How hard is it to get into doing a PhD?

Watch
Bongo Bongo
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 1 year ago
#1
So I’ve been apply for PhDs for the past 6 months. I’ve had about 4 Skype chats and one formal interview (which I didn’t get). My grades at MSc weren’t great so I think this is a huge factor of why I haven’t got a place. Do any of you guys have any success stories about getting on your course?

I got a 2.2 at undergraduate (59%), but I work independently and think a PhD would suit me. I’ve devised a proposal which is really interesting and I cover all the relevant lit. It would be amazing if I could get a place for this september, as it would mean I could move out of where I’m living. I’m self funding (I know funded PhDs are even more competitive). What do you guys think my chances are?
0
reply
threeportdrift
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#2
Report 1 year ago
#2
(Original post by Bongo Bongo)
So I’ve been apply for PhDs for the past 6 months. I’ve had about 4 Skype chats and one formal interview (which I didn’t get). My grades at MSc weren’t great so I think this is a huge factor of why I haven’t got a place. Do any of you guys have any success stories about getting on your course?

I got a 2.2 at undergraduate (59%), but I work independently and think a PhD would suit me. I’ve devised a proposal which is really interesting and I cover all the relevant lit. It would be amazing if I could get a place for this september, as it would mean I could move out of where I’m living. I’m self funding (I know funded PhDs are even more competitive). What do you guys think my chances are?
You haven't given enough detail really, it depends on subject area and what your research proposal really says. But your chances look very slim from what you've said. Working independently isn't nearly enough, low grades at undergrad and not so great grades at Masters level are pretty much the definition of not being suited to PhD level research. You've had 4 Skype chats and an interview that have come to that same conclusion. Neither Supervisors, not Departments want to take on anyone who isn't going to complete successfully in 3-4 years. Your profile isn't likely to convince anyone at the moment.

Your best bet is perhaps to get a great deal of relevant professional experience and apply again in 5-10 years time.
0
reply
Bongo Bongo
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#3
Report Thread starter 1 year ago
#3
(Original post by threeportdrift)
You haven't given enough detail really, it depends on subject area and what your research proposal really says. But your chances look very slim from what you've said. Working independently isn't nearly enough, low grades at undergrad and not so great grades at Masters level are pretty much the definition of not being suited to PhD level research. You've had 4 Skype chats and an interview that have come to that same conclusion. Neither Supervisors, not Departments want to take on anyone who isn't going to complete successfully in 3-4 years. Your profile isn't likely to convince anyone at the moment.

Your best bet is perhaps to get a great deal of relevant professional experience and apply again in 5-10 years time.
Ok well thanks for that. I’m going to keep trying anyway.
0
reply
maresa_re
Badges: 8
#4
Report 1 year ago
#4
Depends on the subject area, but I would say for the majority of fields relevant professional experience doesn't really help. If I were you, I would try to get a job as research assistant or anything similar that could prove your abilities for a PhD.

But I must agree that a 2.2 at undergraduate doesn't really help. Your research proposal can be on the point, however, how about the other assignments you had to write during your undergrad?
(Original post by threeportdrift)
You haven't given enough detail really, it depends on subject area and what your research proposal really says. But your chances look very slim from what you've said. Working independently isn't nearly enough, low grades at undergrad and not so great grades at Masters level are pretty much the definition of not being suited to PhD level research. You've had 4 Skype chats and an interview that have come to that same conclusion. Neither Supervisors, not Departments want to take on anyone who isn't going to complete successfully in 3-4 years. Your profile isn't likely to convince anyone at the moment.

Your best bet is perhaps to get a great deal of relevant professional experience and apply again in 5-10 years time.
0
reply
Bongo Bongo
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#5
Report Thread starter 1 year ago
#5
(Original post by maresa_re)
Depends on the subject area, but I would say for the majority of fields relevant professional experience doesn't really help. If I were you, I would try to get a job as research assistant or anything similar that could prove your abilities for a PhD.

But I must agree that a 2.2 at undergraduate doesn't really help. Your research proposal can be on the point, however, how about the other assignments you had to write during your undergrad?
I was getting high 2.2s low 2.1s and I got a first for one module (political philosophy) in third year. So you don’t know anyone who’s gotten into PhD with a 2.2?
0
reply
Reality Check
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#6
Report 1 year ago
#6
(Original post by Bongo Bongo)
So I’ve been apply for PhDs for the past 6 months. I’ve had about 4 Skype chats and one formal interview (which I didn’t get). My grades at MSc weren’t great so I think this is a huge factor of why I haven’t got a place. Do any of you guys have any success stories about getting on your course?

I got a 2.2 at undergraduate (59%), but I work independently and think a PhD would suit me. I’ve devised a proposal which is really interesting and I cover all the relevant lit. It would be amazing if I could get a place for this september, as it would mean I could move out of where I’m living. I’m self funding (I know funded PhDs are even more competitive). What do you guys think my chances are?
I think you already know that you are seriously disadvantaged by your poor undergraduate and Masters outcome. It's not very likely that you would be able to find a supervisor for this September, but by all means keep trying!
0
reply
maresa_re
Badges: 8
#7
Report 1 year ago
#7
Are those modules related to your PhD topic? How strong is your personal statement? How did the interviews go? I mean there are so many important factors influencing the decision if they accept you or not. I don't know anyone below 2.1, and as far as I know all unis I applied to asked for 2.1 or a first anyway.
(Original post by Bongo Bongo)
I was getting high 2.2s low 2.1s and I got a first for one module (political philosophy) in third year. So you don’t know anyone who’s gotten into PhD with a 2.2?
0
reply
squeakysquirrel
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#8
Report 1 year ago
#8
(Original post by Bongo Bongo)
Ok well thanks for that. I’m going to keep trying anyway.
Tbh a waste of time. My flatmate had a first from his uni and a distinction in his masters and couldn't get onto a PhD programme. Listen to the advice you have been given
0
reply
maresa_re
Badges: 8
#9
Report 1 year ago
#9
That's the other thing, it might already be too late for this year to keep trying.
(Original post by Reality Check)
I think you already know that you are seriously disadvantaged by your poor undergraduate and Masters outcome. It's not very likely that you would be able to find a supervisor for this September, but by all means keep trying!
0
reply
threeportdrift
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#10
Report 1 year ago
#10
(Original post by Bongo Bongo)
I was getting high 2.2s low 2.1s and I got a first for one module (political philosophy) in third year. So you don’t know anyone who’s gotten into PhD with a 2.2?
Yes, I got into a PhD with a 2.2 at undergrad. I had 67% at Masters level from the same Uni and 17 years relevant professional experience though.
1
reply
searching123job
Badges: 11
Rep:
?
#11
Report 1 year ago
#11
Omg 17 years
(Original post by threeportdrift)
Yes, I got into a PhD with a 2.2 at undergrad. I had 67% at Masters level from the same Uni and 17 years relevant professional experience though.
0
reply
gjd800
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#12
Report 1 year ago
#12
What is the PhD in?
0
reply
The_Lonely_Goatherd
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#13
Report 1 year ago
#13
Were there any particular reasons why you underperformed at both undergrad and Masters level? And if so, have you stated them clearly in your application? What were your references like? :holmes:
0
reply
Notoriety
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#14
Report 1 year ago
#14
(Original post by squeakysquirrel)
Tbh a waste of time. My flatmate had a first from his uni and a distinction in his masters and couldn't get onto a PhD programme. Listen to the advice you have been given
Yeah, they're not that competitive.
0
reply
searching123job
Badges: 11
Rep:
?
#15
Report 1 year ago
#15
And grades arent everything ofc

We need to know if that dude got any interviews and whatnot

And this is just one example, from which we cant just say it will be impossible for others with worse grades. For every example like that, there are many others with 2:1s and merits that have been able to do phds
(Original post by Notoriety)
Yeah, they're not that competitive.
0
reply
PhoenixFortune
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#16
Report 1 year ago
#16
(Original post by Bongo Bongo)
I was getting high 2.2s low 2.1s and I got a first for one module (political philosophy) in third year. So you don’t know anyone who’s gotten into PhD with a 2.2?
I'm starting a PhD in September with a 2:2 at undergrad. However, I have a very strong MA result and am continuing my studies at the same university as my MA.

The main disadvantage of having a poor undergraduate result is that I am not eligible or not competitive enough for funded studentships.
Last edited by PhoenixFortune; 1 year ago
1
reply
Notoriety
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#17
Report 1 year ago
#17
(Original post by searching123job)
And grades arent everything ofc

We need to know if that dude got any interviews and whatnot

And this is just one example, from which we cant just say it will be impossible for others with worse grades. For every example like that, there are many others with 2:1s and merits that have been able to do phds
Yeah, I suspect squirry is talking about funded PhDs where it is quite competitive. If the lad they knew couldn't get admitted to a PhD (even as a self-funder), then I suspect their prposal musta been tragic.
1
reply
toronto353
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#18
Report 1 year ago
#18
First of all, I have got to dispel the myth that it is too late to apply to do a PhD starting in this September: it isn't at all, but you will have most likely missed all funding body deadlines.

It's not impossible for you to do a PhD with a 2:2 at undergrad and low marks in your MSc, but it's going to take work for you to find someone who will take you on. The problem is that PhD student successes and failures reflect on the ability of the supervisor(s). A high pass rate is a fantastic thing for any academic, but if students start failing their PhD, it calls into question the judgement of the academic, e.g. why did they take on PhD students who weren't suited to academic study, why didn't they spot the warning signs at an early stage, why didn't they persuade their student to 'drop down' to a 'lesser' postgrad qualification like an MPhil (and trust me some universities play exactly this game). It's likely that this is the reason why you have been rejected thus far. Your grades are far from ideal and you don't have any or enough relevant experience in industry to be able to show that you would be able to pass the PhD. Essentially there are two criteria when assessing whether to take someone on for a PhD: are they capable enough to do this qualification and is their project original enough and thus able to earn the PhD? If the answer to either or both questions is no, then the academic is extremely unlikely to stick their neck out on the line and take you on as a student. So I'd definitely ask for feedback as to why they have rejected your applications to assess what the reason is. A bad project can be fixed rather easily with guidance, but a student with low grades is a much more difficult sell.

That said, I do know of one PhD student who was rejected twice from one university who had a low 2:1 in his undergraduate and got a merit in his Masters. His project was way, way too big as well, but after a year of applying, refining his project, and doing relevant research on the side (including attending conferences), he got onto a PhD and is on track to submit it in September of this year. So it is doable, but you're going to have to work for it. With regard to funding, you're right in that you're not that competitive for the main funding bodies, but have you read the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding? This is a guide which contains 300 sources of funding for postgraduate study. Most are small charities and offer grants of a few hundred to a thousand pounds and they each require a separate application, but they're not well-utilised so easier to get and if you get lots of these grant awards, that'll look great going forward into a career in academia if that is what you so choose. Whatever you do though, do not self-fund a PhD. I have seen PhD students do that and they either end up with burn out through exhaustion at working all the time or end up doing a part-time PhD, increasing the time that they're not forging a career for themselves. It's also really, really not worth self-funding a PhD and if I had to do that during my own PhD, I wouldn't have done it at all.

In short, you're going to have to work hard and it's possible you may get onto a PhD programme, but equally I would advise you to have a back up plan in mind. PhDs are not the be all and end all and from my experience, you can end up questioning why you even did one.
1
reply
Bongo Bongo
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#19
Report Thread starter 1 year ago
#19
The discipline is Evolutionary Psychology/Anthropology it's a unique idea investigating care giving of the sick and injured in social mammals. So it links to theory of mind, morality, compassion, treatment of dead/dying ect.
0
reply
chaotic1328
Badges: 13
Rep:
?
#20
Report 1 year ago
#20
(Original post by squeakysquirrel)
Tbh a waste of time. My flatmate had a first from his uni and a distinction in his masters and couldn't get onto a PhD programme. Listen to the advice you have been given
If you mean that your friend couldn't get into a specific funded programme, or failed to get a PhD place at Oxbridge, then the claim is very believable. However, if you are trying to claim that your friend couldn't get into any phd programme, then there is clearly something very wrong with your claim. Most RG institutions would welcome your friend with open arms with those grades, if your friend was after a self-funded place, and they had the expertise in the proposed area of research.
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

Should there be a new university admissions system that ditches predicted grades?

No, I think predicted grades should still be used to make offers (520)
33.74%
Yes, I like the idea of applying to uni after I received my grades (PQA) (638)
41.4%
Yes, I like the idea of receiving offers only after I receive my grades (PQO) (313)
20.31%
I think there is a better option than the ones suggested (let us know in the thread!) (70)
4.54%

Watched Threads

View All