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vaibhavpandey

Guidance on targeting schools and profile

7 posts in this topic

Hi there,

I am an aspiring PhD applicant for fall 2018 and planning to put in applications in top schools in US/EU. My areas of interest include Gender studies, collective, culture and management. The main dilemma I am facing is, whether to apply in US universities or European universities including UK. When I look up rankings of development studies programs many UK universities come to top. I am still in dilemma what to do. My research topic is not yet decided but I have interest areas which makes applying to UK universities a bit problematic. I need some advise on how to shortlist the target universities for application. 

My profile: Computer Science grad, Rural development masters (from top institute in India)and 3 years of hardcore development experience based on tribal women collectives. I have no publication. I have average grades throughout, very active in extracurricular and sports. In current job qualitative research tools forms part of daily tasks. I am also capable of conducting quantitative research and can program models in various programming languages. I can get good LoRs as well as writing sample from masters projects. 

I would appreciate a frank response on how my profile looks and what message it conveys to people who want to make some sense out of it. Any tips for improvement will be a big plus. 

 

 

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Why not apply to schools in the UK, US, and EU, rather than applying to one country/region only?

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There are pros and cons to application in EU/UK and US.

The major pro of US universities is that they do not require detailed research proposal while in UK top schools demand for detailed proposal (as mentioned on their website). Also the duration in UK for a PhD is a little less imho. Pro of UK universities is that most of them do not require GRE. Only English proficiency is required.

To answer above questions, honestly I would have loved to apply to as many schools as possible but I have financial constraint to look after, I have to pay all of the fee from my earned money. That is why I am concerned about choosing schools. If somebody can throw some light on how social PhD programs differs in US and UK, that would be really helpful. For example if UK is better for development studies PhD then I pace up my work on preparing my research proposal.

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5 hours ago, vaibhavpandey said:

There are pros and cons to application in EU/UK and US.

The major pro of US universities is that they do not require detailed research proposal while in UK top schools demand for detailed proposal (as mentioned on their website). Also the duration in UK for a PhD is a little less imho. Pro of UK universities is that most of them do not require GRE. Only English proficiency is required.

To answer above questions, honestly I would have loved to apply to as many schools as possible but I have financial constraint to look after, I have to pay all of the fee from my earned money. That is why I am concerned about choosing schools. If somebody can throw some light on how social PhD programs differs in US and UK, that would be really helpful. For example if UK is better for development studies PhD then I pace up my work on preparing my research proposal.

I think you might be going about this the wrong way. Instead of thinking about the US vs the UK, I'd spend more time thinking about your research interests and what exactly you'd like to study. While US-based PhD programs don't necessarily require a detailed research proposal, you are still going to need a coherent project - and a trajectory explaining why you're the best person to do this project - in order to be competitive. Once you have a sense of your project, and who your potential mentors/advisors might be, it might become clearer where you should be located, and why.

This is also because it's pretty hard to generalize if the US or the UK is better in any said field, since it'll depend on your specific research project and career goals. Going to a top UK university might be better than a relatively unknown US institution, and vice versa. It's also worth thinking about other constraints - for example, if you aren't going to take the GRE or you're interested in living in UK or Europe, it makes more sense to focus there.

 

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I think you are spot on here, as far as deciding my interests goes, they are very much done and I have prepared potential areas (with potential research questions) which interests me. I am yet to find potential supervisors, I am reading some papers of related subjects then from thereon I am trying to find out best professors in the area eventually leading to the universities of their education and current work (Suggested by some fellow grad in the cafe forum). Thanks for advise, it helped because handling both in one admission cycle could be very hectic and stressing. As far as I can understand from preparing the things to do is:-

1. Find out research interests/Areas, clear understanding and coherent SoP.

2. Explore potential supervisors and shortlisting of Schools.

3. Prepare for GRE/TOEFL alongside.

After that rest depends on GRE Score. 

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On 4/22/2017 at 3:39 AM, vaibhavpandey said:

I think you are spot on here, as far as deciding my interests goes, they are very much done and I have prepared potential areas (with potential research questions) which interests me. I am yet to find potential supervisors, I am reading some papers of related subjects then from thereon I am trying to find out best professors in the area eventually leading to the universities of their education and current work (Suggested by some fellow grad in the cafe forum). Thanks for advise, it helped because handling both in one admission cycle could be very hectic and stressing. As far as I can understand from preparing the things to do is:-

1. Find out research interests/Areas, clear understanding and coherent SoP.

2. Explore potential supervisors and shortlisting of Schools.

3. Prepare for GRE/TOEFL alongside.

After that rest depends on GRE Score. 

Totally, the admission process can be really challenging! You mentioned in the original post that you didn't have a research topic yet, so that was what I was basing my advice on. I think your method of reading papers related to your areas of interest and see who's publishing in that arena is a good way to go. Depending on your theoretical/methodological commitments, you might also check out sociology and geography programs as well.

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