What I learned after sending multiple PhD applications.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 43 seconds. Contains 945 words

Hello Readers…

Note: If you’re someone who is in the process of applying for a PhD then this post might be helpful for you.

Once upon a time, I used to check emails at midnight (mainly due to the time difference), early mornings – just to see whether I received any PhD application status. That’s how I browsed through opportunities. Writing a PhD application is not an easy task especially when it comes to shortlisting universities, research groups, country(s), essays, references, etc.

PhD needs appetite in research and development, the voyage is not always smooth. But before settling onto your dream project. I have cumulatively learned a few important points by sending multiple PhD applications.

I believe everyone has their journey and your experience can differ greatly. These points can be your reference points or just a read.

1. Research Well in Advance

Know your timings well before. Mark up your calendar with new openings, application cycles, etc. Sign up for various newsletters (of different universities) and receive updates directly to your inbox. I have personally attended several university fairs where I got much information and a one-on-one session with their representative. This makes your application a bit easier because you get to know a university a bit more.

Tip: Maintain an exclusive PhD book to note down your application process like which university you have made an application to, whom did you send an email to, application fee, feedbacks from the PI/University, etc.

2. Selecting Research Groups

One of the most important decisions of a PhD application! There are several research groups at many universities across the world. But which one to choose is a task. It depends on whether someone wants to do interdisciplinary research or have proposed a project of one’s interest. The search has to reach one destination. Observe and read what the research groups do in terms of your interest. Visit their lab website and go through what activities they do, if the PI has posted some openings, and what are the requirements they want in a PhD applicant.

3. Test. Reference. And. Reflect.

Whether it’s English proficiency test or GRE, these two test plays a key role in your application. Now, most of the university doesn’t require GRE for PhD but English proficiency test for a foreign university is a must. Remember to schedule these tests well in advance so that it doesn’t collide with the application deadline. As for the reference, your recommendation letter is one such important piece of information in your application. Inform your referees about your application and which university did you apply to and check with them to send the letters before the deadline.

4. Check Scholarship

If you’re looking for a funded PhD, then start looking for scholarships, grants, fellowship, etc. at the earliest. They also have a deadline if you’re applying externally. If a PhD is advertised as a funded one, then there is no need to apply for funds separately. Some universities will have a tuition fee waiver but without financial aid and some will have both. Check your eligibility before applying for scholarships, grants, etc. You can always enquire with the admission office with your query for more details. They assure prompt response.

5. Remember Your Essay.

An essay can change your application to a different level. Sometimes, an applicant with a low CGPA can score well in the essay. Write the truth, be clear and precise in your goals. Mention the areas you wish to improve by doing the PhD project along with your expertise. List out all your experience(s) which includes research projects, internships, volunteering etc. A maximum of two-page essay is what the university accepts in most cases. Some universities will have a Q n A type essay section. So prepare your answers accordingly.

6. A No-Reply

Often, a no-reply is a silent message. It’s highly due to the number of emails PI receives in a day and it becomes difficult for them to reply to everyone. After many such attempts, I understood that a no reply is also a message sometimes. It’s a way to convey a polite rejection. Also, send a reminder (email) after a week or so if that particular research of the PI interests you. Otherwise, don’t bombard them with emails.

7. Rejections in the Spotlight

“Every rejection will once face acceptance”.

Chances are you didn’t fit into their criteria but that no way means you are not worth it. Try to constantly upgrade your application through every rejection that you may face. Even though some days could become gloomy due to the rejection letter but there is always a sunny day. Remember: “You will get through” at the right time.

8. A Professional Touch

Be professional and serious in your application when you’re approaching for a PhD. Remember, a PhD is one such degree that is highly considered in the scientific world. It’s a path that consists of several years of hard work and zeal towards research.

A PhD is a continuous learning process right from its application stage. All you need is a drive that ignites your sense in discovering new things. So, submit your application now!


If you think my points were worth reading and felt good about them. Then, thank you very much. Giving your time to read my post itself is a big reward but if you wish to support my blog then you can buy me a coffee (link down below).

But… If you felt it was not worth your time. Then, I am extremely sorry.

Till then, lots of blessings…


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