How to Find an Institution and Supervisor for Your PhD

Below you will find you some tips on how to successfully find an institution and supervisor for your PhD.

Use your research interest as guidance

When you start your search for PhD programmes, you often have a vague idea about the institution or the potential supervisor for your research. But you should know that your research subject can help you identify leading institutions and/or experts in the specific area.

Therefore, use your research subject to identify the main academic journals in your field which address such interests. You will be able to find out the major papers which have been concerned with such topics and identify the authors that have researched and written on the matter. From the author information, you will not only be able to identify a potential supervisor but also an institution.

First contact

The next step is thus to either contact the author directly or the institution and express your interest in working with them for your PhD outlining your previous academic background and your research proposal. Having read his/her papers will also be helpful in writing a research proposal that will be informed by his/her approach and methods.

In case you are worried about the supervision style, you can also check his/her previous PhD students (there is often information available on his/her website) and contact them to ask about their experience with the supervisor.

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Do some research

At the same time, it is important to look at the institution, the appropriate research group or the unit that your potential supervisor belongs to and identify whether any doctoral programmes are advertised that match your research interests.

Do not forget to search other staff in the department/research group and their publications to understand whether the group/unit is leading in the research field you are interested in and whether your potential colleagues might be able to help you in your research.

This is a good way to identify doctoral institutions and supervisors and it will enable you to get an insight into which institutions/academics are at the frontier of the research field you are interested in, which would be of immense importance not only for effectively completing your PhD, but also for your career beyond the degree course.

Good luck with your research!

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