The PhD program in natural sciences is research training for those who plan a career in higher education or for advancement to senior research positions. In recent years, industry has shown increased interest in specialists with a PhD degree in the natural sciences.
In scientific disciplines, research often implies experimentation, but research is more than mere experiments -- it means interpretation and deep understanding. For natural scientists, research means searching to uncover the principles that underlie digital computation and communication. A researcher must discover new techniques that aid in building or using computational mechanisms. Researchers look for new abstractions, new approaches, new algorithms, new principles, or new mechanisms.
PhD work in the natural sciences is therefore quite challenging and in most cases those achieving a PhD in natural sciences will spend anywhere from one to three years studying advanced coursework in their chosen subject field. Generally, time spent on coursework tends to be less if one has earned a relevant Master's degree first. These advanced studies may eliminate the need to take certain courses. However, some natural sciences doctoral programs tend not to accept students who have not already completed a Master's degree. Others are more likely to accept students with a Bachelor's degree. The decision on who to accept into a PhD program is highly variable.
Selected majors/areas of research for a PhD in Natural Sciences include
Students in a natural sciences doctoral program must pass a written and oral qualifying exam and then complete and formally defend a doctoral dissertation based on original research. In general, all natural sciences PhD programs require that successful candidates for the degree demonstrate:
The ability to conduct independent research at a high level, leading to completion of a dissertation which is defended before a committee of scholars. Because examinations given as part of a PhD curriculum assess expert knowledge, they are created and evaluated by a committee of experts, each of whom holds a PhD degree
Proficiency in the tools necessary to carry out this research, including but not limited to computer skills, bibliographic competence, and reading of one or more foreign languages
Mastery of general and specific subject matter in the field of study before a committee of scholars
Part- and full-time study options, along with various delivery modes - residential programs, distance education programs and online programs - are also available. North American PhD programs in the natural sciences welcome foreign students. However, fluency in spoken and written English is critically important.
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