PhD The Early Process, Application and Interview advice Watch

username396452
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#61
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(Original post by danielj315)
Out of interest has anyone here looked at doing a PhD in the US?

I'm planning on applying at the end of the year. There are certainly numerous advantages in doing this with most schools offering full financial aid. Obviously there are disadvantages too, like the GRE, 2 years of coursework (although I like that idea) and a different academic environment.
I did toy around with the idea, though decided not to in the end. Is this a PhD for political science? Anything you need to know?

....personally, I think US academia is hell on earth . "You don't graduate with an American PhD, you survive it!"
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Rlemkin
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(Original post by WaltzvWendt)
I did toy around with the idea, though decided not to in the end. Is this a PhD for political science? Anything you need to know?

....personally, I think US academia is hell on earth . "You don't graduate with an American PhD, you survive it!"
Yeah, I would be applying for a PhD in Pol Sci. I think I'd have to be careful about where I applied. I know they have a heavy quantitative/positivist slant. Still IR really is dominated by US academia, critical studies aside.

Definitely like the idea of another 2 years of coursework before having to decide a dissertation topic.

I know it'll be horrifically competitive and it's likely I'll spend lots of money and not get in anywhere. I just can't see the UK providing a very good environment for Arts & Social Sciences PhDs. I've read this forum for long enough to appreciate how difficult it is to get funding for a PhD.

Out of interest why did you decide against it?
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username396452
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(Original post by danielj315)
Yeah, I would be applying for a PhD in Pol Sci. I think I'd have to be careful about where I applied. I know they have a heavy quantitative/positivist slant. Still IR really is dominated by US academia, critical studies aside.

Definitely like the idea of another 2 years of coursework before having to decide a dissertation topic.

I know it'll be horrifically competitive and it's likely I'll spend lots of money and not get in anywhere. I just can't see the UK providing a very good environment for Arts & Social Sciences PhDs. I've read this forum for long enough to appreciate how difficult it is to get funding for a PhD.

Out of interest why did you decide against it?
Er. Sorry for ridiculously late reply. Have gone AWOL due to mountains of work. Though I suppose you've still got months and months until the US application deadlines.

I decided against it because the timing was just way off for me. I would have been applying during the height of the US recession where plenty of those that have lost their jobs have decided to attempt to re-enter grad school. And it has come to the point where work experience is seen as almost an unstated pre-req at top US Poli Sci Departments. A lot of the private stock-market portfolio type funding that a lot of US universities used were absolutely lost and who knows at what level they're back up. So that decreased the supply of funded US PhD slots available paired with an increase in the demand from the recession lay-offs . This tops off the usual bright domestic students who had the mathematical advantage and higher probability of getting a high score at the Math GRE (their US University General Education requirements have skilled them up in maths) and their compatriots that apply as a safety-net since unemployment did not paint a promising picture for them........... in that year, from those that applied only one person in my cohort in the UK got into a US PhD program, and it's non Top 20.

I did not want to gamble my application money against those odds. Also as necessary as it is, the GRE is often the first filter. So if the right scores are not obtained, most likely the rest of the app would not see the light of day. I did not want my already slight chances being compromised by the lack of preparation time I had or the disadvantage of not having touched math for a long time, by this test. ....also, if you think the UK does not provide a good environment for Arts and Soc Sci PhDs, I'm afraid that the the US will disappoint you as well .

I have absolutely nothing against the US approach to IR. I prefer it, actually. And I wish you luck in your applications. You are much braver than I! But I believe that a good scholar is a good scholar wherever they go, and any sort of obstacle can be worked around. Though exceptionalism is a bit of a disease in those that want to pursue academia
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rollanoc
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#64
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Hi all, first post here and I'm looking for a bit of advice. I'd just like to preface all this by saying I HATE talking about myself and bigging myself up, or twisting words and presenting them in a certain way. I much prefer just letting facts speak for themselves....which is why CV/Interviews pose such intellectual difficulties for me. That said, here's my dilemma:

I'm looking to apply for a doctoral training program/scholarship. It's in the field of law and it relates to online copyright infringement (very topical), so its also looking to bring research students of law, music and technology together. It's full time, very well funded, and any fee's are waived.

It is perfect for me. It involves online technologies (fascination for me, I have extensive experience in programming across many different platforms), music (I am a developer and contributor of a podcast website which boasts a popular forum of musicians from different genres and levels of the industry) and law, of which legal research is my chosen vocation in life.

It's the very issue I've always wanted to research, it's just that it's a good bit sooner than I thought I'd be doing it - I'm still a final year undergraduate. My plan was to go the normal masters route, my thinking being that It'd be near impossible for me to secure a supervisor or funding without one. But as there's a supervisor and funding already on offer for the very thing I want to do, I don't want to let the opportunity slip by.

To my advantage is the fact that I've already been published in a journal relating to law and technology. I've got all firsts this year so far, including a 90 in legal theory which apparently the research supervisor has an interest in. My two referees have marked work of mine recently, both are professors in the exact fields at hand, and have been encouraging and helpful with regards to my application.

To my disadvantage is a complete lack of postgraduate experience. Essentially, 'real' research experience. And also...the time frame, I'm in the middle of my finals right now and ironically my last exam is the very day the application has to be in by. So my problem really is I have absolutely no idea what my actual weakness really are, what does one gain from 'real' master's research experience? And what skills would I need to get across to show that I'm capable of doing it? Also, it's a research project defined by the supervisor...in what way would my role different with regards to planning the methods and timescales of research and all etc. Does a supervisor have a more hands on role in projects than he would if I was supplying my own synopsis?

I really want this. And I think I'm capable of it. If there's someone out there who's more capable than me for it, then that's fair enough. But I don't not want to get it because I'm unaware of certain research techniques that one might use at postgraduate/doctoral level whereas the competition are by virtue of being a few years older/because they have had more time to prepare for the application/interview.

Any insight, particularly from anyone doing legal research or wanting to do it would be really helpful. Especially knowledge of what joining a training project like this involves or what I've missed out on at masters level.

Thanks in advance. Apologies for the essay :P
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Jamesie
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#65
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(Original post by evantej)
Universities do seem very inconsistent when it comes to PhD applications. Newcastle only want a 500-750 word research proposal. Other universities want a research proposal ranging anyway from 500-2000 words, and a personal statement that seems almost irrelevant at this stage. As if a PhD students needs to explain why they want to spend three years of their life at a particular university and with a particular set of staff...
Yes, I found the personal statement particularly awkward, I tried to demonstrate that I wanted a career in higher education (that I wasn't solely doing it for my own curiosity) and expressed an interest in developing skills like teaching, submitting research papers/articles, contributing to conferences etc. I also tried to show how closely the supervisor's research interest fitted in with mine etc. (but as you say, that is pretty much a given.) It might be a good place to talk about skills you've developed at Undergrad/Masters level dissertation ( research skills, use of ICT, capacity to work independently, develop an argument etc) and how they will fasilitate a smooth transfer to PhD study.
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Falcs
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(Original post by rollanoc)
Hi all, first post here and I'm looking for a bit of advice. I'd just like to preface all this by saying I HATE talking about myself and bigging myself up, or twisting words and presenting them in a certain way. I much prefer just letting facts speak for themselves....which is why CV/Interviews pose such intellectual difficulties for me. That said, here's my dilemma:
I know what you mean about bigging yourself up, but what you wrote makes you sound like a good candidate. Look at it the other way you don't want to make yourself look worse than you are, because nobody else will talk about their flaws so to compete you must also talk about all your strong points

I've just been offered an PhD in engineering and from my experience an applicant is judged on:

Academic Skill - Which you seem to have
Passion - Which you also seem to have
Knowledge of the subject area - Again you seem to have this
Soft Skills e.g. writing/presentation

I suggest that you find out who the supervisor is and phone them up, ask them some sensible questions about the research and what they are looking for in a candidate then send in your application. The personal touch can make a big difference with postgraduate applications.

Good luck
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Subcutaneous
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Quick question,

Currently have my eye on a Phd project in sheffield, the entry requirements say this:



"Good honours degree, masters degree or equivalent."

Does this mean an undergrad OR masters....or both?
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olympus123456
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(Original post by Subcutaneous)
Quick question,

Currently have my eye on a Phd project in sheffield, the entry requirements say this:



"Good honours degree, masters degree or equivalent."

Does this mean an undergrad OR masters....or both?
usually they ask for Masters degree as a requirement. Email them and ask them directly. They are really friendly staff.
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Subcutaneous
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#69
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(Original post by olympus123456)
usually they ask for Masters degree as a requirement. Email them and ask them directly. They are really friendly staff.
Will do- it's all so confusing! Like doing my ucas application all over again. Plus not many go into post-grad as nurses, very few so theres not much info out there
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olympus123456
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(Original post by Subcutaneous)
Will do- it's all so confusing! Like doing my ucas application all over again. Plus not many go into post-grad as nurses, very few so theres not much info out there
Meanwhile you can ask in University of Sheffield forum :

http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?f=48
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Jepira4661
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#71
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If I want to apply for a PhD program, but cannot attend until on or after April 2013 due to a military enlistment, what is the earliest I can submit an application? Is the general rule to apply about a year ahead of time?
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Anne-marie
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How early is too early to chaseup a potential PhD supervisor about the status of an application?

I recieved an email to say he (the supervisor) will be in contact after the application deadline. This passed two weeks ago and the suggested start date is in two weeks time. While its not uncommon for a suggested start dates to be put back, I do want to appear keen, therefore I would appreciate any advice about how early is too early to contact potential supervisors about an application.

The PhD is science based, in my experience potential supervisors tend to be very layed back about the recruitment process, however I'm sure they don't want to be nagged! This is subjective, but I would appreciate feedback, particularly if you have been in a similiar situation.
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brownbear88
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Hi all,

I really love the sound of doing a PhD (humanities subject) and am currently in my Masters year. However I am deathly afraid of being jobless at the end of it, with the hiring freezes and cutbacks in academia. I will probably switch to an unrelated career after the Masters as a result, which will be ok but not my passion. Am I being pessimistic or realistic? I can't gamble on doing a PhD with no certainty of an academic job at the end of it. Please advise.
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amandabanana
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This may sound a bit harsh, but I think that considering completion of any degree to be an employment guarantee is a bit unrealistic in the current job market. This especially applies to jobs that are funnelled directly from degrees...few history students are currently historians, and few (but perhaps slightly more) PhDs are academics.

I'm doing a PhD in the Humanities at the moment, and I couldn't be happier. However, this is my passion, and while I realise that employment might be a challenge, I'm willing to make some sacrifices to achieve my dream. Also...my fees were funded. I'd advise anyone against paying for a PhD. Three years is a big enough commitment without adding tens of thousands of $/£ of debt on top of that.

I think that if you manage to get some kind of grant or scholarship for your fees, then three years is not forever to dedicate to your ultimate goal. Ultimately, Doctorates will always be more employable than Masters for high-level jobs...even if this means leaving academia.
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emilY?
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Hi folks,

Brief Q - I'm applying for Neuroscience PhDs and am wondering how many studentships people tend to apply for? Obviously the more the better - but its hard to know where to draw the line in terms of applying for things which don't quite fulfil your passion for a specific topic you had in mind...but still sound interesting. Not sure how wide people usually cast the net? Any thoughts?

Cheers
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Uisdean
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#76
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Hey everyone,

Like the above post I was wondering how many studentships it is normal or advisable to apply for.

Also I'm considering applying for PhDs in Neuroscience although my background is in mathematics, which is suitable for the studentships I'm looking at. However this means I don't have any in-depth knowledge of Neuroscience which worries me for writing my covering letter and interviews (should I get to that stage). Does anyone have any advice for this situation?

Thanks!
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Exulted
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#77
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Hello,

Seems this thread is quite inactive, still hope to get some help.

Those of you who have asked your referees to submit the references for you online, how long have you approximately waited after you asked your referees?

I asked my potential referee who was my tutor, lecturer and head of the group during my masters degree to write me the references for 3 unis. He replied that he can write it to me and asked for my grades and overall results. But, in his e-mail he misspelled my name by 1 letter.
I attached my grades in my email and noted him that he misspelled my name. It was few days ago. He didn't answer back. And everytime I check the status of my references, it shows that he even doesn't begin to write. So, I started to worry whether he became angry that I stressed his misspelling of my name or he is simply busy.
So, I just want to know what is the average time between your request for references and actual completion of your references online?


Thanks in advance!
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olympus123456
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(Original post by Exulted)
Hello,

Seems this thread is quite inactive, still hope to get some help.

Those of you who have asked your referees to submit the references for you online, how long have you approximately waited after you asked your referees?

I asked my potential referee who was my tutor, lecturer and head of the group during my masters degree to write me the references for 3 unis. He replied that he can write it to me and asked for my grades and overall results. But, in his e-mail he misspelled my name by 1 letter.
I attached my grades in my email and noted him that he misspelled my name. It was few days ago. He didn't answer back. And everytime I check the status of my references, it shows that he even doesn't begin to write. So, I started to worry whether he became angry that I stressed his misspelling of my name or he is simply busy.
So, I just want to know what is the average time between your request for references and actual completion of your references online?


Thanks in advance!
I had to wait three weeks and this is the last week for application, so I hope they do it atleast this week.
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alleycat393
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#79
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#79
(Original post by Exulted)
Hello,

Seems this thread is quite inactive, still hope to get some help.

Those of you who have asked your referees to submit the references for you online, how long have you approximately waited after you asked your referees?

I asked my potential referee who was my tutor, lecturer and head of the group during my masters degree to write me the references for 3 unis. He replied that he can write it to me and asked for my grades and overall results. But, in his e-mail he misspelled my name by 1 letter.
I attached my grades in my email and noted him that he misspelled my name. It was few days ago. He didn't answer back. And everytime I check the status of my references, it shows that he even doesn't begin to write. So, I started to worry whether he became angry that I stressed his misspelling of my name or he is simply busy.
So, I just want to know what is the average time between your request for references and actual completion of your references online?


Thanks in advance!
It depends vastly on the academic. Some of my referees were really prompt and sent their references within a few minutes to a few days. Some took months. I would say prepare an excel sheet which contains the deadline for each appplication, who the referees are and which ones have sent in their references. That way you are organised and can send your referees reminders. After the initial email requesting a reference I would send a reminder maybe 2 months later, then 2 weeks before the deadline, then a week before the deadline. If they haven't sent in a reference by then I would begin to chase!
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Exulted
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(Original post by alleycat393)
It depends vastly on the academic. Some of my referees were really prompt and sent their references within a few minutes to a few days. Some took months. I would say prepare an excel sheet which contains the deadline for each appplication, who the referees are and which ones have sent in their references. That way you are organised and can send your referees reminders. After the initial email requesting a reference I would send a reminder maybe 2 months later, then 2 weeks before the deadline, then a week before the deadline. If they haven't sent in a reference by then I would begin to chase!
Thanks for advice!

I want to submit my application asap and not wait till the deadline, because I think early PhD applications are more favorable. So, I'm worried because my referees are just procrastinating.
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