21 October 2019

Tips for a successful Ph.D. application

Kyle Tan
Ph.D. student in New Zealand

Here are some tips you may want to consider when applying for your Ph.D. in New Zealand

Every Ph.D. candidate will have their unique story of embarking on the research journey. For me, the motivation to pursue a Ph.D. in Aotearoa/New Zealand comes from a variety of sources. 

Other than the strong desire to enhance knowledge in the subject of passion, my primary drive comes from the encouragement of people I met during my honours year.

After completing my honours degree, I was presented with a few opportunities, including taking part in my chief supervisor’s research project. It took a few rounds of consultation with my proposed supervisors to check that I was a suitable candidate before I started the application process.

Here are some tips you may want to consider when applying for your Ph.D. in New Zealand:

1. Have a supervisory panel arranged

While it is not mandatory to have a supervisory panel arranged for Ph.D. applications for some universities, I would recommend that you do as it will increase your success rate. 

Applications without potential supervisors identified will be forwarded to the relevant department to call for interested supervisors, and these often result in a longer assessment time. 

Furthermore, prior communications allow you to develop expectations on your role as a Ph.D. student under the assigned supervisory panel, as well as determining your compatibility with potential supervisors. From there, you can decide on the ideal supervisors to collaborate with throughout your candidature. 

2. Check and keep track of application deadlines

It is important to note that each university in Aotearoa/New Zealand has its own application procedure and selection criteria for Ph.D. students. Keep track of the application deadline. 

The deadline to be aware of includes the university doctoral scholarship deadline, which is usually a separate application from the candidature application. 

Plan ahead and submit your online application depending on when you want to start your study.

3. Prepare the necessary documents

The next step is to prepare the necessary documents such as academic transcripts, an English proficiency test (if you're not from an English-speaking country), referee reports, and statements of research for online applications.

It may be possible to ask potential supervisors to review your statement of research before you submit an application. Keep in mind that the research description should be concise, yet detailed enough to cover the essential information such as research aim, intended methodology and research outcome. 

I wish all applicants who wish to begin their Ph.D. journey in Aotearoa/New Zealand good luck, and may you enjoy this country as much as I do!

Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou (warm greetings to everyone)

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About the contributors
Kyle Tan
Ph.D. student in New Zealand