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Steps to Attain a Doctorate

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

Do you want to attain a doctorate degree? Are you someone who is looking towards the pathway that could lead you towards attaining a doctorate? You've just stumbled on the perfect guide for you.

Then read this blog to learn about the steps that should be taken to achieve the goal.

If you ever find yourself wanting to pursue a Doctorate (PhD), here are some things to keep in mind:


This blog is meant to serve as a primer for those who are looking to obtain a doctorate degree. It's important to note that the process to attain a doctorate degree varies depending on the field of study and institution in question, but this should give you a good overview of what you can expect during your pursuit of a doctorate.

What is a Doctorate?

The term "doctorate" is also used to refer to an honorary academic degree, especially in Commonwealth countries. In some countries, Doctorates are awarded either by universities or by individual institutions. In the United States, the doctorate was phased out gradually in favour of the professional practice doctorate. A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a distinction awarded for a coursework-based doctoral dissertation or thesis. The qualification is often an honorary one awarded by universities and research institutions in many countries to distinguish people who have undertaken original research and have conducted sound scholarly work from those with lesser qualifications.

  • A doctorate is a type of academic qualification awarded to students after they have successfully completed a course of study at the graduate level. The duration of this period of study varies from 6 to 8 years, depending on the institution and the nature of the degree. A doctorate is a higher academic degree, which is different from master's degree. A doctoral degree requires more work and research than that of a master's degree. In addition, it requires completion of a thesis or dissertation.

  • Doctorates are often seen as a rite of passage for those who have completed their undergraduate education. This is true, but it is also important to remember that a doctorate is not just about completion of an undergraduate degree.


Purpose of a Doctorate:

The purpose of a doctorate is to prepare you for the professional world and the challenges you will face in your career.

  • A doctorate can be obtained in almost any field, and it can take many forms. It can be obtained by completing coursework at a university, or by doing research under the supervision of a professor.

  • Some doctorates may require you to gain hands-on experience in an area before being awarded your degree.

Major Steps to Attain a Doctorate:

1) Plan for your Doctorate:

During your undergraduate years, you'll be taking classes in your intended major and related majors, just like everyone else. What's different about you is that you'll be taking classes more intensively than most students do, often with smaller class sizes and more individualized attention from professors. Similarly, during your post-graduation, specialize in the subject you desire for a PhD, in order to polish your research for the future.

This will help give you an early edge for grad school applications. And after that, it’d be easier as you are yourself making your path easier for a PhD (Doctorate).

2.) Choose your Subject Matter:

The next step is choosing your subject matter. If you already know what your area of interest is, that's great—if not, now is the time to start asking yourself some hard questions about what really interests you. It's easy to go down paths that seem sensible and challenge yourselves to find the right subject matter.


3.) Research Well for your Doctorate:

Research your topic carefully and select an area of study that interests you most. The first step toward getting a PhD is choosing an academic area that interests you so much that it will drive your research for many years to come. Find out what resources are available for studying your chosen topic and talk with potential advisers about how they might help guide your studies during the time you have to prepare for a doctorate.

4.) Get Ready for your Dissertation:

Before taking your first class, you should have already chosen a topic for your dissertation and be ready to defend it. You should also have a general idea of where you will get your funding (grants, assistantships, etc.) and what classes are required to achieve that end. Once you've finished all the necessary coursework, look into opportunities for independent study that would allow you to focus solely on your dissertation.

The point is if you start early and plan ahead, the road to a PhD won't be as long or arduous as it seems.

  • Write a proposal for your dissertation research (see Appendix A for sample proposal).

  • This document should be between 10 and 15 pages long (not including references), and it should outline the rationale for your research, describe how you will conduct it, explain what results in it should produce, and offer an explanation of why this research is important enough to warrant so much time and effort on your part.

  • When submitting this proposal, use the same guidelines as when submitting any other document such as papers or reports:

  • use good grammar, spelling, and punctuation;

  • be clear in what you intend to say;

  • avoid jargon;

  • cite sources of information accurately;

  • make sure that everything fits in its proper place (topics first followed by subtopics followed by details);

  • use page numbers so that reviewers can easily find specific items.

  • Complete a thesis and dissertation under the supervision of your advisor.


There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to attain a doctorate. You picture a long, rigorous process with only some of your sanity intact at the end of four or eight years. While this can be true for some doctoral programs, the steps to attain a doctorate can be quite manageable and rewarding if you're willing to put in the work.

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