How to Get a PhD Position in the USA

Are you looking on to get a PhD position? The USA is a great choice of location to actualize this. You have a variety of world-class institutions to choose from and of course, there is an assurance that you will also finish in record time too. A PhD degree is a postgraduate degree. This means that to get this, you must have completed at least, a bachelor’s degree in an accredited university. You can also have answers to frequently asked questions about studying abroad, generally.

Getting a PhD position in the USA is easier than in many countries because you do not necessarily need to have completed your master’s degree for this. You can apply if you have a master’s degree and if you don’t have one. It is totally up to you. Interesting, right? This does not include the fact that you can also get scholarships from the universities that cover your tuition, and stipends inclusive. Are you considering leveraging the opportunities in getting a PhD position in the USA already? Let’s go on.

PhD position

How many years is a PhD degree in the USA?

It takes an average of two to eight years to get a PhD in the USA, depending on your course and qualification. The number of years you are likely to spend in getting a PhD degree in the USA is solely dependent on your initial qualification. So, if you already have a master’s degree whether from the US or not, it will take a lesser duration to get a PhD. This implies that you will have more years of study if you are running a PhD program with a bachelor’s degree alone. This is for very obvious reasons.

The quality of knowledge you will receive from globally-recognized institutions in the US beats what you get elsewhere. And because you are aiming for a higher degree in academia, you must be well taught. Hence, PhD students with a first degree only have a lot more learning and foundation to be laid before they can attain the knowledge of master’s degree holders. It takes about a year or two for students already with master’s degrees, and about four to eight years for students without a master’s degree.

The first three years of a PhD program in the USA are for the completion of coursework. It also takes about two to eight years to further complete a written dissertation, which is also known as a thesis. As already explained, the number of years to spend in the program is determined by the qualification that you applied for the program with. Applications for the program open during the fall, and resumption is the following fall (the next year).

What are the requirements for applying for a PhD position in the USA?

Asides from getting your study visa and putting other things in place to live in the US as a foreigner, there are also must-haves to be eligible to apply for a PhD in the USA. It is important to note that the eligibility requirement differs in many cases, but below are primary requirements regardless of individual choices. You need:

  • Transcript from your institution

You must have a transcript as a graduate or have completed a degree. Your institution will send you a transcript to the school you are applying to study. Your transcript is more like a compilation of your results from the degree you got. This means you must first apply for your transcript on time should, in case, it takes longer.

  • An application form

Your application form should be filled in correctly and completed. What are you applying for? To get a degree in the institution of your choice.

  • Statement of Purpose

Your statement of purpose is concise and convincing writing that provides information as to why you want to study in an institution and your choice of course too. You can share information about yourself here that can be relevant to your application.

PhD position in the USA
  • Application fee

Some institutions offer a waiver for application fees. However, a little tip is that, if your application fee is waived, and you are applying for a scholarship, you are at risk of not getting a fully-funded scholarship.  As a foreigner, bear in mind that you sure want a fully-funded scholarship, especially if you are not too buoyant financially because there is a heavy cost for travel and other things that you do not want to incur because of application fees.

  • Papers/publications

This is a very important requirement for a PhD position in the US and some other countries, whether you have a master’s degree. A PhD student is assumed to be a researcher who is ready to conduct more research during the program. Having papers and publications prove your readiness and intellectual capacity for the degree.

Here is a tip; for applicants with a bachelor’s degree, your undergraduate project can count as a paper if well-written and supervised. Also, you do not have to be the sole writer of the paper. You can be a cowriter or contributor. Two to five publications in journals are just about a good minimum number you should have.

  • Language Test

For a PhD position in the USA and any other reason that you may have to migrate to the US, you need a language test as part of your requirement. At Florida State University, for example, Nigerians do not have to undertake TOEFL or IELTS because Nigeria is already an English-speaking country. The USA speaks English as an official language. This means that you must have a valid IELTS result or TOEFL.

  • Resume

Yes, a resume is needed to apply for a PhD in the USA. It must be properly written to give you an advantage by highlighting key information that will be useful for your application. Where an applicant did a good job in their resume, professors can pick interest in you and offer to provide a letter of reference for you.

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)

Reputable institutions administer a test to enrol students in an academic program. Your score on this test determines whether your admission will be granted. For an academic year, one test result is okay to determine your admission status. The Graduate Record Examination is for applicants from any field of study, while applicants in management science courses take the Graduate Management Admission Test.

PhD position USA

However, English and Mathematics are required sections in both tests. The GRE examination is very useful for applicants who do not have research works or publications. This will prove you credible enough for a PhD program. Currently, there is a likelihood of nullifying the GREs in the USA because of how expensive it is to sit in for the examinations and the possibility of depriving qualified applicants because of cost.

  • Recommendation Letter

Your recommendation letter is like a reference. Applying to study in the US, like any other country, you need this. The letter of reference is best written by your tutors, professors, or directors at work, especially if the organization is related to the course or institution you are applying to. It is always advised that family members do not write recommendation letters for applicants. They showcase your capability from a third party’s opinion to your preferred institution.

How much does it cost to get a PhD in the USA?

Like any other country, the cost of post-graduate studies varies based on a lot of things. Your institution and course of study are major determinants of how much you will spend to run a PhD program in the USA. Are you a Nigerian, there are scholarships, particularly for you, that you should look out for? Many institutions offer funding at the beginning of an academic year, which is usually in the fall. So, plan to start at a time, as this can help you grab the opportunity of being funded.

You can also attain some level of self-reliance while studying if you get the hack on finding jobs to do alongside school. It is good to mention that most institutions offer jobs for foreign students, especially when it is a fully funded scholarship status.

PhD position in USA

However, getting a scholarship is a good option for foreigners. There are different kinds of scholarships a foreigner can have access to, ranging from fully funded to partly funded. The degree you graduate with can indeed help applicants access scholarships easier, like the first-class graduate being on edge over the second-class graduate and what have you.

What is the minimum GPA score in applying for a PhD position in the USA?

The minimum GPA score in applying for a PhD position with a first and second degree is above 3.0 over the 4.0 scale, in the US GPA grading scale. This academic record is key. So, applicants can seek help in converting their GPA to the 4.0 scale of the US to see if they qualify.

You can learn more about how to get a PhD position in the USA from this recorded twitter space.

Do you have a poor GPA in your first degree? Read this to see how you can study in the UK with a third class.

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