Ph.D admission decisions are kicking in & many students are going through rounds of interviews. Here are a few tips that I’ve learnt and shared over the years.

Disclaimer: These are based on personal experiences derived from a limited sample. Take it with a grain of salt 😀.
(1/19) First of all, let’s start off by acknowledging that PhD admission is extremely competitive. You're prolly fighting for an average of 5-30 spots out of hundreds/thousands of applicants. Attempting itself is a win. Kudos !👏🏿
#admissions #Competition #phdpositions #gradschool
(2/19) Money is at the stake. What does this mean? Someone out there is willing to take a risk on you & guaranteeing that you’ll be taken care of for 5-6 years. Your tuition, fees, health insurance, & monthly living allowance are all paid for by the dept.

#Funding #MoneyTalks
(3/19) ... which is very different than even the most competitive MBA or MS programs that admit hundreds of students at once. Therefore, it is worthless to look at an overall university acceptance rate for any Ph.D programs. Ph.D decisions happen at the department level.
(4/19) There is no such thing as 'safety' for Ph.D admission. Each school is competitive in its own ways.

FYI, students wanting to pursue Ph.D are among the top 0.1- top 5% of their class, some of them are country toppers. So, no need to take rejections personally 👍🏿.
(5/19) During interviews your goal isn't just to impress interviewers but to decide for yourself i.e, choosing the closest person (after your immediate relationships) who could potentially alter your life for good or bad sake. Choose wisely, people matter !

(6/19) Okay, onto the real thing now. Let’s get started:

. Do your homework. Read your personal/research statements & your CV few more times. Make sure you are in a position to answer any general or technical questions. This isn't hard if you were being genuine in your apps.
(7/19) Go to, sort by date and find the most recent works of your proposed PIs/mentors. No one told me this ☹️ . Paying forward !


#scholar @googlescholar_
(8/19) 💡: Make sure to pay particular attention to a few key sections in the paper (discussions, challenges and future directions). This will set you up to ask intelligent questions at the end.

#publication #journals #Articles
(9/19) Next, Be mentally prepared to answer a few questions. Please do not memorize or rehearse them. Authenticity goes a long way. It does. Example,

. Why do you want to do a Ph.D in the first place?
. What are your research interests?
. What do you want to do after Ph.D?
(10/19) ...
. Do you know of any research work or literature that supports your research interests? (#7 above 🔝)

.Tell me more about hypotheses and assumptions you had in your previous research/experiments?

#experiment #hypothesis #research #ResearchPapers #researchers
(11/19) ....

. What were some of the biggest challenges for you as a student researcher? In your resume you listed X & Y, tell me more about that.
. What other schools have you applied to? Some professors do ask this question. Prepare in advance.

Follow @BikalpaN for answers.
(12/19) Now power on to you. Your turn to ask them,

. What aspect of your graduate students do you love the most, & what would you like them to get better on?

(This is going to tell you immediately about interviewers' humility & personality. Reading betn the lines is a thing.)
(13/19) ...

. What kinds of funding opportunities are available for me ? Will I be supported as a teaching assistant or a research assistant? Are these funding guaranteed over the 5 years including the summer semesters?

#Funding #grants #Scholarship

. What are your research goals for the next 5 years? Is there a particular topic or a theme that you have in your mind, and that a prospective graduate student such as someone like me can support you achieve your goals?

(15/19) ...

. Today, I have an opportunity to learn directly from an expert like yourself, - "What constitutes a productive and a better PhD for you? Is it publications or anything?
. Also curious if you are an output centric vs. the outcome or the process centric mentor?
(16/19) ...

. You'd definitely want to ask a few questions about your research topic, most recent papers from the PI/lab and general questions about the future line of their work.
(17/19) Remember, you will be spending your formative & critical period of your life to pursue a Ph.D. While some of your friends are enjoying the lucrative job, bought a house & settled in, you have taken a rare path to expand & contribute to the knowledge. Be proud of yourself.
(18/19) Please make sure that you are happy wherever you go and that you are making the right decision. I've heard many miserable stories. So, I'd humbly request you to think beyond ranking and how 'big of a name' your prospective adviser is. It doesn't matter as much 💯.
(19/19) Follow me @BikalpaN, and @Omviser1 to learn grad school tips and tricks.

Next thread: 'How to compare your Ph.D acceptances and decide where to go, and why'.

#phdchat #phdadvice #AcademicChatter #AcademicTwitter @AcademicsSay
#phdvoice #admissions #gradschool

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More from @BikalpaN

Jan 30
A thread on how to choose MS/Ph.D. programs if you have multiple offers (from International Students' perspective, @Omviser1 )

Disclaimer: These are my personal thoughts and do not represent any organizations that I'm associated with.

#gradschool @AcademicsSay #phdstudent
Before I jump in, some background:

When I chose Penn State over my other acceptances (UIUC, Purdue, UC Santa Barbara etc.), my friends and family were surprised to hear that I gave up a top 5 school to attend a top 15/20 in my area.

Sharing my decisioning criteria below 👇
While funding wasn't an issue to me at all, I encourage everyone to think from a ROI perspective at MS or Ph.D. levels.

I read somewhere that an acceptance without proper funding is essentially a polite decline. $$ matters.

#Funding #PhDposition #Scholarships
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