How to Manage Your PhD Timeline for Smoother Research Completion

It’s finally happening! The university has sent you an acceptance letter for the PhD program you had applied to. Getting into a doctoral program is not an easy task, and the speculations around it of being one of the toughest courses can’t be denied either. However, despite it being a daunting journey, one can smoothly sail through by managing the PhD timeline smartly. So sit back and read this article to plan your Ph.D. research timeline in an effective and hassle-free manner.

Why Should You Draw a Ph.D. Timeline?

A PhD journey is laid with several milestones that come as you proceed. Thus, drawing a timeline preemptively helps researchers stay away from the last-minute terror of submissions, presentations, committee meetings, viva, etc. Furthermore, creating a timeline and adhering to it makes you a better learner and instills discipline in you.

How to Begin with the PhD Timeline Planning?

While creating a well-structured timeline, you must ask these questions to yourself and to your supervisor:

  1. What are the important steps of a PhD program?
  2. How many projects do you have to work on?
  3. What are the technical milestones for developing a protocol?
  4. What are the risks associated?

What to Do Before Creating Your PhD Timeline?

Obtaining a doctoral degree is a process of completing of required credits, passing the qualification test for submitting a doctoral thesis, writing and submitting a thesis, and final viva voce.

Follow these steps as you create your PhD Timeline:

  1. Attend the program orientation to understand specific graduation requirements
  2. Make a list of technical events such as conferences, committee meetings, PhD viva voce, presentations, qualification examination, etc.
  3. Manage your PhD timeline term-wise or month-wise
  4. Make a list of events on priority-basis

Step-wise Guide to Create Your PhD Timeline

Let’s take a detailed look at the steps required for a PhD. It is important to know what each step entails and what the deadline is for each of it. Generally, all universities have strict graduation requirements. A doctoral student is expected to complete a minimum number of credits to qualify as a PhD candidate. However, in some cases, a master’s degree is required for the doctoral program, and if you have obtained a master’s degree, you may be awarded a doctoral degree only through a research course without taking additional credits.

Here are 8 major milestones of a PhD program:

Milestone 1: Through consultation with your advisor, check whether there are any special graduation requirements other than the university and department that you may have to complete as part of your program.

Milestone 2: The supervisory committee must be formed within one year of the doctoral program and must have at least one meeting to plan the successful conclusion of a research project. In addition to the advisor, at least two other university professors are required to be members of this committee. Doctoral students must receive advice on how the doctoral program is progressing through regular meetings of the committee.

Milestone 3: In the second year of the doctoral program, you must pass a comprehensive exam which is known as the PhD qualifying examination. It is an oral presentation and oral exam of approximately 2 hours in front of 6-7 professors, essentially including one non-university professor, members of the Supervisory/Supervisory Board, and two other professors from your university and your advisors. Upon passing this exam, the PhD student’s status changes to PhD candidate. This makes him/her eligible to receive the doctoral degree.

Milestone 4: After that, by presenting the thesis and participating in conferences, the doctoral student must conduct his doctoral research in-depth and be recognized for it.

Milestone 5: When the curriculum requirements are met, the deadline for completing the doctoral thesis is determined through consultation with the advisor, and this is approved by the guidance committee.

Milestone 6: As a prerequisite before appearing for PhD viva, discuss the completed thesis with your advisor and select PhD external examiners related to the research field.

Milestone 7: Once the external expert/s reviews and approves the value, logic, and results of the doctoral thesis, the doctoral office allows the PhD candidate to take the thesis defense as the next course. In this defense, PhD candidates must pass a 2.5-3-hour oral examination based on their thesis in front of the doctoral examination panel.

Milestone 8: After receiving approval from the attending professors on the doctoral examination panel, submitting the final thesis, and applying for the doctoral degree, you will finally graduate with your PhD degree.

To download the PhD Timeline Template, click here!

Key Takeaways

Don’t get discouraged when someone shares their anecdotes of surviving a cumbersome PhD journey. Everyone applying for a doctoral program meets obstacles along the way; however, setting a proper timeline and following it diligently will only make your journey smoother than the rest. Do your best in accordance with your conscience, your mission as a learning scholar, and the regulations of your university. Wishing you a successful academic life with this PhD timeline. Let us know how you plan to soar through your PhD in the comments section below.


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