Doctor of Philosophy
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Doctor of Philosophy, or Ph.D. (informally PhD), an abbreviation for the Latin "Philosophiæ Doctor"; alternatively, "Doctor philosophiæ", D.Phil. (from Greek Διδάκτωρ Φιλοσοφίας, meaning "Teacher of Philosophy"), is a doctoral degree granted upon completion of extensive academic work in a field of study. In medieval times, any research outside the fields of theology or medicine was called "philosophy", hence the Ph.D. degree covers a wide range of subjects. Contemporary Ph.D. degrees are awarded in nearly every field of the sciences and the humanities.
In most countries Ph.D. students traverse phases; in the first phase, students typically complete required courses and a preliminary or comprehensive examination and/or a series of cumulative examinations, the successful completion of which marks the beginning of the second phase, and entitles the student to refer to him or herself as a Ph.D. candidate. The principal task of the doctoral candidate is writing and defending a major, original contribution to his or her academic discipline—usually a written dissertation ranging in length, per the discipline, from 50 to 800 pages (10,000–200,000 words). Dissertations typically consist of (i) a comprehensive literature review, (ii) an outline of methodology, and (iii) several chapters of scientific, social, historical, philosophical, or literary analysis.
In most academic fields of research, a doctoral degree is practically essential for employment. In some fields, newly-graduated doctors of philosophy are unlikely to find work as tenure-track professors and are compelled to undertake one or more postdoctorate positions. However, in recent years, in light of large scale faculty retirement in North American universities and colleges, employment prospect for freshly minted Ph.D. graduates is improving substantially.
 History of the Ph.D.
The Ph.D. was originally a degree granted by a university to learned individuals who had achieved the approval of their peers and who had demonstrated a long and productive career in the field of philosophy. The appellation of "Doctor" (from Latin: doceo, docere: to teach) was usually awarded only when the individual was in middle age. It indicated a life dedicated to learning, to knowledge, and to the spread of knowledge.
The degree was popularised in the 19th century at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin as a degree to be granted to someone who had undertaken original research in the sciences or humanities. From there it spread to the United States, arriving at Yale University in 1861, to Canada in 1900, and then to the United Kingdom in 1921. This displaced the existing Doctor of Philosophy degree in some Universities; for instance, the D.Phil. (higher doctorate in the faculty of philosophy) at the University of St Andrews was discontinued and replaced with the Ph.D. (research doctorate). However, some UK universities such as Oxford, Buckingham and Sussex retain the D.Phil. abbreviation for their research degrees, as do some universities in New Zealand.
Admission to a Ph.D. program within Australia requires the prospective student to have completed a Bachelor's Degree with an Honors component. In most disciplines, Honors involves an extra year of study including a large research component in addition to coursework. To obtain a Ph.D. position, students must usually gain a First Class Honors, but may sometimes be admitted with a high Second Class Honors (known as a 2A, or Second Class Honors Division I).
In Australia, Ph.D. students are quite often offered a scholarship to study their Ph.D. The most common of these is the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship, which provides a living stipend to students of approximately AU$19,000 a year (tax free). Most universities also offer a similar scholarship that matches the APA amount, but are funded by the university. In recent years, with the tightening of research funding in Australia, these scholarships have become increasingly hard to obtain. In addition to the more common APA and University scholarships, Australian students also have other sources of funding in their Ph.D. These could include, but are not limited to, scholarships offered by schools, research centres and commercial enterprise. For the latter, the amount is determined between the university and the organisation, but is quite often set at the APA (Industry) rate, roughly AU$7,000 more than the usual APA rate. Australian students are often also able to tutor undergraduate classes (much like a teaching assistant in the USA) to generate income. An Australian Ph.D. scholarship is paid for a duration of 3 years, while a 6 month extension is usually possible upon citing delays out of the control of the student. Completion of a Ph.D. is results dependent, and often students are unable to finish during the tenure of the scholarship.
Ph.D. programs are available in most Brazilian public universities. Ordinarily, the candidate is required to have gained first a Master's degree in a related field prior to getting a Ph.D. degree. In a few cases however, some institutions may admit candidates who do not hold a Master's degree, based on their individual academic merit. A second and a third foreign language are also common requirements for those wishing to enroll on a Ph.D. program in Brazil. The process of admission varies by institution. Some require candidates to take several tests prior to admission to the program and others base admissions on a research proposal application and interview. However, in this second instance, the applicant must have a supervisor who will coordinate his or her research during the doctorate. After completion of the program, which normally lasts from 3 to 6 years, the candidate is commonly awarded with the degree of "Doutor" (Doctor) followed by the main area in which research were conducted, such as "Doutor em Direito" (Doctor of Laws), "Doutor em Ciências da Computação" (Doctor of Computer Sciences), "Doutor em Filosofia" (Doctor of Philosophy), "Doutor em Economia" (Doctor of Economics), etc.
Ph.D. candidates are supported by regional or national grants that can be applied for by the individual or by the institution (for CAPES funding), and the process is very competitive, supporting at maximum 2 years for Master's students and 4 years for Ph.D. students that do not hold Master's degrees, and 2-3 years for those who have already previously obtained a Master's. Usually the stipend in the Ph.D. program is between 510 USD and 1200 USD. In addition to this, all tuition and course fees are paid through the scholarship.
Admission to a Ph.D. programme at a Canadian university normally requires completion of a Master's degree in a related field, with sufficiently high grades (usually at least an A average, though this requirement may be substantially higher in some schools, departments, faculties or fields), and proven research ability. In exceptional cases, a student may progress directly from an Honours Bachelor's degree directly to a Ph.D.. The student must usually submit an application package including a research proposal, letters of reference, transcripts, and a sample of the student's writing.
At English-speaking universities, students may also be required to demonstrate English-language ability, usually via an acceptable score on a standard examination. Depending on the field, the student may also be required to demonstrate ability in one or more additional language(s). Prospective students applying to French-speaking universities may also have to demonstrate at least some English-language ability.
While some students work outside the university (or at student jobs within the university), in some programmes students are advised (or must agree) not to devote more than twelve hours per week to activities outside of their studies.
At some Canadian universities, most Ph.D. students receive an award equivalent to the tuition amount for the first four years (this is sometimes called a tuition deferral). Other sources of funding include teaching assistantships and research assistantships; at least some experience as a teaching assistant is encouraged in many programmes. Additionally, some programmes require all Ph.D. candidates to teach a class or classes, which may be done under the supervision of regular faculty.
Besides these sources of funding, there are also various scholarships, bursaries and awards available.
 Requirements for completion
In general, the first two years of study are devoted to completion of coursework and the comprehensive examinations. At this stage, the student is known as a "Ph.D. student." It is usually expected that the student will have completed most of his or her required coursework by the end of this stage, and is usually required that by the end of thirty-six months after the first registration, the student will have successfully completed the comprehensive exams.
Upon successful completion of the comprehensive exams, the student becomes known as a "Ph.D. candidate." From this stage on, the bulk of the student's time will be devoted to his or her own research, culminating in the completion of a Ph.D. "thesis," or "dissertation." The final requirement is for a public thesis defence.
At most Canadian universities, the minimum amount of time needed to complete a Ph.D. is two years, and the maximum is six.
Engineering schools students passed their "High school + 5 years" studies with a "diplôme d'ingénieur". University Students had to choose previously between a research career (DEA) and a practical one (DESS) in the determination of their "High school + 5 years" degree (BAC+5), both Equivalents to the Master's degree. The new european Bologne reform will mix these 3 diplomas into one Master's degree. Admission to a Ph.D. programme at a French university normally requires completion of one of these four diplomas in a related field, with sufficiently high grades. In exceptional cases, a student may progress directly from an Honours Bachelor's degree directly to a Ph.D.. The student must usually submit an application package including a research proposal, transcripts, and a sample of the student's writing, i.e. his/her license and masteres theses.
Foreign students may also be required to demonstrate French-language ability, usually via an acceptable score on a standard examination, as well for English.
Grants are usually defined for 3 years. There are different sources of grants and fellowships.
The main source is public, managed by the related universities. A high level of discrimination between topics and disciplines exists between social and technical sciences: a geography DEA preparation class receives only one 3-year scholarship for 60 candidates when a biomolecular science class receives one for 2 candidates. A private company funded program, the "CIFRE" was created for about 10 years. In this programme a company makes an agreement with a candidate for the 3-year Ph.D to be completed. It supports many management and technology Ph.D candidates. However, there is some controversy about the reliability of the results of such a thesis due to confidentiality problems.
While some students work outside the university (or at student jobs within the university), in some programmes students are advised (or must agree) not to devote more than twelve hours per week to activities outside of their studies. However, teaching assistantships are still not common in French universities.
Besides these sources of funding there are also various scholarships, bursaries and awards available.
 Requirements for completion
In general, there are no exams or qualifiers to pass during the three years of study. The final requirement is a public thesis defence. The minimum amount of time needed to complete a Ph.D. is two years, and the maximum is six.
 United Kingdom
Admission to a Ph.D. programme within the UK generally requires the prospective student to have completed an undergraduate Degree, either with First Class Honours or Upper Second Class Honours (known as a 2.1). A Masters degree is also highly desirable, which is seen to increase the primary degree by one classification, thus making it possible to gain admission with a Lower Second Class Honours Bachelor's Degree (known as a 2.2) and a Masters degree (e.g. MSc, MRes, MPhil).
In the UK, funding for Ph.D. students is often provided by government-funded Research Councils. The funding takes the form of a tax-free bursary which consists of tuition fees together with a stipend of around GBP12,300 per year for three years, whether or not the degree continues for longer. Research Council funding is typically allocated to an academic department which then allocate it to students, although restrictions as to the minimum acceptable qualifications are normally specified. In order to ensure that students receiving such funding use it appropriately, funding is provided to departments on the basis that future funding may be reduced should students fail to complete their degree within a given timescale. This means that departments have a strong incentive to ensure that funding is allocated only to students who are likely to finish the degree. Students at British universities may also take part in tutoring, work as research assistants, or (occasionally) deliver lectures, at a rate of typically GBP10 per hour, either to supplement existing income or as a sole means of funding.
Many students who are not in receipt of external funding may choose to undertake the degree part time, thus reducing the tuition fees, as well as creating free time in which to earn money for subsistance.
 United States
Admission to a Ph.D. program in the United States is highly competitive. At minimum, applicants are typically required to have a Bachelors Degree in a relevant field, reasonably high grades, several letters of recommendation, and a satisfactory performance on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Although specific requirements vary, programs at well-regarded research-oriented universities usually require significantly more of their applicants.
 Master's degree "in passing"
As applicants to many Ph.D. programs are not required to have Master's Degrees, many programs award a M.A. or M.S. degree "in passing." These degrees are awarded based on previously-completed work, but are not "terminal" degrees in that the recipient is expected to continue his or her education toward the Ph.D. Students who receive such Master's Degrees are usually required to complete a certain amount of coursework and a master's thesis.
Depending on the specific field of study, completion of a Ph.D. program usually takes between four and eight years after the Bachelors Degree; those students who begin a Ph.D. program with a Master's Degree may complete their Ph.D. a year or two sooner.<ref name="usdoe">"Research Doctorate Programmes", US Department of Education, Retrieved 6/18/06.</ref> As Ph.D. programs typically lack the formal structure of undergraduate education, there are significant individual differences in the time taken to complete the degree. Many US universities have set a 10-year limit for students in Ph.D. programs.
Doctoral students are usually discouraged from engaging in external employment during the course of their graduate training. As a result, Ph.D. students at U.S. universities typically receive a tuition waiver and some form of annual stipend. The source and amount of funding varies from field to field, and university to university. Many U.S. graduate students work as teaching assistants or research assistants while they are doctoral students, or obtain grants or fellowships from government research agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Many Ivy League and other well-endowed universities provide funding for the entire duration of the course, or for most of it.
 Comparative value
A Ph.D. does not confer commensurate advantage in every sphere. For example, many commercial organizations regard a professional Master's degree, such as an MBA, or professional designation, such as CPA, as the highest level of education that is desirable. Traditional views of the value of academic study in commerce are changing but skepticism about the commercial value of a Ph.D. prevails. Some departments in medical schools may offer research Ph.D. degrees although an M.D./M.B.B.S, not a Ph.D., is required to practice medicine.
Within the USA, the value of a Ph.D. degree is often the topic of scholarly debate and criticism, given its almost exclusive concern with research and publication and the alleged neglect of numerous other faculty responsibilities that include teaching, collegial evaluation, collective and individual curricular planning, etc . Solutions have been met with varying degrees of success. In the 1960s, the prestigious Carnegie Foundation helped promote and establish the Doctor of Arts degree as an alternative to the Ph.D. The D.A. degree, with its focus on content specialty, curriculum design, and pedagogy, was designed to help prepare expert teachers in various fields. Its well-defined disciplinary focus makes it different from the Ed.D. (Doctor of Education) while still embracing the Ed.D.'s concern for issues in education. The D.A. continues to be offered in many universities across the United States and in other countries, though a few D.A. programs have since been converted to the Ph.D. model. Still, the D.A. has many steadfast supporters. Other solutions include a re-thinking of the Ph.D. in order to address its perceived shortcomings.
In reality, however, a Ph.D. is required in almost all the top research and development jobs (at least in technical areas such as physics, mathematics, materials, engineering, numerical analysis, etc.) in high-ranking universities, and increasingly investment banks hiring for financial modelling (Quantitative analysts) and industry. It is also a requirement for almost all tenure-track university positions. It is unlikely that someone will head their own research group in the defense or private research sectors unless they possess a Ph.D. . Furthermore, a Ph.D. is a good way to make the transition from a masters project or undergraduate study to full-scale research.
While the Ph.D. is the most common doctoral degree in the United States, it is often misunderstood to be synonymous with the term "doctorate". The U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation recognize numerous doctoral degrees as "equivalent", and do not discriminate between them (e.g., Doctor of Arts (D.A.), Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.), Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), Doctor of Theology (Th.D.), Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.). See this list of equivalent doctorates).
In the United Kingdom and other countries of the world, Ph.D.s are distinguishable from other doctorates, most notably the so-called 'higher doctorates' such as (D.Litt.) Doctor of Letters or (D.Sc.) Doctor of Science, which are issued by a committee on the basis of a long record of research and publication. They are also distinct from professional doctorates such as those conferred in medicine, education, engineering and jurisprudence -- M.D., Ed.D., Eng.D., and D.Jur. (also known as J.D.). In most universities, professional doctorates involve coursework or a much smaller research component, so the Ph.D. is therefore understood formally to outrank them.
In German speaking countries, most Eastern European countries, the former Soviet Union, most parts of Africa, Asia, and many countries in Latin America the corresponding degree is simply called "Doctor" and is distinguished by subject area with a Latin suffix (e.g. "Dr.med." — doctor medicinæ — which is not equal to a M.D., "Dr.rer.nat" — doctor rerum naturalium (Doctor of Science), "Dr. phil." — doctor philosophiæ etc.).
 See also
- Doctorate - A general term describing a set of degrees equivalent to the Ph.D.
- Terminal degree - The highest degree awarded in a field, usually a Ph.D.
- Graduate student - A student pursuing education past the bachelor's degree, such as a Ph.D.
- C.Phil. (also ABD) - Unofficial term for graduate student who has completed all Ph.D. coursework, but has yet to defend his or her dissertation.
- Dottorato di ricerca - Italian equivalent of Ph.D.
- Kandidat - Degree awarded by USSR and post-Soviet states.
- Licentiate - Degree awarded in various countries, including Portugal, Belgium, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Australia, and New Zealand.
- Estelle M Phillips and Derek. S. Pugh How to Get a Ph.D.: A Handbook for Students and Their Supervisors ISBN 0-335-20550-X,
- MacGillivray, Alex; Potts, Gareth; Raymond, Polly. Secrets of Their Success (London: New Economics Foundation, 2002)
 External links
- The Mathematics PhD in the United Kingdom: Notes on its History Contains information/links of more general relevance than mathematics.
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