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PhD prep before I've even started MSc?


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I'm a recent Georgetown grad currently enrolled in a MSc program at LSE starting this fall. Staying in academia is my dream right now, but I'm not sure how feasible it is. I might not have the brains, but I have the passion. Ideally, if I were to go into research, I would start my PhD directly after my MSc program ends (Sept 2017), only I realize this is crazy soon and I'm lost.

My interests are in Northern Ireland and Anglo-Irish politics/law, and the goal is to stay in the Isles (i.e. LSE, Kings, UCD, Trinity, Queens Belfast, etc.). I've kind of start browsing their websites to see their criteria and current staff research areas, but what else should I do and how soon? I guess, a more simple question is can anyone direct me to a timeline (like they'd always give for undergrad) in terms of how and if I should be preparing if I haven't even started my MSc program or met my new LSE professors yet?!

...Funding will clearly be a whole other ball game.

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