Thinking of taking a doctoral degree soon, or part way through one now? In the United States, as opposed to the UK, dissertation coursework is required as a fundamental part of the coursework, whether a distance learning PhD, or an on-campus PhD.
However, the vast majority of doctoral students will never achieve their dream with a reported 50-70% of students dropping out at some point or other. No one wants to become a part of that statistic, and some recommendations to keep you upbeat ahead of your course or on track if you’ve already started to climb the mountain!
Students can complain and moan to professors about which is the best specialization, or feel disgruntled about their grade in a class, but most students fail to realize they’ll have to move a mountain (the dissertation), equipped with only a small shovel per se. What I’m getting at here is “start digging as soon as you can”.
Pre-dissertation coursework and peripheral studies are mere undulating hills compared with what’s to come.
Points to seriously consider are:
1. Complete coursework assignments quickly.
2. Quickly choose a specialization.
3. Start your dissertation as soon as humanly possible – it’s where most students hit the brick wall.
Perhaps even keep it in mind right from Day One of the course if possible.
Many Master’s programs do not require a thesis so doctoral students often don’t know what’s coming! MBA’s and such like that do require a thesis offer a little practice (a little) for those students who want to progress to PhD level.
Some universities request prospective students to write a brief essay on their research intentions. There are two reasons for this:
1. The university wants the applicant to start thinking about the PhD dissertation from the outset
2. The university wants to check whether it can supervise the research intentions or not.
Go with a university that offers heavy emphasis on refining doctoral dissertation ideas from year one, and where the university encourages students to continue reflecting and refining research topics even while working on specialist modules. So, to answer the question in the title, very important! Good luck and good planning! Onwards!