Applying for a PhD Degree Abroad
An overseas PhD program can significantly change the course of your career by improving your prospects, helping you make meaningful contributions in your field of study, and providing you with the right peer-group, research guidance, funding and facilities to fuel your passion. Many Indian students, looking for quality higher education, aim for a PhD degree from esteemed universities across the world. For most aspirants, it is the next logical step after completing their master’s that helps them delve deeper into the nuances of the subject of their choice. Currently, the doctorate degree is awarded by several universities all over the globe for a wide array of programs.
Today, the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, and Australia are among the leading nations offering PhD programs to international students who have completed a bachelors or a master’s degree with good grades and possess substantial research acumen and experience. However, there are several steps to be taken into account before you can start applying to the University of your choice:
Research the programs and decide specialisation: The journey of an overseas PhD program begins with proper research of the universities offering the specialised course in a particular country clubbed with their eligibility/entry requirements. You must also keep in mind the deadlines for applying to the degree of your choice and the topic or specialisation that you want to do the doctorate degree in. Deciding on the specialisation can be the single most crucial factor in determining your future, and must be done after proper research of the universities, the facilities, the faculty (in the topic you have chosen) and their areas of expertise.
Zero-in on your supervisor and start networking: When it comes to choosing a supervisor for your research under the University of your choice, please remember there are no shortcuts. Depending upon the specialisation/topic you have chosen, it is very important to choose a supervisor who is knowledgeable in the area and his/her research interests align with yours. Your potential supervisor must also have experience in handling a similar thesis project in order to guide you successfully in your PhD. You must also know the academic and research background of the supervisor, the number of students that he/she handles in each semester and the kind of support that he/she would provide you once you join. Since any established research supervisor received scores of requests from PhD aspirants, but can only cater to a handful of students per semester, it is imperative that you contact them formally (through an email) to reserve a spot. The networking email should suggest that you have done ample research about his/her field of specialisation/research and that you are eager to be associated with him/her. You must also follow-up with the supervisor regularly and ask relevant questions regarding your PhD, which in turn would help you put together a great university application.
Complete application and plan ahead: No matter how well you have researched the curriculum and how significant your educational accomplishments are, your university application is the most exigent document that can land you to the University of your dreams. Thus, you must ensure that your background, strengths, passion, and aspirations are highlighted clearly. Speaking of future aspirations, you must also consider what you want to do after getting the coveted doctorate degree. Whether you want to pursue a career in academics, research, or any other field; you ought to prepare yourself to learn according to the needs of your future role to secure a good footing in the industry that you wish to be a part of.
PhDs in Different Countries
All doctoral candidates are required to submit a thesis or project that would include their original research at the last leg of the course. However, universities from different countries may have slightly different requirements from students in regard to the admission process and the criteria for passing. For example, in New Zealand, students need to appear for an oral examination based on the thesis they have written before the doctorate degree is awarded. In the UK, PhD aspirants do not have to appear for any formal written examinations but have to produce an externally-examined thesis that they have written. For PhD aspirants in the US, the universities require letters of recommendation and an essay based on the purpose of doing the doctorate. In Australia, students need to provide a review of relevant research literature and an original research project along with the thesis to get a doctorate degree.
Hence, it is wise to conduct ample research on the country-specific and university-specific requirements before applying for a PhD degree abroad.