Research degree programs offered by universities draw a fair number of graduates each year. People choose to take this type of degree for different reasons; some wish to pursue a career in academia, others see the usefulness of these degrees in the commercial sector. This article will discuss the PhD application process and the associated aspects aspirants need to keep in mind.


The applicant is first advised to contact the department he is interested in for a discussion about his intentions. An aspirant makes an application after finding the right faculty and program. It is necessary to take a look at the deadlines in order to avoid losing a year. Different universities and even different departments within them can have their own closing dates.

Application Form

The application form is accompanied by other documents. An official transcript that lists the modules taken by the aspirant and the grades he received is one of the primary documents.

Research Proposal

Another important paper is the research proposal. The applicant needs to give a summary of his potential research project and demonstrate his familiarity with relevant methodology and background reading. He is not necessarily expected to formulate a title and thesis; this is often done after consultations with the supervisor during the course’s run.

A university can request a supporting statement which the applicant should use in order to summarize his relevant experience and explain why he is the right choice for the program.


Universities usually expect two references; Oxford asks for three. At least one must be an academic reference. Some universities, like Harvard and Cambridge, also request short samples of writing on related topics.


Candidates whose native language is not English need to have an IELTS or TOFEL score in the higher range, depending on university requirements.