Academically, PhD is the highest academic degree available. It is a globally recognized research degree awarded to candidates who have completed and submitted a thesis by Universities or higher institutions of learning. Generally, the requirements for PhD vary owing to the choice of university and the field of study and must be met before this degree is awarded.

A Ph.D. involves the full-time study of three or more years. In these years, the student is expected to complete a research work that comes as a thesis or dissertation. Getting a PhD requires that the candidate gets a Masters first. In some occasions, some institutions allow students to go straight from Bachelors to PhD. At times, candidates who have required skills, knowledge, research capacities and grades are allowed to fast track their Master’s to PhD.

Apart from completing the coursework and thesis, the candidate also has to put up an oral defence. This will be done before a faculty examination panel which includes examiners from within and outside the university. Unlike the undergraduate program, a PhD is a postgraduate study and can be done as

  • Full-time
  • Part-time or
  • Distance-learning

This is due to distance and other requirements for PhD which must be met.

Application for Ph.D.

Before one decided to pursue a Ph.D., it is assumed that the candidate has an area of specialization already. When this is done, the candidate is expected to research the institutions that offer what he/she wants to study. Then choose the institution(s) that met his desires, considering the tuition cost (with the candidate’s budget in mind), cost of living, proximity etc.

The application process requires that the candidate must:

  1. Fill the Application Form

This is the first thing to be done by a PhD candidate. Most Universities have their application forms online and the application forms can be accessed on their portals. Although some Universities also email their forms to the candidate’s email address. Hence, the candidate feels the form and emails it back to the school.

  1. Pay the Application Fee

The candidate is required to pay a non-refundable application fee before the application deadline. This amount is usually within $100 – $500 or more depending on the school or country. This fee does not apply to free tuition Ph.D. Scholarship applicants as the scholarship board take care of it.

Admission Requirements for PhD.

Before admission is given to a candidate to study Ph.D., some requirements must be met. Some of these requirements are listed below and are not limited to what is listed below as Universities requirements differ.

  1. Academic Degrees Certificates

This is top on the list as it serves as proof that the candidate has actually undergone the preliminary classes and attained the prerequisite degrees/knowledge to undergo a PhD study. The certificates necessary are basic school certificate, high school certificate, Bachelor’s and of course Masters.

The university evaluates these certificates and sees if they meet the requirements for PhD. Most universities require a Master’s degree with a minimum CGPA of 4.0 on a 5.0 scale. The equivalence depending on the scale will be considered too. Presenting this indicates that the candidate has fully completed the requirement for a Master’s and is free to do a Ph.D.

  1. English Language Proficiency Certificate

English Language proficiency certificate is required from applicants whose official language is not English. Also, those whose Bachelor’s and Master’s courses were not taught in English are required to submit an English Language proficiency certificate.

Candidates whose bachelor’s and master’s courses were taught in English are expected to get a certificate from their institution indicating that they were taught in the English Language.

Candidates whose official language is not English and were not taught in English at Bachelor’s and Master’s levels are expected to submit any of the followings:

  1. Statement of Purpose

This is another important requirement for postgraduate studies not just the requirements for PhD. A statement of purpose is where you clearly state your reason for applying for the particular program in the particular university. How prepared you are for the study and how the program suits you.

It also accounts for your career plans, interests and motivation in some cases. You are required to keep a copy for yourself for record sake. Some institutions (Stanford University) have specific guidelines for how a statement of purpose should look. This guideline will help you narrow down your write-up to meet specific targets.

  1. Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation from persons (mostly professors) who have worked with you at one time or another. The recommenders must have supervised you during your Bachelor’s or Master’s studies. By any means, the three are not professors/lecturers (at least two must be) who have taught you, then they must have supervised you in employment or community service setting.

In their recommendations, it is necessary that they state your suitability for admission for Ph.D. The applicant is required to submit the names of the recommenders and their email addresses online during the application. These recommenders will be communicated through their emails to send their recommendations. The applicants owe it as a duty to notify and remind them to submit before the deadline.

  1. Academic Transcripts

Academic transcripts are major requirements for PhD and can never be overlooked. It serves as a report card for your academic performance in previous studies. The transcripts are scanned in PDF forms and uploaded on the online application portals. Some universities also require that your university sends a hard copy through the post.


In most cases, the university you are applying to writes back to the university where you graduated to verify and authenticate the sent transcripts. This happens mostly when you have met the admission requirements. This is aimed at eliminating fraud and ensuring that only qualified candidates are admitted.

While uploading your transcript, ensure that no page is missing as this will cause your application not to be considered.

  1. CV or Resume

This is required for admission/application as it contains a detailed summary of your background. There is no page limit for a CV or resume and you are expected to note down your research experiences.

Endeavour to add your academic publications from your previous research. This will help to inform the admission board of your readiness through experience.

  1. Research proposal

Submitting a research proposal enables the university to assign the most suitable supervisor to you. Although some universities will require you to choose a supervisor and let the supervisor accept to supervise you before you are given admission for Ph.D. Whichever way, it is worthy of note that your Research Proposal has a say in if you will be accepted or rejected by your supposed supervisor.

Getting a novel research topic will hasten your acceptance by your supervisor. Anyways, it is necessary to have good background knowledge of your intended research area. This will enable you to estimate the cost of the research, know the estimated completion time frame and research methodology.

Although your research topic is subject to change, it forms the basis for you to enhance your research idea. In a nutshell, a Ph.D. Research Proposal should:

  • State your proposed research topic
  • Have a justification of study (Reasons why you choose the topic and relevance to knowledge)
  • State the problems you intend to solve through your research
  • Be able to note down the current knowledge gap and necessary hypothesis to bridge these gaps.
  • State your research methodology (how you intend to carry out the research

Qualification for Ph.D. Award.

The award of Ph.D. is done when the candidates must have satisfied the examiners and the university senate. The candidate must have:

  • Successfully completed and passed the required credit load for the award of Ph.D.
  • Successfully completed a Ph.D. thesis or dissertation and have defended it before an examination panel at the faculty and postgraduate school levels.

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9 thoughts on “REQUIREMENTS FOR PhD

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