Steps to Completing a PhD Application Process
Steps to Completing a PhD Application Process
Going through the PhD admission process can be a challenging, time consuming process. Applying for admission to a graduate program is no different than applying for any job. It requires that one prepare a great resume, cover letter and interview well in order to win the position or get accepted.

PhD Application Process

There are several key steps when you cover for a PhD Application Process.  

For starters, be prepared for these basic steps below: 

  1. Look for Research Projects: 

Identify research areas that align with your research interest. 

  • This should be done by thinking about all topics, courses, projects, recent publications, recurring questions or experiences that have caught your curiosity over the past year. 

  • Note: If you have difficulty finding a research topic that interests you, read our guide to choosing a research topic. 

  • Once you have a better understanding of your preferred research area, browse through PhD listings. the ‘postgraduate research degree’ and ‘research centre’ sections of a university’s website if you already have a particular one in mind. 

  • This is probably the most important thing to consider before you apply to PhD programmes given you will be working on your project for the next three to eight years – make sure not to rush it. 

  • Note: If you intend to study part time or via distance learning, make sure to check the university offers this option as not all do. 

2. Contact Potential PhD Supervisors 

  • If you are proposing your own research project, which is usually the case with a self-funded postgraduate programme, you will need to find your own potential supervisor. 

  • The best way to find a suitable PhD supervisor is to review the staff profiles on the department’s webpage and examine the topics they have published before.  

  • This will help you decide whether their research interests coincide with yours. Outside of research interests, there are other aspects you will want to look for.  

  • Such as their level of support and patience, and how successful their former students have been.  

  • For further information on this, you can learn how to find a good PhD supervisor here. 


Online Application Form - PhD Application Process 

Once you have found a research programe you are interested in, most universities will require you to make a formal application via their online application portal.  

The below outlines the supporting documentation you will likely require when completing your online application form. 

Qualifications and Transcripts: 

If you have completed your studies, you will be asked to provide original or certified copies of your academic qualifications. 

  1. Academic CV 

  • An academic CV outlines your contact details, academic background and relevant experience in your PhD Application.  


  1. Cover Letter 

An academic cover letter can be requested alongside your CV. An academic cover letter explains why you are applying for the particular PhD project.  

Why you are a strong candidate for the position and what you can offer the department as a research student.  

  1. Personal Statement 

Instead of a cover letter, you may be asked to submit a personal statement. A personal statement is a short document describing your interest in the research programe and explaining why you believe you are suitable for it. 

  1. Research Proposal 

  • Most universities will require you to submit a research proposal, especially if you are not applying to a pre-determined research project.