HEC Pakistan sets out new policies for pursuing PhD from Pakistani universities

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan launches new policies for PhD degree coming, into effect from 1st January 2021. These policy changes are aimed at improving the quality of PhD programs as per international standards. The most prominent among these policy changes are as follows:

1. Previously a student must have acquired an MPhil degree to get admission in a PhD program. However, as per the new policy, the minimum qualification for pursuing a PhD degree is now BS or equivalent degree. Since BS or equivalent is the minimum required qualification for PhD admission, students with MS and/or MPhil degrees can also apply for PhD admission. The minimum required marks criteria for PhD admission is a CGPA of 3.0 (out of 4.0) or first division in the most recent degree obtained.

2. The new policy is more lenient towards the choice of academic discipline for PhD admission. Students can pursue PhD in an academic program different to their prior educational background. However, students’ prior educational background must satisfy departmental policies and the admission committee to prove that the student is competent enough to pursue a PhD in the chosen discipline.

3. The new policy removes the compulsory condition of assessment of PhD thesis by foreign subject experts. PhD thesis can now be assessed by subject experts from Pakistan universities.

4. The maximum allowed time for completion of PhD will be 8 years and the minimum time to get a PhD degree will be 3 years. This means students can be awarded PhD degrees after three years of their PhD enrollment, subject to fulfilment of the requirement of the award of degree and will not be allowed more than eight years to complete their PhD.

5. Unlike the previously required coursework of 12 to 18 credit hours, students enrolling in a PhD program are now required to complete a coursework of 48 credit hours.

6. University can grant 50 per cent exemption from the coursework for a PhD program to students with MS/MPhil degree in the same discipline. After completion of the coursework, a PhD student will be required to pass a test in order to be offered candidacy as a PhD researcher. A student failing the aforementioned test may be given one chance to reappear in the test. PhD student will be supervised by faculty members who 1) have a PhD degree, 2) is an HEC approved supervisor, and 2) is full-time faculty member of the university.