Doctoral Studies Checklist

Good day everyone,

This one is for my doctoral students or those considering doctoral studies. The process of selecting a school, applying to a program, and then navigating the program can be incredibly overwhelming. According to Cassuto (2013), approximately 50% of doctoral students don’t finish their degrees. According to Statistics Solutions (2019), about 56% of Ph.D. students earn their degrees in 10 years. Now there are many variables attributing to these numbers, but we can safely say that graduate school is an experience of its own. Add to that the life of a regular working adult and this experience gets even more challenging, which brings me to the checklist.

One thing I often hear from graduate students is that they wish they had some sort of guidebook or list to help them get through their studies. Yes, there’s the college catalog, but let’s be real: no one wants to venture through 300+ pages of rules, policies, and procedures when only a quarter of it actually applies to them. While it’s nice to think that all grad school applicants carefully researched and planned their studies (and had great mentors/advisers to help them through), the truth is that many graduate students get their advanced degrees for the following reasons:

1. Someone told them to because it would help their career.

2. They had nothing else to do, so go to graduate school.

3. A trusting friend, colleague, or adviser convinced them that they’d be great at it.

4. They found out that they needed the degree for their job (or goal career).\

5. Ego- some people really love seeing M.A., M.S., Ed.D., Ph. D., or other letters behind their name.

In other words, many students go for advanced degrees having no idea what they are getting into. Therefore, I’ve created the checklist. At the end of this post, you can download a doctoral checklist to help you plan for your degree and get through different phases of it. It’s general because every program is different, but this provides a roadmap to consider and follow. As always, review the 300+ page college catalog and meet with your soon to be adviser, but allow this checklist to be of help.

Keep moving forward and be safe,

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