How to apply for PhD in USA -The USA is inarguably one of the most preferred study destinations for international students, especially for its PhD programmes. One of the main factors that attracts so many PhD applicants to the US universities is that there are a wide range of courses available for PhD candidates. Besides, the has also created a flexible platform for intensive research. Another positive aspect of pursuing PhD in the USA is that it invests a lot in Research and Development. The USA spends the maximum in Research and Development. According to an OECD report, the USA spent an average of 2.79% of its GDP in R&D between 2010-2014.
Therefore, there is little room left for any doubt why the US attracts so many international students to its universities every year. However, candidates applying for PhD programmes in the US face some of the questions like how to apply, when does the application process start and what are the requirements of the universities.
Here we have explained the entire process of how can one apply for PhD courses in the USA right from the time needed to research for universities to submission of application forms.
Read the steps below to know how to apply for PhD in USA:
Choose your Major subject: The first step before applying for a PhD in the USA is to choose the subject in which one wants to do Major. Most aspirants opt for the course in which they already have a bachelor’s degree, though there is no such hard and fast rule that requires one to choose the same subject. However, students who wish to pursue their PhD in another field have to present strong reasons and experience in the concerned field.
Research for universities: Once the aspirant has chosen his Major subject, the next step is to find universities that offer PhD in that particular subject. It is advisable to shortlist at least 8 to 10 universities. Some of the major factors to consider while choosing a university are:
Does the department’s research match with the subject? Study carefully the current research initiatives of the university.
Does the candidate want a Master’s degree with PhD?
There are many universities in the US which offer a combined Master’s and PhD degree. Generally, it takes between 3 and 6 years to complete PhD in the USA. In that case, students are given the Master’s certificate within 2- 3 years and then they can continue with their research in the next couple of years. Such courses are more common in Arts and Humanities related subjects.
Here are the top PhD universities in the USA
California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Johns Hopkins University
Carnegie Mellon University
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Los Angeles
Deadlines: Once the list of universities where one wants to apply has been decided, the next big step is to look for deadlines for the same. There are several PhD programmes, which offer rolling admissions in the USA, though the admission depends on availability of seats. Usually, there are fewer seats in PhD compared to any other level. Also, the deadlines for application vary from department to department.
Here are the deadlines for some of the universities:
Application deadline period
Fall: December- January
Many universities in the US accept students with Bachelor’s degree for their PhD programmes. Unlike in other countries, here a Master’s degree is not mandatory for admission to PhD programmes.
16 years education: The first thing to keep in mind before opting for a PhD programme in any US university is that a majority of the universities in the USA require the student to have a minimum of 16 years of education before applying for PhD. Therefore, the candidate must have completed at least 4 years of education (graduation or diploma) after 10+2.
Master’s : Students who have completed their Master’s degree are also qualified to apply for PhD programmes in the US. In fact, it is the standard norm in many universities. It is, therefore, ideal for a student to choose a specialised program in which he has graduated in.
Tests: Admission procedure for PhD in the USA is more or less the same as in the case for MS in the US. The candidate needs to sit for the same standardized tests. Listed below are the exams needed before applying for PhD.
GMAT: GMAT is taken for admission to management studies. Business schools use this test as a criterion for admission into a wide range of management programs.
GRE: GRE is mandatory for almost all graduate level programmes in the USA, including management studies. While all universities require GRE general test score, some universities also ask the student to take GRE subject tests.
TOEFL: TOEFL is an English proficiency test for students from non-native English speaking countries. TOEFL is conducted more than 50 times a year at 4,500 test centres in 165 countries.
IELTS: IELTS is also an English proficiency test for students from non-native English speaking countries. IELTS test measures a candidate’s English language command on 4 different parameters- Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
However, not all universities require GRE or GMAT scores for PhD. Most of them, in fact, require a summary of the previous work the candidate has done.
Statement of Purpose (SOP): The Statement of Purpose is one of the most important elements of the application package for admission into PhD programmes in the USA. It reflects the candidate's commitment for joining the PhD programme and goals in life. The important thing to remember while writing an SOP is that it should be brief and reflect clarity regarding what the candidate wants from the programme.
Letter of Recommendation (LOR): The Letter of Recommendation is an independent assessment of the candidate's potential. Most universities require at least two to three recommendation letters. It is advisable to have recommendation letters written by the candidate's professors or employers.
Resume: At the PhD level, many universities would require the candidate to submit a resume along with the application. It should contain basic information like date of birth, academic qualifications and achievements and details of any previous work in his area of interest.
Academic transcripts: Academic transcripts include all the qualifications that the candidate will list in his application form. It is advisable for a candidate to start arranging for his transcripts from October itself.
Following elements are also important in the application package:
Work experience certificates, if applicable
Photocopies of passport
Certificates for extra-curricular activities mentioned in the application form.
WES Evaluation documents, if required by the university.
Many universities in the USA, have a separate interview round for PhD candidates. These interviews are conducted by invitation only, i.e., the candidate is called for interview only after his application is approved by the universities.
The candidate is basically asked general as well specific questions to the subject he wants to pursue in PhD.
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Yes, you can do PhD after completion of M.Sc, Even you can do Integrated PhD while perusing your M.Sc. For PhD, you must need to complete your masters in the same area of specialization.
Most Universities/Colleges offer admission based on the score of CET (like UGC NET) or conduct their own entrance test (like JNU) for admission into Ph.D. courses hence students would have to make an application for such exams.
For Reference of colleges here is the link:
All the best for your bright future.
Hello dear student !
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