Advice for Ph.D. Applicants, Part III: How do I apply?

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In this series, I am sharing what I have come to know about selective doctoral applications and experiences – or everything I wished I had known.  The first part was about deciding whether or not to pursue a Ph.D. at all, and the second part was about how to locate a program of interest.  This post is intended to provide you with some feedback on how to tackle the application itself.

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Advice for Ph.D. Applicants, Part II, How do I find a program?

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If you are returning to this series my assumption is that you’ve already thought carefully about embarking on a life-path as some sort of researcher, and are thus certain that you want to find a Ph.D. program that suits you.  If you have not, please consider reading Part I before moving on to this next step.  In this post, I will outline some of the most important considerations for identifying a program to which to apply. This is a long and fully packed post – so I hope you have a good reader or are willing to print it out.  I also hope, however, that it contains valuable and helpful advice.

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Advice for Phd Applicants, Part I: Should I Get a Ph.D.?

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I am very fortunate to work in a selective and well-resourced institution, and have many opportunities to meet amazing, young people embarking on a career in graduate education. I also encounter many interested (and interesting) people who just don’t understand what a Ph.D. is, how to go about finding a good program for them, or to go through what is a very competitive process. This is particularly important because these are things I also did not know when I started on this path. I’m thus setting out here to share what I have come to know as straightforwardly as possible.

With some reflection, I think that I may be the last of a generation of scholars to figure all of this out as I went. Even in the last few years, I’ve seen applicants getting increasingly polished, and so there is a great need to undertake this entire endeavor strategically. In this series, I’ve constructed some guiding questions both to get the reader started, and as a means to explore some of the bigger issues at play.

My plan for this series of blog posts is to cover the following:

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