Talk:Doctor of Philosophy

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(no) Value and criticisms[edit]

what's up with the Value and criticisms section? I see criticisms but practically nothing about value, it is currently written as if doing a PhD will ruin your life, but i'm sure it has some value. some ideas:

  • value in North America does not equal value throughout the world
  • PhD's have varying value depending on field, with some fields are desperate for experts
  • job security may be different to job availability (hard to get a job but once you are in you are unlikely to lose it for eg. or vice versa)
  • Industry jobs and income V's research.

- --Hypo Mix (talk) 05:28, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

I absolutely agree with you Hypo Mix. It seems to me that this is a synopsis of a single article from the Economist, which was itself accused of being biased. I remember reading it myself.
I think all the details relating to this one Economist opinion piece should be deleted. E.g. the pnozi scheme thing is a ridiculous piece of hyperbole - fine in a newspaper, but not an encyclopedia.
I think references to the value of a PhD are interesting. There must be a lot of economic analysis of this kind of stuff, but it could be described much more balanced than this.
I would suggest you delete the section entirely, or just leave one or two sentences which give a balanced picture.Chogg (talk) 14:41, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

ok, unless there is any objections i think this article should be trimmed down so it gets to the point faster rather than painting a doomsday picture of the PhD "ie: the economist argued that phd's may not...blablabla..." then "however X found that PhD students are more likely to ...bla bla bla" --Hypo Mix (talk) 00:08, 18 March 2011 (UTC)

I trimmed it some more and started with the value. The point of a PhD is rarely the financial return to the student, so it seemed inappropriate to begin with this. I think the section is a much better representation than when it started with a much wider set of references. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Chogg (talkcontribs) 00:39, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

while i'm at it the image[edit]

i think that image should be removed because it does not show PhD students, it show batch. or at highest masters student.... makes it looks like hundreds of people get PhD every graduation ceremony. agree? --Hypo Mix (talk) 03:36, 18 March 2011 (UTC)

No. I have tried to put a more relevant picture (that was a valid point), but I must say that simply removing a picture is hardly the default solution. I really do think wikipedia suffers when text and pictures are deleted when they could have been improved.
I also would somewhat object to the trimming of some very relevant criticisms from the article. I will bring back a few points I think shouldn't be missed. Worst case we make this a seperate "Criticisms" section, which many pages have. Let me know what you guys think.
More research about the value of PhDs would be great and welcome in that section as always!-Tesseract2(talk) 18:31, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
The issue wasn't the information but the weight given to it, considering its predominantly from one (I'm told bias) American article talking about American PhD's. I agree that criticisms shouldn't be removed, but it should be 50/50. Just for information sake PhD graduates would dress like this, not with a mortar board hat. --Hypo Mix (talk) 01:00, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

Actually just realized the section has been changed since i first comment on it, take my last comment with a grain of salt.--Hypo Mix (talk) 01:05, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

I reckon this section still needs some work. There are only two sources, one of which is a current-affairs magazine with a particular (and stated) editorial bias which requires its research to be taken 'with a grain of salt'. Despite this, the selections quoted from The Economist on here seem less biased than the actual article itself, which concedes that doctoral students '[pursue] their subject out of love... Some give little thought to where the qualification might lead' and that 'education is an end in itself'. There is also something of a North American-centric bias in this section of the article, which I believe is discouraged by Wikipedia.

As well as all this, the realisation that 'pre-2000 data' is perhaps pretty close to being out of date makes me feel old! Benson85 (talk) 23:29, 9 June 2011 (UTC)

I forgot where i read it (but it was in wikipedia) i found that people with PhD are the highest earning group in the USA (higher than most professionals). Any one know where that stat was from? --Hypo Mix (talk) 05:20, 15 June 2011 (UTC)


Found this article It is a good summery of the benefits of a PhD. I'll dump it here for now. --Hypo Mix (talk) 12:58, 4 September 2012 (UTC)


Archive 1 - Page creation through December 2006.

Archive 2 - January 2007 - December 2007.

Tidying up reference section[edit]

I tried to tidy the references section a little tonight, adding the publication date for the text "How to Get a Ph.D." by Phillips and Pugh, and giving this source its ISBN. I have also added a reference to an article by Dinham and Scott (2001) that appeared in the "Journal of Further and Higher Education" that is relevant to this subject. Please note that the ISSN which I gave for this journal is only for the printed form; it has a different ISSN in its online version. ACEOREVIVED (talk) 20:27, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Merge proposal[edit]

I have proposed that PhD Candidate be merged into this article. Is there any objections? --Kannie | talk 03:01, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

Definitely, although it needs some serious modification to give a better worldwide view rather than what appears to be a predominantly US one (it certainly looks like the setup in Piled Higher and Deeper). Here in the UK there's no real concept of "All But Dissertation" - the PhD is nearly always all research based and people undertaking it consider themselves "PhD students" from day one, whatever the legal fiction of their MPhil registration. There's "writing-up" I suppose but that's a very different thing and the thesis is submitted before the viva. Timrollpickering (talk) 09:20, 25 December 2007 (UTC)
Sounds good to me, although as Timrollpickering says, the article PhD Candidate isn't necessarily relevant outside the US, so perhaps the best thing to do would be to make it another subsection of the United States section -- Nicholas Jackson (talk) 00:28, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

the article saying that one abbreviation is British English and one is American English doesn't seem correct[edit]

I am a PhD student in the UK and have always read that 'PhD' is an informal abbreviation but every candidate should know that 'Ph.D.' is the correct form for formal uses. The British/American distinction seems overly simplified if not plain wrong. (talk) 17:10, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

This is not my experience (as another PhD student) at all. I've certainly never been told this and looking at several UK institutions' style guides it seems the recommended formal use is very much for "PhD":
York says "No full stops - Eg USA, UK, MA, PhD, etc, eg, 20 per cent"
Edinburgh gives a list of degree abbreviations includig "PhD"
London Met has a table of "wrong" and "right" forms with "Ph.D" listed as "wrong" and "PhD" as "right"
Manchester recommends against periods
Oxford (not known for being a place of change and which, for that matter, doesn't call their own degree "PhD") gives it as "PhD"
Sheffield uses "PhD"
Queen's says "Omit full stops from degree titles (BA, MA, MSc, PhD)"'s_Style_Guide.pdf
Style guides aren't the work of one random hack in the university; they are the formal editorial policy of the institution and reflect thought being given to these very points. Whilst they may not always be followed 100% by the institution's own staff (especially given how devolved website control often is), they are the nearest to a clear statement of use on the matter.
On the wider point, it is increasingly very much the case that full stops are not used in acronyms in British English, although I have seen a few exceptions, usually influenced by older teaching. Timrollpickering (talk) 17:50, 27 December 2007 (UTC)
The rule in British English is as follows: if the work is truncated, use a full stop; if the word is shortened (but the last letter remains), do not use a full stop. Thus "Doctor" becomes "Dr" but "Professor" becomes "Prof.". Thus it should be "Ph.D." in UK English. But, of course, rules were made to be broken... KarenSutherland (talk) 11:11, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Training for supervisors - Remove?[edit]

The section in this this article "Training for Supervisors" seems to be a bit off topic. What does everyone think about it? Keep, shorten, remove? -Nicktalk 22:06, 12 March 2008 (UTC)

As the person who created this section, you may be interested to know my thoughts. You may notice, if you look at the history of these Discussion pages, I raised the need for the article to cover training for Ph.D. supervision. However, if you feel that this is not the focal point of the article covered here, perhaps a new article "Doctoral supervision" (or words to that effect) could be created. The section as it appears here could then be shortened, and be preceded by a sub-heading saying "Main article: Doctoral supervision". Alternatively, this could go in an existing article in Wikipedia on a topic to do with higher education. I really think that the section belongs in Wikipedia somewhere - the question which is now opened to discussion is "Where"? ACEOREVIVED (talk) 22:27, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

RemoveThe section doesn't seem to fit. How many Universities actually require mentors to be trained? Is this a universally accepted practice or only limited to a few universities? Is this thought just the opinion of a few authors? Demantos (talk) 15:29, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

I say remove also. This is really an off topic section. A link, say in a "see also" section, to an appropriate article would not be out of place. --C S (talk) 11:57, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

'Grand PhD' diploma mills[edit]

Should these be included in some way? [1] which is a diploma mill [2] but some unexpected people have their 'degrees'.--Doug Weller (talk) 10:40, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

Funding edit war[edit]

This message is to the anonymous editor adding the info about PhD students being slaves, etc. Please note that one of the major rules of Wikipedia is it's Neutral Point of View policy. This means that everything must be written in a neutral tone. The language you added is far from neutral and reflects a clear opinion on your part, for example:

  • "The sufferings of PhD students are usually compounded as their studies can force them off the lower rungs of a promising career ladder, scuppering any hope of a copious salary

In addition, some of the things you mention are patently incorrect. For example:

  • '...invariably PhD students are destined to become slaves to research programmes and methods." It is quite foolish to assert that anything happens "invariably." This is clearly an opinion (indeed and opinion shared by a number of students), and your source doesn't even come close to demonstrating that your statement is correct.
  • They are a cheap source of labor and status for institutions and faculty and, after they earn their degrees, most join the reserve army of the academic underemployed. Here you assert that 1) grad students are a cheap source of labor, and 2) most Ph.D. graduates are underemployed. The expense of grad students is debatable (for teaching purposes, for example, it is usually cheaper to hire and adjunct rather than pay a graduate student's stipend). Second, you must define what you mean by "underemployed;" I'm not sure what you mean by it. Also, I think your statements are specific to certain fields, and also to graduates of certain programs. For example, I know that Ph.D. graduates in the humanities (english, history, philosophy, etc) are having a tough time finding academic jobs, especially when they are graduates of lower-ranked programs. On the other hand, graduates of more established programs in the social and natural sciences are doing a bit better. Also it is worth noting that simply making it through a PhD program does not entitle anyone to a high-end academic job.

Overall, your additions demonstrate a clear POV. I think it would be useful to include some things about jobs and funding, but the things you wrote simply won't do. I think you should rewrite them in the most objective, neutral way possible and add them to the appropriate country section, also taking into account the differences among programs, schools, and fields of study. Until then, your additions will continue to be reverted by the various editors of wikipedia (and a few automated scripts that will prevent multiple reversions). -Nicktalk 04:05, 12 May 2008 (UTC)


The article has been semi-protected for a week. Please use the talk page to discuss contentious edits. Spartaz Humbug! 06:34, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

Articles in THE[edit]

I don't know if there is somebody else with more time on their hands than I have and who also reads the Times Higher Education. If there is, you may like to include something about the debate that has gone on recently in the UK about (1) the relative merits of the PhD and the professional doctorate (the general thrust of argument being the professional doctorates do not match the standards for a PhD, a claim vehemently opposed by departments offering professional doctorates), and (2) Kevin Sharpe's article in which he argues that the standard of the UK PhD is falling and no longer represents what it used to represent.--Oxonian2006 (talk) 22:00, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

As Kevin Sharpe indicates, the main source of controversy seems to be the relatively short time required to earn a PhD in the UK (typically, four years beyond a bachelor's degree) compared to continental Europe (five years) and the U.S (six years or more). Having said that, talking from my own experience as someone who got a PhD degree from a top 10 US university in my field, I still believe that the specialized nature of the undergraduate degrees in the UK means that, in practice, a British BA/BSc is still equivalent to an American M.S/M.A in terms of the amount of specific training one receives in his/her major field of study. Therefore, it makes sense that it should be possible to proceed to doctoral research in Britain faster than in the US, with comparatively fewer requirements in terms of coursework and/or comprehensive qualifying exams.
I do agree however with Kevin Sharpe that the decision by the Research Councils in the UK to punish late thesis submissions is counter-productive. Most PhD students who fail to submit a thesis in 3 years don't do so because they are, to use an American English term, "slacking off", but rather because the difficulty of the topic they have chosen to address and the standards demanded by their supervisors (e.g. in terms of peer-reviewed publications) make it impossible to finish in such a short period of time, even if they work full-time (as most students do).
A good thing in my opinion about the (top) U.S research universities is that, because they are much better funded than their UK counterparts, there are really no rigid deadlines to submit your dissertation (American lingo for "thesis") after you have passed the quals and had your dissertation proposal accepted by your committee. Quite the contrary, U.S advisors are quite happy to fund you for three, four, or more years as long as you keep publishing (journal and conference) papers and are doing department work like serving as a teaching assistant for example. That gives the student the freedom to go deeper in his/her research or even explore multiple different research topics, which is often not the case in the UK. Again, having said that, the quality of PhD-level research in top UK universities (e.g. Oxbridge, Imperial, LSE) is still very high and, in many cases, comparable to what is found in top US institutions. (talk) 16:09, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
If a student can't finish their PhD in four years max full time, then either a) they've had genuine extreme misfortune (lost samples, telescope stops working, satellite blows up, precious manuscripts lost in library fire, civil war delays visit to archaeological sites etc.) or b) they're lazy. There are no other excuses and it's silly to pretend otherwise. It is perfectly correct that there be fairly stringent guidelines for the amount of time one ought to take to complete a PhD, otherwise frankly a lot of people would piddle about for 4 years, and then get a job and never finish, thus ensuring that years' of research/maintenance funding is wasted. The role of a student in the US is different - research students (in my experience) often take an active role in teaching and lecturing in a department, which is rare in the UK, so frankly it makes a lot of sense to continue paying a student wage to someone who may effectively be working (more or less) as a junior lecturer. The problem with the UK system is that it's completely arbitrary. There are no exams, there's no mandatory requirement to publish, so everything comes down to the thesis, which is examined on one day by two examiners who may or may not have read it and who can be actively chosen by the student. That is ridiculous. The UK should either move towards a more US system, where (as I understand it) exams and coursework are a reasonably important part of the scenario, or a more European system where a thesis is basically a collection of published papers bookended by an introduction and conclusion, perhaps with some sort of separate but related extended essay component to ensure that there is still a chance to pursue themes that may not necessarily be publishable. It's not about funding, it's about structural problems endemic to the UK system which really should be addressed. Badgerpatrol (talk) 16:24, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
Original research is often a tricky business and I don't think one can categorically affirm "a priori" that 3 years are sufficient or, conversely, not sufficient to produce an acceptable PhD thesis. In that sense, although it is desirable to have some sort of deadline for submission, I believe some degree of flexibility is warranted, which is not the case today in the UK because of the Research Councils' policies.
Besides, another valid point in my opinion is that, even though it is definitely possible to complete acceptable PhD work in 3 years only, it is also possible to go deeper if you have more time. I guess that was the point of the second poster when he/she mentioned the American PhD's who, on average, actually do have more publications as students than their UK or European counterparts, in part because they are not so much constrained by rigid thesis submission timetables.
Finally, on Badgerpatrol's remarks, I tend to think that, in some UK universities, PhD program(me)s are already fairly structured. A few programs at the LSE and some Cambridge departments require for example that first-year PhD students take lecture courses and written exams. Furthermore, most if not all UK universities have some sort of "transfer exam" or "preliminary performance review" at the end of the first year to decide whether a student can be formally registered for a PhD degree or not (that would be equivalent to "advancement to candidacy" in the US, albeit faster). In Cambridge and Oxford, candidacy status has to be confirmed at the end of the second year following another formal performance review and students do publish before they graduate, even if that is not strictly required. Also, most coursework taken by master's or first-year PhD students in the US is actually quite basic by European standards, i.e at a level comparable to 4th-year courses in a British MEng or MSci degree. It wouldn't make sense to force UK PhD students to take classes they have already taken in most cases as undergraduates. Toeplitz (talk) 17:24, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
It's always possible to go deeper if one has more time, but a PhD is a qualification, i.e. something which signifies that a student can meet a certain minimum fixed standard indicative of their ability. It's not a platform for open-ended research, which is why we have post-docs and fellowships, which do allow (to a greater extent) for e.g. PhD research to be extended and built upon. (And don't forget, research council policies only strictly apply to research council students - I doubt if these are even in the majority in the UK). Very few UK programmes, to my knowledge, have an actual exam upon which the transfer from (usually) MPhil to PhD depends. Usually it is some sort of report/interview/presentation scenario. In fact, I don't think I've ever actually heard of a transfer exam, so I have to defer to you on that one (but certainly they may exist for some areas of research, and correctly so). Students generally publish at most if not all universities, certainly not just Cambridge and Oxford, but the point is that it should be mandatory - something built in to the structure of the system. If the LSE and Cambridge have already introduced properly structured PhD programmes then that is an excellent step which should be seen as a best practice to spread throughout the whole system which, like undergraduate degrees, is far, far too arbitrary (although perhaps US universities are even worse in that regard, as one comparison). There's often a significant overlap between the end 4 year undergraduate degrees and master's degrees - I doubt if most observers would consider a 4th year/master's course to be "basic". It wouldn't make sense to force PhD students to re-take courses they've already passed, but it does make sense to enforce some metric that gives an accurate and consistent indication of a given student's ability, be it coursework or exams or whatever. Currently, everything comes down to one 2 hour verbal exam at the very end where the examined can select the examiners and thus at the very least have a very good idea a priori what the questions are going to be and how they're going to be asked and at the very most get what may amount to personal acquaintances in to ask the questions. The level of input from the supervisor/s is not properly regulated and can stretch all the way from no input whatsoever to virtually re-writing the thesis. And, on top of that, since actual failure is nigh on impossible in real terms for a completed PhD student, the options are basically no corrections, minor corrections, or major corrections. Major corrections can sometimes be extremely onerous to complete, but provided one does them and re-submits it, the long term consequences are nil and it makes absolutely no odds on your CV nor does it harm your future employment prospects in any way, unless you're silly enough to actually admit it. So basically, our highest degree could conceivably be awarded on a de facto nod n wink basis by a couple of one's chums examining a thesis that perhaps is more of a co-production and regardless of what they say it's impossible to fail anyway...that surely is not a sufficiently taxing examination and not a good basis for our system. Badgerpatrol (talk) 18:41, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

I admit that calling a 4th year/master's course "basic" is a bit of a stretch, but what I actually meant was that first-year PhD courses in the US do not really differ that much in content from what is covered in advanced papers from good Honours and master's degrees in the UK. Therefore, UK students are not at a significant disadvantage in that respect compared to their US counterparts. Second, speaking as someone who earned his PhD in the US, I can tell you that standards for doctoral education in America are not uniform either. Different universities/departments have different requirements for coursework and qualifying exams. In some programs, qualifying exams may include multiple written papers (mostly on undergraduate and first-year master's material) or, alternatively, may be an oral exam only (following a research seminar) or may be a combination of both. Although student performance is assessed on a regular basis (sometimes every semester), the quality of dissertations also vary and the dissertation committee is also picked by the student and his/her advisor. In fact, the final oral exam in the US (the so-called thesis "defense" in American spelling) is even less of a big deal than in the UK, as, unlike in Britain, it is normally an open (public) exam and failure is also usually not a realistic option. Advisors won't allow a student to defend if they think he/she will fail and, unlike in the UK, the advisor sits in the thesis committee. Moreover, PhD candidates may interact multiple times with committee members between the thesis proposal and the defense per se.
In the end, the quality of one's PhD work is ultimately judged in the US not by his/her school transcript (i.e. how many A's he/she got in the classes he/she took), but rather by the impact of the (external) publications arising from the thesis. It is also your publication record and how well-known your advisor and maybe your university are that will determine how easy it will be for you get a post-doc or a faculty position (very rare nowadays in the US fresh out of graduate school). Mutatis mutandis, I don't think things are substantially different in the UK, France or Germany; in the end, the standard is pretty much the same !
Finally, as my final word on this discussion, just as clarification for Wiki readers who might not be academics, Badgerpatrol's arguments, although essentially correct in many ways, might nevertheless suggest that earning a PhD in America, or Britain, or continental Europe is somehow an easy or trivial task. That is however not true at all. In fact, the number of people who enter graduate school in the US and fail to graduate with a PhD (because they drop out, fail their quals or simply cannot come up with research that satisfy their advisors' quality standards) is actually pretty high. Moreover, despite a lack of uniform standards, PhD-level research both in the US and Europe is on average of very high quality, sometimes including seminal results with far-reaching impact. So, I don't think we should trivialize the PhD experience. I'm not saying Badgerpatrol did that though. As a matter of fact, I actually agree with him (her?) in many of his points on the need for more structured PhD programs in the UK and elsewhere. Toeplitz (talk) 20:14, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure at all that external publication of results is mandatory for success in US PhD programmes. I suspect that it is very widespread (i.e. all but ubiquitous), just as it is in the UK. But if it is a defined requirement of the US system, then that is highly commendable. I also should have been clear with my comment regarding the localised nature of both systems - yes, the US system is extremely arbitrary in a number of ways due to the devolved nature of standards, curricula etc, and that is not a model for the UK to follow. I rather meant to say that we should cherry pick the best aspects of the US (and various European) systems - the defined, absolute requirement to publish (again deferring to your knowledge that this is actually mandated), the combination of exams, thesis and coursework etc., and convolve those with the best aspects of our system (the defined maximum timescale, the viva as something more than just an anointment, etc.). My point is not so much that completing a PhD is a trivial task, but rather than a) standards vary widely, not even between institutions, but between the experience of individual students within an institution, since the nature of the system is so subjective and individualised; b) as it stands, a PhD is basically a test of endurance, not ability - if you can write a book length thesis in four years, of more or less any quality whatsoever above absolute dredge, then you are going to be awarded a doctoral degree. That is not actually as hard as it may sound - four years (or sometimes longer) is a very long time. No metric exists to actually pick out the ones that are good from the ones that aren't. That can't be right. Thanks for the discussion, and I certainly agree that we are most definitely more or less barking up the same tree. Badgerpatrol (talk) 10:31, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

Both Kevin Sharpe and the commentators responding to his article on the Times Higher Education Supplement site make good points. On one hand, I sympathize with the idea that a PhD degree should not be an open-ended research program. On the other hand, if that is the case and much of the expectations surrounding PhD-level research have now been de facto transferred to post-doctoral fellowships, then universities worldwide should acknowledge that explicitly as Dr. Sharpe suggests by formally requiring a post-doc for entry-level faculty positions . Similarly, if the standard of "significant and substantial contribution to existing knowledge" is to be enforced, then we must necessarily accept that the number of PhD's awarded each year will necessarily be small (there are only so many "significant and substantial" contributions that can be made to knowledge in each given field at any given time). Tougher standards, meaning also higher failure/dropout rates, seem to conflict however with the push by governments everywhere to increase the number of doctorates every year, when a research doctorate in fact has never been meant to be a "mass degree" like an undergraduate bachelor's or a secondary school diploma !

Perhaps the discussion on this talk page should serve to form the basis for a section on criticism of the modern PhD degree, which the Wikipedia article is lacking at the moment. What say you ? (talk) 22:57, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

I suspect that "significant and substantial" should be taken to refer to the volume of work and the level of insight, as opposed to the actual impact of a piece of research on the field, which perhaps you are suggesting. Expecting people to make significant breakthroughs during the course of a PhD is pretty unfair (depending entirely on luck and the nature of the project really, which is of the supervisor's devising rather than the student's). But yes, basically, a PhD should be a) fairly and consistently awarded, with the required standard being as close to uniform between students as possible; b) should be a test of both intellect and industry. Better standards don't necessarily mean tougher standards - the failure rate would still be fairly low for a number of reasons (although presumably higher than close to zero percent....). But we do need some enforced standards, otherwise the whole thing becomes, excuse the pun, a purely academic exercise of very little real value. Badgerpatrol (talk) 10:31, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

You simply can't make pat statements about time to graduation, especially across universities and countries. For my candidacy exam, my university required four examiners at the minimum. Each examiner first gave a series of essay questions that were designed to take 8 to 12 hours to complete for each examiner. These were "closed book". I was placed in a room with a school laptop that had not internet capability and no other materials in the room. After I completed this week of 12 hours per day writing, I was then questioned by them in an oral defense that lasted 3 hours. I was always required to take 48 hours of coursework. My research component took longer than expected because I worked until my manuscripts produced work that were actually important to the field. I also designed my work myself from the ground up. Folks that walk into a lab doing groundbreaking work and simply do the leg work and write some up have it easy. By the time I was done, due to my own stubbornness in wanting my work to be very original and important, no one on my committee was qualified to properly examine me because my abilities exceeded their own. They deliberated for about 15 seconds prior to awarding me my doctorate. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:46, 4 January 2014 (UTC)

Latin vs Greek[edit]

Although philosophia has classical Greek origins, the abbreviation PhD is short for the Latin philosophiae doctor, because Latin was the language used by the mediaeval scholars, and by the older universities (eg Oxford, Cambridge, etc) in the names of their degrees (eg magister in artibus, doctor divinitatis). I'll modify GreekLatin in the opening sentence of this article if nobody has any objections. -- Nicholas Jackson (talk) 09:34, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

PhD in Latin[edit]

I was under the impression that it really stood for Post-honoris Doctor

Then I'm afraid you were mistaken. -- Nicholas Jackson (talk) 14:57, 15 February 2009 (UTC)

duration in the US seems understimated[edit]

The article currently says, completion of a Ph.D. program usually takes four to eight years of study after the Bachelor's Degree for the United States. According to the NSF's 2006 report on U.S. doctorates, the figures are rather higher. Counting only registered semesters (e.g. not counting a year taken off to work as part of the time), the median is a little over 7 years for science and engineering, and just over 8 years for the humanities. That's the median, so half take longer. If you count total elapsed time from entering a PhD program to graduating (wall clock time, as we say in CS), the medians are much higher: 9 years for science & engineering, and 15 years for the humanities. --Delirium (talk) 10:57, 15 February 2009 (UTC)

It looks like you've got some proper, citeable sources, so please feel free to edit that section accordingly. -- Nicholas Jackson (talk) 14:57, 15 February 2009 (UTC)
Later in that same section, the article mentions (with refs) that only 57% of students complete the degree within 10 years, 30% drop out, and 13% take more than 10 years. So perhaps 4-8 years is optimistic. But it seems to me that graduate students in any field who devote 100% of their time to the degree program (i.e., no outside work) should be able to finish within eight years. In my anecdotal experience, the people I know who took longer than that had part-time jobs, took time off, or even took full-time teaching jobs while still being registered as a grad student. At the same time, it is quite possible for some to finish in four years, and many have. So perhaps changing the statement to say "four to eight years of full-time study" might be more accurate? And then this extra info can be added to show the range of actual time taken to complete. -Nicktalk 19:37, 15 February 2009 (UTC)

In Germany[edit]

1. For those in Germany who wish to become university professors, after the Ph.D. another major undertaking is necessary, the Habilitationsschrift. It requires a major publication and often an oral examination by a university faculty.

2. Recently, I understand, there has been a determination that Ph.D.'s from American universities are not permitted to use the honorific title "Dr." legally. Prof. Soandso, Ph.D. is okay. This strikes me a weird! In Germany only those with doctorates from a German or EU university are permitted this honorific. All sorts of people in Germany have doctorates, but in the university those entitled to use the honorific "Prof. Dr." before their names are the real thing. Jim Lacey (talk) 00:46, 7 July 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:44, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Sorry, but at least some of this is sheer bollocks. And North American PhDs require a thesis and an oral exam, so the Habilitationsschrift hardly looks like an extra requirement to the rest of us. Any North American academic who fails to publish will never make it past Assistant Professor, so the effect is pretty much the same in the end. Hairhorn (talk) 16:04, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
Actually this is (or rather used to be) true, rather than bollocks. To clarify, the Habilitationsschrift is independent of the PhD thesis or exam, and is not a requirement for obtaining a PhD. It is a separate examination that is required before a canditate can be appointed as a full member of faculty. Incidentally, having passed the exam does not equate to being appointed as a professor, it merely allows the person to apply for such a position. This has changed relatively recently though, and many German universities no longer require a habilitation. Secondly, it used to indeed be the case that only EU (or even only German) PhDs were legally permitted to use "Dr". This is however no longer the case.Rainbowwrasse (talk) 14:39, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

Dr.Phil. abbreviation[edit]

I'm in two minds about mentioning the German abbreviation Dr.Phil. On the one hand, I feel it maybe should be included as it's the correct abbreviation for the German degree of Doctor of Philosophy, and since this article does have a section about German practice (which currently does list the Dr.Phil. abbreviation) perhaps it should also be ok to mention Dr.Phil. at the beginning of the article. (Also, I understand there's an American television personality called Dr Phil, and from time to time someone thinks it's funny to include a reference to him. Included a proprly-cited reference to the genuine abbreviation Dr.Phil. might stop this happening in future.) On the other hand, I don't feel anywhere near strongly about it to get into a prolonged or heated argument, so if other people have good reasons why it should be omitted then I'm entirely happy to go along with them. I'll tentatively restore it, pending further discussion, but won't push the point if anyone wants to revert. -- Nicholas Jackson (talk) 11:51, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

I don't feel the need for a heated argument. The points against including it in the lead are pretty simple: it's not a term used in English (this is English wikipedia after all), and "DPhil and similar" covers it pretty well. The confusion with Dr. Phil just tips it over the edge. I would be curious to hear what other people think. Hairhorn (talk) 15:57, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
My first thought when the page loaded was that it was vanalized. So... I didn't think I could take the rest of the article seriously. (talk) 20:19, 8 September 2010 (UTC)
I agree with the above; I thought the page was vandalised. A mention under Germany and Scandanavia makes sense, but I think it shouldn't be in the lead.--MotleyPhule 02:44, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

history section inconsistant/unclear[edit]

In the history section is says: "From the United States the degree spread to Canada in 1900, and then to the United Kingdom in 1917.[5] This displaced the existing Doctor of Philosophy degree in some universities." This suggest there is a distinction between 'the degree' and 'Doctor of Philosophy degree', but no distinction has been made. (The article is a disambiguation of 'D.Phil.') I would suggest modifying that line to: "From the United States the title Ph.D. spread to Canada in 1900, and then to the United Kingdom in 1917." Quantum liam (talk) 11:56, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

You're right that this is a little unclear, but what it actually means is that the new (to the UK) Doctor of Philosophy degree displaced an existing, distinct degree with the same name - a higher doctorate on a par with the DLitt, DSc, etc. I'm not sure exactly which universities awarded this degree (maybe one or more of the four ancient Scottish universities) but I'll see if I can find out. -- Nicholas Jackson (talk) 00:42, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

JD juris doctor[edit]

The Juris Doctor is a Harvard degree developed in the 20th century. Please correct the History part that establishes that the JD was an award before the 20th century —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:23, 12 March 2010 (UTC)


I've heard of PhD (i.e. got one), but I've never come across "DPhil"; is there any difference in usage when people use PhD and DPhil? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:05, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

I think the DPhil is mostly British. Oxford, for example, issues a DPhil rather than a PhD.[3] --JHP (talk) 01:16, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes a few British universities such as Oxford, Sussex and York call it a DPhil. The vast majority of British institutions (including Cambridge) call it a PhD.

People without BA/Bsc who have done a PhD[edit]

Does anyone know of a list of people who have earned or been admitted to a PhD program without having previous upper level education experience? I noticed that Jane Goodall managed this, and was wondering if there were others. (talk) 21:06, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

often those with an honorary degree, often famous musicians or human rights activists --Hypo Mix (talk) 03:42, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

It depends on the Ph.D. program. You don't need an honorary degree, and you certainly don't need to be famous. Different programs have different requirements. --TimothyDexter (talk) 19:06, 15 March 2011 (UTC)


Over the next few weeks, who would like to work on the requirements section with me? I'd like to try and make each paragraph more exact, with citations, in order to better assist people thinking to take one on, either formally or informally. I plan to take as exact a criteria as possible over to Wikiversity, to assist independent researchers there. Regards, Leighblackall (talk) 00:28, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

+1 I'm in. It's not particularly clear right now... --Davecormier (talk) 02:36, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

PhD in the United States[edit]

The majority of assertions in the United States section do not have their sources cited making me think its just conjecture from a single person. Ironically you'd think a person editing an article on PhDs would know better...I added fact tags, hopefully someone can back these claims up. Random2001 (talk) 14:42, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Merge with "Doctorate", at least partially[edit]

It's confusing to have Doctorate and PhD, I would be inclined to merge them. If merging is not appropriate, I would still consider some partial merging, as for instance both articles maintain a list of the use in each country... but many of those uses are copied from one another, having to maintain two descriptions of the same thing (see for instance the Spain section in both articles, where one is more updated than the other). --Samer.hc (talk) 14:37, 22 November 2012 (UTC)

Funding of PHD in Argentina[edit]

The article lacks of information about the funding given by public organizations (CONICET, ANPCYT, public universities) to the students, which permits full dedication to them. The amount of funding during the last years ("Kirchnerists" governments) was significatively increased respect to the amount given by previous administrations, at the point that the number of phd students funded by the State increased by the factor of 2-3 in a few years (and this is one of the major items when the government wants to praise itself). This also is a matter of debate in the present times, given that the amount of funding has rached a plateau, and as a consequence, a lot of applicants (who growed the hope of being employed as phd students when graduated) are being rejected in the recent applications (2011 and 2012). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:34, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Do what?[edit]

This statement seems to make no sense, especially since the "thus" does not refer to anything: "The doctorate of philosophy as it exists today thus originated as a doctorate in the liberal arts at the Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität, the buildings of which are today used by the Humboldt University of Berlin, becoming common in large parts of the world in the 20th century." Did someone just drop that in there? HullIntegrity (talk) 19:45, 8 June 2014 (UTC)

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