Center for Graduate Studies and Research
1. Can I apply to different doctoral programs at the same time?
You should only apply to one doctoral program at a time. Typically, doctoral students have defined their field of study prior to their admission to a program. They have identified research problems that are challenging and that they feel very passionate about. Therefore, admissions committees look for candidates that have defined ideas, plans, and goals. A prospective doctoral student should know which area of knowledge will be part of their expertise and how they are going to contribute to their field through their research.
2. How early should I apply for a doctoral program?
Successful doctoral students usually begin making all their admissions arrangements at least one year in advance. They make sure that they take the corresponding graduate admission test ahead of time just in case they must retake it due to low scores. Also, they visit the universities’ websites to identify application deadlines and special requirements. Graduate students should take time to prepare the best possible application to showcase their credentials.
3. How important are graduate test scores?
Several research studies suggest that there is correlation between graduate test scores and academic achievement in graduate school. Standardized tests measure a skills and abilities that are necessary for success at this level. Graduate students should master skills such as: reading comprehension, effective writing, analytical reasoning, logic, and learning strategies. Be aware that graduate programs often require specific content or field related graduate exams. It is recommended that students prepare for the exam, or take review courses in order to ensure the highest possible scores. Should you need special accommodations, please make sure to contact in advance the test agency.
4. How critical is the essay?
Your essay is considered your formal presentation to the admission’s committee and to the desired graduate program. This statement should reflect your level of interest and commitment. It will help professors and committee members decide why they should accept you in to the program. Therefore, you must tell your story clearly, neatly, accurately and grammatically correct. The reader should understand through this essay why they should invest in you as a doctoral student.
Make sure that you mention that your decision to pursue a doctoral degree is an informed decision. Please list all your experiences and skills that make you a unique candidate. All your strengths must be substantiated with evidence that reflects your knowledge, skills and experiences. In addition, your goals should be clearly stated. These goals must include research projects and plans to ensure your professional growth and development. Make sure that your answer all the requested questions and that you fully and properly address all the parts of the essay. Remember that your ultimate goal is to graduate and to become a scholar and expert in your field.
5. Why are letters of recommendation important?
The letters of recommendation reflect your potential to become a successful doctoral student. As an applicant, select letter writers who know you very well. They must be able to describe if you are suitable for graduate school and for the program that you applied. It is advisable to request letters of recommendation from professors, supervisors and mentors. Just make sure that they know you very well and that they write about your specific strengths and skills.
6. How important is the personal interview?
The personal interview gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself to the admissions committee and to make a first- one-time impression before this committee. You must convince admission’s committee members that you possess all the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in graduate school.
Regarding the interview dress code, professional attired is highly recommended. During the interview, make sure you answer all the questions in an organized and logical manner. Your eye contact should be direct but not challenging or threat. Your answers should be spontaneous, thorough and orderly.
Review your application before the interview and do not make prepared speeches and do not use any slang. Finally, you should have positive expectations about the interview. This attitude will allow you to answer all the questions properly.
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