What Is PhD Program & How You Can Pursue?


Do you have an enormous love for any of the subjects like literature, physics, astronomy, etc? Are you curious to know how to pursue a PhD.?

Have you ever thought of pursuing a PhD. in any of them?

Do you think that the Ph.D. is only for geniuses?

Or a Ph.D. holder can be only an academician?

Is there a lack of career counseling platform to answer your queries and help you to make a career?

If yes, you are on the right page, my friend. We will take you through what a Ph.D. program is all about and how to pursue a Ph.D. So tighten your seat belts and go through the article to clear your doubts.

So what is Ph.D.?

Even the full title ‘Doctor of Philosophy’ is mysterious. Do you become a doctor after Ph.D.- YES, but not that type of doctor. Do you have to study philosophy- NO, unless you are pursuing a PhD. in philosophy.

It involves an enormous amount of study, research and guidance and hence to make a career you need a career counseling platform to resolve your queries and apprehensions.

To sum it all up, a Ph.D.

  • Is an advanced postgraduate degree involving three or more years of independent research on an original topic?
  • Is carried out with the support of one or more expert academic supervisors.
  • Results in a thesis that offers a significant original contribution to knowledge.
  • Confers the title ‘Doctor’ upon successful candidates.
  • It is the highest academic degree a student can achieve

What does it come to your mind when you think of a Ph. D. holder?

  • An academician
  • A professor
  • A researcher
  • A scientist

Nonetheless, a person with enormous in-depth knowledge about a subject. While writing this piece, I recall an incident of one of my train journeys when I met a person pursuing a Ph.D. in physics from the USA. This conversation will give you insights on how to pursue a Ph.D. The conversation goes like this:

I: Hey you are coming back from the USA, what do you do there?

sh: I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Physics from Pennsylvania

I: Ohh wow! Physics, that’s amazing. (With a sheepish smile since I am bad at physics)

And we had a whole big conversation about his journey of being a physicist. How he found the subject very interesting when he studied it for the first time, his passion to pursue the subject as his career and obtaining a ‘Master of Science’ in Physics from IISER. How his love and passion for physics and appropriate career counseling from his professor has motivated him to pursue a Ph.D. and helped him to know how to pursue a Ph.D.

The conversation was a one to remember and I understood that pursuing a Ph.D. is a lot about perseverance, passion, determination, and dedication. You need to spend years of your life researching on a topic/subject/project.

A Ph.D. is a pure research degree. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be locked up in a laboratory or library. The modernized Ph.D. is a diversified and varied career, a qualification with many different components that help you make a career and be at the topmost level of academicians.

A typical Ph.D. normally involves

⇒ Carrying out a literature review

You will be carrying out a literature review and survey and evaluating existing scholarships. This will help you situate your research and ensure that it is original. This could include designing and implementing experiments or reading a lot from primary sources to gather results.

⇒ Producing a thesis that presents your conclusions

This is where you will do your core research. The process will vary from field to field but will mainly focus on getting results from experiments. As your research develops, so will the thesis (or argument) you base upon it.

Career counseling by your supervisor plays an important role here to give a strong base to your thesis. He is an expert in the field and is your mentor to keep your project on track.

⇒ Writing up your thesis and submitting it as a dissertation

This is about pulling all your results from the experiments together and converting the thesis to a dissertation. Your supervisor will be quite involved in this process and give you counseling.

They will read your final draft and let you know when they think your Ph.D. is ready for submission.

Defending your thesis in an oral viva voce exam

This is a formal discussion to defend your thesis involving at least one internal and external examiner.

Once you’ve cleared it, you have made your career and are all set to be called a doctor!

Fields to pursue a Ph.D. in

A Ph.D. can be secured in any fields broadly classified as follows:

  • Biological and medical sciences
  • Chemical Sciences
  • Physical sciences
  • Earth sciences
  • Engineering
  • Math and Computing
  • Humanities
  • Social science and Health
  • Business and Finance
  • Law
  • Art

Each of these domains has numerous fields inside them in which a Ph.D. can be pursued. It is all about what your interest is and what is the field in which you want to dedicate your time to research.

You can contact your professors, family, and friends for career counseling to help you decide your subject of specialization and make a career in that field.

Steps to follow to pursue PhD

1. Prerequisite education

Before you find the answer to the question” How to pursue a PhD.”, it is important that you complete graduation and have a master’s degree. Obtain a master’s degree in a broader field so that you can funnel it down to your very particular narrower field. For eg: If you want to pursue a PhD. in zoology, choose biology for your graduation so that you can funnel it down for specialization.

Eligibility also includes some pre-course work which includes different types of research methodologies. Few universities also offer combined courses that offer a joint Masters and Ph.D . program which can help you gain more knowledge and can lead to finishing the program earlier.

2. Be in good books of at least a few faculty members

They will give you the right career counseling platform to get your queries solved regarding the program to make your career.

Also to apply for Ph.D. to universities, a lot of letters of recommendation will be required. Such a letter from a faculty is given a lot of importance to get admission in the course.

3. Internship

Try to get an internship in the field of your interest. This will serve two purposes :

  • Validate your claim of interest as you will get on hands experience
  • Act positively to get admission to a university

4. Be well versed with your subject

Since Ph.D. is the highest level of education and pursued by academicians, be sure about your subject of interest as you will be spending years on it researching. If you don’t love the subject, there are high chances of you not succeeding in your work

5. Start preparing for the exams

To pursue a PhD. from the university of your choice, you need to first know which exam to give. The type of exam varies from university to university. Some universities accept GRE/GMAT score for Ph.D. applicants, Few have exams which are a special subject test for your area of interest.

Clearing these exams is the first stepping stone to your journey to be a Ph.D. holder. Some universities also invite direct applications rather than conducting an exam.

The written test is usually followed by an interview about your project for the university to understand more about it and whether you will complete it.

6. Keep your documents ready

Keep documents like Mark sheets, statement of purpose, letter of recommendations ready to send it to universities and avoid panic situations near the deadlines.

7. Wait

Wait for the acceptance of your application by the university and keep researching your subject.

Some Indian institutions to opt for

The choice of institution for a Ph.D. will highly depend on the area of your specialization. How to pursue a PhD. from the institution of your choice? – complete research on all the institutes and specializations they are known for is very important:

1. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)s for Engineering subjects

2. Indian Institute of Science(IISc) for science subjects

3. Indian statistical institute for statistics, research, sciences, and natural sciences

4. Chennai Mathematical Institute for mathematical sciences

5. Tata Institute of fundamental research

So should you pursue a Ph.D.?

Unfortunately, it’s not a question we can answer for you.

A Ph.D. is difficult and uniquely challenging. It requires at least three years of hard work and dedication. Although you will be building up an impressive set of skills, you won’t be directly progressing in a career.

Ph.D. is also immensely rewarding. It’s your chance to make a genuine contribution to the sum of human knowledge and produce work. Also, a Ph.D. is something to be incredibly proud of. Whatever you end up doing after your doctorate you’ll have an impressive qualification, and a title to match. We hope this article has helped you know how to pursue a Ph.D.

What’s more, non-academic careers and professions are increasingly recognizing the unique skills and experience a Ph.D. brings. Therefore, if you think you can do it, Go ahead. Make a career and become a Doctorate!


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