"Whoa! I'll be addressed as a Dr. now onwards!" If this is what your dream is, and you are planning to apply to various universities, keep a few points in mind, so that you can be sure that your application for a Doctorate Program is going to fetch you an acceptance from your favorite university.
Considering that you still have another six months before you send in your applications, we'll try simplifying the application process, and gear you up with a plan structure to help you prepare your application well.
Things to Do in Your Pre-Application Stage
Under stated are things you should do before you start applying to the universities.
Communicate with Professors and Scholars
While you are planning to apply for a Ph.D. program, talk to your professors and other research professionals. They can help you solve your doubts and prove to be a valuable source of information. Eventually, their reference letters will count a lot too. Also discuss your plans with scholars in your field, learn from their experiences and use their help.
You will need to do a lot of reading on the research area you want to work on. This will definitely increase your knowledge, and will keep you updated with any recent occurrences and discoveries. It will also help you increase your vocabulary and bring clarity on the subject. Be thorough with whatever you have studied before. Eventually, this effort will bear fruits when you will prepare your application.
Try getting a research exposure in your undergrad or postgraduate days. Having a research experience will give you an edge over other applicants. It's a great thing for your application if you have had some prior research experience. This will teach you about different research methodologies, help you develop required skills for research, and will give you an opportunity to create a good network, which pays off in some way or the other. This will reflect your drive and interest towards your research, and your independence in your application.
Choose the Right Program
This happens to be one of the most important tasks to be performed before sending in your application, which is to choose the right program. With the increase in globalization, there are so many universities offering various modules and freedom of using independent ways of researching, giving you a wide range to choose from. Pick the program that suits you the best, and is in terms with your career goal too. You can choose your options based on the ranking of universities from authentic websites and education guides. After which, you should go through their websites and learn all about them, going through the alumni, faculty, culture, and their publications.
Things to Remember While Applying
Now, once you are sure of what your research area is, and you have shortlisted a few universities to apply to, you will have to put the following list in order.
Write to the Faculty of the University
You should write a personalized letter to the university indicating your interest in their doctoral program and your area of research. Attach your resume and give a clear note of your curriculum track, specifying scores for GRE and TOEFL. You should at least apply to 5 universities to be on a safer side. If you have enough time and money, you can also consider applying to 10 universities. This will increase your chances of receiving an offer letter from either one of them.
Keep your transcripts ready way in advance before you want to apply, to avoid last-minute hassles. Remember, irrespective of your GPA score, the course and the subjects selected by you plays an important role in deciding your admission.
Letters of Recommendation
Be very sure about who you ask for recommending you. Pick someone who is aware of your potentials and interest, and can recommend you without any reservations. A recommendation letter from a professor or head of the department will be preferred as a reliable source. However, if you have a prior work experience, an enthusiastic recommendation letter stating your capability and work performance from your manager will give a boost to your recommendation.
Try to score the max you can in this test. As this is one common test whose scores count globally. Give this test even if it is not a prerequisite mentioned by the university you are targeting, and try crossing a score of 600 at least.
Statement of Purpose (SOP)
This can actually be your ticket to the university you crave for. A well written SOP can actually convince the university to pick you before others whose scores are better than yours. This is your personal statement describing who you are, what your career path is, and what your final goal is. It does not have to be technical, but should show you very determined, explaining why you should be chosen and how much it means to you. This is going to show the unique side of you, and can actually get you a letter of acceptance. You will need sufficient time to write a statement of purpose. Plan it well in advance and ask your friends or professors to review it once.
Attach Writing Samples
Do attach a few samples or give a link to your writeup like your thesis and papers submitted. This will show your writing skills, knowledge, and presentation skills.
Make sure all the above mentioned documents are arranged for.
If this is one of your deciding factors in choosing your university, you will find all information on financial assistance from the university websites.
The best way to choose a doctoral program would be by applying to the best universities and institutes, based on their ranking and reputation related to your area of research. However, don't just go for a higher ranking university, but look how active research is in your area of interest in that particular university. The above tips on applying for a doctorate program should help you plan your path well. Remember! You are going to get paid for your research, make sure that your application justifies that worth.