The Basics of a PhD and Specialties That Require It

PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy. It is the acronym for the Latin words; “Philosophiae” and “Doctor.” Here, the word philosophy doesn’t mean the subject and is derived from “Philosophia,” which means “love of wisdom” in Greek. Back then, it was used to refer to a person who has received comprehensive education on the fundamentals of the world. 

Today, a PhD is the top academic honor one can receive and signifies a person’s ultimate pursuit of knowledge in a specific field. So whether you’re thinking about attaining a PhD or you’re just curious, here’s all you should know.  

What Is It? 

A PhD is a higher academic certification awarded for various disciplines. It’s the highest certification a person can receive in a particular discipline and comes after a master’s. It’s awarded to a candidate who submits a dissertation based on original and extensive research that adds value to a particular field.

The Duration It Takes to Acquire a PhD

PhDs usually take four years for full-time students and up to 6 years for those pursuing it part-time. However, the duration varies contingent on the program, your funding plans, and whatever training you’ll need to undertake prior if any.

Does Obtaining a PhD Require a Master Certification?

It depends. Many courses will require the completion of a master’s to enroll for a doctorate. For instance, you’ll require a Master of art certification to obtain a doctorate in arts. 

However, in some fields, you can enroll for your doctorate right after your bachelor’s certification, and STEM students are a good example. A STEM student doesn’t require a master’s certification to gain a doctorate. All the training, research skills, and techniques are covered at the undergraduate level. 

Your location also matters. In countries such as Australia, you will require an undergraduate certificate and a master’s to enroll for a doctoral degree. In the US, most PhD programs also require a master’s certification. Thus, you should confirm with an institution about the requirements. 

What PhD Entails

PhDs are mainly research-focused. Even for current programs that are more diversified, the PhD research paper is still the key focus. 

The first year involves familiarizing yourself with research, where your supervisor guides you in completing your literature review. In addition, it involves working through many primary sources and establishing where to begin your research. 

The second year involves conducting the bulk of the research. The process primarily entails conducting experiments and gathering data. You’ll become well-informed on existing research and how to come up with your own. Of course, you’ll still consult with your advisor, who’ll assess your development and provide comments on any drafts you submit. 

In the third year, you gather results and transform your thesis into a dissertation. The advisor will review the final draft and tell you whether it’s okay for submission. 

After submission, you’ll defend your work in an oral examination in front of a panel of examiners, which takes about 3 hours. The number of examiners can vary, but it has to include external and internal ones. After completing this step, you’re done. 

Which Jobs Need a PhD?

Some careers will demand you to be a leader in your chosen field, which means getting a PhD. The majority of these careers are usually research-oriented, so they require a person who has pushed the limits of their knowledge in a particular field. Here are a few. 

Systems Engineer

Systems engineers are some of the world’s top-paid professionals. They are tasked with analyzing and designing engineering systems or overseeing an already existing system. 

Computer Engineer

Anyone interested in a career in leading tech-related research needs to have a computer science or computer engineering PhD. It will pave the way for advanced research and development.


Math is viewed as the foundation for all science fields. To become a mathematician and add some value to the current functions, you require a PhD in math. 


University professors in almost any part of the country have doctoral degrees in the disciplines they teach. A PhD demonstrates that they’re well-versed in adding human knowledge validly and how knowledge is arrived at.


To become a professional in psychology, one needs a minimum of a master’s certification. But if you want to become licensed, you need a PhD. Holding a doctoral degree in this field demonstrates that one is a skilled practitioner of scientifically supported psychological treatment. 


Questing for a PhD is a bold journey that only a few college graduates complete. But accomplishing it opens more opportunities career-wise. However, it requires patience and a fighting spirit. Thus, you should make up your mind entirely before committing to it.