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Can someone give me a basic run down on how to apply to PhD programs in the US?


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I have a bachelors and am starting a masters in the fall. I did not apply to the masters in a traditional way, it's a 5th year program at my undergrad school, so all I had to do was get my advisor to sign off and I was good to go. Now, I am considering applying for a PhD for Fall 2021 entry. I've vaguely heard some things about how you have to reach out to professors at schools you want to apply to or something like that? Does that mean I need to be pre-approved by a professor to realistically apply to a program? When should I reach out? Do I ask them if they are hiring PhDs or how does that work? Is the person I reach out to supposed to be my prospective advisor? So, do I need to reach out only to those with research interests that match mine?


Once I communicate with someone and they like me as a candidate, then I submit the paperwork to the department with the application, gre, gpa, statements etc.?



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Just apply, reaching to people is not as important depending on how competitive the program is, the professor might say they will take you then they won't because someone better applied. There are plenty of stories like this. You usally do not need to have a project before you start but that might depend on the program. Anyhow, talk/email the admission admins for questions on the application process, make sure you read their website as most of the question you have, have been answered already and they will just refer you to the website. If you make the initial cut you are usually interviewed (skype or in person), interview in person are paid for. This application cycle I think all inteviews will be online due to COVID, but I hope in the spring they hold events for the people admitted to come to campus and check it out.

Good luck

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