Phd Programs & Courses in USA Universities

studying_phd_in_the_usa_international_studentsWith many modern facilities, world class universities and good professors, most students prefer to pursue their Doctorate in Philosophy (Ph.D)/ doctoral degree & research work in the US. For the benefit of students who want to pursue their PhD from the US, we have listed down the general requirements that you need to keep in mind, while applying to Ph.D programs in US universities.

Application process for Ph.D in USA

While the application procedure for applying to a Ph.D program is same as that for a master's program, it is still tedious to get through the university of your choice. The process includes having a professor recommend you profile. You should keep in mind that your your area of interest should be in line with the professor’s field of research. The candidates for a PhD are considered only if the department is willing to fund them. So, you should highlight your strong areas, and should align them with those of the university.

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Also read: How to Apply for PhD in USA?

Apart from this, the other documents required for applying to a US university for a PhD program are mentioned below:

  • Your GRE (Graduate Record Examination), IELTS/TOEFL scorecards.
  • Your official transcripts, that mentions your academic record. The transcript is 'official' because, it is sent directly from your college or university to the graduate admissions office and it bears the official college or university stamp, signifying its validity.
  • Getting the reference letters from the professors, employers.
  • Preparing a statement of purpose that highlights your individuality, the purpose of choosing the particular field of research and a particular university.
  • A mention of your Research work/ paper (if any).
  • Resume, though not mandatory, must state the experience in the related field and the work experience if any.

List of Ph.D programs offered in the US

  • Machine Learning and Statistics
  • American Studies and Ethnicity
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Algorithms, Combinatory and Optimization
  • Bioengineering
  • Bioinformatics
  • Building Construction
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Computational Science and Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Design with concentration in Industrial Design
  • Human-Centered Computing
  • Management
  • Paper Science and Engineering
  • Robotics
  • Nursing Science Program
  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Classical Civilization
  • Environmental Engineering Sciences
  • Agriculture
  • Art History
  • Astronomy
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Biomechanics
  • Building Construction
  • Counseling Psychology
  • Criminology, Law and Society
  • Economics
  • Film and Media Studies
  • Genetics
  • Finance and Real Estate
  • Geography
  • Marketing
  • Mass Communication
  • Music Education
  • Philosophy
  • Public Policy and Administration
  • Romantics
  • Statistics
  • Accounting
  • Anthropology
  • Applied Physics
  • Botany
  • Zoology

Universities in the USA offering Best Ph.D programs

The parameter to look at while trying to decide the best university to pursue Ph.D in the US, is the level of research work being conducted and the amount of R&D funding being received by the university:

  1. John Hopkins University
  2. University of Michigan
  3. University of Wisconsin
  4. University of Washington
  5. University of California, San Diego

Click to see list of best universities in the US

Ph.D Curriculum in the US

The PhD programs in the US are quite rigorous. Research work in the US generally lasts for about 3 to 8 years (some finish it more quickly and some take longer). The time taken to complete different courses varies because of the differing nature of research between the courses, and because of varying difficulty of coursework, languages and length of thesis.

  1. In the US, quite a few departments (mostly Science) conduct a comprehensive examination in the first year of doctoral study. This exam tests a student's knowledge on a particular subject, from his past courses (bachelors and masters).

  2. Most doctoral students start with their master's thesis by the start of 2nd year. Master's thesis either consists of research culminating in a paper, presentation, and defense of their research.

  3. However, most programmes do not have a Master's thesis. These programmes primarily focus on workshops, assignments, practical and other such real-world experience.

  4. The 2nd and the 3rd year of doctoral studies require candidates to appear for exams. Some of these exams include Qualifying Exams (also called the Quals), General Exams and even PhD Candidacy Exams (also called the Candidacy). These exams test a candidate's grasp over the broad field of his choice and, also, Special Field Examination (also known as Specials), which test students in the subjects that they are primarily focusing on. These exams may be oral or written. In case the candidate has not studied the subject previously, the exam will be based on specific preparatory reading.

  5. The doctoral candidates, then, primarily focus on their research.


Funding for Ph.D

Many departments, especially those in which students have research responsibilities, offer substantial financial support in the form of tuition fee-waivers and stipends that pay for most expenses. At some universities, there may be fixed stipend established for all PhD students. The terms vary quite a bit, and may contain fellowships or scholarships. Due to promotion of research related activities and pressure from students, the stipends have been increasing in most universities.

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