#7. PhD Checklist: 8 things to do before applying to a PhD program.

When you have decided to pursue a PhD program, there are few things you should understand before applying to the universities. These things are common to all PhD programs irrespective of the field/country of study. We can collectively call these things one checklist called “PhD checklist”. In this post, let us look at the different activities involved in a PhD checklist. In case, if you are still in the decision-making stage, you can check out the “PhD mindset” post to understand whether you have the right mindset to pursue a PhD program.

If you have come to this paragraph, then you have decided to apply for a PhD program. First of all, Congratulations! You have made the right choice as the world requires more skilled academicians and more determined researchers.

Now, you should aim to get into a reputed institution where you can study under skilled professors with adequate infrastructure.

Additionally, top universities fund your PhD tuition fees for the whole duration; they also provide a stipend that can cover your living expenses. One of the top business schools in Europe, IESE business school from The University of Navarra, for example, offers 3 types of PhD funding: tuition fees to study research techniques, tuition fees to do a PhD thesis, and stipend to cover living expenses. In essence, if you join a top university, you can complete your PhD program without spending a penny from your pocket. In most cases, you can save a decent sum of money.

As described in the previous paragraph, it is important to study in a premier institute that provides both academic and financial support. So, our first task is to understand the common requisites of top institutions whether it is regional, national or global. Our “PhD checklist” will help us understand such requirements and get into a premier institute. In summary, a PhD checklist is a list of things one has to do/accomplish before applying to a PhD program in a premier institute.

Following are items/activities in the PhD checklist:

  1. Talk with a PhD research scholar in the field of your interest.
    • Preferably, a person who is studying in an institute or a person who has recently completed the PhD program.
  2. Give yourself an academic tag.
    1. Revisit all your key academic years and check your percentages/marks/grade points.
    2. Analyse and describe yourself like “a student within top 10 percentile” or “a student between 75th percentile and 90th percentile” etc.
  3. List down the top universities as per your location preference.
    • Check the duration of study – 2+3 years, 2+2 years, 3 years etc.
    • Check the structure of the program – When will your PhD thesis start?
    • Eligibility criteria – GRE, TOEFL/IELTS, minimum past grades, etc.
    • Financial support.
    • Study the profile of professors and note down their research areas.
    • Study the profile of PhD students.
  4. Identify 2-3 professors who can write recommendations for you.
    • An academician should support your ambition of doing a PhD.
    • Do projects under professors if required.
  5. Have an idea about your research area.
    • Study relevant journals, academic papers, articles etc.
    • What type of research is currently happening in your area of interest?
  6. Prepare an SOP – Statement Of Purpose and a Personal statement.
    • Why do you want to study for a PhD?
    • Is your academic/work background in alignment with your desire to do a PhD?
    • What will you do with your PhD?
    • Why do you opt for a specific university?
  7. Prepare for entrance exams like GRE, TOEFL/IELTS etc. if required.
    • Marks matter! You should clear the minimum cut-off.
  8. Complete at least one research project during the application year.
    • Join a research group and support their projects.
    • Do a project under a professor.

In summary, you should be on top of all the 8 things in the PhD checklist to get into a reputed university. Thus, the PhD checklist summarizes the preparation process of your PhD application.

Thanks for reading the full article. I believe you have understood the role of a “PhD checklist” before applying to a university. In the upcoming posts, I will detail the points mentioned in the PhD checklist. Till then, see you!

Published by Portgas D. V

I am a self-motivated person who likes to explore different themes of lifestyle. In the process, I enjoy guiding my inner psychic energy for the betterment of self. When I am free, I would like to read and listen. My long term goal is to become a good writer.

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