YPOV: Choose the Right PhD Program | AIChE

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YPOV: Choose the Right PhD Program


Applying to doctoral programs can seem like a daunting task. But doing your research and staying organized can help you earn an acceptance letter from a quality school.

Before you start any applications, you need to establish your career objectives or research interests. Earning a PhD will take a minimum of four years, so you must choose a program that matches your goals, will hold your interest, and will put you on the right path for the career you want.

First, learn as much as possible about the field you want to pursue, as well as the leading professionals in that field, by reading journal articles and searching online. Stephanie Culler, Sr. Research Scientist II at Genomatica, suggests starting this process early. “I started looking into graduate programs around my second year of college,” she says.

Reach out to individuals in the field you are considering and conduct informational interviews. This will help you get a feel for your desired field, and will give you a better idea whether you really want to put the effort into earning a PhD.

Follow your research interests. Before you start submitting applications, begin with a broad search of programs in your field. Look for programs that excite or inspire you. Start a pros and cons list for each school and update it continually.

“I applied to seven different graduate schools — some reaches, some safety schools, and others in between — a lot like applying to colleges for your undergraduate...

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