First you get your four year degree, usually a BS or a BA. Then usually you get a master's degree. A master's is 30-45+ credits. Some master's are very easy, some are very difficult. Some require you to take the GRE exam as part of the application.
The only financial aid for grad students is usually student loans. Some programs have grad assistanceships that pay tuition and some money.
After the master's you apply to a doctorate program. Most doctorate programs will require the GRE. You may be able to use your master's credits for your doctorate. You take a certain number of credit hours of courses and write a dissertation. You have a committee that tells you what classes to take and is supposed to help you with your dissertation. They decide if you get your doctorate. If you complete your courses but not the dissertation it's called all but dissertation or ABD.
at 3:17 PM on Sep. 5, 2009