Jump to content

International Student: Comparative Research Experience


Recommended Posts

Hi everyone,


I'm looking to do my PhD in the US in Kinesiology. I've identified the schools I want to apply to, where research interests fit mine and where I think I'd be good to live for 5 years! 


I'm an international student, I've done my BSc and MSc in the UK. As such, we have different research opportunities available to us. I know of maybe 1 student who got a research paper published at undergrad and that's because he took a year out to work with a NGB. I was just curious as I have conducted an independent research project (designed the project, did the data collection, wrote it up as a journal article but because of our university policy not able to submit it to a journal), will have done more research as part of my MSc and I've been working on a national study for the summer as a research assistant directly related to what I want to do my PhD in. I've also had extensive practical experience & journal writing experience from classes. Is this comparable to the kinda research experience US students would get?


I'm also applying shortly after I've started my MSc, I'll have finished by the time I start, but I wondered how that will come across on applications?


Thanks in advance for any advice/comments.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The assumption that American undergrads publish papers is a stretch, to say the least.  Even though it is happening at a higher frequency these days those undergrads that do manage to publish are still low enough in number for it to still be considered a rarity.  


If I were in a similar situation I would mention in my SOP that I did not only design and carry out my own project but that I also wrote a journal article as well; then mention that it is against university policy for undergrads to submit and would supply a copy of the paper upon request.  If the application requires a writing sample, I would use this paper for that.  


Now, for the MSc being research intensive I would expect to get at least one submitted, and hopefully published, paper out of it although given the timeframe of the program (1 year?) I suspect the paper, if accepted, won't happen until after you have applied to Ph.D. programs.  Although the goal is to publish what is also important, at least with U.S. schools, is that you are familiar with the process and it may seem odd but to have a paper rejected, revised, and then resubmitted is almost better than having it accepted outright the first time.  


I am not sure how U.S. schools would take your situation (applying to Ph.D. programs at the start of your MSc.), but I imagine that by the time you finish the MSc. you will find that you have little time to move to the U.S.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You have more or equal research experience than most North American undergraduate students. You have comparable experience to the majority of students with some research experience so I would not worry about that.


Also, it is fine and very normal for non-Americans to apply to American PhD programs at the start of your 1 year Masters. You won't be the first student applying from a UK MSc program :) You should try to get at least one good reference from your MSc program by the time you apply. The difference between an application from you and someone in a 2 year MSc program (like me) is that the application will be weighted more on your 3rd and 4th years of your undergraduate degree instead of your final year of undergraduate and your first year of Masters (for direct-to-PhD American students, the weight is mostly on the third year of undergraduate).


I defended my MSc thesis, submitted requested revisions and moved to the US all within 7-10 days. So it's not a big deal, but it would help to plan ahead (was very busy during the MSc thesis writing part), so I just set aside a set number of hours per week to slowly pack my things in the month leading up to the move.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ahh thank you both for replying. Sometimes reading these forums it comes across as though every applicant has first author papers, research lab experience for 5+ years and it can make you a little doubtful of how you might measure up. I think you both have put my mind at ease.


TakeruK - great to hear that it is doable to finish and dash. I've had plenty of experience moving to a new country with zero time - I finished my undergraduate exams and the next day moved to Greece so not too worried about the moving aspect, but it is always nice to hear of others who do it too.


I think my concern is my undergrad GPA isn't as good as it could be but I know my MSc work will be a better reflection of what I can do. I just really don't want to have another year out between degrees!!


Thank you again for replying :) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use