Can I get a PhD degree by writing a dissertation only?


When getting your PhD, writing a dissertation certainly is the biggest part of it. It isn’t the only part, however, because you still have classes to attend. You’ll need to work closely with your advisor to know how you can graduate and obtain your doctorate. There are a few things you shouldn’t do if you want to get your PhD. Here are a few things you should avoid:

  • Expecting perfection
  • In the academics, perfection can be crippling. Remember that it isn’t attainable; you just need to polish your dissertation as best you can. Good enough really is good enough.

  • Procrastinating
  • This goes along with perfectionism: don’t put things off until you get them right. Allow yourself to make mistakes and keep working on it every day.

  • Ignoring the committee
  • Make sure you always make contact with your committee and keep them updated on how you’re doing. Don’t forget that they have to sign off on your dissertation in order for you to graduate.

  • Aiming too low or too high
  • If you don’t really care to do well, and just want to pass, the committee will be able to tell and you might not be lucky enough to be approved. On the other hand, aiming too high will stall your research. This is the beginning of your academic career; not the end all be all.

  • Missing the real milestones
  • Most schools also require qualifiers, coursework, a proposal, and thesis defense in addition to the big dissertation. Remember that you have other work to do that’s just as important.

Any of these might lead to not getting your PhD even if you write a good dissertation. Make sure that you check in with your school and your advisor before wondering if you won’t get your degree. It’s important to stick to the guidelines and traditions of your specific university in this department. Talk to someone who can help you, if you aren’t sure of the details involved in getting your PhD degree.

It’s always helpful to talk to students who are writing similar dissertations to yours and seeing how they’re doing. You can help each other with research time, talk about ideas for organizing your writing, and other things. Since they’re doing this at the same time as you are, they’re likely having the same problems and can use help, too.