How do you get into a PhD Program?

The School of Graduate Research at RMIT is holding a PhD information session for prospective students. I have to present. So - what do people wish they had known before they applied for a PhD? I asked Twitter and then went to lunch. When I got back there was so much Twitter goodness I had to share!


  1. Ask #phdchat and you will receive....
  2. Wisely, many students pointed out the importance of the supervisor / student relationship. This is true: getting along, having mutal interests and being able to communicate is shown to contribute to student success:
  3. The relationships can be much less straightforward than you would think...
  4. How do you know who is the 'right' supervisor for you? Well - ask another student! Some supervisors have their current students listed on the webpage.
  5. Approaching potential supervisors is often part of the 'unofficial' process, but little talked about....
  6. Our offical RMIT policy is to contact the HDR co-ordinator in the school, rather than the supervisor directly.... but other universities are different. So what if you are in this position?
  7. I recommend a polite letter by email with a 300 word abstract of your proposed research and contact details. It helps if you have read some of the potential supervisor's work too - shows you are interested in having a relationship. And don't bother calling on the phone! What should the letter and the research proposal look like? It can be hard to know, but this is a good idea:
  8. That last piece of advice is super useful, but previous applications can be very hard to source... I recommend the book: Graduate School: strategies for getting in. Here is a testimonial!