What is PhD: Meaning, Full Form, How to Do PhD Abroad?

What is PhD: Meaning, Full Form, How to Do PhD Abroad?

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Priya Garg
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Dec 21, 2023 13:05 IST

A PhD degree is the highest level of educational qualification that one can have. The full form of Ph D degree is Doctor of Philosophy. Post the completion of a PhD degree, one can decide to have an extension to their PhD or pursue yet again, another PhD degree. However, there is no other higher educational degree that may be undertaken after a PhD. 

What is PhD

The PhD degree is recognised across the globe and the individual holding it is thus referred to as a “doctor”, meaning that they are an expert in the chosen subject. A PhD degree allows an individual to conduct collaborative or independent research in their area of expertise and share their results across their scientific communities of engineers, doctors, psychologists and other professionals.

If you too wish to do a PhD abroad, then read this blog till the end for all the necessary details. This blog is all about PhD full form, PhD degree meaning, how many years of PhD are required, PhD subjects, the benefits of doing a PhD abroad, how to do a PhD abroad and careers after PhD abroad. 

What is PhD?

A PhD degree is the highest possible academic degree. A PhD degree is pursued only after the completion of a master’s degree in the relevant subject. A PhD degree can pose numerous challenges in front of a student but alongside, equally rewards them for their determination and hard work. One may even be able to bring out some groundbreaking results during their journey to manifesting their highest academic degree.

The PhD degree is awarded by higher and authorised institutions only after the successful thesis or dissertation submission by the PhD holder. Even though a master’s degree is a basic requirement for pursuing a PhD degree, some institutions allow students to avail a PhD degree straight after their bachelor’s degree. A PhD degree is typically pursued by those students who wish to settle in an academic or research field or students who wish to get a strong hold on their subject - as much as possible.  

Read: Masters vs PhD: Which one is right for you?

Why is PhD a Terminal Degree?

A terminal degree is one which closes a student’s official educational journey. It is the highest possible degree in a given field - academic or professional. The Doctor of Philosophy, short for the PhD degree, is a terminal academic degree for a reason. Since there is no higher degree than a PhD degree that can be pursued at an educational institution, a PhD degree is considered the highest possible degree. And no educational institution across the globe provides a degree that is higher than a PhD degree.

Having a PhD degree means that one has reached the maximum possible level of education in the concerned field or subject. A flow chart of the level of educational qualifications is given below. 

What is PhD?

What is the Full Form of Ph D Degree?

The PhD full form in English is “Doctor of Philosophy”. It must be noted that the term PhD, short for “Doctor of Philosophy”, does not necessarily mean a PhD in the subject of Philosophy. A PhD thus can be pursued in any subject of the candidate’s interest given that they want to leverage themselves with the highest form of education in their desired subject.  

Also Read: What are Dissertations?

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Different PhD Courses

Just like the bachelor’s and master’s degrees, a PhD degree can be attained in any stream or subject. Some major branches of PhD courses are given below. 

PhD in Science 

PhD in Maths

PhD in Statistics

PhD in Psychology

PhD in Linguistics

PhD in Sociology

PhD in Medicine & Health Sciences

PhD in Physics

PhD in Politics

PhD in Environment

PhD in Oceanology

PhD in Climate and Weather Changes

PhD in Engineering

PhD in Business Management

PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences 

PhD in Biology 

PhD Abroad: Eligibility Criteria

When it comes to PhD Admission abroad, one must fulfil a set of eligibility criteria. To be eligible to get admitted to a PhD abroad, one must:

  1. Have a master’s degree in a relevant subject or a bachelor’s degree of 4 or more years in the same or relevant field. 
  2. Have the consolidated marksheet of both master's and bachelor's degrees. 
  3. Have valid scores in the English Proficiency Tests like IELTS, TOEFL, etc.
  4. Qualify for the General GRE.
  5. Qualify for the Subject GRE.
  6. Arrange 2-3 Letters of Recommendation (LORs)
  7. Possess the required Academic Transcripts
  8. Have a high GPA score

Tip:- If you have published a research paper as a co-author or as a principal author then, you must also mention the details of that paper in your application. This gives an edge to your application among others. 

How to Do PhD Abroad: Step-by-step Plan

Unlike getting a bachelor's or a master's degree abroad, the way to get a PhD abroad is different. The students need to approach their desired supervisors and get their recommendation before applying to the PhD vacancies available at the university. For the complete step-by-step plan on how to do PhD abroad, do check out our article "How to do PhD?".  

Required Documents 

Below is a list of documents that a PhD applicant is expected to possess. Keeping these documents ready beforehand applying for a PhD may delay any last-minute disruptions. 

  1. Your school and college mark sheets. 
  2. Test scores of standardised English language proficiency tests. 
  3. Your research/thesis proposal.
  4. An updated CV (Curriculum Vitae)
  5. 2-3 Letters of Recommendation: consider asking your professors and department heads in college.
  6. Passport 

Once your application gets approved, you will be required to possess your university's acceptance letter at all times while applying for a visa and looking for accommodations in that foreign country. 

Know all about PhD Abroad

All about PhD in the UK for Indian Students Guide to PhD Programs in Germany
PhD Study in Canada: All you need to know PhD Scholarships in UK for Indian Students

Average PhD Stipend in Different Countries 

The Doctor of Philosophy, long form for PhD is considered a professional degree which is why the duration of a PhD degree is counted in the total experience of the student. Most countries and universities abroad provide fully-funded PhDs; while the others provide some amount of funding for the completion of a PhD. The amount of funding provided may vary according to the government or institutional policies. When it comes to the funding of a PhD in different countries, one must look for both government and non-government scholarships. We have listed the average range of government and non-government funding available in different countries in the table below.

Country PhD Funding Body Average Yearly PhD Funding Amount (respective currencies)
Study in Canada Government (Scholarships included) CAD 10,000 - 70,000 (INR 6.2 L - 43.6 L)
Non-government CAD 1000 - 40,000 (INR 62.4 k - 25 L)
Australia Government AUD 15,000 (INR 8.5 L)
Non-government AUD 3000 - 30,000 (INR 1.6 L - 16.8 L)
USA Government USD 15,000 - 30,000 (INR 12.5 L - 25 L)
Non-government USD 15,000 - 30,000 (INR 12.5 L - 25 L)
Study in UK Government GBP 18,000 - 30,000 (INR 18.9 L - 31.5 L)
Non-government GBP 15,000 - 27,000 (INR 15.78 L - 28.4 L) 
Germany Government

EUR 11,208 - 15,000 (INR 10.28 L - 13.6 L)

France Government EUR 500 - 2,000 (INR 45.5 k - 1.8 L)
Spain  Government EUR 1,188.49 (INR 1.08 L)
Study in Ireland Government EUR 28,000 (INR 25.5 L)
South Korea Government USD 1000 - 2000 (INR 83 k - 1.6 L)

*The given INR conversions are subject to change as per the exchange rate. 

Please note that the above values are for estimation purposes only. There may be some difference in the actual values due to an update in the policies for funds in the concerned organisations. Students must also note that PhD stipends in some countries may cover the cost of living while others may not. It is advised to check the details of the funding thoroughly. 

How Long Does a PhD Take Abroad?

The duration of completing a PhD depends entirely on the institution, subjects and the thesis topic. In some institutions, a PhD can take up to 6-8 years depending on the challenges and research processes involved during the PhD, while some institutions may help you get a PhD degree within 3-4 years of its manifestation. On average, a PhD may span to up to 5-6 years anywhere across the globe. A PhD degree cannot be referred to as “complete” if the thesis has not been approved by the supervisor. 

Benefits of PhD Abroad

Below are some advantages of pursuing a PhD abroad. 

  1. You get a global perspective of people, trends, and cultures. 
  2. You may get hands-on practice on some of the most sophisticated analytical equipment. 
  3. There are more research opportunities and you may get a diverse set of interests, support and opinions on your project. This can help you in bringing out your best results.
  4. You get a chance to network with brilliant experts and authors which may not be possible in your home country. 
  5. Better funding. 
  6. You may even get to complete your PhD degree in a shorter duration of time, depending on your supervisor and institution. You may look for your desired supervisor’s trends of approving a thesis or connect with their PhD students to get an idea of what you may expect on joining their laboratory. 

Careers After PhD Abroad

After pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) abroad, one can settle into the following career segments.

Academic and Scientific Researcher Lecturer or Professor at an Esteemed University
Medical Practitioners Consultants
Psychologists Legal Advisers
Doctors Government Officials

Also Check:

Careers Where PhD is a Basic Requirement Abroad

For certain jobs, having a PhD is mandatory. The list of jobs abroad that require a PhD degree are listed below.

Anthropologists University Professor Chiropractor
Audiologist Psychometrician Historians
Scientists Psychiatrists Neurologists
Ophthalmologists Orthodontist Plastic Surgeon
Pulmonologist Neurosurgeon Cardiologist

Life of a PhD Scholar Abroad

As heard from the active PhD students abroad, it may be outlined that pursuing a doctorate (PhD) abroad can be challenging. While a PhD abroad may come with numerous rewards such as great funding, more research ideas and networking with brilliant people, it may pose equally challenging obstacles in the journey of the researcher as well. We have listed some pros and cons of doing a PhD abroad. 

Pros Cons
Personal and Professional Development Limited job availabilities
Greater Funding High cost of living
Better Research equipment and cutting-edge technology Constant pressure to produce high-quality research reports
Networking with Brilliant People Difficulty understanding and adjusting to a new culture and networking with people
Better lifestyle and exposure to diverse landscapes Homesickness or loneliness may induce mental stress often
Top renowned universities  Moments of self-doubt and confusion

This was all about what is PhD, PhD full form, PhD subjects, PhD meaning, how to do PhD abroad and how many years for PhD are required. Candidates looking for assistance with the university application process can get in touch with our Shiksha Counselling Services on the same. Candidates can also write to us with their queries in the comments section, below.

What is PhD FAQs

Can a PhD holder be called a “doctor”?

Yes, the PhD degree allows a person to use “doctor” in their title. PhD is a terminal degree pursued by social and physical scientists in which they administer, conduct and evaluate published research(es). A PhD degree can be achieved after 5-7 years of continuous research and hard work of the scientists in their respective fields of work.

What is the full form of PhD degree?

The full form of Ph D degree in English is Doctor of Philosophy. The PhD full form in India is the same as in any other foreign country, i.e. Doctor of Philosophy.

How long is a PhD degree in India vs abroad?

The completion of a PhD degree and its duration depend entirely upon the supervisor and the institution’s PhD thesis committee members. However, one may expect to complete their PhD within 3-5 years abroad and within 5-8 years in India.

Does a PhD abroad offer more employability and income?

Yes, a PhD abroad comes with greater benefits and indeed a high income benefit. Having a PhD renders you to be a notable expert in a given field. This opens the doors to get employed with the biggest institutions and organisations in the world. A person can get n-number of PhD degree meaning that they can become experts in more than one field. 

How many years for PhD should one dedicate?

The ideal number of years for a PhD are 3-5 years. While a 3-5 years of PhD prepares an individual to start their careers early, ahead of others. This time is also considered enough to conduct and conclude any experimental research for bringing out the desired PhD results for the presentation of thesis.

Which country is the best for a PhD abroad?

The best country for a PhD may be chosen on the basis of  subjects and the individual interests of the students. For this reason, the USA and Germany are considered one of the best countries to pursue a PhD. 

Why is the highest educational program called PhD?

The full form of Ph D degree is Doctor of Philosophy. The name “PhD” originated from the Latin term “Philosophiae Doctor”, wherein “Ph” was coined from the first and “D” was taken from the second word respectively.

Can I apply for a PhD abroad without a master’s degree?

Yes, one can be exempted from having a master's degree for getting admission to PhD abroad only in special cases. To be exempt from having a master’s degree, one must have pursued a bachelor’s degree of 4 years or more. However, this may vary according to the university you are applying to. So, it is advised to ask your university supervisors for confirmation. 

About the Author
Written by
Priya Garg
Study Abroad Expert

Priya Garg is a seasoned content writer and editor. With her rich experience in content writing, teaching and research & analysis, Priya believes in providing only the correct information which is also up-to-date. H... Read Full Bio