Interested in doing a PhD, but not exactly sure where to start looking for one? This article is for you. It contains the top 7 best ways to find a PhD (UK PhDs especially), including finding a funded PhD.
Before you even start looking for a PhD programme or project, you need to decide what you want to study. Ultimately, you’re going to spend the next 3+ years intensely researching this topic, so take your time with this.
You may want to continue studying the same subject as you did for your undergrad and/or master’s degree. Or, you may be interested in something that follows whatever career path you chose after uni. You may want to switch fields entirely! In the UK, it is pretty easy to switch educational fields (and I have!).
The first place to look for a PhD is simply by googling options. Say you’re looking for a PhD in Computer Science in London, you might try something like “PhD Funding Computer Science London”. This will give you an idea of what’s out there.
One of the options that will likely come up on google is FindAPhD.com. This is a GREAT resource and lists PhD programmes and funding opportunities all over the world. You can search by location, funding, field, and PhD type. They also have lots of additional resources on applying for your PhD.
If you already have some universities in mind that you might want to attend, you can check directly on their websites for PhD programmes in your field and funding opportunities.
This one may surprise you, but a lot of universities (and professors) advertise PhD positions on their social media, in particular, on Twitter.
One great way to find universities with good PhD programmes in your field is to look at university rankings. Now, rankings aren’t everything, of course, but they can give you a good idea of what’s out there.
Another good way to find PhD programmes is to find research / work you admire in your field and find out where the authors teach / go. You might even be able to snag them as a supervisor!
It is also worth asking your friends and extended network whether they are aware of any opportunities. In particular, if you have a friend who studied in a similar field to that you’re interested in, it’s worth asking them about their programme and experience.
Once you’ve found a good number of programmes (I’d recommend at least 10, though you certainly don’t need to apply to them all!), you should find a way to keep track of things like the nature of the programme, the funding available, their requirements, potential supervisors, and application deadlines.
Once you compile your shortlist, you can look at the requirements. Do you meet the eligibility criteria?
I’m going to a do whole post on this soon, so stay tuned. But, basically, before you apply you should either contact the supervisors advertised (for set projects) or find potential supervisors on your own for a self-designed project. You should send them your research proposal and CV and make sure they are willing to be listed as a supervisor on your application.
You may need to reach out to several before you find one (or two, if required)! Don’t get discouraged!
Now is a good time to explore the university’s culture. Check out what people have to say on the internet about their experiences doing a PhD at this university (and, in this programme), look at days in the life, or reach out to people on LinkedIn enrolled in the programme.
You can also ask any questions of your potential supervisors, though they may or may not get back to you.
If the position for which you are applying is self-funded, look for additional funding opportunities. You can find these in largely the same way as you found your PhD programme in the first place (see above).
Once you’ve done all of this, you’re ready to start on your application!
I hope this article helped you find a PhD in the UK! How did you find your grad school programme? Let me know in the comments below!