Checklist for choosing the right University for PhD

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Choosing a university for academic career is important, but choosing a university for PhD is more crucial. There are numerous things to consider, all of which seem to be vital for your future:

Do you have the needed score and credentials? Do you know what your research topic is? Will you be able to pursue it? How are you going to fund it? Who is going to guide you through the process? If you are planning to pursue a PhD, you must know by now that one of the main attributes is the research.
So if you are going to research throughout your studies, why not start right from the beginning – by finding a suitable university for PhD?

The following guiding points will help you along the way:

Deciding on the type of research and faculties

This is one of the most important points. First you need to decide what kind of specialization you want to pursuit and ideally what kind of infrastructure you will use. After that you will have a matrix with which to compare and sift out the universities.

Do you want to be a professor, or do you want to concentrate your efforts on research for a private or government structure? Various university for PhD offer different types of education and specialisations. Sometimes they have different criteria like teaching in the university or participating in a joint research.
It’s also possible for some graduate programs to offer the same degree, which is different in terms of training, field experience and career opportunities. This is why it is very important to thoroughly check the type of graduate programs a particular university for PhD is renowned for. Also, which faculties are the most developed and are attracting the biggest funds. Knowing this, will not only, increase your chances of finding a suitable program, but it will also increase your chances of being accepted.

Read More:Pros and Cons for enrolling in PhD

Checking the Academia

In Higher Education there is an existing conflict between choosing a university for its program or for its Academia. Applying at a famous establishment or enrolling in the most suitable program doesn’t mean that the people involved will also be professionals, capable of giving you everything you need.

One might say that in most disciplines there is no “best” program or school and that it entirely depends on your specific goals. One also might argue that the particular strengths of a study depend on the expertise possessed by its faculty members. This is why picking a good mentor is crucial, as he will be guiding you and evaluating your work throughout your research.

If you are one of the people who think that finding a good teacher is more important than finding a good study, then you should reverse the search process. You should focus your research on scholars, involved in your desired field and concentrate on their work (publications, books, lectures, etc.) Take note of the affiliations that university for PhD have.
Getting familiar with the work of a given professor will inform you about his current focus and if you could establish a common interest.

Read more: How is Australia for Higher studies?

Programs and availability for international students 

Before you decide, you should check how developed the respective international student program is. What type of programs are offered and in what languages?

Every detail is important – number of international students accepted in a PhD; number of graduated international students; available materials and facilities; English-speaking academia etc.

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Tuition fees and funding options

This is where the reputation of the university presents a challenge. In most cases PhD studies are not that expensive and universities offer numerous funding options. However, renowned institutions will have higher tuition fees and it will be harder to receive funding due to the higher numbers of applicants. Check if there are additional possibilities for students from your country or region. Check if that university for PhD offers grants or scholarships for specific research topic.
It is worth checking everything as the criteria for international students are different.

Read More: Top 10 fully funded scholarships that will cover all your expenses

Location preferences

You might want to study in a rich or socially developed country; or at a place, which is more close to your field of interest (for instance, if you are into environmental studies and climate change, you might want to study in problematic regions such as China or Japan. It’s possible that such destinations offer more funding and research options as they want to develop new ways to reduce pollution and have positive impact on climate change. Or, if you want to study a language or a group of languages, it’s probably better to go in the respective linguistic region). The location is more or less a reflection of your personality. If you are adventurous and social or calm and quiet; if you like urban architecture; if you have climate preferences, etc.

Read more: US education system: Pros and Cons


As always, it is best to put your priorities in order and decide if it’s more important for you to have a reliable guidance or a solid foundation for your research.Start early with the application process as any delay might have negative impact on your possibility to get selected in a university for PhD. Also, consider looking at the individual research groups of interest as well as the overall quality of the university.You should always avoid selection of universities merely based on how easy it is to get an  admission.

If you are a PhD scholar or if you think we missed out on something for choosing out the right university for PhD, please comment below.

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Written by

An editor and writer in motion from Bulgaria, who is Interested in "everything" and "nothing" in particular. A social activist - who knows a moderate amount of things about random stuff.


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