Doctoral Degree Schools
If you have ever dreamt of going to the literal "head of the class" then a doctoral degree might be in your future. A Doctor of Philosophy (more commonly referred to as a Ph.D.) is as far as you can go in the world of academics. You can earn of Ph.D. in many common areas of study. A Ph.D. is awarded upon the successful completion of a dissertation. This is where you are putting forth a specific idea related to your chosen field based on research you've compiled and conducted.
The bulk of any Ph.D. program is actually made up of how to write and research your dissertation. Once you understand those formats, you can begin the actual work. Upon completion you will present your dissertation as a written study and/or as an oral presentation. In the oral part, you'll have to defend your work before a board of professors all who have already earned their Ph.D.s.
One of the coolest aspects of being awarded this degree is that you can now officially call yourself "Doctor." In fact, you can make everyone else call you "Doctor" as well. Ask Dr. Laura. She's a popular radio therapist who has been dispelling advice for years. What did she get her Ph.D. in? Physiology. Her dissertation was on the effect of insulin in lab rats. Officially, she is still a doctor.
How to Pick a Ph.D. Program
Deciding to go for a Ph.D. is going to be a major decision that will have a positive impact on many aspects of your life. It's also going to mean more challenges and studies ahead. Just as you started your college career with research, picking the best doctoral degree school for you will begin with research. The best source? Your current professors. They might recommend the very same institute of higher learner where they achieved their Ph.D. There could be other recommendations they might make to help steer you in the right direction.
You can also expand your research through college guides that are created each year. As with everything else in our lives, these guides are available online. You can also narrow your research to U.S. News and World Report. They have put together a ranking of the best graduate schools in the country. That might be a good place to start!
How to Finance Your Ph.D. Program
Because a major component of a doctoral degree will involve research, you could find funding sources at the university where you are studying in one of their ongoing research programs. Not only will this work be a benefit to your own studies, but it can enhance your resume and hopefully allow you to seek advice from other professors.
How a Doctoral Degree Program is Structured
For every different type of Ph.D. program this is a different approach to earning the degree. Depending on the type of university, you could find yourself immersed in course work and research. However, you might also be called upon to teach courses related to your field. A lot of this has to do with how you might apply your Ph.D. beyond the walls of academia.
With your Ph.D. study you'll be assigned a mentor. This is someone who has already achieved their own Ph.D. in a related field of study. As you proceed through your research gathering and writing, they can act as a kind of "over the shoulder" mentor who can make sure you're on the right path. Because you'll be assigned from the faculty staff of the university, it's important to familiarize yourself with that group of professors. If none of these professors seem to your liking, you might be at the wrong school!
Popular Doctoral Programs
In the health care arena, there is a wide array of specific sciences where you can earn a Ph.D. It might seem redundant to go to medical school to be a doctor and get a doctoral degree. Even though you won't be called Dr. Dr., you will have the opportunity to delve deeper into topics that interest you. This is especially true if you want to end up in the field of medical research. You don't want to be the only doctor in the lab without a Ph.D. Among the doctoral degrees you can get in this area are Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Doctor of Psychiatric Health and Doctor of Public Health.
Deciding to enter the field of education could have you seeking out a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Education degree. Here you can concentrate on school administration, early childhood development, education reform and curriculum. As an added bonus, once you get Ph.D. in this area you can become the doctoral mentor for some other aspiring doctor.
How fast you earn your Ph.D. will be entirely up to you. It could mean anywhere between four to seven years of additional study. Once you have secured a doctoral degree, you'll find many more doors of opportunity open to you.