What are the eligibility criteria for PhD Abroad?

by Dr. Sriyash Mangal, PhD

Eligibility Criteria for PhD Abroad

Eligibility Criteria for PhD Abroad: PhD is a doctorate degree awarded by several universities in different countries. The universities in countries like Germany, the USA, Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, Singapore, UK award PhD degrees in a wide range of programs in the natural sciences (e.g., physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, statistics, etc.), commerce, business & management, and humanities (e.g., history, psychology, English literature, musicology, etc.). This is not an exhaustive list meaning there are a lot more topics in which PhD degree is offered.

There is one question that pops up in almost every PhD counseling session I take. What are the eligibility criteria for pursuing PhD abroad with full or partial funding? This is a natural question that comes to your mind if you are planning to pursue doctoral research in a foreign country. In this blog article, I will discuss all the parameters that are taken into account by admission/ selection committees of top PhD programs at high-ranking universities.

To get selected in a PhD Program abroad, a student is required to fulfill certain eligibility criteria. Following are the most important requirements or eligibility criteria for PhD abroad:

Academic Grades

As a PhD applicant, you should have good grades in Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. This, however, does not mean that academic score is the most important parameter for the selection committee. It helps to convince them that you have been a brilliant student throughout, but you should not be discouraged to apply if you have an average or below average CGPA. This is because PhD supervisors are looking for prospective students who are passionate about research and have what it takes to be an excellent researcher. So, if you have been an average student at university, then you must present well-written statement of purpose and research proposal showcasing your research abilities.

Previous Research Work

This is undoubtedly one of the most important criteria which is taken in to account by all selection team of all PhD programs abroad. As a PhD applicant you must show in your CV and statement of purpose that you have engaged in research work during the UG and/or PG studies. This includes:

  • internships at universities, research institutes, hospitals, industry
  • bachelor’s and/or master’s thesis
  • workshops for learning latest research methodologies or techniques

Publications, if any

Although publications are not essential to secure a fully-funded PhD position abroad, the prospective supervisor or the admissions committee wants to see that you have the skills required to be an excellent researcher and publications are good indication of this. So, if you have publications, don’t forget to mention them in your CV. And if you do not have publications, then, don’t be discouraged as other things can make up for this. I have written a separate article on this topic and you can read it here.

Also read: Do I Need Publications for PhD Position which is fully funded?

Dissertations and thesis if submitted

 All PhD programs abroad will ask you to describe your past research activities with special emphasis on Bachelor’s/Master’s thesis. If you have already submitted your thesis, then you can simply attach the PDF file. If not, then, submit a summary of what you intend to do and the progress you have made till the date of application.

Research Proposal

The research proposal is the most critical part of your Ph.D. application as it will help you showcase your knowledge in the subject. A research proposal should be written in an academic tone and ideas should be expressed in a logical manner. It is important that the research proposal has high degree of coherence and cohesion and an excellent choice of words. Your research proposal should be able to convey to the admissions team that you have thorough knowledge in your area of research and that you have a definite plan which will help you to answer the specific questions you are asking.

A strong Statement of Purpose

All universities ask for a statement of purpose, which is sometimes also called personal statement. In this document, you have to describe why you want to a PhD, how does the qualifications and experience you have gained so far make you a suitable candidate for pursuing a PhD, and why you want to do it in a particular country/ university/ program. To succeed in getting admission in a PhD program, it is important that you submit a strong and convincing statement of purpose. Well-written Statement of Purpose and Research proposal hold so much value that they can even compensate for other lacunas in your academic profile. Therefore, make sure that these two documents are really good before you submit the applications.

Excellent Recommendation Letters

Most of the universities require you to send three letters of recommendation. Your previous academic advisor like the professor who supervised your Master’s thesis should provide one, and other letters can be from teachers, professors or anyone who has supervised your work during internships or full-time work. Letters of Recommendations should discuss your research abilities, logical thinking, level of intellect, knowledge, character and personality. It is easy to say good things about yourself in the statement of purpose, but here you need a past supervisor or a teacher to say excellent things about you and your work. Unlike India, where letter of recommendations are not even required, foreign universities take these letters very seriously. Thus, letters of recommendation hold a lot of weightage when it comes to eligibility requirements for PhD positions abroad.

Test Scores (GRE, GMAT, IELTS, TOEFL)

Some of the universities might ask you to write an exam like GRE to assess your skills and knowledge. But it is not mandatory for all the universities and it depends on the country/ university you have chosen. Similarly, PhD programs in Management sometimes ask for GMAT test, but again it depends on the university you have chosen. Results of English language tests such as IELTS or TOEFL are also often asked by many universities especially if English is not your native tongue. Note that you don’t need to have these test results (GRE, GMAT, IELTS, TOEFL) in hand before you start the application process. It is actually better to start the PhD application process, shortlist the prospective supervisors, PhD Programs and Universities to gain clarity on what exams are really required and then plan to take the required tests. This will help you to minimize cost as well as save your valuable time.

Also read: Benefits of PhD Abroad

CV/ Resume

A CV should have all the information about your education, internships, work experience, publications if any, past achievements & scholarships, voluntary work, co-curricular activities, etc. It should not be longer than 2-3 pages. First thing that the most universities look at is the CV, therefore to make a good first impression, it is important to present your CV nicely.

Note: that eligibility criteria may vary for different universities and fulfilling these criteria does not guarantee admission in a PhD program. Just like you may not get admission in the desired bachelor’s or master’s program even after fulfilling all the eligibility requirements, the final decision to accept or reject applicants lies with the university’s admission department.  

Following are some popular destinations to pursue PhD Abroad. To read about them, click on the name of the country.

Author Bio:

Dr. Sriyash Mangal
Ph.D. Cell biology from LMU Munich, Germany MSc Biomedical Sciences, University College London, UK Dr. Sriyash Mangal has been mentoring Ph.D. aspirants to secure fully-funded Ph.D. positions abroad for more than 5 years. He has lived in the UK and Europe for over 7 years and completed his higher studies with 100% scholarship. He is an expert in applying to highly competitive Ph.D. programs and scholarships/ fellowships. 
For more information regarding funding opportunities and PhD positions abroad, contact our team at Road to Abroad (+91 8383050912). For more general information about studying PhD in abroad in various countries like UK, USA, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, etc visit our PhD Consultation Page.

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Jitesh MukherjeeJaishish NandanadminAnanya Jain Recent comment authors
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Ananya Jain
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Ananya Jain

Sir, I dont have publications. Am I still eligible to apply for PhD abroad?

Jaishish Nandan
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Jaishish Nandan

Wow! Nice article. I have 10 years of gap and I have not worked in these 10 years. Can I apply through you?

Jai kumar
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Jai kumar

Hello team, I have 2 publications in good journals. Does this mean I will be selected for PhD a 100%?

Ravi Singh
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Ravi Singh

Do i need a research proposal for US applications?

Jitesh Mukherjee
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Jitesh Mukherjee

Who should I get LOR from? Professor or employer?

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