Postgraduate education

Postgraduate education

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Encyclopedia
Postgraduate education (or graduate education in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

) involves learning and studying for degrees
Academic degree
An academic degree is a position and title within a college or university that is usually awarded in recognition of the recipient having either satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study or having conducted a scholarly endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree...

 or other qualifications for which a first or Bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 generally is required, and is normally considered to be part of higher education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

. In North America, this level is generally referred to as graduate school
Graduate school
A graduate school is a school that awards advanced academic degrees with the general requirement that students must have earned a previous undergraduate degree...

.

The organization and structure of postgraduate education varies in different countries, and also in different institutions within countries. This article sets out the basic types of course and of teaching and examination methods, with some explanation of their history.

In some programs in the traditional German system and the traditional Dutch system, there is no legal distinction between "undergraduate" and "postgraduate". In such programs, all education aims towards the Master's degree, whether introductory (Bachelor's level) or advanced (Master's level). The aim of the Bologna process
Bologna process
The purpose of the Bologna Process is the creation of the European Higher Education Area by making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe, in particular under the Lisbon Recognition Convention...

 is to abolish this system.

Types of postgraduate qualification


There are two main types of qualification studied for at the postgraduate level: academic and vocational degrees.

Degrees


The term degree in this context means the moving from one stage or level to another (from French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 degré, from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 dē- + gradus), and first appeared in the 13th century.

History


Although systems of higher education go back to ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 and Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, the concept of postgraduate education depends upon the system of awarding degrees at different levels of study, and can be traced to the workings of European mediæval universities
Medieval university
Medieval university is an institution of higher learning which was established during High Middle Ages period and is a corporation.The first institutions generally considered to be universities were established in Italy, France, and England in the late 11th and the 12th centuries for the study of...

. University studies took six years for a Bachelor degree and up to twelve additional years for a master's degree or doctorate. The first six years taught the faculty of the arts, which was the study of the seven liberal arts
Liberal arts
The term liberal arts refers to those subjects which in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free citizen to study. Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic were the core liberal arts. In medieval times these subjects were extended to include mathematics, geometry, music and astronomy...

: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music theory, grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The main emphasis was on logic. Once a Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 degree had been obtained, the student could choose one of three faculties — law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

, medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

, or theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 — in which to pursue master's or doctor's degrees. Theology was the most prestigious area of study, and considered to be the most difficult.

The degrees of master (magister) and doctor were for some time equivalent, "the former being more in favour at Paris and the universities modeled after it, and the latter at Bologna and its derivative universities. At Oxford and Cambridge a distinction came to be drawn between the Faculties of Law, Medicine, and Theology and the Faculty of Arts in this respect, the title of Doctor being used for the former, and that of Master for the latter." Because theology was thought to be the highest of the subjects, the doctorate came to be thought of as higher than the master's.

The main significance of the higher, postgraduate degrees was that they licensed the holder to teach ("doctor" comes from the Latin "docere", meaning "teach"; "magister" is Latin for "master", and is also the root of "magistrate
Magistrate
A magistrate is an officer of the state; in modern usage the term usually refers to a judge or prosecutor. This was not always the case; in ancient Rome, a magistratus was one of the highest government officers and possessed both judicial and executive powers. Today, in common law systems, a...

").

Definition


In most countries, the hierarchy of post-graduate degrees is as follows:
  1. Master's degree
    Master's degree
    A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

    s (Postgraduate)
    These are sometimes placed in a further hierarchy, starting with degrees such as the Master of Arts
    Master of Arts
    A Master of Arts is a high academic degree offered at many universities in Europe and the United States.A Master of Arts, Magister Artium, or Magister in Artibus may also refer to:...

     and Master of Science
    Master of Science
    A Master of Science is a postgraduate academic master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The degree is typically studied for in the sciences including the social sciences.-Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay:...

    , then Master of Philosophy
    Master of Philosophy
    The Master of Philosophy is a postgraduate research degree.An M.Phil. is a lesser degree than a Doctor of Philosophy , but in many cases it is considered to be a more senior degree than a taught Master's degree, as it is often a thesis-only degree. In some instances, an M.Phil...

    , and finally Master of Letters
    Master of Letters
    The Master of Letters is a postgraduate degree.- United Kingdom :The MLitt is a postgraduate degree awarded by a select few British and Irish universities, predominantly within the ancient English and Scottish universities.- England :Within the English University system MLitts are not universally...

     (all formerly known in France as DEA
    DEA (former French degree)
    A Master of Advanced Studies is a non-consecutive postgraduate degree awarded predominantly in European countries. A MAS program offers comprehensive training in a specific field and can either give access to higher qualification in one's profession or lead to a new profession...

     or DESS before 2005, and nowadays Masters too). In many fields such as clinical social work, or library science
    Library science
    Library science is an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary field that applies the practices, perspectives, and tools of management, information technology, education, and other areas to libraries; the collection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of information resources; and the...

     in North America
    North America
    North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

    , a Master's is the terminal degree
    Terminal degree
    A terminal degree is, in some countries, the highest academic degree in a given field of study. This phrase is in common use in the United States, but is not universal in an international context: the concept is not in general use in the United Kingdom, for example, and the exact definition varies...

    . In the UK, Master's degrees may be taught or by research
    Postgraduate research
    Postgraduate research represents a formal area of study that is recognized by a university or institute of higher learning...

    : taught Master's include the MSc and MA degrees which last 1 year and are worth 180 CATS
    Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme
    Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme is used by many universities in the United Kingdom to monitor, record and reward passage through a modular degree course and to facilitate movement between courses and institutions...

     credits (equivalent to 90 ECTS European credits), whereas the Master's by research degrees include the MRes (Master of Research
    Master of Research
    In the UK and Ireland, the Master of Research degree is an advanced postgraduate degree available in a range of academic disciplines. Although a relatively new degree, the MRes is becoming increasingly popular with a number of the Russell Group Universities such as Imperial College London,...

    ) which also lasts 1 year and worths 180 CATS or 90 ECTS credits (the difference compared to the MA/MSc being that the research is much more extensive), and the MPhil (Master of Philosophy
    Master of Philosophy
    The Master of Philosophy is a postgraduate research degree.An M.Phil. is a lesser degree than a Doctor of Philosophy , but in many cases it is considered to be a more senior degree than a taught Master's degree, as it is often a thesis-only degree. In some instances, an M.Phil...

    ) degree which lasts 2 years .
  2. Doctorate
    Doctorate
    A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

    s (Postgraduate)
    These are often further divided into academic and professional doctorates.
    An academic doctorate can be awarded as a PhD
    PHD
    PHD may refer to:*Ph.D., a doctorate of philosophy*Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*PHD finger, a protein sequence*PHD Mountain Software, an outdoor clothing and equipment company*PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

     (Philosophiæ Doctor), or as a DSc
    DSC
    -in academia:* D.Sc., Doctor of Science* Doctor of Surgical Chiropody, superseded in the 1960s by Doctor of Podiatric Medicine* Dalton State College, Georgia* Daytona State College, Florida* Deep Springs College, California* Dixie State College of Utah...

     (Scientiae Doctor). The scientiae doctor degree can also be awarded in specific fields, such as a Dr.sc.math (Doctor scientiarum mathematicarum, Doctor of Mathematics), Dr.sc.agr. (Doctor scientiarum agrariarum, Doctor of Agricultural science), DBA
    Doctor of Business Administration
    The degree of Doctor of Business Administration, abbreviated, or and equivalent to , is a research doctorate in business administration. The D.B.A...

     (Doctorate in Business Administration) etc. In some parts of Europe, doctorates are divided into the PhD or 'junior doctorate', and the 'higher doctorates' such as the DSc, which is generally awarded to highly distinguished professors. A doctorate is the terminal degree
    Terminal degree
    A terminal degree is, in some countries, the highest academic degree in a given field of study. This phrase is in common use in the United States, but is not universal in an international context: the concept is not in general use in the United Kingdom, for example, and the exact definition varies...

     in most fields. In the United States, there is little distinction between a PhD and DSc. In the UK, PhD
    PHD
    PHD may refer to:*Ph.D., a doctorate of philosophy*Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*PHD finger, a protein sequence*PHD Mountain Software, an outdoor clothing and equipment company*PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

     degrees are often equivalent to 540 CATS
    Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme
    Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme is used by many universities in the United Kingdom to monitor, record and reward passage through a modular degree course and to facilitate movement between courses and institutions...

     credits or 270 ECTS
    European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System
    This page describes ECTS-credits. For information about the ECTS grading system go to ECTS grading scale.European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is a standard for comparing the study attainment and performance of students of higher education across the European Union and other...

     European credits, but this is not always the case as the credit structure of doctoral degrees is not officially defined.


In the UK and countries whose education systems were founded on the British model, such as the U.S., the master's degree was for a long time the only postgraduate degree normally awarded, while in most European countries apart from the UK, the master's degree almost disappeared. In the second half of the 19th century, however, U.S. universities began to follow the European model by awarding doctorates, and this practice spread to the UK. Conversely, most European universities now offer master's degrees parallelling or replacing their regular system, so as to offer their students better chances to compete in an international market dominated by the American model.

In UK an equivalent formation to doctorate is the NVQ 5 or QCF 8. http://www.ofqual.gov.uk/qualification-and-assessment-framework/89-articles/250-explaining-the-national-qualifications-framework

Honorary degrees


Most universities award honorary degrees, usually at the postgraduate level. These are awarded to a wide variety of people, such as artists, musicians, writers, politicians, businesspeople, etc., in recognition of their achievements in their various fields. (Recipients of such degrees do not normally use the associated titles or letters, such as "Dr".)

Non-degree qualifications


Postgraduate education can involve studying for qualifications such as postgraduate certificate
Postgraduate certificate
A postgraduate certificate generally is the credential awarded to an individual upon completion of a higher education postgraduate program designed to provide students with specialized knowledge that is less extensive than a postgraduate diploma or Master's degree...

s and postgraduate diploma
Postgraduate diploma
A postgraduate diploma is a postgraduate qualification awarded typically after a bachelor's degree. It can be contrasted with a graduate diploma...

s. They are sometimes used as steps on the route to a degree, or as part of training for a specific career, or as a qualification in an area of study too narrow to warrant a full degree course.

Admission


In Argentina, the admission to a Postgraduate program at an Argentine University requires the full completion of a Licenciado
Licentiate
Licentiate is the title of a person who holds an academic degree called a licence. The term may derive from the Latin licentia docendi, meaning permission to teach. The term may also derive from the Latin licentia ad practicandum, which signified someone who held a certificate of competence to...

 or Ingeniero degree. Non-Argentine Bachelor's titles are generally accepted into a Master's and Ph.D. programs when the degree comes from a recognized university.

Funding


While a significant portion of postgraduate students finance their tuition and living costs with teaching or research work at private and state-run institutions, international institutions, such as the Fullbright Program and the Organization of American States (OAS), have been known to grant full scholarships for tuition with apportions for housing.

Degree requirements


Upon completion of at least two years' research and course work as a postgraduate student, a candidate must demonstrate truthful and original contributions to his or her specific field of knowledge within a frame of academic excellence. The Master and Doctoral candidate's work should be presented in a dissertation or thesis prepared under the supervision of a tutor or director, and reviewed by a postgraduate Committee. This Committee should be composed of examiners external to the program, and at least one of them should also be external to the institution.

Admission


Generally, the Australian higher education system follows that of its British counterpart (with a few notable exceptions). Programmes are divided into coursework-based and research-based degrees, and entrance is decided by merit (entrance to coursework-based programmes is usually not as strict); most universities usually require a "Credit" average (equivalent to the British B-) as entry to their taught programmes in a field related to their previous undergraduate. On average, however, a strong "Credit" or "Distinction" average is the norm for accepted students.

Ph.D. entrance requirements in the higher ranked schools typically require a student to have postgraduate research honours or a master's degree by research, or a master's with a significant research component. Entry requirements depend on the subject studied and the individual university. The minimum duration of a Ph.D. programme is two years, but completing within this time span is unusual, with Ph.D.s usually taking an average of three to four years to be completed.

Most of the confusion with Australian postgraduate programmes occurs with the research-based programmes, particularly scientific programmes. Research degrees generally require candidates to have a minimum of a second-class four-year honours undergraduate degree to be considered for admission to a Ph.D. programme (M. Phil are an uncommon route). In science, a British first class honours (3 years) is not equivalent to an Australian first class honours (1 year research postgraduate programme that requires a completed an undergraduate (pass) degree with a high grade-point average). In scientific research, it is commonly accepted that an Australian postgraduate honours is equivalent to a British Master's degree (in research). There has been some debate over the acceptance of a three-year honours degree (as in the case of graduates from British universities) as equivalent entry requirement to graduate research programmes (M.Phil., Ph.D.) in Australian universities. The letters of Honours programmes also added to the confusion. For example: B.Sc. (Hons) are the letters gained for postgraduate research honours at the University of Queensland. B.Sc (Hons) does not indicate that this honours is postgraduate qualification. Difficultly also arises between different universities in Australia - some universities have followed the UK system.

Professional programs


There are many professional programs such as medical and dental school require a previous bachelors for admission and are considered graduate or Graduate Entry
Graduate entry
A graduate entry degree is term used for an academic degree that requires at minimum a previous bachelors degree for admission. It is most commonly used to refer to first professional degree programs...

 programs even though they culminate in a bachelors degree. Example, the Bachelor of Medicine (MBBS)
Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery
Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, or in Latin Medicinae Baccalaureus, Baccalaureus Chirurgiae , are the two first professional degrees awarded upon graduation from medical school in medicine and surgery by universities in various countries...

 or Bachelor of Dentistry (BDent)
Dentistry
Dentistry is the branch of medicine that is involved in the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders and conditions of the oral cavity, maxillofacial area and the adjacent and associated structures and their impact on the human body. Dentistry is widely considered...

.

There has also been some confusion over the conversion of the different marking schemes between British, U.S., and Australian systems for the purpose of assessment for entry to graduate programmes. The Australian grades are divided into four categories: High Distinction, Distinction, Credit, and Pass (though many institutions have idiosyncratic grading systems). Assessment and evaluation based on the Australian system is not equivalent to British or U.S. schemes because of the "low-marking" scheme used by Australian universities. For example, a British student who achieves 70+ will receive an A grade, whereas an Australian student with 70+ will receive a Distinction which is not the highest grade in the marking scheme. Hence, there have been many instances where Australian university admission officers have incorrectly assessed foreign grade marks as equivalent to their own.

Funding


The Australian government usually offer full funding (fees and a monthly stipend) to its citizens and permanent residents who are pursuing research-based higher degrees. There are also highly competitive scholarships for international candidates who intend to pursue research-based programmes. Taught-degree scholarships (certain masters' degrees, Grad. Dip., Grad. Cert., D.Eng., D.B.A.) are almost non-existent for international students, so they are usually required to be self-funded.

Degree requirements


Requirements for the successful completion of a taught master's programme are that the student pass all the required modules. Some universities require eight taught modules for a one-year programme, twelve modules for a one-and-a-half-year programme, and twelve taught modules plus a thesis or dissertation for a two-year programme. The academic year for an Australian postgraduate programme is typically two semesters (eight months of study).

Requirements for research-based programmes vary among universities. Generally, however, a student is not required to take taught modules as part of their candidacy. It is now common that first-year Ph.D. candidates are not regarded as permanent Ph.D. students for fear that they may not be sufficiently prepared to undertake independent research. In such cases, an alternative degree will be awarded for their previous work, usually an M.Phil. or M.Sc. by research.

Admission


In Brazil, a Bachelor's degree is required in order to enter a graduate program (called pós-graduação).

Funding


The competition for public universities is very large, as they are the most prestigious and respected universities in Brazil. Public universities do not charge fees for any level/course. Funding, similar to wages, is available but is usually granted by public agencies linked to the University in question (i.e. FAPESP, CAPES
Coordenadoria de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior
Coordenadoria de Aperfeicoamento de Pessoal de Nivel Superior is a government agency linked to the Brazilian Ministry of Education in charge of promoting high standards for post-graduate courses in Brazil....

, CNPq, etc).

Degree requirements


There are two types of postgraduate; in broad sense it generally means an specialization course in one area of study and in narrow sense it means a Master of Science
Master of Science
A Master of Science is a postgraduate academic master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The degree is typically studied for in the sciences including the social sciences.-Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay:...

 or Doctorate
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

.

Admission


Admission to a master's program generally requires a bachelor's degree in a related field, with sufficiently high grades usually ranging from B+
Academic grading in North America
Academic grading in North America varies from country to country and even within countries.-United States:The most commonly used index in the U.S. educational system uses five letter grades. Historically, the grades were A, B, C, D, and F—A being the highest and F, denoting failure, the lowest...

 and higher (note that different schools have different letter grade conventions, and this requirement may be significantly higher in some faculties), and recommendations from professors. Some schools require samples of the student's writing as well as a research proposal. At English-speaking universities, applicants from countries where English is not the primary language are required to submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL
TOEFL
The Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL , evaluates the ability of an individual to use and understand English in an academic setting....

). Nevertheless, some French speaking universities, like HEC Montreal, also requires candidates to submit TOEFL score or to pass their own English test.

Admission to a doctoral program typically requires a master's degree in a related field, sufficiently high grades, recommendations, samples of writing, a research proposal, and typically an interview with a prospective supervisor. Requirements are often set higher than those for a master's program. In exceptional cases, a student holding an honours BA with sufficiently high grades and proven writing and research abilities may be admitted directly to a Ph.D. program without the requirement to first complete a master's. Many Canadian graduate programs allow students who start in a master's to "reclassify" into a Ph.D. program after satisfactory performance in the first year, bypassing the master's degree.

Graduate students must usually declare their research goal or submit a research proposal upon entering grad school; in the case of master's degrees, there will be some flexibility (that is, one is not held to one's research proposal, although major changes, for example from premodern to modern history, are discouraged). In the case of Ph.D.s, the research direction is usually known as it will typically follow the direction of the master's research.

Master's degrees can possibly be completed in one year but normally take at least two; they typically do not exceed five years. Doctoral degrees require a minimum of two years but frequently take much longer, not usually exceeding six years.

Funding


Graduate students may take out student loans
Student loans in the United States
While included in the term "financial aid," higher education loans differ from scholarships and grants in that they must be paid back. They come in several varieties in the United States:...

, but instead they often work as teaching
Teaching assistant
A teaching assistant is an individual who assists a professor or teacher with instructional responsibilities. TAs include graduate teaching assistants , who are graduate students; undergraduate teaching assistants , who are undergraduate students; secondary school TAs, who are either high school...

 or research assistant
Research assistant
A research assistant is a researcher employed, often on a temporary contract, by a university or a research institute, for the purpose of assisting in academic research...

s. Students often agree, as a condition of acceptance to a programme, not to devote more than twelve hours per week to work or outside interests.

Funding is available to first-year masters students whose transcripts reflect exceptionally high grades; this funding is normally given in the second year.

Funding for Ph.D. students comes from a variety of sources, and many universities waive tuition fees for doctoral candidates.

Funding is available in the form of scholarships, bursaries
Bursary
A bursary is strictly an office for a bursar and his or her staff in a school or college.In modern English usage, the term has become synonymous with "bursary award", a monetary award made by an institution to an individual or a group to assist the development of their education.According to The...

 and other awards, both private and public.

Degree requirements


Both master's and doctoral programs may be done by coursework
Coursework
Coursework is the name for work carried out by students at university or middle/high school that contributes towards their overall grade, but which is assessed separately from their final exams. Coursework can, for example, take the form of experimental work, or may involve research in the...

 or research
Research
Research can be defined as the scientific search for knowledge, or as any systematic investigation, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories, usually using a scientific method...

 or a combination of the two, depending on the subject and faculty. Most faculties require both, with the emphasis on research, and with coursework being directly related to the field of research.

Master's candidates undertaking research are typically required to complete a thesis
Thesis
A dissertation or thesis is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings...

 comprising some original research and ranging from seventy to two-hundred pages. Some fields may require candidates to study at least one foreign language if they have not already earned sufficient foreign-language credits. Some faculties require candidates to defend their thesis, but many do not. Those that do not often have a requirement of taking two additional courses, minimum, in lieu of preparing a thesis.

Ph.D. candidates undertaking research must typically complete a thesis, or dissertation, consisting of original research representing a significant contribution to their field, and ranging from two-hundred to five-hundred pages. Most Ph.D. candidates will be required to sit comprehensive examination
Comprehensive examination
A comprehensive examination , often abbreviated as "comps," is a specific type of examination that must be completed by graduate students in some disciplines and courses of study...

s—examinations testing general knowledge in their field of specialization—in their second or third year as a prerequisite to continuing their studies, and must defend their thesis as a final requirement. Some faculties require candidates to earn sufficient credits in a third or fourth foreign language; for example, most candidates in modern Japanese topics must demonstrate ability in English, Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

, and Mandarin
Standard Mandarin
Standard Chinese or Modern Standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin or Putonghua, is the official language of the People's Republic of China and Republic of China , and is one of the four official languages of Singapore....

, while candidates in pre-modern Japanese topics must demonstrate ability in English, Japanese, Classical Chinese
Classical Chinese
Classical Chinese or Literary Chinese is a traditional style of written Chinese based on the grammar and vocabulary of ancient Chinese, making it different from any modern spoken form of Chinese...

, and Classical Japanese.

At English-speaking Canadian universities, both master's and Ph.D. theses may be presented in English or in the language of the subject (German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 for German literature
German literature
German literature comprises those literary texts written in the German language. This includes literature written in Germany, Austria, the German part of Switzerland, and to a lesser extent works of the German diaspora. German literature of the modern period is mostly in Standard German, but there...

, for example), but if this is the case an extensive abstract must be also presented in English. In exceptional circumstances, a thesis may be presented in French. The exception to this rule is McGill University, where all work can be submitted in either English or French, unless the purpose of the course of study is acquisition of a language.

French-speaking universities have varying sets of rules; some (e.g. HEC Montreal) will accept students with little knowledge of French if they can communicate with their supervisors (usually in English).

Admission


Admission to undertake a research degree in the UK typically requires a good bachelor's degree (at least lower second, but usually an upper second or first class). Students may or may not already have a Master's degree. In some institutions, Doctoral candidates are initially admitted to a Masters in Research Philosophy (M.Phil.
Master of Philosophy
The Master of Philosophy is a postgraduate research degree.An M.Phil. is a lesser degree than a Doctor of Philosophy , but in many cases it is considered to be a more senior degree than a taught Master's degree, as it is often a thesis-only degree. In some instances, an M.Phil...

 or MRes), then later transfer to a Ph.D. if they can show satisfactory progress in their first 8-12 months of study.

Funding


Funding for postgraduate study in the UK is awarded competitively, and usually is disseminated by institution (in the form of a certain allocation of studentships for a given year) rather than directly to individuals. There are a number of scholarships for Master's courses, but these are relatively rare and dependent on the course and class of undergraduate degree obtained (usually requiring at least a lower second). Most Master's students are self-funded.

Funding is available for some Ph.D. courses. As at the Master's level, there is more funding available to those in the sciences than in other disciplines. Such funding generally comes from Research Council
Research Council
The UK Research Councils, of which there are currently seven, are publicly-funded agencies responsible for co-ordinating and funding particular areas of research, including the arts, humanities, all areas of science and engineering...

s such as the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is a British Research Council that provides government funding for grants to undertake research and postgraduate degrees in engineering and the physical sciences , mainly to universities in the United Kingdom...

 (EPSRC), Arts and Humanities Research Council
Arts and Humanities Research Council
Established in April 2005 as successor to the Arts and Humanities Research Board, the Arts and Humanities Research Council is a British Research Council and non-departmental public body that provides approximately £102 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the...

 (AHRC), Medical Research Council
Medical Research Council (UK)
The Medical Research Council is a publicly-funded agency responsible for co-ordinating and funding medical research in the United Kingdom. It is one of seven Research Councils in the UK and is answerable to, although politically independent from, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills...

 (MRC) and others.
For overseas students, most major funding applications are due as early as twelve months or more before the intended graduate course will begin. This funding is also often highly competitive. The most widely available, and thus important, award for overseas students is the Overseas Research Student (ORS) Award, which pays the difference in university fees between an overseas student and a British or EU resident. However, a student can only for one university apply for the OSR Award, often before he or she knows whether they have been accepted. As of the 2009/2010 academic year, the HEFCE
Higher Education Funding Council for England
The Higher Education Funding Council for England is a non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in the United Kingdom, which has been responsible for the distribution of funding to Universities and Colleges of Higher and Further Education in England since...

 has cancelled the Overseas Research Student Award scheme for English and Welsh universities. The state of the scheme for Scottish and Northern Irish universities is currently unclear.

Students studying part-time for a Master's degree can apply for income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
Jobseeker's Allowance
Jobseeker's Allowance is a United Kingdom benefit, colloquially known as the dole . It is a form of unemployment benefit paid by the government to people who are unemployed and seeking work. It is part of the social security benefits system and is intended to cover living expenses while the...

 provided their timetabled hours are fewer than 16 hours per week. This also entitles the student to housing benefit
Housing Benefit
Housing Benefit is a means tested social security benefit in the UK that is intended to help meet Housing costs for rented accommodation. The primary legislation governing Housing Benefit is the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992. Operationally, the governing Regulations are...

 provided by their local council
Local government
Local government refers collectively to administrative authorities over areas that are smaller than a state.The term is used to contrast with offices at nation-state level, which are referred to as the central government, national government, or federal government...

. Full-time students (of any type) are not normally eligible for state benefits, including during vacation time.

Degree requirements


Graduate students often declare their intended degree (master's or doctorate) in their applications. In some cases, master's programs allow successful students to continue toward the doctorate degree. Students may also, at many universities, use Directed Individual Studies
Directed individual study
Directed Individual Study or DIS is a college or university level class providing a more in-depth and comprehensive study of a specific topic than is available in the classroom.Courses may be taken as electives...

 classes from their undergraduate work to satisfy some course requirements for a master's degree.

Additionally, doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy but not filed a dissertation ("ABD," for "all but dissertation") often receive master's degrees and an additional master's called a Master of Philosophy, or MPhil, or C.Phil. "Candidate in Philosophy" degree. The master's component of a doctorate program often requires one or two years, and some students, because doctoral programs are better-funded, apply for doctoral programs while only intending to attain a master's degree. This is generally not accepted and, if a student's advisor learns of the student's plans, can result in early termination.

Many graduate programs require students to pass one or several examinations in order to demonstrate their competence as scholars. In some departments, a comprehensive examination is often required in the first year of doctoral study, and is designed to test a student's background undergraduate-level knowledge. Examinations of this type are more common in the sciences and some social sciences, and relatively unknown in most humanities disciplines.

Most graduate students perform teaching duties, often serving as graders and tutors. In some departments, they can be promoted to Lecturer
Lecturer
Lecturer is an academic rank. In the United Kingdom, lecturer is a position at a university or similar institution, often held by academics in their early career stages, who lead research groups and supervise research students, as well as teach...

 status, a position that comes with more responsibility.

Doctoral students generally spend roughly their first two to three years taking coursework, and begin research by their second year if not before. Many master's and all specialist students will perform research culminating in a paper, presentation, and defense of their research. This is called the master's thesis (or, for Educational Specialist students, the specialist paper). However, many US master's degree programs do not require a master's thesis, focusing instead primarily on course work or on "practicals" or "workshops". Such "real-world" experience may typically require a candidate work on a project alone or in a team as a consultant, or consultants, for an outside entity approved or selected by the academic institution, and under faculty supervision.

In the second and third years of study, doctoral programs often require students to pass more examinations. Programs often require a Qualifying Examination ("Quals"), a PhD Candidacy Examination ("Candidacy"), or a General Examination ("Generals"), designed to students' grasp of a broad sample of their discipline, and/or one or several Special Field Examinations ("Specials"), which test students in their narrower selected areas of specialty within the discipline. If these examinations are held orally, they may be known colloquially as "orals". For some social science and many humanities disciplines, where graduate students may or may not have studied the discipline at the undergraduate level, these exams will be the first set, and be based either on graduate coursework or specific preparatory reading (sometimes up to a year's work in reading). In all cases, comprehensive exams are normally both stressful and time consuming, and must be passed to be allowed to proceed on to the thesis. Passing such examinations allows the student to stay, begin doctoral research, and rise to the status of a doctoral candidate, while failing usually results in the student leaving the program or re-taking the test after some time has passed (usually a semester or a year). Some schools have an intermediate category, passing at the master's level, which allows the student to leave with a master's without having completed a master's thesis.

For the next several years the doctoral candidate primarily performs his or her research. Usually this lasts three to eight years, though a few finish more quickly and some take substantially longer. In total, the typical doctoral degree takes between 4 and 8 years from entering the program to completion, though this time varies depending upon the department, thesis topic, and many other factors.

For example, astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 degrees take five to six years on average, but observational astronomy
Observational astronomy
Observational astronomy is a division of the astronomical science that is concerned with getting data, in contrast with theoretical astrophysics which is mainly concerned with finding out the measurable implications of physical models...

 degrees take six to seven due to limiting factors of weather, while theoretical astronomy
Theoretical astronomy
Based on strict dictionary definitions, "astronomy" refers to "the study of objects and matter outside the Earth's atmosphere and of their physical and chemical properties" In some cases, as in the introduction of the introductory textbook The Physical Universe by Frank Shu, "astronomy" may be used...

 degrees take five. Though there is substantial variation among universities, departments, and individuals, humanities
Humanities
The humanities are academic disciplines that study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences....

 and social science doctorates on average take somewhat longer to complete than natural science
Natural science
The natural sciences are branches of science that seek to elucidate the rules that govern the natural world by using empirical and scientific methods...

 doctorates. These differences are due to the differing nature of research between the humanities and some social sciences and the natural sciences, and to the differing expectations of the discipline in coursework, languages and length of thesis. However, time required to complete a doctorate
Doctorate
A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to teach in a specific field, A doctorate is an academic degree or professional degree that in most countries refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder...

 also varies according to the candidate's abilities and choice of research. Some students may also choose to remain in a program if they fail to win an academic position, particularly in disciplines with a tight job market; by remaining a student, they can retain access to libraries and university facilities, while also retaining an academic affiliation, which can be essential for conferences and job-searches.

Traditionally, doctoral programs were only intended to last three to four years and, in some disciplines (primarily the natural sciences), with a helpful advisor, and a light teaching load, it is possible for the degree to be completed in that amount of time. However, increasingly many disciplines, including most humanities, set their requirements for coursework, languages and the expected extent of thesis research by the assumption that students will take five years minimum or six to seven years on average; competition for jobs within these fields also raises expectations on the length and quality of theses considerably.

In some disciplines, doctoral programs can average seven to ten years. Archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

, which requires long periods of research, tends towards the longer end of this spectrum. The increase in length of degree is a matter of great concern for both students and universities, though there is much disagreement on potential solutions to this problem.

Funding


Many departments, especially those in which students have research or teaching responsibilities, offer tuition-forgiveness and a stipend that pays for most expenses. At some elite universities, there may be a minimum stipend established for all Ph.D. students, as well as a tuition waiver. The terms of these stipends vary greatly, and may consist of a scholarship or fellowship, followed by teaching responsibilities. At many elite universities, these stipends have been increasing, in response both to student pressure and especially to competition among the elite universities for graduate students.

In some fields, research positions are more coveted than teaching positions because student researchers are typically paid to work on the dissertation they are required to complete anyway, while teaching is generally considered a distraction from one's work. Research positions are more typical of science disciplines; they are relatively uncommon in humanities disciplines, and where they exist, rarely allow the student to work on their own research.

Departments often have funds for limited discretionary funding to supplement minor expenses such as research trips and travel to conferences.

A few students can attain outside fellowship
Scholarship
A scholarship is an award of financial aid for a student to further education. Scholarships are awarded on various criteria usually reflecting the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award.-Types:...

s such as the National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. Its medical counterpart is the National Institutes of Health...

 (NSF) and National Physical Science Consortium (NPSC). Funding differs greatly by departments and universities; some universities give five years of full funding to all Ph.D. students, though often with a teaching requirement attached; other universities do not.

Foreign students are typically funded the same way as domestic (US) students, although Federally-subsidized student and parent loans and work-study assistance are generally limited to U.S. citizens and nationals, permanent residents, and approved refugees. Moreover, some funding sources (such as many NSF fellowships) may only be awarded to domestic students. International students often have worse financial difficulties than domestic students because higher cost of tuition and fee, higher cost of living, limitation required by law to work on campus only, job or scholarship or internship required U.S. citizenship, and possible race or ethnic discrimination. Reasons include high costs to visit their families back home, support of a family not allowed to work due to immigration
Immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

 laws, tuition that is steep by world standards, and large fees: visa
Visa (document)
A visa is a document showing that a person is authorized to enter the territory for which it was issued, subject to permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry. The authorization may be a document, but more commonly it is a stamp endorsed in the applicant's passport...

 fees by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, surveillance
Surveillance
Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people. It is sometimes done in a surreptitious manner...

 fees (such as Student and Exchange Visitor Information Systems, or SEVIS
Sévis
Sévis is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.-Geography:A farming village situated in the Pays de Bray, some south of Dieppe, at the junction of the D48 and D15 roads.-Population:...

http://www.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/03/21/international.students.ap/index.html) by the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 and the United States Department of Homeland Security
United States Department of Homeland Security
The United States Department of Homeland Security is a cabinet department of the United States federal government, created in response to the September 11 attacks, and with the primary responsibilities of protecting the territory of the United States and protectorates from and responding to...

.