How many years does it take to get a PhD in the USA? What is the typical time to degree? I heard a rumor it was five years.

  • If it is 4 or 5 years in other countries and one has to pay then where should one look to study... – Solar Mike Jul 17 '20 at 7:27
  • It varies with field and school and background. E.g., from BS to PhD in pure math at top schools 5 years is common. For lower tier schools, 6 years is more common. Do you have a field/situation in mind? – Kimball Jul 17 '20 at 13:40
  • Well spotted @Kimball. I did not think to search for "duration." – Anonymous Physicist Jul 18 '20 at 2:18

For US PhD recipients in 2018, the median years between starting graduate school and earning a doctorate was 7.3. Completing a PhD in five years has been done many times, but most PhD students will not do it and five years is not typical.

Statistics do not include PhD students who never receive a PhD.

There is large variation based on discipline and race: https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf20301/assets/data-tables/tables/nsf20301-tab031.pdf https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf20301/assets/data-tables/tables/nsf20301-tab032.pdf

  • 3
    This answer should provide or link to an explanation of the US PhD that in contrast to some European systems does not require you to have a Master's degree. The average time in Europe is probably similar but of course statistics will split it between Master's degree and PhD. – Roland Jul 17 '20 at 7:58
  • @Roland You want this question: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/38237/… – Anonymous Physicist Jul 17 '20 at 8:55
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    No, readers of this answer want it. – Roland Jul 17 '20 at 9:00
  • Well, I've linked it now, so they've got it. In any case, a portion of the people in the linked data do have masters degrees. – Anonymous Physicist Jul 17 '20 at 9:04
  • Note that the normality of integrated graduate programs is field depended. Not all fields operate this way. – mmeent Jul 18 '20 at 6:48

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