Do you hear people talking about working towards getting a doctorate (PhD)? And do you find yourself wondering about what they are actually working on? Yes, you know that it has something to do with research, and that they work for a university, but that is about all you know. And oh right, it takes a lot of time! But this where your knowledge ends. Are you curious about what getting a doctorate actually involves, and how you would go about it? Continue reading to find out! At the end of this text, you will know precisely what is meant by obtaining a doctorate and whether this would be something that you would like to pursue.
When someone is working towards obtaining a doctorate, s/he is working on doctoral research. Someone who is working on doctoral research is called a “doctoral candidate” or a “PhD candidate.” When a doctoral candidate successfully completes her research, s/he can use the title doctor. To successfully complete doctoral research, the research needs to provide an original contribution to science. One could say that the meaning of obtaining a doctorate is equal to providing an original contribution to science.
One cannot just decide to get a PhD. In order to be admitted to a doctoral studies program, you need to have obtained a master’s degree first. Think about an engineering diploma, Master of Arts, Master of Science, and so on. If you have obtained a foreign degree, this can count as a master’s degree. However, you have to get it accredited. Only in very exceptional cases can you be exempted from this requirement. On universities’ websites, you can find all requirements that have to be met in order to obtain a doctorate. For example, on the website of the Erasmus University, the requirements that you need to meet before you can begin doctoral studies are clearly defined. If you are not working at a university, you can still obtain a doctorate. The term “external doctoral candidate” is used to indicate someone who will obtain a PhD externally. The doctoral candidate then does not work at the university that s/he will obtain the PhD from. An external candidate gets the help of a supervisor, just like an internal candidate.
As mentioned above, you obtain a doctorate through conducting doctoral research. But what does this kind of research entail exactly? When you are working towards getting a PhD, you mostly focus on conducting research, which should be independent and original. In addition, you might attend classes or conferences, but at the end, the goal is to have conducted independent and original research that contributes to science. Doctoral research can take about three to five years.
Doctoral research is evaluated by several people and should be defended by the candidate themselves. At the conclusion of the research, the results are presented in a thesis. A thesis is also called a dissertation. The thesis, or dissertation, is sent to the main supervisor. The supervisor is the professor that has supervised you during your research. As soon as your supervisor has approved your manuscript, the manuscript is presented to a Dissertation committee. This committee has to approve the manuscript as well, which should happen within five weeks. When the Dissertation committee has approved the doctoral research as well, a date for the dissertation defense is agreed on. Before you defend the dissertation, you need to make sure that every member of the Dissertation committee receives a copy of your thesis. You have a limited amount of time during which you get the opportunity to defend your thesis. Right after the defense, you hear whether you have obtained the title of doctor.
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