a master's degree, you might be able to transfer some credit and not be required to take the full amount of classes in the first two years. This depends on how much your master's degree curriculum matches to the PhD programme's core requirements.