Requirements to apply for a PhD in the US

In the anglo-Saxon system, a “PhD” means “Doctor of Philosophy” (doctor philosophiæ). It is a postgraduate doctoral degree obtained by professionals that have satisfactorily contributed to their fields (economy, arts, medicine, laws, and others) with a notable investigation related to their profession.

To obtain the degree, the student must write and present a thesis to its university; once it is approved, he or she will receive the Doctor of Philosophy Degree. It may take you years to achieve such a degree, but by the time you receive it, your professional profile will become more competitive, allowing you to apply for attractive jobs or even other academics degrees.

If you want to know more about the requirements to get a PhD, keep reading this article.

PhD in the US

Currently, numerous professionals come from all over the world to obtain a PhD in the US because our universities are in the best positions within global rankings.

To prove this, here is the World University Rankings of 2020; from the top 10, there are 7 American institutions:

world university rankings 2020 top 10

PhD requirements

If you want to apply to obtain this type of degree, you will need to meet certain requirements. We will give you a list of the main things you should take into consideration before applying, but remember, each university has its system for PhD applications.

phd sample

Select the field

Even though it may seem obvious, the first thing you have to do is to find the program that fits your interests. You should look back and review all your previous courses and degrees to select the program that allows you to become an expert in your field.

Previous degrees

Since a PhD represents a high academic level, you will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree first. In some specific cases, a master’s degree is required.

You may be asked to provide a copy of your diploma and transcripts.

➡ READ ALSO: What are Stanford admission requirements?

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score

This is a standardized test used to measure student’s aptitudes in mathematics, analytical writing, and vocabulary; it represents one of the essential admission requirements in postgraduate programs in the US.

We recommend you to take the GRE a few months before your PhD application, because it may take some time to receive your scores back; it is better for you to already have them by the time of applying instead of waiting.

Recommendation letters

If you submit your application with 2 or 3 recommendation letters, you may improve your request. The letter should contain information about how they met you, how your academic and work performance has been, and why you should be chosen to do the doctorate.

It will be more beneficial if the letters are signed by professors related to your discipline instead of professors that are not, even though it is also valid.

Application fee and funds

When applying, besides the academic requirements, you will have to pay a fee. The amount varies in each university, but generally the sum is $100.

On the other hand, doctorate programs are not cheap; make sure you have enough funds to afford it, or check if the university provides a scholarship that may help you.

Copy of your passport

Currently, almost all of the applications can be electronically filled. If you are an American citizen, you may need to provide your Social Security Number; if you are an international student, you need to scan your passport.

Curriculum Vitae

Include and stand out your skills in the discipline you are applying to. Also, mention all the jobs you have had related to your area of study, and all other information that may improve your profile.

English language certification

In case you are not a native citizen, you will need to prove your English language skills to apply for a PhD; this will demonstrate that you are capable of understanding and participating in classes, answering questions, reading the material, etc.

The certificates accepted by the US universities are:

  • TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language).
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System).
  • C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency.

You can obtain those certificates in your home country or the US. However, these tests have expirations dates, generally two years after approving it; keep in mind this information before applying.

For your convenience, here are some PhD requirements (from different universities) you can check: