Applying for a PhD: A few questions

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blossomx
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I am starting my master's this month and I am strongly considering doing a PhD after, however it is something that I haven't really done that much research into so I just wondered if someone could answer a few questions I have please.

- What is the timeline for PhD applications? How far in advance should I be applying?

- How sure do you have to be on your area of study? The reason I am doing a master's as I have narrowed my subject down into two areas, but when I looked at some available PhD positions they were very specific and I didn't feel ready to choose between the two areas of Biomedicine that I find interesting.

- What are the funding options for PhD students? With my master's I am taking out the Student Finance's Master's Loan to pay for my tuition. What do PhD students do to fund their PhDs?
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alleycat393
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(Original post by LeaX)
I am starting my master's this month and I am strongly considering doing a PhD after, however it is something that I haven't really done that much research into so I just wondered if someone could answer a few questions I have please.

- What is the timeline for PhD applications? How far in advance should I be applying?

- How sure do you have to be on your area of study? The reason I am doing a master's as I have narrowed my subject down into two areas, but when I looked at some available PhD positions they were very specific and I didn't feel ready to choose between the two areas of Biomedicine that I find interesting.

- What are the funding options for PhD students? With my master's I am taking out the Student Finance's Master's Loan to pay for my tuition. What do PhD students do to fund their PhDs?
You start applying about now for 2019 entry. Most application deadlines are in January.

You will have to pick a project unfortunately nut remember that this is the start of your training in the field so you aren't really specialising. Go for something through which you will learn a lot of techniques.

You need to apply for funding either with your supervisor or apply for a funded project.
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Cranfield University
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(Original post by LeaX)
I am starting my master's this month and I am strongly considering doing a PhD after, however it is something that I haven't really done that much research into so I just wondered if someone could answer a few questions I have please.

- What is the timeline for PhD applications? How far in advance should I be applying?

- How sure do you have to be on your area of study? The reason I am doing a master's as I have narrowed my subject down into two areas, but when I looked at some available PhD positions they were very specific and I didn't feel ready to choose between the two areas of Biomedicine that I find interesting.

- What are the funding options for PhD students? With my master's I am taking out the Student Finance's Master's Loan to pay for my tuition. What do PhD students do to fund their PhDs?
Hi,

Your Masters, I presume, would last for 1 year. It is important that you begin make your PhD application within that one year (research on the degree, funding search, application, interviews, etc) so that you move in seamlessly into your PhD programme at the end of your MSc course.

The most critical part of your PhD application and subsequent study is funding. It is important that you get a fully-funded PhD or, if you have some funds of your own, partial funding to augment what you have. Funding is most critical to the success of your PhD as well as your supervisor. Find a research area which is what you want to research in, or as close to, while ensuring it is funded. A PhD is challenging in itself- you do not want the added inconvenience of uncertain funds.
PhDs fund their PhD in various ways- grants, funded PhD, scholarships, loans, etc.

During this one year of MSc, take time to seek out and build a working relationship with potential supervisors. This means researching on them- their works, research interests, etc. It will come in handy and show them that you are really interested in their research/ research.

Best of luck.

-Oke, PhD candidate Cranfield University
Cranfield TSR Rep.
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heidigirl
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Applications usually have deadlines around January, but some are as early as late November or early December, and some as late as March. Don't rush it, you have plenty of time right now to do lots of research and get together a strong application, there's not really much benefit to getting applications in early, as long as its before the deadline you should be fine, but you definitely want to start thinking about it. You may also want to contact supervisors before hand to discuss projects you are interested in (to find out both whether they think you are suitable and for you to get more of an idea of how suitable it would be for you, and what the supervisor is like-whether you get on with your supervisor can have a big impact on your PhD!). Some projects/universities stipulate that you contact supervisors first informally to discuss and get their go ahead before making an official application.

You definitely want to look at projects you are interested in-you have to do this research project for 3-4 years!-but PhDs are about training you for research, so the skills and techniques you will learn are just as important. Don't look at it as specialising, but more a way of exploring a research area and gaining skills needed for research in general.

PhDs are funded in a number of ways-research council funding and university scholarships being the main ones. In the sciences, self funding PhDs isn't really the norm; for starters the ability to get funding is seen as quite important in academia. If you look on findaphd.com you can look at advertised projects, and it tells you what the funding situation is. Some projects will have funding specifically for that project, whilst others may be competition funded-this means there's a big pot of money, usually to fund a certain number of projects, so there will be lots of projects/people competing for a few places. This is usually the case with structured research council funded doctoral training programmes (DTPs) which can be very competitive. If you are interested in something that doesn't have funding however, it may be worth speaking with the supervisor who may have ideas of whether there are places funding can be sourced from.
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QuentinM
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(Original post by LeaX)
I am starting my master's this month and I am strongly considering doing a PhD after, however it is something that I haven't really done that much research into so I just wondered if someone could answer a few questions I have please.

- What is the timeline for PhD applications? How far in advance should I be applying?

- How sure do you have to be on your area of study? The reason I am doing a master's as I have narrowed my subject down into two areas, but when I looked at some available PhD positions they were very specific and I didn't feel ready to choose between the two areas of Biomedicine that I find interesting.

- What are the funding options for PhD students? With my master's I am taking out the Student Finance's Master's Loan to pay for my tuition. What do PhD students do to fund their PhDs?
Application timeline : while a lot are January, during my Masters I was applying all the way up to July for entry in September. Some people don't fill slots so open up applications again later. From now I'd actually start looking for places, and keep doing so regularly (every few days) for the next few months at least

Area of study : Any overlap between these areas? For example, going into my masters I had a broad interest in neuroscience and obesity research, which does have some significant overlap (effects of obesity on brain, appetite control etc). Then in my masters I did a lot of developmental biology work, so I know have three broader interests. Thankfully I can find a lot of projects where two overlap, and in some cases even all three.

PhD funding : most people apply for funded PhD positions or bring their own funding. Bringing your own funding usually means applying from abroad and having your government back you. Alternatively, a PhD student could apply for a project where the lab has the money to fund the project but just not pay you (its rare but possible). Funded positions are best as a charity will offer money to pay you (usually-though it isn't much) and your lab work, and if you are lucky, expenses like a computer and travel/course expenses. You also have to technically pay tuition fees for a PhD-these would be covered in a funded position, and you would have to pay them in the non funded description I gave above


Happy to answer any other questions
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