How to Do PhD Abroad in 2024?
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How to Do PhD Abroad in 2024?

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Priya
Priya Garg
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Dec 28, 2023 18:08 IST

A PhD is a continuously rewarding career, given the possibility of constant self-development. But have you ever wondered how to do PhD abroad? If you are still confused about your chances of doing a PhD abroad, then this blog may help you get through any of your confusion. The blog draws a roadmap on how to get doctorate abroad.

How to Do PhD

Earning a PhD abroad is a thrilling experience - pushing the boundaries of knowledge and shaping a rewarding future. While studying abroad and doing a PhD can be challenging, it brings with it the international twist that amplifies your overall PhD experience by immersing you in diverse cultures, perspectives, and academic excellence.

Starting your PhD abroad might sound interesting. But how do you get a PhD abroad remains a daunting question over the years among students. This is especially the case when pursuing a PhD in your home country requires you to only qualify for the standardised National Eligibility Test like UGC NET and CSIR NET. This blog comes as a rescue to help student sort out their confusion on how to do PhD abroad. But first, let us understand what is PhD.

Check: Top PhD Scholarships for Indian Students to Study Abroad

What is PhD?

The PhD degree stands for the Doctor of Philosophy. A PhD degree is the highest attainable academic degree. A student enrolled on a PhD degree goes through years of intensive study, independent research, and results analysis and concludes their work by creating original knowledge relevant to the field. 

A PhD requires you to invest your time and bring in your best work. Towards the end of your PhD, you are required to put all your research findings over the years in a dissertation. A dissertation is the most important aspect of doing a PhD. It is a written document that presents your findings contributing to the field of study. Check out in detail about What is PhD?

Why Doing a PhD Abroad is Better?

Whether doing a PhD abroad is better than doing it in your home country depends on individual goals, circumstances, priorities, and other factors. Both routes bring with them unique advantages and challenges, so, a student must weigh all the parameters based on their preferences. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of doing a PhD abroad. 

Advantages Disadvantages
Exposure to different cultures, people and opinions. Language Barriers and Adjusting to a New Culture
Personal and Professional Growth. Visa and Immigration Hurdles.
Access to High-tech Equipment and Funding. Financial Budget Constraint
Self-dependent attitude and Self-discovery. Distance from Family and Friends.

How Many Years for PhD are invested in Abroad?

The number of years for a PhD depends entirely on your thesis topic, the time required to accomplish the research on your chosen subject, your professor and your university. Alternately, a PhD usually takes 3-6 years either in India or abroad for its completion. Please note that a PhD is considered complete only after your thesis/dissertation is approved by the committee members. 

Read about: Masters vs PhD: Which one is right for you?

How Do You Get a PhD Abroad? | Step-by-Step Guide

Getting a PhD abroad is more complex than getting a bachelor’s/master’s degree abroad.

One needs to invest a major portion of their daily routine in their thesis project. Students also need to regulate their mental health which often gets weakened due to overwhelming stress and anxiety that comes due to peer pressure, meeting the submission deadlines, cultural change and a large proximity from their loved ones.  

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Before knowing how to get a PhD degree abroad, one must determine their research interests and goals. The decision to choose the research path is holistic. Before applying for a PhD abroad, ask yourself what you want to do for the rest of your life and will pursuing a research program give you happiness and satisfaction. Once you are clear with your choices, go on finding out how do you get a PhD abroad. 

The steps on how to obtain a PhD abroad are given below. 

  1. Evaluate your profile as per the field of research you are interested in. You will be required to make a thesis proposal mentioning your interests clearly along with discussing your research plan for the entire duration. You are required to briefly explain your research interest and how you are planning to go about it.
  2. The next step requires you to look for countries where you can find similar research projects as your chosen research fields. 
  3. Once you determine which country is it that you want to go to for your PhD, shortlist some universities that have the best projects ongoing within your research field. Look out for a professor (referee) with similar projects and whose research interests align with your requirements. 
  4. Reach out to your favourite professor or referee with your research proposal and research plan and extend your request to do a PhD under their supervision and guidance. Your referee may ask you for additional documents or information such as your college mark sheets, the total number of years of education, scores of any required language test and any previously published research work (if any). Based on these, the professor will accept or reject your research proposal to do a PhD at their esteemed lab/institution.
  5. Once the referee approves your research request, you will be required to apply for a PhD on the university’s website.
  6. If your application gets selected, apply for a student visa and passport, and look for suitable accommodations or ask for one within the university. You can reach out to your university counsellor for the same. 

Eligibility Criteria to Do a PhD Abroad

The general eligibility criteria to pursue a PhD abroad are given below.

  1. The student must have completed a 4 years bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in the relevant subjects. 
  2. Age is not a limitation while applying for a PhD abroad. This means that a person can get a PhD abroad without worrying about their age. 
  3. The applicant must be fluent in English or in another local language of the country that they are applying to. For this purpose, several universities ask for qualifying scores in the desired language test. 
  4. The applicant must get qualifying scores in the GMAT/GRE. Please note the subject-specific marks requirements of each university may vary as per the subjects you choose for your PhD.

Selection Criteria

Getting into the field of research abroad is quite competitive as the number of applications received each year exceeds the required number of applications at each institution. For this reason, every university abroad lists its own set of selection criteria. Candidates are advised to check the selection criteria with their chosen universities.

The general selection criteria for getting a PhD abroad are given below. 

  1. Timely submission of the application is the first preference. Candidates who submit all the required documents timely along with their applications are considered over others. For this reason, start preparing to apply for a PhD a year in advance.
  2. As a rule, there can be no more than 5 students working on the same research project. So, the university selects the best 5 applications for the same project/department (if there are that many vacancies).
  3. Any previously published research works or other collaborative work gives an added advantage to your application. 

Documents Required

The documents may vary based on the country, university and subject that you choose for your PhD. The list of documents required for applying to do PhD abroad is given below.  

  1. A copy of the master’s degree obtained from a recognised university with a minimum of 55% marks in aggregate (or a high GPA). 
  2. GRE scores - check the qualifying marks required by the university you are applying to.
  3. English proficiency test scores (an overall score of 6.5 and a 6.0 grade point in all the sections for IELTS, 90 for TOEFL (iBT) OR other regional language proficiency test scores.
  4. 2-3 Letters of Recommendation (LORs)
  5. Thesis Statement/Statement of Purpose (SOP)/Research Proposal
  6. Previous research work - if you have published a research paper earlier, mention that in your application as this will boost your chances of getting selected.
  7. An updated resume 
  8. Other academic transcripts from school and college.

Please note that the qualifying scores for any of the tests may vary, please check the same with your university for eligibility.

Top 5 Countries to Do PhD Abroad

The best 5 countries for doing a PhD along with the average annual cost of PhD are given in the table below. 

Country Average Annual Cost of PhD
USA From ₹ 0 to ₹ 53 L
UK From ₹ 13 L to ₹ 29 L
Germany From ₹ 0 to ₹ 13 L
Ireland From ₹ 7 L to ₹ 28 L
Canada From ₹ 5 L to ₹ 44 L

Please note, the fee is subject to change each year, thus, applicants should be cautious and double-check before applying to any of the countries abroad for a PhD. 

Know more about PhD Abroad

PhD Study in Canada: All you need to know PhD Scholarships in the UK for Indian Students
All about PhD in the UK for Indian Students Guide to PhD Programs in Germany

For admission-related queries, sign up for free counselling at Shiksha Abroad Counselling and request a call back from our team of expert counsellors. 

How to Do PhD FAQs

Q. Is there any age limit for doing a PhD abroad?

A. No, there is no age limit for students applying to get a PhD abroad.

Q. Which exams are required to do a PhD abroad?

A. One must qualify for the GRE General and GRE Subject exams to do a PhD abroad. Along with these, the student will also be required to qualify for the language-specific standardised proficiency tests.

However, the English language proficiency test can be waived if the student has received their school education in English medium. Students are advised to connect with their university counsellors to learn the university’s policies on waiving the English language Tests. 

Q. How to do PhD after MBA?

A. To do a PhD after an MBA from abroad, one must qualify for the GMAT or GRE. As many universities abroad have a very small acceptance rate of 3-5%, students must create a strong SOP and submit 2-3 LORs from their faculties or industry mentors along with their applications.

Previous experience in the relevant field and published research papers can boost one’s chances of getting selected for the limited number of PhD slots available at global universities. 

Q. How to do PhD after B Tech?

A.One can get a PhD after BTech either directly (by getting your faculty’s recommendation) or by applying for an integrated PhD degree. In either case, the duration of the PhD may range from 3-6 years.  

Q. How to do PhD in abroad with stipend?

A. To get a PhD abroad with a stipend, one must reach out to their professors or course supervisors well in advance and ask about their policies for a PhD stipend. Some universities/professors abroad may ask you to opt for Research Assistantships and Graduate Teaching Assistantships in exchange for the stipend. While others may offer only the studentship rather than a stipend. To secure the funds for your PhD abroad, you can also apply for several scholarships according to your needs and eligibility. 

Q. Which country is the best for doing PhD?

A. The best country for doing a PhD abroad depends entirely on the student’s individual preferences. If your interest is to pursue a fully-funded PhD only then, the USA and Russia are the best choices. However, based on different fields of studies, Israel is considered good for conducting research in natural sciences, Canada for research in STEM subjects, and Japan for business-related courses.

Q. What is the cost of doing a PhD abroad?

A. An Indian student may expect to spend around INR 35,000 to 50 lakhs for doing their PhD abroad. One can also get stipends and lucrative scholarships based on their research proposal and thesis idea to support their PhDs.

Q. How to Do PhD Abroad with Scholarship?

A. Scholarships are provided by both, the university and the government. In most cases, the scholarship is provided by the university along with accepting your application. If you do not receive any scholarship from the university, then you can apply for an external scholarship yourself. These scholarships provide a good amount of funds to support your PhD, given that you fulfil their eligibility criteria. 

About the Author
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Written by
Priya Garg
Study Abroad Expert

Priya Garg is a seasoned content writer and editor. With her rich experience in content writing, teaching and research & analysis, Priya believes in providing only the correct information which is also up-to-date. H... Read Full Bio

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