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PhD without relevant work experience

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    My dream is complete a neuroscience PhD. I currently have a BSc in Psychology (2:1) and I am starting a one year taught MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience later this year. I plan to apply to PhD programs this December that start in 2013. I do not have any relevant work experience and am unsure whether or not this will affect the likelihood of me being accepted onto a course. Is anyone/has anyone been in a similar position?
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    Sounds great that you have a definite plan for your future. I have found that in this current market and with funding cuts to uni's by government and research councils, it is extremely competitive out there. A 2.1 (which is the minimum they look for) may not be enough, if other candidates have 1st's and/or work experience.

    Adding a masters degree to your CV, will add value and if you do well, it may put you in a more favourable position than candidates with mere BSc's. A note of caution though, it may also not! It all depends on the reputation of the uni you plan on studying your MSc, the quality of their research, PI (supervisor) and department in terms of neuroscience and where you apply for PhD's. The top uni's will be more difficult to get into.

    I think in terms of work experience...which is valuable, especially if you want to be competitive, is a must. When I applied for PhD's last year, I only had two interviews out of many many applications...I spent months gaining work experience in research labs since and my CV is now more competitive for the market. I'm planning to complete an MRes this year and then go onto a PhD next year. I believe that my 1st + work experience + the MRes, will give me more of a chance of getting a funded PhD.

    This is my opinion and based on my own experiences, so that's all I can say. Others may disagree, but let's put it this way, if you can get some relevant work experience under your belt before applying for PhD's, it won't hurt at all.
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    Agree that it's great that you're thinking ahead and have a plan for the future.

    However, I'm not sure about how competitive your qualifications are for getting a funded neuroscience PhD place because you'd be up against scientists with a biology background which is more suited for a PhD in neuroscience. It's not unheard of though. Also, from having spoken to someone with a psychology background doing a PhD in neuroscience it seems that the almost cross-disciplinary shift in focus is a bit of an uphill task. Again, not impossible but you should be prepared for that.

    Good luck!
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    (Original post by alleycat393)
    Agree that it's great that you're thinking ahead and have a plan for the future.

    However, I'm not sure about how competitive your qualifications are for getting a funded neuroscience PhD place because you'd be up against scientists with a biology background which is more suited for a PhD in neuroscience. It's not unheard of though. Also, from having spoken to someone with a psychology background doing a PhD in neuroscience it seems that the almost cross-disciplinary shift in focus is a bit of an uphill task. Again, not impossible but you should be prepared for that.

    Good luck!
    This is exactly what I was thinking. It's doubtful you would get the funds to complete it with you field not being related to neuroscience.
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    I have been in contact with a local hospital, I may be able to volunteer in their Neurosciences Centre this summer. I do not think I will be at a disadvantage because of my choice of degree/masters. The specific PhD course I am interested in lists its entry requirements as:

    First or Upper Second Class in a relevant area (eg. neuroscience, psychology, anatomy, physiology, natural sciences). This is a training doctorate, previous research experience is not essential.

    I think a Psychology degree and a Cognitive Neuroscience masters would suit this particular programme.
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    Why should a Phd have any relevant work experience? Phd's specialise in research on topics of their choice. If it is medicine or engineering you are contemplating a Phd in then perhaps work experience may be relevant.
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    (Original post by -Neuroscientist-)
    I have been in contact with a local hospital, I may be able to volunteer in their Neurosciences Centre this summer. I do not think I will be at a disadvantage because of my choice of degree/masters. The specific PhD course I am interested in lists its entry requirements as:

    First or Upper Second Class in a relevant area (eg. neuroscience, psychology, anatomy, physiology, natural sciences). This is a training doctorate, previous research experience is not essential.

    I think a Psychology degree and a Cognitive Neuroscience masters would suit this particular programme.
    Entry requirements, and obtaining funding, are two different things, which is I think what people are suggesting above. With a 2:1 and an MSc in Neuroscience, you will probably get accepted by the department itself. However, unless you are planning on self-funding, the competition for funded places at the moment is very strong. That's not to say you won't get funding (I have a fully funded place, with a 2:1 and a merit in my masters), but you need other things to demonstrate your strength as a candidate. For example, I had three years' work experience in my field, and could demonstrate a strong interest in the thesis I proposed.
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    What's your definition of work experience? The only type of work experience relevant to PhDs are research.
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    (Original post by flying plum)
    Entry requirements, and obtaining funding, are two different things, which is I think what people are suggesting above. With a 2:1 and an MSc in Neuroscience, you will probably get accepted by the department itself. However, unless you are planning on self-funding, the competition for funded places at the moment is very strong. That's not to say you won't get funding (I have a fully funded place, with a 2:1 and a merit in my masters), but you need other things to demonstrate your strength as a candidate. For example, I had three years' work experience in my field, and could demonstrate a strong interest in the thesis I proposed.
    The programme I am looking at is free for EU/UK students and has a £20k stipend.
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    (Original post by Dirac Delta Function)
    What's your definition of work experience? The only type of work experience relevant to PhDs are research.
    Something like work in a hospital. Working with neuroimaging machines (such as fMRI) and examining the data they collect. Literally anything related to neuroscience.
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    (Original post by -Neuroscientist-)
    The programme I am looking at is free for EU/UK students and has a £20k stipend.
    Ok, but again, just because those are the entry requirements does not mean you won't be competing against people who have better qualifications and more work experience.

    I'm not trying to discourage you from applying, but be aware of this, and do everything you can to make your application as strong as you can between now and when you make it. But I'm sure you know this, as that's why you were concerned it might be a problem. All you can do is apply and see what happens. and apply to other places as well - I applied for 7 different funding schemes for my PhD and was accepted onto one.

    A good way of getting 'work experience' which PhD funding panels will be interested in is as a research assistant. this normally only requires a masters, sometimes only an undergrad degree. Consider applying for some of these jobs at the same time as your PhD, so if you are unsuccessful with the doctoral funding, you have another route, and then some experience for next time round of applications.
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    (Original post by -Neuroscientist-)
    Something like work in a hospital. Working with neuroimaging machines (such as fMRI) and examining the data they collect. Literally anything related to neuroscience.
    It's not my field, so my opinion may not mean much, but these things don't seem very important unless there is actual research involved.

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