A person needs to accomplish many things before he or she can be admitted to a PhD program, but the PhD prerequisites for each program are different. Some are common, such as obtaining an undergraduate degree, but others may be very unique, such as a particular type of work experience. Most doctoral programs also have prerequisites relating to a person's plans and his or her intended research projects. The best way to identify PhD prerequisites is to talk with representatives of the program and determine if it is a good fit. If an applicant is very promising but does not yet meet the needed qualifications, a conditional acceptance or an invitation to apply again can sometimes be offered.
The most basic PhD prerequisites relate to undergraduate education. Almost all PhD programs require applicants to have completed a bachelor's degree. It is also usually considered acceptable to apply to a PhD program in the last year of a bachelor's degree program. A master's degree is not required for entrance into this level of degree, but it can be a helpful stepping stone.
Many PhD prerequisites are specific to individual programs. These expectations may be common across a discipline, or they may be unique to a school. Some programs require applicants to be fluent in certain languages, or they may look exclusively at people who have completed work in a certain field. This is particularly true in PhD programs that focus on professions, like hospitality or aviation.
While not strictly a prerequisite, all PhD programs look for students who are genuinely interested in the degree program and who have concrete interests in the field. As such, experience in the subject is sometimes used as a qualification. This experience may come from academics or work, but a basic understanding of the subject's foundational theories is usually considered essential.
In addition to the PhD prerequisites required to gain entry into a program, there are also qualifications required to graduate. Achieving satisfactory grades in classes, passing tests, and completing a dissertation can all be required before a degree can be conferred. Often, these achievements must be accomplished on a specific timeline in order for the degree to continue, and the dissertation is always one of the last steps.
While it is not always possible to get around PhD prerequisites, there are sometimes special situations that schools take into consideration. For example, some people are given honorary PhDs, and some people are allowed to go directly into doctoral programs because of their superior intellect. These cases, however, are very rare and should not be part of any individual's career plan.