Top PhD Programs

PhD is the abbreviation for Doctor of Philosophy, and is usually awarded after completing extensive research in a specified field of study. This research must significantly contribute to the current knowledge base, and must be completed with a dissertation or thesis. Often the dissertation or thesis must be defended in front of a panel of experts in the field and only after successful defense, the degree of PhD is conferred. A PhD degree usually takes a minimum of 4 years to complete, but sometimes longer depending on the student, university, and program.

There are many universities and programs that offer top PhD programs internationally. Students wishing to continue their education have a wide range of top PhD programs options, which include doctoral programs in health professions, psychology, engineering, education, biological sciences, and biomedical sciences. There are top PhD programs in each country, so students considering a PhD have a number of countries to choose from.

Have a look at some of the top PhD programs listed below - you might find the top PhD program you are searching for!

News and Events

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Number of Later-in-Life PhD students rises

November 15, 2018

'Lifelong learning' is one of the biggest buzzwords in education right now. Recent news from both Canada and the US indicates people of all ages are eager to get in on the educational action, including more older students in pursuit of PhDs -- many of them without plans to work in their fields. Here…


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Humanities PhDs: It’s Good Now But It Gets Even Better

November 8, 2018

Humanities PhDs don’t always have the easiest path. In fact, between an extremely competitive job market and high student debt, life with a humanities doctorate has its fair share of obstacles. If you’re thinking of letting these obstacles deter you from graduate school, however, a survey by the…


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Is Author Gender Linked with Research Impact and Usefulness?

November 7, 2018

Gender disparities in academia have been widely discussed, with research suggesting that male researchers not only produce more papers every year, but are also more cited overall. Now comes news, however, that women -- while often under-represented in academia -- may actually have a greater educatio…


Newly added PhDs and DBAs

University of Kent, School of Engineering and Digital Arts

PhD in Electronic Engineering

November 14, 2018
The School of Engineering and Digital Arts offers research-led degrees in a wide range of research disciplines, related to Electronic, Control and Information Engineering, in a highly stimulating academic environment. The School enjoys an international reputation for its work and prides itself in allowing students the freedom to realise their maximum… [+] potential. [-]

Vienna Graduate School Of Finance

PhD in Finance

November 12, 2018
The Vienna Graduate School of Finance (VGSF) invites promising students with outstanding academic profiles to apply for our Ph.D. Program in Finance. VGSF is the result of cooperation between three institutions: The Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), the University of Vienna, and the WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business).

IMPRS for Molecular Life Sciences

PhD Life Sciences

November 12, 2018
The International Max Planck Research School for Molecular Life Sciences: From Biological Structures to Neural Circuits (IMPRS-LS) currently has an open call for fully funded Ph.D. student positions.

Articles

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Five Questions To Ask Yourself Before Taking Out A Loan for Your PhD

November 5, 2018

Can't get funding for that PhD you so desperately want? Should you take out a loan? Here's a rundown of the things to consider.


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Five Things to Do After Finishing Your PhD

October 22, 2018

Completing your PhD may be one of the biggest things you have achieved you your life to date. It is so all-encompassing, in fact, that you might find yourself wrestling with one surprising question when you are finally done: 'what do I do with myself now?' While you’ll eventually join the workfor...


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Six Reasons to Do a PhD -- Even If You Don’t Want to Work in Academia

October 8, 2018

When most people think of PhD studies, they think of the academic career track. However, this isn’t the only way to go. In fact, there are many great reasons to pursue this degree -- even if you have no plans to be a professor. Read on for a roundup of six benefits of getting a PhD beyond laying t...

What exactly is a PhD?

PhD is the abbreviation for “doctor of philosophy,” a phrase that understandably causes confusion. Like “arts,” this use of “philosophy” usually has nothing to do with studying the discipline of philosophy. The basic meaning of “doctor of philosophy” is that you have acquired the highest possible degree in your academic field. Highest degrees in any field are known as “terminal degrees.” Jobs may stipulate that you hold a terminal degree: this distinguishes the doctorate from the master’s degree, which is usually an intermediate degree, and thus commands less authority.

A degree with the word “doctor” in the title is also called a “doctorate.” You may know that universities often award “honorary doctorates”—this means the recipient has not completed a doctoral program, but has achieved something (like inventing something beneficial to society) that deserves to be honored. The opposite of an honorary doctorate is an “earned doctorate.” You see that phrase in job ads; its purpose is to indicate that if you have a merely honorary doctorate, you cannot apply.

There are many doctorates, and the PhD is one of them. Technically, the abbreviation ought to be written with periods: Ph.D. with the “h” in lower-case. However, countries have different terms and conventions, and plus, conventions change. Today, it is common to see the degree in all caps with no periods: PHD.

The PhD is one of the oldest doctorates, and bears the weight of tradition, history, and universal respect. PhDs are traditionally academic degrees, not professional certifications (not applied or vocational). However, this distinction is changing and blurring. Today, you can get a PhD in applied fields such as Management, Social Work, and Computer Science. You can also get a PhD in arts-related fields, such as Creative Writing, that formerly used the MFA as the terminal degree.

Benefits to having a PhD include prestige, the right to be viewed as an expert and authority, and the ability to apply for high-level jobs. The PhD signals advanced research skills and qualification to teach at the university level. Living in this age of information and technology, within a globalizing economy, means that the need for more education and specialization is much higher than in the past.

Completing a PhD can be immensely rewarding if you are a serious intellectual who passionately loves learning. Nevertheless, if you are considering getting a doctoral degree for personal satisfaction, you should weigh this decision very carefully. Entering a PhD program is difficult, and a very serious commitment. Admission is rigorous, and may or may not require you to already hold a master’s degree. Doctoral programs typically begin with coursework covering theory and methodology. Eventually, you take qualifying exams and perhaps also an oral exam. Some programs mandate fieldwork or supervised clinical experience, often several hundred hours. The culminating project is called a thesis or dissertation, which is a professional-level publishable project in your discipline. This project often begins with a formal proposal, takes years to complete, and ends with an oral defense before a committee.

PhD programs usually require at least three years to complete, and sometimes as many as nine. There is often a maximum time limit of 8-10 years. The reason they take so long is not so much the difficulty of the work, but rather, life often intervenes. Doctoral students are usually at a life stage when they are marrying, raising children and undergoing major personal events. Also, in some countries you will likely receive only small funding during your PhD, and need to earn on the side, which slows your ability to concentrate on your studies.

Funding for doctoral programs varies wildly depending on discipline and country. The ideal situation is to enter a program “fully funded,” which means the university waives your tuition and you receive either a living stipend and/or guaranteed employment, usually as a teaching or research assistant. Many scholarships or “fellowships” are also available; a scholarship is monetary, whereas a fellowship usually implies a job, like an internship, which forms an excellent foundation for your resultant career.

These days, you can complete your PhD online. An online doctoral program has some obvious advantages: you can access your courses on your own schedule, and balance your work and family life without having to commit to a class schedule or move to a faraway campus. Online degree programs are much cheaper for a university to offer, since they do not need to pay for building upkeep, physical facilities, and so forth; the savings are passed to students as lower costs.

Online degrees are gaining popularity and respectability. Some employers still consider an online PhD inferior to a traditional one, but others understand that the versatility of the internet is part of contemporary life. Online doctoral programs are no less rigorous than traditional ones (or at least, you should ensure they are not), and involve substantial interaction with professors and peers.

Top doctoral programs will have well designed career centers to help you seek a job, as well as excellent support during your student years. Another marker of a good program is the ease with which you can find a professor to act as your mentor.

A PhD will provide you advancement in your career, usually a hefty salary differential, and prestige. You should thoroughly research career prospects before you commit to a program: some fields, such as the humanities, are increasingly glutted with PhDs, making it near impossible to land a job at all, especially if you are seeking a job as a professor. Other fields are expanding. Logically, if a field is growing in its need for research, and is connected with powerful policy decision-making, then a PhD in that field will be an asset. PhDs in economics, finance, marketing, and development studies, just to name a few, are solid bets for future job and salary prospects.