How to choose the right doctorate degree

Choosing a doctorate is not like choosing your favourite flavour of coffee – it’s a much more complicated process that demands much deliberation and thought. If you wish to strengthen your career prospects by opting for a PhD program, this guide will help narrow down your choices.

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Top questions to ask yourself while choosing a PhD program

When selecting a PhD program, here are some crucial questions you must answer:

Is it compatible with your professional goals?

A PhD programme might appear appealing owing to the coursework, professors, or locality. However, ultimately, the decision must be taken after carefully considering whether a PhD is the right career trajectory for you. If the answer is yes, explore different specialisation options and pick the one that best aligns with your career goals. 

What research options are available?

A PhD programme focuses on extensive research. Considerable time and self-inquiry are necessary to examine the research prospects available as a PhD student. Explore the institution, meet professors/mentors, and investigate if you have commendable research options available for your desired specialisation.

What’s the reputation of the faculty?

In a PhD program, professors are the primary guides who’ll steer your research in the right direction. Thus, it is crucial to choose the right mentor to complete your research with a stellar thesis. So, spend some time investigating prospective mentors, their field of expertise,  and gather alumni reviews to understand their history and reputation.

What funding is available?

Financial aid is an essential determinant for most PhD candidates. Thus, look for programs that offer stipends, scholarships, or fellowships as part of the PhD course. After all, nobody should be neck-deep in student loans for completing their doctorate studies. 

How long will it take?

While pursuing your PhD, you must weigh career and family obligations as you shouldn’t have to put your life on hold while pursuing a doctorate. Talk to university staff and professors to know the approximate time taken to cover specific specialisations, and then make an informed decision. 

Are students finding jobs after completing the PhD program?

You can find the answer to this question from the existing PhD candidates and alumni. Connect with them to inquire about their learning experience and determine if they were satisfied with the program, faculty, research assistance, and post-doctorate career opportunities. This information will help paint a comprehensive picture of the prospects that await you after PhD completion. 

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Tips for choosing the right doctorate program

While gathering advice from dozens of students, experts, administrators, parents, and Google while finding the right PhD program, it can be overwhelming to pick just one. However, certain considerations can make the deciding journey easier for you. Here are a few factors that will assist you in making an informed decision:

Actively seek out information about PhD programs

Typically, one can find published documents by professors on PhD specialisations in a specific field. These documents may also contain reference resources. Also, generic information on most PhD programs is available on the Internet. Try out multiple credible information sources instead of relying only on one. 

Connect with universities, professors, career centre counsellors, PhD graduates, and industry mentors to collect extensive data on your chosen PhD courses. 

A PhD program is not a simple continuation of your undergraduate program

Most students don’t fully grasp this concept until they’ve delved deep into a PhD program. The goal is to conduct substantial and unique research in specialisation rather than finish a series of coursework like an undergraduate programme. Of course, there will be required courses to complete, particularly if you do not have a master’s degree. Usually, these courses are meant to compliment your thesis and help establish a solid knowledge base for your doctorate research.

Take a gap year between your undergraduate education and a PhD program

When starting your senior year of college, you might choose an area of interest and decide to pursue a PhD in that domain. However, this is easier said than done. Most students are unsure about their choice, and hence, without proper guidance, their vision remains clouded. Since PhD demands a significant contribution of your time and efforts, it’s best not to rush into it. 

You can take a year off to consider and weigh your options, compare different PhD programs, connect with professors and alumni before deciding to block 6-7 years of your time to a PhD specialisation. A thorough investigation will help you build the right perspective and prepare you for a PhD program. 

Boost your soft skills 

After completing college or postgraduation, it’s the perfect time to boost your soft skills like time-management, organisation skills, interpersonal skills, and analytical skills, to name a few. These skills will help you juggle the numerous tenets of a PhD coursework and research while balancing your personal life.


It is said that enrolling in a PhD is another way to prolong your childhood. Let us explain where this thought comes from. When you choose a PhD program, you will realise that it is a rigorous learning process involving curiosity, research and discovery, and analysis that may sometimes bring you joy or disappointment – just like your experiences as a kid. 

The only difference between both experiences is that as a child, you can’t play an active role in shaping your happiness as things largely depend on external circumstances (your guardians and surrounding environment). However, as you pursue your PhD, you remain in complete control of your research process and conclusions. 

This article was crafted to help all PhD seekers a pathway to choosing the most suitable PhD program. If you are looking for an online PhD program for upskilling, upGrad’s Global Doctor of Business Administration, sponsored by SSBM, Geneva, is what you need!

This course gives industry level exposure and 360-degree learning assistance. This 36-month course is specially designed for working professionals and has one-on-one thesis supervision. In addition, it flaunts limitless research avenues tied up with top universities and resource archives. 

With a learner base spread across 85 countries and with more than 40,000 paid students globally, this doctorate of business administration course by upGrad can help you reach new heights of success.

Learn MBA Courses from the World’s top Universities. Earn Masters, Executive PGP, or Advanced Certificate Programs to fast-track your career.

How can we approach a PhD guide?

One can keep the following tips in mind before approaching a PhD guide: make sure to check their preferred mode to be contacted: Research well on their preferred research interests and recent research activities. prefer to stick to the email mode while reaching for the first time Keep your proposal and communication content brief Ask them questions

Can you fail your PhD?

There are mainly two situations in which one can fail a PhD: Non-completion of thesis Falling in your viva or your thesis defence.

Do our grades matter for pursuing a PhD?

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