Once you are accepted into a Ph.D. program, it is best to have a plan for how you will spend your time working toward your degree. This is called a work plan, and many colleges and universities require that Ph.D. students submit a written work plan that is then signed off on by the student's mentor. Whether or not it is required, a clear idea of the course of your research is essential.

Describe What You'll Be Researching

The bulk of the plan will describe the details of your research project. What you propose to research, how you will go about conducting researching, and a detailed timeline are all included in this section. If you need to obtain a copyright or intellectual property rights agreement, you will discuss your process for doing so. If your research will be taking you out of the country, you need to talk about your plans. While you'll fine-tune the details of your research along the way, be as specific as possible at the onset.

List the Courses You Will Take

Mention the coursework that will be supporting your research. List all courses that you will be taking over the course of your Ph.D. career. List also valuable seminars you are planning to attend that will contribute meaningfully to your research. Include in this section any courses that you are required to teach while fulfilling your Ph.D. requirements.

Plan for Meeting With Your Mentor

Your department head will want a clear idea of when you will be meeting with your supervisor or mentor to keep track of your progress over the course of your Ph.D. career. Find out when, where and how often you will be meeting with your supervisor and how you will implement measurable, realistic goals to determine your progress. In addition to supervision, talk about how and where you will be presenting your final research. Even though you may adjust it later, estimate a date upon which you plan to deliver your dissertation.

Talk About the Financial Picture

Finally, a good plan will include information about how you plan to finance your Ph.D. research. Very few Ph.D. students pay for their degrees out of pocket. Acknowledge any scholarships, grants, private funding, sponsors or fellowships that will cover your tuition costs. Include any extraneous expenditures that go along with your research and how you plan to cover these: travel and lodgings in foreign countries, tickets to major seminars and other expenses.