How to apply for Phd after Bachelor’s?
Updated on Mar 10, 2017 - 3:43 p.m. IST by Bedasree Das

PhD after Bachelors
- The USA continues to maintain its stronghold as far as the most preferred study abroad destination is concerned as students from across the world apply to various programmes in its universities annually. Universities in the USA offer international students a wide scope for research in their subject of interest. The USA attracts a large number of foreign students wishing to pursue PhD as the country invests a lot in research and development.

The USA holds an edge over several countries in a way that its universities offer PhD programme to students wishing to pursue PhD in USA soon after their Bachelor's degree. What's more, many of these universities offer students to get a Master’s degree enroute a PhD degree.


Can you apply for PhD after Bachelors in USA?

While it is not a norm, there are quite a few universities in the USA which allow students to opt for PhD after Bachelors. However, what needs to be known here is that some of these universities do not let you skip Masters altogether. In fact, in most cases, your Masters programme is clubbed with the PhD.

What is a combined MS and PhD degree?

While some universities in the USA let you apply for PhD after Bachelors, it is, however, a combined Masters and PhD programme. Therefore, a student gets a Master’s degree on his way to a PhD degree. Therefore, the Masters programme goes on for 2-3 years and thereafter the student can continue with his PhD studies. Interestingly, some universities automatically confer a Master’s degree upon admission while some others may require the aspirant to take a few extra credits of coursework to lead to the Master’s degree. 

Top universities in the US which offer PhD after Bachelor’s degree:


Minimum requirement

Duration (average)


A bachelor's degree (or equivalent)

5 Years (2 years coursework and minimum 3 years for research)


A bachelor's degree (or equivalent)

6 years ( 1-2 years in coursework and rest for research)


A bachelor's degree (or equivalent)

Around 5 years


A bachelor's degree (or equivalent)

Around 5 years (2 years coursework)


A bachelor's degree (or equivalent)

6 -7 years (3-3 years coursework)

University of Chicago

A bachelor's degree (or equivalent)


University of Pennsylvania

A bachelor's degree (or equivalent)

5-6 years (10-year limit)

Columbia University

A bachelor's degree (or equivalent)

5 years

John Hopkins University

A bachelor's degree (or equivalent)

6 years

Cornell University

A bachelor's degree (or equivalent)


(Not all the programmes offered by the US universities cover combined MS and PhD. Check the individual sites of the universities for more information)

How to apply for PhD after Bachelor’s degree?

The entry requirements for a combined MS and PhD programme is similar to that of a Doctorate, as most applicants for the combined programme would not have an advanced degree or journal publications. Admission to a combined degree can also be very competitive with most universities accepting just 3-4 candidates in a session.

Factors regarding PhD after Bachelors admission:

1.  Strong GPA - Candidates need to have excellent Grade Point Average to qualify for the programmes. Students from other boards can find the equivalent to the GPA to assess their eligibility.

2.  Standardised test scores - Candidates have to score very high points in the standardized scores. Here the student will be asked to submit test scores.

GRE: GRE is mandatory for almost all PhD programmes, including management studies, after Bachelors in the USA. In case of doctoral programmes, most students are required to present GRE subject scores of the course as well.


GMAT: GMAT is taken for admission to management studies. Business schools offering PhD in business management accept GMAT score for admission into a wide range of PhD programs in management.


TOEFL: TOEFL is an English proficiency test for students from non-native English speaking countries. For international students, a high TOEFL score is a must for admission to PhD courses.

IELTS: IELTS is also accepted for international students' admission to PhD programmes. Like TOEFL, it is also an English proficiency test for students from non-native English speaking countries. IELTS test measures a candidate’s English language command in four different parameters- Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.


3. Letter of Recommendation (LOR): One of the most important elements for admission to direct PhD programmes is a Letter of Recommendation. The Letter of Recommendation is an independent assessment of a candidate's potential. Most universities require at least two to three recommendation letters.  It is advisable for students to have letters of recommendation written by either their professors or employees


4. Statement of Purpose (SOP): The Statement of Purpose is another important element of the application package for admission to direct PhD programme in the USA. It reflects the student's commitment for the PhD programme and goals in life. 


5. Resume: At the PhD level, many universities would require the student to submit a resume along with the application. The resume should contain the candidate's basic informations like date of birth, academic qualifications, achievements and details of any previous work in his area of interest.


6. Research Projects: It is always helpful if the aspirant had the PhD as an elective subject in the final year of Bachelors. Also, one can get additional brownie points if the application is accompanied with any research or journal publications or any projects in the related field 


7. Interview: Most of the universities in the  USA offering direct PhD hold a separate interview round for the aspirants. As in most cases, the PhD interviews are conducted by invitation only. The questions are general as well specific to the subject the candidate wants to pursue. 


Stay tuned to for more stories on US admission

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