Applying for a Ph.D. Degree Abroad
- It is important to note that for a Ph.D. from abroad with the scholarship you should excel in the general GRE and the subject GRE because many universities require the latter
- You must tell the universities the specific area you wish to specialize in after you are sure when to apply for Ph.D. This should be an area that interests you a lot. If you have some idea of the topic as well, go ahead and inform the admissions committee. They will know that you have done your homework and you are serious about obtaining a Ph.D. degree
Studying for a Ph.D. Program
- While enrolling for Ph.D. abroad Program, Initially, you enroll as a PhD student. After completing required coursework and qualifying exams, you become a PhD candidate. You will spend the bulk of your time completing the dissertation
- Prior to candidacy, you must pass certain courses and qualifying examinations that usually consist of both written and oral components (IELTS/TOEFL). For United States, most universities require a GRE score in your application and would like to review it along with your application, so take the GRE seriously!
- The written component is usually in the form of a series of cumulative exams, in which your breadth of knowledge of your field is extensively tested
- Oral components of the qualifying examinations usually consist of the defense of an original yet feasible research proposal. Upon acceptance into candidacy, your progress is usually overseen by a dissertation advisor.
- The successful completion of a PhD from abroad with scholarship typically takes 3 to 10 years depending upon the specific field of study, prior experience and/or training, and the progress made by you in your studies.
- In some fields, such as some specific branches of physics, a doctoral degree is practically essential for employment.
The Teaching Assistantship
- A Teaching Assistantship is an assignment given to all Ph.D. candidates and some grad school students to teach undergraduate courses in your subject in that university.
- For most students pursuing their Masters or Ph.D.; a Teaching Assistantship, or TA, adds the necessary practical experience for a future career in the academia.
- There are other fellowships which you can pursue if being a TA is not desirable. You can also assist senior researchers and professors as a Research Assistants, or RA, in the laboratory.
The Thesis and Dissertation
Once you have decided to go for a PhD program, there are several factors that need to be considered before you finally decide upon the university and mentor where and under whom respectively you will complete your dissertation.
Choosing an able mentor and university
- This is the most important aspect of your PhD study.
- While there are many good professors around, your strategy should be to choose the one that is interested in your line of work.
- Align your thesis subject and requirements carefully with those of a professor whose interests lie in the same direction and then approach him/her. The more homework you do the better for you as the chances of getting an ideal mentor.
- Ensure that the university or department you are applying to specializes in your stream.
An overseas Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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:
1. Research the programs and decide specialisation
The journey of an overseas Ph.D. program begins with proper research of the universities offering the specialized 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 specialization 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.
2. 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 Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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 Ph.D., which in turn would help you put together a great university application.
3. 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, Ph.D. aspirants do not have to appear for any formal written examinations but have to produce an externally-examined thesis that they have written. For Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. degree abroad.