Doctorate Graduation

Without a doubt, earning a PhD is one of the most challenging academic achievements someone can undertake in his or her life. Doctorate programs are extremely rigorous and demanding in that they not only plunge students into a hefty, difficult course load, but they also require them to participate in some kind of field study, experience an internship and/or write an involved doctoral thesis.

As would be expected, doctorate programs are highly refined according to the school you attend, as well as the field of study you choose. For example, a doctorate program of medicine at Stanford is going to be a far different experience than a PhD program for jurisprudence (law) at Duke.

Just as the courses and other requirements vary, so too does the number of years a program lasts. In fact, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the length of time it takes someone to complete a PhD program. Typically, doctoral programs last four or more years, depending on the subject you choose, as well as whether or not you attend the program on a full or part time basis.

Although the requirements for graduating from a doctorate program necessarily vary by school and subject area, there are a few general aspects that PhD students have to complete and pass before receiving their post graduate degrees:

  • annual evaluations
  • coursework
  • field exams
  • research activities and papers
  • oral exams
  • dissertation.

Doctorate Graduation Ceremonies

Like with masters graduations, PhD graduations may be combined with other graduation ceremonies of the same department, depending on the size of the school and the number of PhD graduates that year. Generally, larger schools will combine the masters and PhD graduations. They may even include both of them in the undergraduate ceremony.

Whether or not a PhD graduation is part of another ceremony or stands on its own, it tends to follow protocol for graduation ceremonies in that it includes:

  • an opening speech
  • a speech by a keynote speaker
  • the procession of graduates and the distribution of degrees.

One notable difference is that one of the doctoral graduates may also give a speech. Generally, the PhD graduate who speaks at the ceremony is one who has consistently excelled throughout his course of study and who is well regarded by the department of his study.

Doctorate Graduation Caps, Gowns and Accessories

The PhD graduation is the one ceremony in which graduates wear caps, gowns and hoods that are more elaborate, more expensive and distinctly different that those associated with other graduations. Here are the differences in graduation wear for PhD graduates:

  • The gown, while the same length, is customized with colored trim, as well as stripes of color around the arms, that correspond with the schools colors and the honors she has achieved.
  • The graduate wears a hood, longer than that worn by masters students, whose color corresponds with the graduates field of study.
  • The traditional mortarboard cap is replaced by a tam (a beret-like) hat complete with a tassel.