The dream of being referred to as a ‘doctor’
For most aspiring Ph.D. enthusiasts, completing it is almost like the gateway to a new life. For most, it signifies a ticket to a better future, a distinguished respectability in society and the level of intellectualism a Ph.D. automatically infuses in a person.
A rigorous, intensive lengthy struggle
Life is not a bed of roses. Neither is the road to attaining a Ph.D. One needs to devote wholeheartedly, a good 4 to 10 years of one’s life and if this happens to fall during one’s youth, then one can well imagine the consequences. Most universities will discourage people from pursuing a career while undergoing a Ph.D. course. This is because of the sheer devotion and dedication this degree necessitates. A job would certainly take away much of the spirit of this endeavor.
What it takes to get a Ph.D.
If you’re planning to go for a Ph.D., then be prepared to wipe out a good 4 to 10 years of your life. The reason for such a lengthy period? The unstructured approach of a Ph.D. as compared to an undergraduate course entails that some people might take more time to learn the subject while the luckier ones might learn fast.
The initial 1 to 3 years of the Ph.D. degree will go towards doing various forms of coursework. This is followed by extensive series of examinations that seek to test the level of knowledge across subjects, rather than delving deep into one particular segment. The next 2 to 4 years are spent on dissertations, which are essentially quite like thesis documents. These comprise a review of the literature on the particular subject, the structure and methodology followed in the subject as well as several aspects of analysis related to history, society, literature etc. The length of a dissertation needs to be about 250 to 450 pages.
Even getting an admission into a Ph.D. program is highly competitive. First of all you need to have a Bachelor’s degree, a letter of recommendation from a recognized and known authority, samples of academic coursework, a statement of interest in pursuing the subject of choice, along with good grades in the GRE test.
What a Ph.D. truly implies
A Ph.D. is a proof of the level of depth a person has mastered over a subject. Not only the depth of knowledge, but also the inclination and willingness to provide one’s unique ‘value add’ by scrutinizing every aspect of the subject and coming up with methods to improve it. The ultimate aim of any Ph.D. holder is to improve the condition of humanity through extensive research. In fact, a Ph.D. is a cumulative result of thorough understanding, curiosity to learn more, willingness to dissect the subject to the micro level and finally using one’s findings to bring about a change in society and betterment of humankind.
A Ph.D. is not a fancy degree hanging on a wall or just having a title of a ‘doctor’. It is far more profound than that. Therefore, be prepared to devote a big slice of your life to it, have that much curiosity in the subject to be able to sustain the interest over a lengthy duration and most of all have the ultimate interest to better human conditions through your research. If you do not have this bent of mind and are looking at a Ph.D. purely from a superficial standpoint, then it may not be the right choice for you.
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