How to Apply for a PhD in India / Abroad Successfully ?
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How to Apply for a PhD in India / Abroad Successfully ?

So you’re planning to apply for a PhD Programme but have no idea where to begin. If you’re a Masters student, now could be the best time to think about applying for a PhD degree. First things first do not forget to qualify your csir net exam if you want to do phd in India. If you want to do PhD abroad then also these tips will be handy.

Applying for a Ph.D. seems like an intense process, especially if you are a working person or a fresher with zero or no experience in interacting with project guides.  However, there are a few things that you can do to make your application smooth going. In this article, I’m going to share the most important steps on how to apply for a PhD.

Step 1: Start early and research on available Ph.D. programs

The first important step in applying for a PhD is to do some research. Make sure you understand the different types of doctorate degrees on offer, including eligibility and PhD How to Apply for a PhD in India / Abroad Successfully ?entry requirements. Then research on potential universities and programs that you want to enroll.

Once you

get relevant information about a particular PhD program, you will start getting ideas about the kind of work you want to do.

Always remember, deadlines for PhD applications usually fall on late autumn but some universities, in and out of India, still accept applications until spring. It is important that you are ahead of time so you won’t be late. If you are late then it means you loose a precious year. Thus keep this point in mind. You can check the latest PhD dates here

Step 2: Decide on what area or topic you want to specialize in

When you do your research, expect to be confronted with a myriad of available PhD programs from different universities. Everything will sound seemingly enticing and will cause you to feel ambivalent.

To drive away confusion, try to consider your graduate course and your master’s degree. For example, if you have a Masters in Research (MRes) then you can proceed to get a doctorate degree in the same program.

Also, make sure that you’re passionate about your choice. Let’s say you love hard sciences like Molecular Biology , Cell Biology, or Nuclear Medicine. Then choose a PhD program focusing on these areas. Remember that your chosen subject will be the bread-and-butter of your PhD journey for the next half-decade. Don’t choose something that you’re half-hearted, otherwise, your dream of becoming a PhD will surely be compromised

Step 3: Choose a topic for your PhD dissertation

Once you’ve chosen your specialty, think about what you want to write. It could be an assumption that you want to challenge or a problem that hasn’t been addressed yet. It does not have to be perfect right away. So long as you have an idea what to write, then How to Apply for a PhD in India / Abroad Successfully ?you’re good for now.

The problem with most PhD students is that they start their PhD with over-ambitious projects. The key is to simply boil down your ideas into one central research question.

If you can’t think of an idea, try to investigate old research projects or read through several dissertations. This helps you explore interesting topics that you can start writing later on.

Step 4: Research for a potential supervisor

I’m sure you’re feeling a little tedious now after reading through the tips. I can totally understand if you feel like the process of applying for PhD is difficult. But the hard truth is that getting a PhD is absolutely rocket science. There is no shortcut to success. Remember all Good things are hard to achieve. So is your PhD

If there’s one thing I can promise you – that is I’m going to make it sound simpler. So once How to Apply for a PhD in India / Abroad Successfully ?you have chosen a topic, the next thing you must do is to find a potential supervisor. You will be working with this person throughout the actual writing process that is why you need to find someone that you’ll be comfortable with.

Research on the person’s history and experience in handling a similar thesis project. Is your supervisor an established academe? Does he have a good track record? Is he strict? How many students is he handling right now?

Gather as much information as you can to prepare yourself once you meet this person. Also, it’s a good time to think about what to expect from your PhD supervisor and the kind of support you’ll be getting based on his record.

Step 5:  Send a “formal” application to your supervisor

A PhD supervisor can probably handle just 5 to 10 students per semester. It is important that you reserve your slot by contacting your prospect.

Now, I have put emphasis on the word “formal” application because I don’t want you to send a generic email. The people you’ll be dealing with are professionals. They get dozens of emails every day saying “Sir, can you please be my supervisor?” or “Sir, can you please take a look at my thesis?” Unfortunately, these are the types of emails that go to trash.

Every now and then, I advise students to craft a formal letter to get noticed. Below is an example of a really good email that will surely grab the attention of your potential supervisor.

Dear Dr. Rajesh Goyal,

I’ve read your journal about Bio-Chemistry with focus on the molecular function of the latest medication for hypertension and it fits well with my research interest. I’m sure you can give me the best input regarding the subject matter and I want you to become my thesis supervisor.

Kind regards,

With this example, you will see how sincere the student is. Considering every supervisor’s highly reputable profession, sending formal letters is also one way of showing respect.

Step 6: Follow up with phone or email

Stop wasting time pondering on several reasons why your supervisor has not replied. Assuming they are busy, it’s still your responsibility to make a follow-up.

The best time to follow up with your application is within two weeks. As you note, they’re frequently busy and you can’t expect them to reply within three days. But this doesn’t mean that your application has been turned down. The following is a perfect example of a follow-up email.

Dear Dr Goyal,

I wrote to you on the 15th of March requesting you to become my supervisor on my investigative research in Bio-Chemistry regarding the molecular function of the alternative medication for hypertension. I would really appreciate it if you could reply to this email and let me know your thoughts on this matter.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Kind regards,

Step 7: Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Getting in touch with your PhD advisor is just the first step of the PhD application process. You will be meeting more people in the university such as the admission staff, lecturers, head of the graduate school, and research department.

Most of these people are thrilled to help you put together a successful PhD application. So make sure that you clear your mind from doubts and understand every detail of your PhD program by asking relevant questions.

Step 8: Completely fill up the application form

This may sound pointless for many of you but everything can go up or down from your application form. Majority of students who don’t fill up application forms properly often get overlooked.

For a stellar application form, make sure that you completely fill up all the important hotspots such as the Education and Qualifications, Employment History, Interest and Achievements, and Personal Statement, Statement of Purpose etc

When you apply for a PhD, candidates are shortlisted based on the application form and interviewing only comes second. So it is important that you’ve laid down all important information in the application for you to gain entry and proceed to the next step.

Step 9: Spend enough time on your actual application

If you’re in a rush, just think of this – your application is your gateway to your PhD Degree. So make plenty of time to think about your application.

Have you visited your university and talked to your supervisor? Have you carefully compared different research topics and PhD programs? Just be honest with the opportunities you’ve explored. Who knows you might be given better offers because of your impeccable effort.

Lastly, gather positive feedback from the people who know you well. Make sure you choose the right people as your reference and apprise them of your PhD application, so they can prepare something in advance.

Step 10: Start thinking about your career

We all know that not all PhD graduates go to the academia. There is only 50 percent of those who successfully finished their PhD who choose to become professors. The other half goes to other areas like policy work, non-government organizations, and private entrepreneurship.

How to Apply for a PhD in India / Abroad Successfully ?Getting a PhD might seem a long way but it’s good to have a vision of what your future will be. This will help define your direction as a PhD student.

So there you go. Knowing these 10 tips would be an immense importance not only for effectively completing your PhD application but also for a successful post-graduate journey. Good luck with your application and I hope that you’ll get what your heart desires. Got Questions? Shoot them to us in the comments below.


Shekhar Suman is the Co-founder of BioTecNika Info Labs Pvt. Ltd. He is an Entrepreneur, Writer, Public Speaker, and a Motivational Coach. In his career, he has mentored more than 100,000+ students toward success in the Biopharma Industry. He heads the BioTecNika Group, which comprises,, and An avid reader and listener who is passionate about BioSciences. Today Biotecnika is India's largest Biotech Career portal, with over 5 Million subscribers from academia & Industry. It's ranked among the top 50 websites worldwide in the Biology category.


  1. Hello,
    This was really a good article to begin with. I read through the entire process and I have two questions to ask:
    1. I am applying for a PhD abroad and have also qualified IELTS and GATE Life Sciences 2018. Many professors tell me that you shouldn’t really be specific about the topic for PhD. Just take up any damn topic you are given and complete your doctoral degree. Later, opt for specialisation for the post-doctoral position. Now, this has two major flaws-
    A. What if after pursuing PhD, I decide to opt for a post-doctoral studies in a lab which has my topic of interest (very specific), but requires me to have worked with those kind or related research during my PhD?
    B. What if I don’t get to do a post-doc after my PhD due to ‘n’ number of issues or I decide to take up some position elsewhere? I mean who has seen the future? Why and with what confidence should I go for ‘any damn’ topic just because I am being offered a seat for PhD?
    2. The other few Principal Investigators I have worked with tell me that PhD is like a marriage between you and your supervisor. So take up the topic only if you are 100% comfortable with the topi, and also the PI, because you are going to have to deal with him/ her for next 4-5 years. I am of a similar opinion. But once you have met these 2 kinds of researchers, you tend to go in a dilemma and anxiety.
    I will be highly obliged if you could suggest something in this regard! Its high time that students like us get the right guidance.


  2. Hello sir how to prepare SOP and CV for Bioinformatics PhD positions where the offer of the position is based on the research experience and not need of GRE or any other exams.
    Thank you

  3. I’am an student and I feel that I have an big range of the subjects/area that I like. I’am not able to decide specifically. How do we figure that out? And by when should we be ready with the choice of our specific area of interest?
    And can you also give some information about about the funds/fellowships process?

  4. Hi Siddesh,
    you are absolutely right, you should only do a PhD in a topic that you are interested. It takes 4 to 5 years to finish a PhD and you need to be really motivated to pursue this research. Also, once you finish you would most likely be looking at continuing post-doctoral work in the same field or if not an associated field, so it really affects the quality of your career. So don’t pick up “any research field”, choose wisely. the “IELTS” exam is to determine your student-visa, it has nothing to do with your scholarship. The chances of you getting a PhD scholarship would likely be determined by the university based on your publications and on your marks on the Masters degree. Your supervisor will know about scholarship opportunities, so I would highly recommend contacting them and the university’s graduate centre about it. Places like IDP, India will also have more information about PhD applications and Universities. All the best

    • Thanks Harsha for your reply, valuable advice and wishes. Would definitely remember that and work towards it! I have two questions though:
      If I have a good research background, academic achievements and research experience, would it still be mandatory to have a publication? Because at this point,I am aiming and working towards one, but its impossible for that to get in the journal before I get into admissions. So would my application be solely rejected due to lack of a publication?


  5. Hello Sir,
    I am Niru Shaw and i have completed my M.Sc in Microbiology in 2014 and had qualified ICAR NET in 2016. Now i want to do Phd in microbiology field and i am not getting any idea about where to start ar what to do? Can you pmease guide me regarding my problem.
    Thank you

    • Dear Niru,
      You can apply to various institutes associated with ICAR like IARI, IVRI, NIHSAD. NIHSAD is great if you want to pursue career in the field of infectious diseases.

      All the best,

  6. Hellow sir,
    In step 5 you told that send formal application to your supervisor in this formal application where I have add my basic detail like quantification or any experience ?? I confuse about this………


  7. Respected sir,
    The article on “How to apply for PhD program in India and abroad” was really informative and gave me a pretty good idea of what I will be dealing with and what is expected of me to before enrolling for one. It would be really helpful if you could also throw light upon what is expected in a “Statement of purpose” for such applications.
    Hoping for a follow up article on the same.
    Thank you.

  8. Hello Sir, I am Reshma and i have completed my M.Sc in Bioinformatics . I’m interested in Genomics and wish to do my phd in that, i have no idea where to start ? and can i switch to wet lab bcz i not much familiar with lab techniques as i have done my master’s in bioinformatics. can you suggest something in this regard.
    Thank you

  9. Hello sir,
    Whether I can get any fellowship or stipend while doing phD.

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