PhD in USA 2020: United States of America is the most popular postgraduate study destination for international students. The education level of the USA is highly admirable due to the high standard of study and breadth of subjects offered by the Universities. There are many Universities offering PhD courses in the USA. Doing a PhD from US Universities gives exposure to the students in the emerging areas of research and enhances the network of contacts, which helps the students in building their career.
A PhD from the USA leads towards the path of becoming an international expert in the specialized field of study opted by the student. The USA is the biggest and the most popular destination for PhD study abroad. The approach of PhD study in the US is different as compared to the approach of the United Kingdom and Europe. The PhD course in the USA is designed with comprehensive training and independent research programs. There are over 4500 universities in the USA offering PhD courses for international students. The academic session of PhD courses in the USA starts from August and ends in the month of May.
The international students seeking admission in PhD from the USA need to apply for the student visa and fulfill all the requirements as per the course. This article includes all the important details related to PhD in USA such as highlights of PhD from USA, requirements to apply for the course, length of the course, fees requirements, types of assistant ships offered during the course, coursework stage, dissertation, and list of top twenty Universities offering PhD in USA etc. Go through the complete article to get more information about PhD in the USA.
PhD in USA Highlights
The highlights provided below will help to get the brief details about the PhD course offered in the USA.
Highlights of PhD in USA
|Universities in USA||Over 4,500 Universities|
|Nobel Prizes||383 prizes|
|Oldest University||Harvard University (Formed in 1636)|
|International Students||Total 9,84,898 students|
|PhD Length||4 to 6 years|
|Representative Fees||USD $ 12,737 to 43,300|
|Academic Year||August to May|
Why PhD from the USA?
Pursuing PhD from the USA is the dream of many students, as Universities in the USA works in the frontier of research areas. Around 1 million international students’ study in USA universities and colleges. The PhD course from the USA is designed in three phases, wherein the first phase course is preliminary which requires 1 to 3 years to complete the level. To complete the first phase, students need to appear in comprehensive and preliminary examinations. On an average the PhD program takes approx. five years of study in the USA. The main reasons to pursue a PhD course from the USA are as provided below.
Reasons to study PhD from USA
- USA provides world’s leading Universities and Research: Most of the Universities in USA are top rated and works in the emerging areas of research. The opportunity to work in the latest research projects draws thousands of candidates for PhD positions.
- Large number of opportunities: In USA, there are over thousands of higher education institutes, which provides numerous opportunities to the students seeking admission in PhD programs from abroad.
- International Community: The universities in the USA hosts a huge number of students from across the world. The diverse academic community welcomes whatever and wherever you want to study. The students have many options to pursue a PhD program.
- Offers innovation and dynamic research approach: The PhD program in USA is designed on the owned structured approach approach of research. America is the second country in the world to adopt this approach for PhD courses. The owned structured approach to doctoral training is influencing the PhD study in other countries as well.
- Provides detailed understanding of subjects: The PhD course from the USA takes longer time as compared to other countries. Universities in the USA first provide time to get a more detailed understanding of the subject, instead of focusing on the dissertation preparations after the research period.
PhD in USA 2020: How to choose a University?
There are a total of 282 Universities in the United States that offer the PhD degree course. The eligibility criteria to apply for the PhD program in the USA differs as per the University selected by the students. The candidates can check out the list of NRC ranking to get the list of best Universities that offer PhD courses in the USA. The major requirements for a PhD course in the USA are as provided below.
- Valid GRE score: The candidate must have cleared the english language proficiency test known as GRE Test. The candidates with higher scores will get higher chances of selection in PhD course admission.
- Language Competency: The students willing to get admission in PhD courses from the USA will have to provide a high score of TOEFL, or IELTS, or Cambridge exam to meet the language competency criteria.
- Statement of Purpose: The candidates are required to provide SOP (Statement of Purpose) to the respective universities from which they want to apply for a PhD course. The SOP indicates the fit between you and the program and the professors.
- Financial aids: The students must make sure that they have sufficient funds as per the fees structure of the University they have selected to pursue PhD from. The students who do not have sufficient funds to pay the fees of USA universities, can go for admission in Universities which offer scholarships. Some Universities in the USA offer tuition fees waiver and annual stipends to provide financial aid to the students.
- Recommendation Letter: The recommendation letter will be required by the candidates to send at the University from which they want to pursue PhD course. The recommendation letter must include the purpose of PhD and an essay on that topic.
PhD in USA 2020: Course Duration
The length of a PhD course from the USA is generally 4 to 6 years. However, some students take approx. eight years to complete the program. The years of course are divided into one to four years of course work stage of the program, and two to four years of working on the dissertation program. In the USA, the academic year includes two teaching semesters as August to December, and January to May. The classes and assessment of PhD students take place in the academic year only.
PhD in USA 2020: Course Structure
PhD in the USA is not similar to other countries as it is not a pure research degree. The course includes a different innovative modern approach provided by the education authorities in the USA. It is not a pure research degree, as the program defends substantial thesis by the students. The PhD program in the USA commences with the regular classes, assessment of students, organizing a comprehensive program in the beginning years. The thesis and dissertation are not included in the initial years of the course. After clearing the first stage of assessment and exams, the students are required to confirm their final dissertation topics for the research area.
PhD in USA 2020: Course Work Stage
The PhD course in the USA is divided into several parts, the first part of the course is taught like a master’s program. The modules covered in the complete series of PhD courses are as provided below.
- Core Classes: All the key topics of the program are covered under the core classes. The core classes help the students to satisfy their essential requirements as per the course.
- Elective Classes: The elective classes are completely at the discretion of the students. This option is given to opt one more training or specific program, that might help the student to pursue and develop the project in later stages during the course duration.
The option to select classes while pursuing a PhD course will depend on the design of the program opted by the student. The elective classes provide the technical knowledge required as per the subject of PhD program. While in some PhD programs the personal and professional activities are required. The professional development activities include learning of foreign languages, volunteering placements, or completion of work.
After completing the first phase of learning in a PhD course, the candidates will be required to qualify the comprehensive examination. The comprehensive exam may include the ‘field exam’ or ‘dissertation qualifying exam’ as per the program opted by the candidate. After clearing the exam the students will be qualified to conduct their own research. At this point the students in a graduate program are referred to as ABD (‘all but dissertation’). Even the institutes allow some students to opt out with the master’s degree.
PhD in USA 2020: Dissertation Stage
After completing the course work stage, the students will be considered as full PhD candidates. The students who will not opt out with the master’s degree will be eligible to proceed for the doctoral dissertation. This stage is also known as the ‘capstone project’ for a graduate course concluding in a PhD course.
The students will have to decide the research topic and submit them in the proposal. The topic of research must be related to the ideas and directions as per the application. That should be based on the study source, which the students have been taught in their classes. The students must make sure that the topic should not be out of the dissertation prospectus. The students will be required to provide an essay outline about the planned project, methodology and the bibliography locating the proposal within current scholarship parameters.
After that, a committee of supervisors will be appointed whose expertise and interest must align with the topic of the student. One member from the committee will be designated as the dissertation director or principal advisor for the PhD course. The director will support the students in carrying out the research and writing up the findings. Apart from this some other development activity will be continued along with the research. In some programs the students will have to carry out the teaching, and administrative work to submit the article.
PhD in USA 2020: Assessment and examination
The students need to clear the regular assessments to complete the PhD course in order to get and defend the dissertation. The PhD program in the USA is similar to degree courses in other countries. The requirement of a PhD course will be depending on the graduate program carried by the students. The general requirements include the following:
- Course Work: The classes will be assessed by essays, presentation, and exams. The students will have to clear all the assessments to earn credits to complete the coursework as per the program stage.
- Examinations: In the exams the academic competence will be assessed by the institute. The exam before dissertation will include the oral presentation, and debate with members or the traditional closed book to assess the general subject knowledge of the student. The number of exams will depend upon the programs selected by the student.
- Dissertation prospectus: The dissertation committee will orally examine and check the plan after which the students will be able to start their research.
- Dissertation Defence: The last examination of the students will be based on the presentation and oral examination of their PhD dissertation. The oral examination will be similar as the viva voice or final interview round.
Top 20 American Universities in 2020
Before choosing a university, one should check out the ranking as per the top world ranking institutes such as Times Higher Education World University ranking, QS world University ranking, and Academic Ranking of world University. The candidates seeking admission in PhD courses from the USA can refer to the list of top 20 Universities with the help of the table given below.
Ranking of Top 20 American Universities
|University||Groups||Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE) 2020 Ranking||QS World University Ranking 2020||Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020|
|Yale University||AAU, IL||8||17||11|
|University of Chicago||AAU||9||10||10|
|University of Pennsylvania||AAU||11||15||17|
|California Institute of Technology||AAU||2||5||9|
|Columbia University||AAU, IL||16||=18||8|
|University of California, Los Angeles||AAU, PI||17||=35||11|
|Cornell University||AAU, IL||19||14||13|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||AAU||5||1||4|
|Princeton University||AAU, IL||6||13||6|
|Harvard University||AAU, IL||7||3||1|
|Johns Hopkins University||AAU||12||24||16|
|University of California, Berkeley||AAU, PI||=13||28||5|
|New York University||AAU||29||39||30|
|University of California, San Diego||AAU, PI||31||45||18|
|University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||AAU, PI||21||21||20|
|North western University||AAU||22||31||29|
|University of Washington||AAU, PI||26||68||14|
|Carnegie Mellon University||AAU||=27||48||95|
PhD in USA 2020: Types of Course
The PhD program in the USA will include the many additional activities and classes of related subjects, which excludes the dissertation made by the students. Many Universities in the USA offer basic PhD courses as an academic doctoral degree. While some Universities offer doctoral programs awarding the professional doctorates such as Doctor of Business administration (DBA) and Doctor of Education (EdD). The special doctoral programs include the practical projects and case studies along with the dissertation and academic classes covered during the course.
There are also some other doctorate degrees for the students who want to pursue the profession in medical or law. The doctoral degree in law is known as JD (Doctor of Laws) and it is designed differently as per the requirements to practice law after completion of the course. The doctoral degree in law is not recommended for international students unless they have planned to live and work in the USA only. As the PhD in Law covers the country laws which are completely different from other nations.
The doctoral degree offered for medical students is known as MD (Doctor of Medicine) degree. This program is also designed in a completely different manner as per the current requirements. Only the students willing to practice as a doctor in the USA or have planned to do a job in the USA are advised to pursue MD course.
PhD in USA 2020: Fees
In the USA there are many Universities which offer the PhD program. The fees of each University vary for the same course, as the facilities provided by every University in the USA are not similar. The fees of the highly recognized Universities are comparatively higher as compared to the fee charged by the normal Universities. Also, the fee structure of public and private universities and government institutions also varies as per the programs offered by them in the USA. The average fees of the public and private institution in the USA is provided below.
- Private Institution Fees: The average fees charged by the private institution is $ 43,300 per year for all students pursuing the graduate programs in the USA.
- Public institution Fees: The average fees charged by the public institution is $ 12,737 per year for resident students as per the graduate program’s fees structure. However, the fees charged for out of state students i.e. international students are higher than the fees charged by resident students.
PhD in USA 2020: Other Fees
The Universities in America charges additional fees for processing graduate school applications. Apart from this, the candidates need to pay for the language test fee, admission test fee, and the visa application fee.
PhD in USA 2020: Living Cost
The living cost of students living in the USA is based on the lifestyle followed by them. The exact living cost figures cannot be calculated. The expenses in all the fifty states of the USA are different. In some states the living cost is very low and they are highly recommended for the students. The hostel fees of all the colleges and Universities is different as per the number of facilities availed by the students.
PhD in USA 2020: Scholarship
The candidates having shortage of funds can apply for the admission in University which offers scholarship facility for the international students. The scholarship programs are organized to provide financial aids to the students. The students having an extraordinary educational background can apply for the scholarship tests conducted by different Universities and other autonomous institutions in the USA. In case of financial shortcoming, the students need to plan their study accordingly.
PhD in USA 2020: Assistant ship
The universities in the USA offer assistant ship positions to the graduate students. The assistant ship is a kind of employment offered by the University, in which the students have to fill the selection of responsibility against which the fee waiver or stipend is offered by the University offering PhD course in the USA. Some types of assistant ship offered with PhD in USA are:
- Research assistant-ship: The research fellowship includes the research work, in which the students help their faculty in their research. It includes collecting, recording daily data, helping in setting up the equipment, and monitoring the experiments.
- Fellowship: In fellowship, there is no additional work required to be done by the students, certain standards are provided in fellowship to follow particular directions along with the research work of the students. The fellowship can be of two types as research assistant ship or teaching assistant ship as offered by different Universities in the USA.
- Administrative assistant ship: This involves the clerical administrative and secretarial work for the program offered or University work. The work in administrative fellowship may include assisting meetings, data entry management, filling, and other office routine activities.
- Graduate teaching assistant ship: The students are required to do teaching and mentoring of the subject of research in this type of assistant ship. The work of the students may include supervision, leading group discussion, and helping the course admin. This type of assistant ship is also famous as teaching assistants or adjunct faculty and it is commonly followed in almost every University offering PhD course.
PhD in USA 2020: Student Visa
The international students need to apply for the student visa if they are planning to pursue a PhD course in the USA. However, the students who are citizens of Canada and Bermuda can enter the United States without a visa.
PhD in USA 2020: Requirements to apply for Visa
Before getting the student visa the students need to provide an application at an accredited university. The US visa applications are entertained by the US department of state and US department of Homeland Security. The student must be of a good character and the profile must satisfy that the student is entering the country genuinely for study purposes.
PhD in USA 2020: Visa fees
The visa application fees for the student seeking admission in a PhD program conducted by Universities in the USA. The students need to pay $ 360 at the time of submitting the visa application. The sum of $360 includes $ 200 SEVIS fee and $ 160 as the application fee. The visa issue fee is paid later, when the application is approved by the authorities.
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