Strong Ph.D. Application Preparation- 11 Tips To Help You

A Doctor of Philosophy (Philosophy is Originally Greek, meaning “love of wisdom”) degree (Ph.D.) is the highest level of academic qualification you can attain in your field of study. If you consider the honor and prestige attached to this degree and its holder, the strenuous, technical, and demanding admission process is of no surprise. Even though the specific requirements for a Ph.D. application vary, depending on the country, institution, field of study, and period, a strong Ph.D. application is a global factor and determinant in the Ph.D. admission process.

The prominence and prestige given this degree are not without valid and justifiable reasons. The accomplishment of the research degree is often a prerequisite for employment as a university professor, researcher, scientist in numerous areas of study. Hence, if you’re going to apply for a postgraduate doctoral degree, you will undoubtedly need a strong Ph.D. application. 

This article will explore and expand on;

  • What is a Ph.D.?
  • Benefits of pursuing a PhD
  • Requirement for a Ph.D. application
  • 11 helpful tips to help you prepare a strong Ph.D. application
  • Successfully submitting a strong Ph.D. application 

What is a Ph.D.?

A Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy Degree -Philosophy is Originally Greek, meaning “love of wisdom”) is a doctoral academic research degree, usually said to be the highest level of educational qualification anyone can attain. Holders of this doctoral degree are acclaimed to have made a major, notable and meaningful contribution to their chosen field of research. A Ph.D. degree typically entails conducting valid and substantial research in a particular field of study and afterward producing a publication-worthy thesis.

The duration of a standard Ph.D. degree typically consists of three stages: First, Second and third year. The first year is majorly for research proposal, completion of literature reviews, and evaluation and critique of existing works. In contrast, the second year will focus on thesis development and presentation of research findings. Third-year will then involve thesis wrap-up and defense. Before embarking on a Ph.D. journey, you must methodologically approach and consider the subject or concept that is of interest to you to avoid loss of interest and confusion in the middle of the research. 

Benefits of Getting a Ph.D.

Graduates often ask the question of what makes a Ph.D. degree worth their time. Some consider it a waste of time, while some think it’s overrated. However, a Ph.D. degree has so many pros that outnumbered the cons.  Without a doubt, earning a Ph.D. degree is the peak of educational attainment for anyone seeking it. Below are some of the numerous benefits of a Ph.D. degree.

  • You get a guaranteed income for three years
  • in addition to the title ‘Dr’ to your name, which will earn you respect and entry into some high places.
  • Travel opportunities
  • A notable contribution to your field of study.

That is to name but a few. As strenuous and demanding as the journey could be, a Ph.D. degree is definitely worth the effort. 

Strong Ph.D. Application: Requirements for a Ph.D. application

Like every other degree program, a Ph.D. has specific requirements that every applicant must meet to ensure their suitability before being considered for the program. Specific requirements for a Ph.D. application vary, depending on the country, institution, field of study, and period. However, below are the general requirements for a Ph.D. application.

Academic qualifications

  • This Ph.D. requirement indicates a first-class or at least upper second class honor (2.1) in your undergraduate degree certificate.
  • Masters degree: Most institutions will request a Master’s degree in a relevant subject to be eligible for a Ph.D. application. Again, merit or distinction is a requirement that you cannot sidestep. 

Strong Ph.D. Application: Graduate entry tests

Some institutions may require prospective students to take a graduate entry test for eligibility.


An institution will always check a candidate’s suitability before admitting such a student. They will only consider students who have demonstrated a high level of interest in an area of study and whom they believe will complete the program to a high standard within the time frame. Supervisors get to determine suitability via the application process.


If you’re applying to an international institution or your Ph.D. is not conducted in your first language, you may be required to provide evidence of your proficiency in English. This is usually verified through a language test such as TOEFL or IELTS. There are few exceptions to this.


Generally, a Ph.D. student will need to be a resident of the country where the research is being done. 

I will strongly suggest that you always check the particular Ph.D. requirements for the institution of your choice.           

11 tips that guarantee a strong Ph.D. application

Ph.D. is a globally esteemed degree; hence, the application process is almost as weighty as its degree. To increase your chances of getting admitted into the degree program at the University of your choice, it’s of utmost importance to prepare for a strong Ph.D. application. Considering that your application’s strength will determine your admission into the program, we have done ample research and compiled 11 tips that will help you prepare a strong Ph.D. application. 

Below are the 11 tips that guarantee a solid and successful Ph.D. application.

Tip 1. Choose your institution and research topic based on your area of interest

This is the first thing to consider in the application process. Survey the institution that best focuses on your area of interest. That is, the universities that are well known for their resources and excellence in the field you’re considering.

Also, note that applying for a research study in an area where you don’t have grounded interest is a benchmark for failure. Therefore, before applying, look for an educationist that has gone ahead of you. Follow them, or even seek their opinion before applying for a research study.

Tip 2. Start the application process early

There’s a famous saying that the early bird catches the worm. You must take action when they announce the starting date. It is usually in autumn, around September. Make sure you’re informed about everything that pertains to the application. Start early and submit early. Remember, the program is very competitive, so to be on the safe side, you must start early.

Tip 3. Read the guidelines and procedures carefully

They often say that knowledge is power. Hence, to prepare a strong Ph.D. application, you must understand the format properly, guidelines and procedures. No matter how good your application is, if it doesn’t follow the right procedure and stipulated format, it could be rejected and denied admission. 

Note that procedures and guidelines vary from one institution to the other. Hence, you should be familiar with everything that pertains to your institution of choice. You will get these guidelines from the school’s website. It is advisable to start these before the application starts.

Tip 4. Strong Ph.D. Application: A perfect Ph.D. research proposal

A research proposal is the central and major part of your application. Even though not all programs require a research proposal, you will need it if your Ph.D. is self-funded.

A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. It summarizes the question you want to answer and how you plan to go about it. It will persuade potential supervisors and sponsors that your research is worth their time and support. So, it would present and justify the need for your research.

A research proposal should have the following components:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • The research context
  • Research overview
  • Research methods
  • Significance of research
  • Bibliography

Tip 5. Resume / Academic CV

There’s a requirement for you to present an Academic CV to demonstrate your ability to pursue a doctorate. Do not apply with a conventional CV you use for a normal Job. Your academic CV should provide a short but encompassing overview of your academic background and accomplishment. 

Your Academic CV should feature the following:

  • Personal/ Contact details
  • Education and qualification
  • Relevant work/ Research experience
  • Relevant skills
  • Interests/ hobbies
  • Referees

A well-thought-out and organized academic CV can make a significant impact on your application.

Tip 6.  Personal statement / Statement of purpose

This provides additional information on your Ph.D. application and demonstrates your suitability. Your Ph.D. statement of purpose should answer why you want to research the field further and explain why you choose the institution. It should emphasize your strengths, motivations, skills, and career goals. This is an opportunity to sell your interest and ability. So, include as many relevant details as possible.

Tip 7. Present a strong reference 

The right reference is a major influence in your Ph.D. application. Make sure you get a notable and respected Elite or a leading academic in your field. You will need at least two referees. At least one of your references must be an academic who can comment on your skills, character, strengths, and generally your suitability to undertake the program based on your Bachelors or Masters Performance. Your Master’s/dissertation supervisor will be an ideal choice.

Tip 8. Prepare adequately for your interview

An interview indicates that they’re considering you, and they will like to speak with you as part of your application process.  Though not all application processes will require an interview, it’s better to prepare than be caught unaware. You will be asked to talk about yourself, your interest in the program, your experiences, and your strengths, amongst others. Look smart, confident, collected, and make sure to express yourself coherently.

Tip 9. Strong Ph.D. Application: Get a great cover letter

A cover letter is an accompaniment for your Academic CV. It is like a short, concise, and straightforward essay that should smartly capture and summarize all you’ve written in your CV. It entails introducing yourself, showcasing your skills, and enumerating your achievement and interest in the program.

Tip 10. Contact potential Ph.D. supervisor

A potential project supervisor could help put you through in your application process. You can ask questions on pertinent issues on which you’re not clear. Do not be too hasty to contact a potential supervisor. First, check their availability, interest, and focus, then you can send them an Email. Do not call them on the phone on the first contact.

Tip 11. Proofread your research proposal and other documents

The purpose of proofreading is to point out errors in a document carefully. This is the last stage of your compilation, where you fix spelling mistakes, formatting issues, and inconsistencies in the proposal. This process will entail you reviewing the final draft to ensure accuracy and consistency.

Remember, a great Ph.D. application must be original, and it must propose feasible and viable methods.


After you’ve meticulously and painstakingly taken your time to prepare a strong Ph.D. application using those tips, it is paramount that you make sure it gets to its destination at the right time.  A strong application that is not submitted properly is as fruitless as a weak application. You must know that all these applications have a stipulated process of submission and a time frame. Do well to diligently follow the application process and make sure to submit early to avoid the last-minute rush.

Also, you must know that nobody is an island of knowledge. Make sure to get a second opinion from someone who has once traveled that lane. 

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