PhD Application Tips

Applying for PhDs can be a daunting process. It entails a number of elements which you need to think about carefully. Research proposal, personal statement, choosing supervisors, funding options and referees are common aspects which you need to complete when applying for PhDs. However, planning well and understanding what makes a good PhD application will make this process so much easier. Here are my top 5 tips for anyone thinking of applying:

Be sure

Undergoing a PhD is not easy, make sure you 100% want to do this for the next 3/4 years. Your reason for a doing a PhD should be sustainable and one that will push you to successfully complete it. This will give you the confidence and passion which will really show in your application and it’s always a good start! For me, I am hugely passionate about my research topic of maternal depression in developing countries and I genuinely enjoy doing research on this. For others it may be getting the title or recognition of being a “doctor”, which is a totally valid reason! Whatever the reason might be, make sure you believe in it strongly. πŸ’ͺ🏼

Start early

PhD applications are intense but if you start early you will have time to properly form your application. Remember many application periods fall during Christmas holidays or other busy periods of time, therefore, give referees and yourself extra time to get all the parts of the application ready. I gave myself a good 2 months to complete the full application, however, the more time you give yourself the more you can perfect your application. πŸ•°

Research proposal

Most PhD applications require you to develop your own research proposal. Take time with this and really plan it out as this is perhaps the most important aspect. Particularly if you are applying for a studentship/funded opportunity, funders want to know that they are spending money on research that is impactful, original and feasible. Check out my writing a research proposal post which goes through all the essential elements to include in a research proposal.πŸ’‘

Highlight specific achievments

Along with general skills and achievements, emphasise specific modules or grades from your studies which align with your research topic or methodology you plan on using. These can essays to projects you’ve done well in and showcased key skills or exam results for certain modules. Being specific means you can stand out from the crowd and have something particular you can offer. It also highlights your enthusiasm for your specific research area or methodology.πŸ₯‡

Pick your supervisor wisely

Choose a supervisor who has expertise and passion for your research topic, funders are more likely to accept applications with supervisors who have a solid research background. Make sure to meet with your potential supervisor(s), if possible, before applying so you know you are both on the same page. I was very lucky to have my masters supervisor agree to be my PhD supervisor. I knew her well and we shared the same enthusiasm for the topic and work ethic.🀝

Author: nafisasnotes

A PhD student sharing my notes and reflections on academia and lifestyle topics! Follow me to get an insight on all things research, academia and lifestyle!

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