Studying In The United States: Doctor's Degree
The doctor's degree is the highest degree awarded by American universities. In many fields, including natural science, social science and humanities, recipients of this degree, regardless of what they specialize in, are called PhD's. The Ph.D. degree emphasizes the ability of academic research and is distinguished from a professional doctorate with a focus on applied fields.
The requirements for doctoral degrees vary from institution to institution, but there are some things in common. First of all, students usually have to take two years of professional courses. During this period, students not only increase their comprehensive understanding of the majors they have studied, but also contact and preliminarily master the methods of academic research. Some college graduate programs require doctoral candidates to first obtain a master's degree, while others allow them to pursue a doctoral degree directly.
In addition to completing all the courses, students who are pursuing a doctoral degree must also master a foreign language as a research tool and reflect the general cultural level, and must pass a comprehensive examination in a professional field. Such an examination is either written, oral, or both. The student's test scores are reviewed by the faculty committee (or the faculty) of the department to determine if the student is adequately qualified to write a doctoral thesis. It is not until a student has passed such a comprehensive exam that he or she is formally qualified as a doctoral candidate, so such a exam is also called the qualification exam. After passing the qualification examination, doctoral candidates usually have to make an opening report to the professor committee to obtain the committee's approval of the topic of the doctoral thesis.
The final stage of pursuing a PhD is mainly to write a dissertation. Earlier, the requirement of a doctoral dissertation was to make a significant and creative contribution to knowledge and professional fields, but now emphasizes the value of training full academic research capacity. A doctoral dissertation may be completed in a year, or it may take years, depending on factors such as school standards, the ease of selecting a topic, and the degree of diligence and skill level of a doctoral candidate. Many students find a full-time job after passing the PhD exam, so the time available for writing their dissertation is greatly reduced. American colleges usually stipulate that the number of years of studying for a PhD can not exceed 3-4 years for full-time students, but in practice it is often longer than that. In general, pursuing a PhD in the social sciences and humanities takes longer than in science and engineering with a lower success rate.
In most institutions, students have to pass a final exam after completing their doctoral thesis and meeting other relevant conditions. This examination is usually an oral examination, and the questions are limited to the content of the doctoral thesis and related professional fields. Future doctoral candidates should make public defense of the value, arguments and basis of their thesis. Other doctoral degrees, such as the doctorate of education or the doctorate of science, are achieved in much the same way.
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