PhD Abroad
Doodle Nandi

Doodle Nandi is a content editor for Hotcourses India- an IDP company, and helps write articles that help students with their study abroad journey.


20 Jan 2022 41.8K Book icon 6 mins Share

FAQs on studying PhD abroad

Aiming to do your PhD abroad? Get answers to frequently asked questions on the cost, application requirements and more.

20 Jan 2022 41.8K Book icon 6 mins Share
PhD Abroad

Please note: This article has been written to serve as a piece of information, and not as a comprehensive guidance. We do not offer any counselling services, advice or guidance for students seeking admissions to PhD programmes abroad.

Ph.D or D.Phil – A Doctor of Philosophy is the highest level of formal education. It encompasses different subject areas as diverse as science, humanities, engineering, literature etc., and is considered to be the first step towards beginning a professional career as a professor, researcher or scientist.

A PhD requires a lot of hard work and dedication. It involves diving deep into the intricacies of a very specific topic and eventually helping you reach the border line between knowing something and knowing everything.

How to apply for a PhD?

A person who achieves a PhD is awarded the title of ‘Doctor’. Here are some elements that will be considered when you enrol for a PhD programme:

Academic qualifications: To enrol for a PhD programme, you must have completed an honours or masters degree in the relevant field. Some institutions require candidates to complete an MPhil programme to be eligible for PhD applications.

Academic records: Your academic records will also be considered before you are allowed to pursue PhD. A reasonably good score in your undergraduate and postgraduate

Research projects: Research publications are equally important if you want to see yourself making a mark in your chosen field.

Research proposal: Several universities abroad allow you to research a set project which will be funded or design your own project wherein you’ll have to fund it or apply for external funding. If you are designing your own research project, you will have to submit a research proposal. It is nothing but the outline of your research project.

Apart from these, you might have to submit other documents such as reference letters, proof of English language proficiency, and resume.

You can apply for a PhD either with scholarship or without scholarship. To obtain a PhD with scholarship, you need to secure a good GRE score. Some countries prefer IELTS/TOEFL scores for enrolling a candidate into a PhD programme. 

All you need is to formulate your own ideas on a particular topic on which you wish to obtain a PhD.  The more homework you do, the better the chances of getting a good supervisor. Find a supervisor who will be able to guide you in your thesis and encourage your homework. This will prove that you are serious about your goals. Choose a professor who will understand and show interest in your line of work. Choose a professor whose work is in line with your research interests.

Read about the supervisor and study his publications deeply. Understand if the work done by the professor complements your future research interest.

A PhD thesis is an integral part of your journey towards achieving a doctorate. On successful completion of a doctorate degree, you will be eligible to work as a professor or researcher.

Finally, you should have a visa or study permit (based on your preferred country) to purpue your PhD abroad.

Where to study a PhD abroad?

Learn about some of major destinations where you can do a PhD abroad, the duration, and some of the institutions that you can apply to.

PhD in the UK

A PhD in the UK provides the freedom to choose your field and explore your chosen field where you are required to possess a strong interest in the subject. Students should produce an externally examined original research work (thesis) and should be present for an oral examination (viva voce) to qualify. Several private organisations, NGOs and even the universities provide scholarships to international students for pursuing PhD.

Duration: A PhD programme in the UK usually lasts for 3 – 4 years.

Application requirements: Apart from the basic requirements for applying for a PhD in the UK, most institutions require candidates to score an overall of 7.0 in IELTS.

Popular universities that you can apply to:

PhD in the USA

Duration: PhD in the USA normally takes 4–8 years of study after the bachelors and a minimum of 3 years for those who complete a PhD after masters. It can take up to 8 years to complete.

Requirements: If you are planning to pursue PhD in the USA, here are some points that you should keep in mind:

  • Any prior research experience will be useful for applying for a PhD in the USA.
  • Faculties in the USA clearly inform students saying either ‘yes, we can take you’; no, we cannot take you’ or may direct you to fill up the application first.
  • Take up standardised tests like the GRE and the IELTS.
  • Send research proposals stating their purpose of PhD to the institute they wish to apply at.
  • Students with an undergraduate degree and with a short-term experience like an internship or an exchange programme are also eligible to apply for an integrated PhD in the USA.

Should network with the faculties to figure out who would be suitable to assist them for a PhD.

Networking should begin early since most faculties have very limited positions available for research. Ideally, the best time to network is from August to October so that by November they can start applying.

Duration: It normally takes 4–8 years of study after the bachelors and a minimum of 3 years for those who complete a PhD after masters. It can take up to 8 years to complete.

Popular institutions you can apply to:

PhD in Canada for Indian students

In Canada, students must produce an original research work during their PhD studies.

Duration: PhD in Canada usually last for 3 years.

Both government and various industries support research in varied fields like telecommunications, medicine, agriculture, computer technology and environmental science.

Popular universities to apply to:

Institutions that are among the most research intensive in the country and specialise in offering joint research programmes include –

PhD in New Zealand

A PhD in New Zealand is a 3-4 year, full-time course during which a student has to create a notable thesis under a professor's supervision. No written examination is required, but successful completion of the thesis, followed by an oral examination.


  • Should have valid academic documents and be able to meet all basic requirements laid down by the institutions.
  • Should apply for the English language proficiency test.

Clauses you should know!

  1. You can undertake research activities overseas during your PhD, but not for more than 12 months.
  2. If you have children, they can attend the primary schools at the same subsidised rates since they will be treated as domestic children.
  3. If you have a spouse, he/she can get the ‘Partner of a Student Work Visa’ which is valid for the entire duration of your study.

Popular universities to apply to:

PhD in Australia for Indian students

For students who wish to pursue a PhD in Australia, they can avail research scholarships, such as the international postgraduate research scholarships (IPRS), university scholarships, alumni scholarships and also some government scholarships. Students with outstanding academic profile and research background can apply for these scholarships.

Duration: 2 – 4 years (At some institutions like the Griffith University, PhD courses are a minimum of 2 years long, while at other institutions like the RMIT University, the PhD programme is a minimum of 4 years long.)

Requirements: An overall IELTS score of 7.0 is expected. Some institutions admit students with a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant topic too, while others require you to demonstrate evidence of research skills.

Popular universities to apply to:

What's the cost of studying a PhD abroad

You may receive a PhD with assistantships or without assistantships. So you need to check the estimated cost of studying a PhD abroad and plan well ahead of time. Here is the average cost of doing a PhD at popular destinations abroad:

Destination Average Tuition Fee
The USA USD 25,000–50,000
The UK GBP 18,000 – 25,000
Canada CAD 6,000 – 13,000
New Zealand NZD 6,500 – 8,500 (AUT tuition fee can go up to NZD 39,000)
Australia AUD 31,000 – 45,000

Read this article to learn more about PhD funding.

Points to remember

You will need to secure excellent IELTS/TOEFL scores. Some universities in the USA prefer good GRE scores so take these tests seriously!

Ideally, a PhD abroad takes from 3 years to 7 years to be completed. If you are lucky, you can finish it within 4 years; it all depends on the field you work on and, undoubtedly, on your supervisor.

To complete your PhD, you will need to have a dissertation topic on your mind and work on it sincerely. You will need to devote all your time towards it and ensure your end goals are targeted towards bringing some research outputs and good publications because the majority of research will depend on funding. Not to forget that funds crunch is a common problem in almost every country these days.

Hope the information will answer your queries about studying a PhD abroad. If you are looking to study masters, bachelors or vocational courses in any of the popular study abroad destinations, just reach out to our counsellors and they’ll give you expert guidance. Best wishes for your study abroad journey!

Editor's note: This article was originally published in November 2016. Our content writer Roshna Mohan has edited it to include up-to-date information and made it comprehensive.