When's the right time to contact a potential supervisor?

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variksenmarja
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So I'm just wrapping my BA up and been accepted into a Master's programme. I definitely want to pursue further pg stydy after my Master's, though, so I'm wondering when people usually contact a potential PhD/ DPhil supervisor. Some of the programmes I'm looking at start accepting applications this September (and I'd like to see if I can move straight from my Master's to do a PhD without a gap year) - the thing is, at that point I'm only just starting my Master's. Is it too soon to contact people this spring, or how do people usually go about this? International applicant so slightly confused.
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Mr Wednesday
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(Original post by variksenmarja)
So I'm just wrapping my BA up and been accepted into a Master's programme. I definitely want to pursue further pg stydy after my Master's, though, so I'm wondering when people usually contact a potential PhD/ DPhil supervisor. Some of the programmes I'm looking at start accepting applications this September (and I'd like to see if I can move straight from my Master's to do a PhD without a gap year) - the thing is, at that point I'm only just starting my Master's. Is it too soon to contact people this spring, or how do people usually go about this? International applicant so slightly confused.
What year of entry ? For Oct 2021 you want to be contacting potential supervisors now, for an Oct 2022 start then probably late September onwards this year.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by variksenmarja)
So I'm just wrapping my BA up and been accepted into a Master's programme. I definitely want to pursue further pg stydy after my Master's, though, so I'm wondering when people usually contact a potential PhD/ DPhil supervisor. Some of the programmes I'm looking at start accepting applications this September (and I'd like to see if I can move straight from my Master's to do a PhD without a gap year) - the thing is, at that point I'm only just starting my Master's. Is it too soon to contact people this spring, or how do people usually go about this? International applicant so slightly confused.
Sciences or Arts & Humanities?

For the latter you will need a decently credible research proposal. And you will almost certainly be pressed to take a year out if you want funding. There's a world of difference between looking at a Masters applicant with one or two marked papers, and references from referees who have known them for 3 months, and someone with a completed masters, a full set of grades, a dissertation, maybe a conference or two and references that can report of a year's worth of academic development. Plus the potential of 9 months + of further relevant experience.
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variksenmarja
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(Original post by Mr Wednesday)
What year of entry ? For Oct 2021 you want to be contacting potential supervisors now, for an Oct 2022 start then probably late September onwards this year.
2022! Thanks for taking the time to answer
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Helloworld_95
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I think this summer would be a reasonable time, you want it to be early enough that they don't choose someone else but not too early that they're going to forget about you or it will inhibit your preparation for applying for scholarships. It also gives you the advantage of having completed your BA dissertation which you can then use as evidence of your research skills, being interested in research, etc.
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variksenmarja
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
Sciences or Arts & Humanities?

For the latter you will need a decently credible research proposal. And you will almost certainly be pressed to take a year out if you want funding. There's a world of difference between looking at a Masters applicant with one or two marked papers, and references from referees who have known them for 3 months, and someone with a completed masters, a full set of grades, a dissertation, maybe a conference or two and references that can report of a year's worth of academic development. Plus the potential of 9 months + of further relevant experience.
Humanities! I thought that might be the case - it makes a lot of sense. Must consider working for a year, then. I'd definitely need funding in order to be able to do a PhD. Thanks for taking the time to answer.
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astrotemp
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(Original post by variksenmarja)
So I'm just wrapping my BA up and been accepted into a Master's programme. I definitely want to pursue further pg stydy after my Master's, though, so I'm wondering when people usually contact a potential PhD/ DPhil supervisor. Some of the programmes I'm looking at start accepting applications this September (and I'd like to see if I can move straight from my Master's to do a PhD without a gap year) - the thing is, at that point I'm only just starting my Master's. Is it too soon to contact people this spring, or how do people usually go about this? International applicant so slightly confused.
It depends on quite a lot of variables, but in my partner's case (I don't know personally as I skipped Masters), he started in October and his PhD applications were due in December in order to apply for a specific scholarship. Even if he hadn't applied for that one fund, applications were due in January at the latest to be considered for any scholarships. And that's for an October start. Edit: it's all too soon for someone who only just started Masters and is already busy enough, so he's taking a year out.

Given you often have to write a research proposal and probably won't be applying to an existing project, I'd say you want to be preparing 6+ months out from the application deadlines. This gives you time to research different universities and faculty, read papers, reach out to people, set up meetings with them, and go through multiple drafts of your proposal with them.
Last edited by astrotemp; 5 days ago
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