How to get a PhD degree in 10 steps

Master’s degree with or without an M Phil is the minimum criteria to appear in the PhD. 

The first question strikes in your mind when you think about the PhD is that is my qualification enough to appear in the PhD? Am I now qualified to appear in PhD? 

Even though the qualifications are similar across universities worldwide, there are still special requirements that may vary from country to country and university to university.

Before discussing the three step key to get into PhD, let me first describe to you the admission process and the criteria to appear in the PhD. 

Admission process and criteria: 

Either of three ways universities follow to give admission in PhD, in all the minimum criteria to appear is graduation and post graduation with or without the M Phil degree. 

Keep in mind that in countries like the USA or UK, the previous research background like the projects, dissertations, M Phil and publications are taken into account during the interview. 

The first way is the traditional one, followed by India and other asian countries in which a candidate with a Master degree with 55% marks or 3.5GPA can directly appear or apply for PhD positions in any universities. 

No external examination is required in this case. Students can directly enrol in the PhD through the personal interview. 

Another way which is also very popular in Indian universities and other countries is the Master’s degree with an external examination process. 

Again, to appear in the external examination like the GATE or NET, one should have a minimum of 55% marks. 

The enrolment process is fully based on the merits obtained during the examination. Note that the M phil candidate can earn extra 10 marks during the evaluation. 

In the third way not a master but the bachelor’s degree is required in which the PhD system is integrated with the 2 years of master’s followed by 5 to 6 years of PhD. 

This type or entrance process is common in the USA. in which students can earn their palace early after graduation. Still, if they fail to clear master degree, they can’t go further. 

Read more: What is PhD?- History, Definition, Origin, Requirement, Fees, Duration and Process.

How to get a PhD degree? 

Though an entrance exam for PhD enrolment is trending nowadays, still, a student has to do a lot of preparation to get a PhD degree. Starting from a research proposal to appear in the interview and from starting research to writing a thesis, there are a lot of things if one should learn earlier he or she can get their PhD degree easily. 


  • Prepare a PhD project and proposal 
  • Apply to as many universities as you can 
  • Selecting a guide
  • Clear the course work 
  • Start research early as you can 
  • Start writing a review paper 
  • Complete your daily goals 
  • Start writing your PhD thesis 
  • Write a research paper 
  • Prepare for a PhD viva

See once you have enrolled into a PhD degree make sure your 50% task is completed, now afterward, you have to keep in mind three things which are the main criteria for awarding the honour. 

First, to do research 

Second to write a thesis 

Third, to publish at least one research paper in a peer review journal. 

These three goals must remain in your mind as a PhD student every day, then and then you can get a PhD faster. 

So let us discuss the ten steps you can achieve a PhD degree. 

Step 1: prepare a PhD project and PhD research proposal

 Don’t panic, you aren’t designing a space science project. 

The PhD project is just a collection of information you need to give to the university or governing authorities prior, stating your research interest. 

An ideal PhD project included, a PhD research proposal, a good and well written title, some basic research proofs, your overall idea in the form of synopsis, your guide, cost and funding information. 

That’s it. 

If you don’t know how to design a project for PhD, you can read this article: 

Step 2: Apply to as many universities as you can. 

If you are in the USA, PhD system, you have one major advantage of applying to as many universities as you can, at once. Go to the university website and submit your research proposal or idea and write an application to the guide for PhD. 

Make a list based on your priority. 

You can make a list based on the rank of university, cost of the overall project, fees (lower to higher), experts, fundings opportunities and availability of guidance. 

My personal recommendation is to select a university based on funding opportunities and expertise of guides they have. 

Step 3: select and approach a guide:

Keep in mind that the PhD supervisor or more precisely known as a PhD guide is everything for you and your PhD. Once the university enrolls you, all your responsibilities are in your supervisor’s hands. 

So… approaching a PhD supervisor is the most important thing in PhD admission. You can see the list of supervisors on the university website and can mail them. Contacting them on LinkedIn also makes your reputation more legit and trusted (caution: don’t approach them on Facebook, Instagram or on private chat!). 

So you can text them through any source, briefly explaining the overall idea, a convincing appeal and your future goals. 

Also, don’t forget to attach your PhD research proposal to it. The research proposal is something that comprehensively describes the potential of your topic, superficially. 

Read here on how to prepare a research proposal: 

Note that the mail of text looks like you’re requesting them. If possible contact them physically if they agree. Once a guide agrees to get you, your work has been done. 

Your guide’s recommendation can make your interview easy for you if he or she agrees to get you. 

Step 4: Complete the coursework:

If you are on the fourth step, it betokens that you have sealed a seat in PhD. Immediately after, your next plan is to clear the research methodology at first attempt and start the research as soon as possible. 

The first thing a PhD student has to do before starting the actual research work is to complete the coursework or research methodology. It’s actually easy, you can read things and can clear the exam easily if planned well. 

Give a dedicated one to two hours for reading research methodology and meanwhile prepare a blueprint of your research by discussing it with your guide. 

A one year of research methodology study is a good opportunity for a PhD candidate to prepare a rough working draft of their research. 

Step 5: Start research as soon as possible: 

Asking about how to get a PhD? There are two ways: doing things lazily and at your convenience or completing things at rocket speed. The choice is yours. 

If you speed up your work from the first day after the course work, mark my words you will get your degree within 4 yours. Otherwise, there is no time bound for it, go and do things flexibly. 

Once a certification of completing research methodology comes in your hand, go to the lab and start experimenting. Start checking different theories, protocols and SOPs. Also, initiate validating your hypothesis and concepts. 

There are a lot of things still remaining. 

Step 6: start writing a review paper: 

Make sure you have to publish at least one research paper during your PhD tenure. So why not to start from the very first day!

Open your laptop and start reading and making notes for your review article. Review article is a compilation of well written, plagiarism free, well cited articles related to your topic. 

You can use your review article in your thesis as well. So try to write it, and publish it in a peer review journal. It can solve two of your problems. First, you can get experience on how to publish a paper and second, you will get one extra credit in your pocket which will help you during the viva voce. 

Step 7: Complete your daily goals: 

The key to success in PhD and completing in time bound is ‘zero date planning’. Plan your daily goals and try to complete it. 

Plan which amount of work you have to do in a day and try to finish it, no matter what cost you have to pay. 

Daily, weekly and monthly goals should be achieved and you have to track your progress quarterly. Make a diary report of your work, what done and what left and compare it with your goals for the day. 

Review all your work plans and goals every 3 or 6 months, sitting with your guide and identify the loopholes. 

Related article: How long does it take to get a PhD?

Step 8: Start writing your PhD thesis: 

You have completed so far around 30 months including one year of coursework. You have data, a Proper SOP to work on, a dedicated problem, a published review article (how to forget it!). 

The next thing you should do is, open your laptop and start writing your PhD thesis or dissertation. 

Reframe your article and write the chapter two- review of literature, mark it as completed because you have published paper on it, it is indeed a correct and well reviewed piece of content. 

No need to follow the chronological order, usually the methodology is decided so you can start writing from materials and method sections (which no need to cite). 

Write the introduction, results and other things afterward. Do a routine weekly thesis check to your guide. If you want to learn more about thesis writing, this article will definitely help you: How to write a PhD thesis

Step 9: Writing a research paper: 

If you are on your way to writing a research paper, you probably have completed your thesis or 80% of your PhD work. 

With several criteria, a peer reviewed published research paper is as important as your thesis, without it, you can’t submit your thesis. You have been working on your topic for long, so to write your article will not be a big deal for you! I guess. 

Still, if you are worried about how to write a research paper for your PhD dissertation you can read this article: 

Things to keep in mind while writing a research paper: 

Your research paper should be of maximum 3 to 5 pages including references, all the points and writing are to the point and well cited. All the results included in the paper, should have your own. 

No manipulation with the data allowed. Write a short piece of abstract, introduction, review, results and discussion and conclusion for your article. Try to submit it in different peer review journals. 

Step 10: Prepare for a PhD viva: 

Make sure you have completed all your work at least before 3 to 6 months of your PhD viva. Because until and unless you don’t fulfill all the requirements you can’t be eligible for viva. 

Take a look at this checklist: 

  • Coursework completed
  • Review article published
  • Research work completed 
  • Thesis writing completed 
  • Research paper published 
  • Plagiarism checked 
  • Thesis approved by guide and got published 
  • Thesis reviewed thoroughly 
  • Presentation prepared 

Cross-check this checklist until applying for viva. To prepare for a PhD viva, you need to do only two things; understand completely your research topic and prepare a good PhD presentation. 

If you want to learn more on how to prepare for viva, you can read this article as well: 

How to get a PhD degree- complete framework

12 months course work & pre-research preparation 

12-18 months: initial research for topic, theories to check, SOPs, and related things 

18-30 months: lab or field work, extensive web and dry lab work, reading the literature and starting writing review articles. 

31-42 months: remaining research work, writing PhD thesis, literature review and publishing article. 

43- 48 months: reviewing the whole thesis, publishing a thesis, applying for the viva, plagiarism clearance, other documentation work, prepare a presentation and applying for viva. 

48-50 months: prepare and appear in the viva. 

If everything remains on your side, you can easily clear the viva session if you follow the pattern that I have given to you. 

Let me tell you frankly, there is no faster way than what I have explained, to complete PhD. If you seriously want to do a PhD, 50 months, or approximately 4 years, it takes to complete. Again, it may vary based on the terms and conditions of the university.

If you wish to get month-wise planning to complete a PhD, comment below and let me know, it will give you a whole planning and work schedule for the entire tenure month and hour wise.  

Related article: PhD in USA- Admission, Process, Universities, Salary and Jobs.


The answer to how to get a PhD, is these ten steps, by following it you can complete your PhD smoothly. I had assessed many PhD students (guided to for completing PhD and thesis, not as an actual guide!) and trust me if you fail to do things as I said, you will be trapped in the clouds of problems that can never be overcome. 

So to be on the safe side, if you really wish to get a PhD, speed up your work from day one, follow the zero date planning and work hard until all goals achieved. 

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