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How Long Can a Doctorate Last ?

Getting your PhD is a serious commitment. Depending on your area of professional focus, the program may require you to complete between 60 and 120 credits.

But keep in mind that it takes longer to obtain these credits than the credits you earned as a college student. The typical doctoral program will generally take between five and eight years to complete.

Most PHD or doctoral courses take a minimum of three years of full-time study, although some may take longer, depending on the subject. You will usually spend the first few years planning and researching your dissertation, and will write it in your final year.

The First Year of a Doctorate

The beginning of a doctorate is about finding your feet as a researcher and getting a solid foundation in the current scholarship that relates to your subject. You will have meetings with your supervisor and discuss a plan of action based on your research proposal.

The first step in this will likely be to conduct your literature review. With guidance from your supervisor, you will begin surveying and evaluating existing grants. This will help situate your research and ensure that your work is original.

The literature review will provide a logical starting point for beginning your own research and gathering results. This may involve designing and implementing experiments.

You should submit material from your literature review or a draft of your research results and discuss them with members of your department. You will then continue your research as a PhD student.

The Second Year of a PhD

Your second year will probably be when you do most of your primary research. The process for this will vary depending on your field, but your main focus will be on collecting results from experiments, archival research, surveys, or other means.

As your research develops, so will the thesis (or argument) on which it is based. You may even begin writing chapters or other pieces that will eventually become part of your dissertation.

You will still have regular meetings with your supervisor. They will check your progress, give you feedback on your ideas, and probably read any drafts of your product.

The second year is also an important stage in your development as an academic. You will be well versed in current research and have begun to collect some important data or develop your own knowledge. But you will not yet face the demanding and time-consuming task of completing your dissertation.

Therefore, this part of your PhD is a perfect time to think about presenting your work at academic conferences, gaining teaching experience, or perhaps even selecting some material for publication in an academic journal.

The Third Year of a PhD

The third year of a doctorate is sometimes called the writing phase. Traditionally, this is the final part of your doctorate, during which your main task will be to gather your results and refine your thesis into a dissertation. Actually, it’s not always as simple as that.

It’s not uncommon for senior doctoral students to continue adjusting experiments, collecting results, or pursuing a few additional sources. This is particularly likely if you spend part of your second year focusing on professional development.

In fact, some students actually take all or part of a fourth year to complete their dissertation. Whether you can do this will depend on the terms of your enrollment, and perhaps your doctoral funding. Eventually, however, you will be faced with writing your thesis and presenting your dissertation.

Your supervisor will be very involved in this process. They will read your final draft and let you know when they think your PhD is ready to be submitted. All that remains is your final oral examination. This is a formal discussion and defense of your thesis that involves at least one internal and external examiner. It is usually the only evaluation procedure for a doctorate.

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