This is the current curriculum that the Howzah follows:
1- The introductory level or Level 1 of the Howzah which takes six years to complete. The first three years are usually spent for studying Arabic literature and other lessons, and the next three years are spent for studying general fiqh (using the book Sharhul-Lum’ah) and the principles of fiqh (usulul-fiqh of Mudhaffar).
2- Level 2 of the Howzah (Bachelors): In this level, in addition to studying fiqh and usul in a more detailed way, Howzah students can also major in other subjects such as theology, tafsir, propagation etc.
3- Level 3 of the Howzah (Masters): In this period, one must complete the level and have two years of kharij experience and must also write a thesis too.
In short, these stages take ten years altogether in which can also be completed in shorter periods.
After these ten years, which are called the sat’h period, the kharij period of study begins. This period doesn’t have a specific amount of years and its time differs with each of the maraji’ and teachers. Some of the ulema might end their usul class in five years while others might take fifteen years to finish. Fiqh usually takes a long time too, because there are more than forty fiqh subjects that need to be covered which naturally takes a long time. A faqih needs to spend a lifetime to be able to cover all of these different subjects.
Becoming a mujtahid also depends on one’s potential and skills. One individual might be able to become a mujtahid in only five years of kharij studies through hard work and effort, while another might not be able to accomplish this goal for fifty years!
It should be noted that Ijtihad is the power and ability of being able to derive Islamic law from its sources and that one who studies his introductory courses in the first ten years or the sat’h period better, is better off in the kharij period which is in reality a course of getting familiar with the method of ijtihad. The rest all depends on the student’s effort and Allah’s help in gaining the ability of ijtihad.