What is a PhD? - A Guide for Novice Students

What is a PhD? – A Guide for Novice Students

The PhD acronym as a doctor of philosophy is an academic degree given to the student for investigating new knowledge. 

To develop yourself as a mature person, to earn more and to nourish your career, education is a must! Bachelor’s give you some benefits but a master’s degree is highly recommended. Everyone should get a master’s degree at least. 

The higher education system begins with the bachelor’s and master’s, MPhil and PhD. one needs to invest 9 years from college to PhD. Both college degrees are more academic while MPhil and PhD are more research-centered.

If you are in your bachelor’s, this article is for you, I will try to answer every question that arises in a newbie’s mind.  

In the present piece of content, I will explain to you what a PhD is! And why it is important. I will also explain to you things regarding the degree in layman’s language. 

What is a PhD?- A guide for novice students

Doctor of philosophy abbreviates as PhD, given to doctorate candidates after completing the criteria. Anyone can get enrolled into the PhD in any subject and can use the suffix “Dr” before their name, once completed. 

Students can enroll in a degree after the master’s degree. However, a bachelor can also go for it in some other conditions. The outcomes of the doctorate/ PhD degree is “knowledge”, “findings” or new “discoveries”. 

For a newbie, I can say, PhD is a degree the topmost one! Without the examination. The external examination isn’t required to get a degree because the criteria are a bit different. 

It is a kind of honor, universities give to students (wearing a red gown and degree in hand!) and after that one can call themself a doctor or scientist or philosopher.   

Though the origin of the degree is not known but was given by European universities in ancient times. The PhD was more, a prestige to the person in the united kingdom and a person with the honor could get higher positions in academics as well as in the king’s palace.  

It is also known as a doctorate or doctoral degree too. 

In a PhD unlike post graduate or undergraduate, instead of getting knowledge broadly on every subject, the major focus of the research concentrates on one particular topic- not even the entire subject. 

A student produces original research and develops skills, techniques or tools which make them expert in the subject. Though as a PhD candidate you do not need to attend regular (long and boring!) lectures, you have to go for seminars, presentations and lectures to get yourself updated on recent research. 

Another important criterion for the doctoral degree is publishing the research. You have to learn the skills to publish articles and research. University allows those students in the last phase of PhD who have published their research. 

You can’t go head until publication. 

You need coursework certification, research done (outstandingly), research publication, thesis and presentation to defend your PhD thesis. 

Quick start: ask yourself these questions before deciding to go for a PhD. 

  • What is a PhD degree to me? 
  • Why do I need a PhD? 
  • What is my core interest and thing that I am passionate about? 
  • What are my skills and limitations? 
  • Can I survive with my skills or techniques? 
  • What skills, techniques or expertise needed to do a PhD on the topic I wish? 
  • What are my future goals with the PhD? 
  • How can the PhD degree help me? 

Who can get a PhD degree? 

Students of any stream can get a doctorate degree, but only those who have completed their master’s degree in the same field. Besides, sometimes a person with groundbreaking achievements can also claim the doctorate known as an honorary doctorate. 

School students can’t go directly to PhD, not even a bachelor’s. 

What are the criteria to get a PhD? 

As we said, a master’s degree is a must. Some universities also seek for MPhil as well or some research background to enroll in a PhD. 

A postgraduate degree with a minimum of the second class is enough to apply for the PhD. Remember you can only apply to the subjects of your stream only!

What to do during PhD? 

“Research” I can say in one word. 

Lengthy notes, assignments, homework and examinations are not there in PhD. once you get into the PhD- which is also hard! You only have to do two things! Read and write. 

Read new things, write in your book, research it, do experiments, find results, collect it and document it. At last, you have to collect all your research results and conclude something. 

Making a conclusion is also not entirely up to us, the PhD guide will help us to do some.

How to prepare for the PhD? 

First, keep in mind one thing a PhD is not for all. It’s a higher level of a professional degree, you need to show dedication, sincerity and confidence. It is also hard to even enroll in it. 

Start preparing for the PhD from bachelor’s itself. If you are in master’s don’t worry you can still start preparation. You need to prepare yourself mentally; you also need to learn more in your subject that helps you in the entrance exam and in the interview too. 

You can also for one year MPhil too. MPhil prepares candidates for a doctorate, it is a short research project in which one needs to recreate knowledge. 

In addition to this, publish a couple of research articles that benefit you more than others. 

To get into PhD, you have to start thinking about it from your postgraduate degree. Think about your expertise, the subject you love and the topic you like the most. Design your project around it. 

See PhD is a time-consuming process, if you are less interested in the topics, you will lose hope. You can also take the help of your teachers or professions too, to design the PhD proposal. 

What is the value of a PhD? 

PhD takes more time and money as well, therefore, you need to first understand its importance, why PhD is so important? What is its value? 

  1. First, you will be honored higher at any place. 
  2. Second, you can earn more money than any other.
  3. Third, you can get higher positions at any job placement. 
  4. Fourth, you can get a job in education, organizations or companies and in research centers too. 

These four points make it more valuable than any other education degree. 

How to get a PhD degree? 

We have explained this point so many times in our articles, I will give you just a brief overview of how you get it. 

  • Pass bachelor’s and master’s with good grades
  • Go for MPhil (optional)
  • Publish a couple of articles (optional)
  •  Pass the common entrance exams- NET, SLATE, GCET, TOEFL etc. 
  • Apply for the degree 
  • Complete the coursework 
  • Do research. 

Is doing a PhD is tougher than a master’s? 

I can say “yes” or “no” too. Understand that both degrees are different. The criteria to get in and award a doctorate degree are totally different than the master’s. 

In addition, the system of PhD is not as common as the lower grade education system. If you will adapt faster, it will benefit you more. It is not tougher but you have to acquire a new perspective as a researcher. 

So it is not tough, but it’s definitely lengthy. 

What is the purpose of studying PhD? 

The PhD prepares you for research, you become an expert on some topic through providing new findings. The education system needs new knowledge to improve which a doctorate gives, every year, tons of new findings, patents, copyrights and so many things. 

That knowledge or finding helps people, society or the world to solve some real-world problems. Therefore the aim or purpose of doing a PhD is to improve knowledge, develop new things and help society with the help of the knowledge of the trained doctorates. 

Can a PhD student use “Dr” before their name? 

If you have read this article carefully, you will notice that I had used the word PhD students at some places while a PhD candidate in other sentences. Both are different actually. 

A PhD student is one who is applying to the doctorate whilst the doctoral or PhD candidate is one who has completed all their requirements. You can read this article to learn more about this topic: Rules and regulations for a PhD candidate.

Neither PhD students nor PhD candidates can use “Dr” before their name until they get the degree, not even after completing the viva. 

Only a person to whose university awarded the PhD can only use “Dr” and PhD before and after their name, respectively. 

Types of PhD:

Regular PhD– When a person does do PhD regularly 10 to 5 every day.
Part-time PhD– When a student completes PhD without going to school regularly.
Funded PhD– When the funds of PhD managed by others is known as funded PhD.
Integrated PhD– When Master’s and PhD degrees are covered in one 5 years degree.
Honorary PhD– When a doctoral degree is given to a person for their groundbreaking achievements.
Professional PhD– When a PhD prepares trained professionals or practitioners.

Things to know about PhD: 

Now in this segment I will tell you exactly what is there in the PhD and what to do with it. 

Personal interview, coursework, research publication, dissertation writing, thesis publication, viva and presentation are essential tasks during the Ph.D. Every PhD student has to complete every task to get the degree and the honor- Dr. 

PhD interview: 

A PhD interview is much like the job interview or personal interview but is a bit different. Here the interviewers are subject experts appointed by universities. Their role is to ask you questions related to your PhD project or research proposal. 

They actually check your potential to survive in the PhD. questions are mostly related to the topic you choose to do researcher. However as a research fellow, you have to prepare for every situation. 

Read more here: How to get a PhD degree in 10 steps.


Coursework is a one-year academic teaching scheme for research methodology and research writing every student has to clear. At the end of the year, students have to clear MCQ-type examinations. 

Coursework decides whether you will go head in the PhD or not. Students known as “PhD or doctoral candidates” when completed. Afterward, they have to do exclusive research only for 3 to 4 years. 

Coursework teaches students how to research thesis writing and how to check hypotheses. Universities seek coursework as their one of the main criteria to award the honor. 

Research publication: 

Research of what you did during the tenure of PhD must have to be published in well-known and peer-reviewed journals. The article must have to show the method of research, brief overview, results and conclusions. 

Also it must not be performed previously or not any part of the article copies. Read more on how to write a research publications: 

Related article: Writing a Research Paper for a Ph.D. Dissertation

Dissertation or PhD thesis: 

Dissertation or PhD thesis is a 100 to 300 page long written draft of what you have done in your doctorate including the synopsis, introduction, methods, techniques, results and discussion and conclusion portions.

The thesis must be plagiarism and error-free and have a unique writing style. Read more to learn how to write a PhD thesis?.  

PhD viva and thesis defense: 

Once prospective candidates have completed all the criteria and requirements for the award, the university conducts a viva or thesis defence session. The experts panel asks you questions related to your thesis. 

You need to present a small presentation of approximately 20 slides to the panel. Once all the panelists are satisfied with your justification, you can get the degree. 

Read more on the present topics: 

  1. Preparing for a PhD viva
  2. How to defend the PhD thesis. 

What is a PhD?- summary

  • PhD is a doctor of philosophy. 
  • Students get PhD degrees in any subject. 
  • PhD provides new knowledge through original research and findings. 
  • People consider it a higher level of honor, prestige, esteem and pride, one with the degree can use “Dr”. 
  • Prospective doctoral candidates can master a particular skill through the PhD. 
  • With a PhD degree, a person can get jobs in academia, the private sector and organizations. 
  • Bachelor’s, master’s and MPhil are requirements to get admission into the doctorate. 
  • Higher positions in any organization are reserved for PhD doctors only. 
  • One with a PhD can earn more money than others. 


When a question arises in your mind, “what is a PhD?” you can read this article. I have explained basic things, what it is, requirements and other related things. To know more on what a PhD is? You can read this article of ours. 

PhD or doctoral studies are the whole processes, governed directly by the universities and under the supervision of a PhD guide. They teach you how to write a thesis and how to do research. 

If your next plan is to go for PhD, consider taking the advice of other PhD students as well as PhD pass outs. Read other article to relate topic here: 

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