Things to do before applying for a Ph.D. program in the USA 

Along with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, a lot of international students are now pursuing Ph.Ds. at American universities because the programs are comprehensive and structured, and encourage a lot of independent research.  Apart from world-class facilities, well-equipped research labs, and qualified professors, American universities also offer funding opportunities to deserving candidates which makes it easier for international students to pursue Ph.D. in America. 

To pursue a Ph.D. program in any American university, students must have a minimum of 16 years of education, which means, they must have completed their bachelor’s degree at the least. Students can also apply for a combined program for MS and Ph.D. In order to qualify for a Ph.D. students should have a high score in the GRE (320+) and sometimes, in the subject GRE along with a GPA of 8.5 or above in their undergraduate program. If the master’s has been done from the USA, the GPA has to be 3.5 and above.

However, below are a few things you need to keep in mind and start preparing well in advance if you are planning to pursue a Ph.D. in a top American university: 

  • Choose your research topic well in advance: Narrowing down your research topic in advance will help you a great deal in making an informed decision. Study the topics, and see which topic would be viable for a Ph.D. project. Choose your program accordingly.
  • Research your Ph.D. guide: When it comes to a Ph.D., a good research guide is far more important than a good university. Hence, study the research work performed by professors from various universities, get in touch with them, and see if you can get approval from them for supervising your work. For Ph.D. programs, it is always beneficial to first narrow down the right research guide and then finalize the university.
  • Lookout for funding opportunities: Pursuing a Ph.D. in America can be very expensive and hence it is recommended to first look at universities that offer funding opportunities, scholarships, and research/ teaching assistantships and make your Ph.D. tuition affordable.
  • Finalize the universities: Once you decide your research topic, supervisor, and funding opportunities, shortlist your universities and start the application process.

How to secure funding and scholarships from American universities

Every year, thousands of international students apply for a master’s degree in the US, majorly because the US education system offers well-structured programs, research opportunities, exposure, and most importantly, funding opportunities. US universities are very generous and provide a lot of financial assistance in the form of full funding, scholarships, or RA/TA/GA.

In this blog, we will discuss the 7 important criteria that you need to consider in order to avail scholarships and funding. If you are currently in the application process for fall 2022 and you meet most of the criteria, you can still apply for scholarships. If you are aiming for fall 2023, this is the right time to start ticking each of these criteria and make your profile ready for securing funding. 

A high GPA: Students should have a consistently high academic record throughout the bachelor’s program (75% and above/GPA of 9.0 and above).

Paper presentations: Students who have a strong research aptitude and have published papers in nationally and internationally recognized journals and conferences, have high chances of securing full funding. At Dilip Oak’s Academy, one of our students, who presented three papers in international forums including Italy and the USA, received full funding for PhD in Computer Architecture from Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and Yale University.

Location: This is a very important factor that students often miss out on, while applying to universities. The majority of students apply to universities in the states of California, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Texas, Illinois, etc. Due to a very large application pool, getting financial aid from universities in these states is difficult. But if they were to apply to universities in the states of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Idaho etc. their chances of getting aid would be higher because the number of applicants is relatively low. The quality of education in these universities is equally good.

Professors: Students need to thoroughly research all the professors of the universities they plan to apply to. One can directly find them on university websites or (add name) study their work, their experience and interest, get in touch with them, and see if they are ready to offer any assistantship. Of course, applicants need to have a very strong academic background to receive a positive response from the professors.

GRE score: Along with other factors, the GRE score is also important. A GRE score above 320 (preferably above 330) maximizes your chances of securing funding.

SOPs and LORs: The Statement of Purpose plays a crucial role in securing financial assistance. Students need to ensure that their SOP brings out their intent, their story, their passion and why they deserve to receive funding. Similarly, strong recommendations from professors, project guides, or team lead (for working professionals) makes a strong impact on the application.

Relevant work experience: A relevant work experience of at least two years acts as a testament to one’s skills and commitment to the field and convinces the admissions committee that the applicant is a deserving candidate for a scholarship/funding.

For detailed assistance on the application process, university selection, drafting SOPs and LORs and planning your MS in the US, join our admission counseling today!