How Long does it Take to Get a PhD?

A doctorate program usually takes about four to eight years. Starting a doctoral program is like embarking on an intellectual journey.

This research reveals every detail of a PhD, starting from the first level and concluding with a successful dissertation defense. Join me as we reveal the time requirement and the different ways to achieve academic success.

Learn more about how long it takes to get a doctorate degree, as well as the courses and exams required.

How Long Does a PhD Take?

Regardless of the subject of study, earning a doctorate degree, also known as a Doctor of Philosophy, entails a series of tasks that typically take 5–6 years to complete.

However, many students take longer; according to some estimates, the average time to complete a doctorate degree is now 8.2 years.

Students must first spend several years taking advanced courses in their field and passing a series of comprehensive exams.

Following this, PhD students must complete a dissertation project, which can take several months to complete.

Degree LevelsDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Field(s) of StudyVaries by institution
PrerequisitesMaster’s degree (some programs will accept a bachelor’s degree)
Program FormatCoursework; comprehensive exams; dissertation and defense
Program Length2–3 years for coursework and exams, followed by at least 2-3 years dissertation work

PhD Course Length

Full-time doctoral candidates typically take advanced courses during their first 2–3 years of study.

The number of course credits required to get a PhD may vary widely, depending on the university’s semester or quarter schedule and the doctoral program.

For example, the University of Akron requires 36 semester-hour credits to earn a PhD in Polymer Science, whereas DePaul University mandates 60 quarter-hour credits for a PhD in Computer and Information Sciences, meaning that PhD program length can vary even at the level of course work.

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Enrollment status also plays a large role in the PhD duration. Universities offering PhD programs typically require doctoral students to take nearly all of their courses in a specific discipline.

For example, doctoral candidates in speech pathology may be able to take electives like anatomy, and students pursuing a doctorate in psychology might have the option to choose electives such as psychotherapy.

The length of a PhD will also depend on whether the candidate is studying full-time or doing their course work while also working.

The latter is increasingly common, which can add to a PhD. duration significantly.

Factors Influencing Doctorate Degree Program Length

These are the major factors that delay the completion of a PhD program:

Exams in the PhD Program

Doctoral students periodically take a series of exams until they complete their PhD program.

During the first year of doctorate degree studies, candidates typically take a comprehensive exam to gauge their knowledge in a chosen field of study.

Additionally, students take a candidacy exam to test their general knowledge of a specific PhD discipline.

How many years for doctorate degree exams to continue also varies by program; some courses complete their examinations 2 or 3 years into the program, while others continue the tests throughout the degree.

School departments typically create the exams, but some allow students to choose the specific subjects within a discipline that the test will cover.

The Dissertation

PhD’s students must research and write a dissertation after completing coursework. A dissertation is a book-like document that demonstrates thorough knowledge of a discipline and contributes new research to the field.

This is the most time-consuming aspect of the doctorate degree program. As many as you need to finish your dissertation.

Before receiving their degree, candidates must defend the dissertation’s assertions in front of a faculty committee.

Finally, earning a doctorate takes at least 5–6 years to complete, with 2–3 years of coursework and qualifying exams followed by a number of years to complete a dissertation.

CSN Team.

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