What Are the Different Types of Doctoral Degree Requirements?

Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands
In addition to entrance exams, doctoral programs usually require certain coursework, research and a dissertation.
In addition to entrance exams, doctoral programs usually require certain coursework, research and a dissertation.

Doctoral degree requirements vary by location and school, but most begin with students passing a required entrance exam to be eligible to apply to a doctoral degree program. If the exam is passed and a student is admitted to a doctoral program, the time commitment needed to fulfill degree requirements also varies, with most taking at least three years to complete. During the course of the program, doctoral degree requirements such as coursework, research, successfully passing all qualifying exams and presenting a dissertation must be completed before a degree is awarded. Some schools also impose mentor and internship requirements on students hoping to obtain a post-graduate degree.

Individuals hoping to obtain a doctoral degree must first meet certain prerequisites. These will often vary depending on the country where a student attends classes and which college a student attends. For instance, many schools only admit students who have completed a master's degree. Other schools, however, offer programs that allow a student to obtain a master's degree while completing doctoral degree requirements at the same time. Regardless of whether a master’s degree is required or not, most schools require that a student pass an entrance exam to determine whether or not the student’s written, verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning skills are of the standard level expected for post-graduate students.

Once an assessment examination has been passed and a student is admitted to a post-graduate program, he is required to complete a certain amount of coursework, which includes time spent on a particular area of research relating to his course of study. Some programs also require students to have a mentor and many must work an internship in order to gain hands-on experience in their area of study. After all coursework and internship requirements are met, most programs then require students to participate in qualifying examinations to determine a student's readiness to proceed to the next phase of the school's doctoral degree graduation requirements. If all written and verbal portions of these exams are successfully passed, students are then designated as doctoral candidates.

Approved doctoral candidates are typically required to write a doctoral dissertation, also known as a thesis. The dissertation is a position paper written on a narrow topic relating to the student's field of study. Most doctoral degree requirements include the student working closely with a mentor in order to write her or his dissertation. This part of the doctoral degree requirement process can take up to a year or more to complete.

Upon completing all of the doctoral degree requirements, including a dissertation, students must then present their final dissertation before a panel of faculty members. At this time, faculty members review the student's work and question her about her dissertation to assess whether or not she has thoroughly defined, researched and understood the area of study. If this and all doctoral degree requirements are approved, students are allowed to participate in graduation and are awarded a doctoral degree.

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    • In addition to entrance exams, doctoral programs usually require certain coursework, research and a dissertation.
      In addition to entrance exams, doctoral programs usually require certain coursework, research and a dissertation.