Thursday, May 10, 2012

PhD Applications

Unlike North America, applying to do a PhD in the social sciences and humanities here in Australia requires lining up a supervisor (=advisor) up front. Therefore, it is more like applying to do a PhD in the natural sciences and engineering in the US. If you don't have a supervisor who is interested we won't take you on as a PhD student. This is despite the fact that at ANU there is significant coursework required in the economics programs, which makes it seem more like a US PhD.* There are some useful tips for PhD applications in this blog post, though this seems a bit too much for an initial approach. I don't need Powerpoint slides, for example. But I do want a CV and grades can be useful too. If you just send an e-mail with no CV I will have to ask you right away for a CV, unless it is really obvious from your letter that you are not suitable. At Crawford, we have an "Expression of Interest" process that tells prospective students what information we need. This is kind of an informal application process (without an application fee), which allows us to assess whether there is a supervisor interested in supervising you and whether you have a chance to be accepted or get funding etc. You can just approach a supervisor directly too, but this gives an idea of the information we are going to need.

Personally, at this stage, I'm only interested in taking on students who are really good, well prepared, and interested in working in an area closely related to my current and future research interests. My recent working papers and this blog can give you an idea about what those are. This is going to result in the best experience for the student in launching a career. A student working on something only vaguely related to what I do is going to get a lot less useful input from me, beyond basic tips on how to do research, and is going to have to be very self-motivated. I won't be helpful in putting them in touch with important people in the field etc.

If you have different skills to me though - for example, you are familiar with some modeling or math techniques other than econometrics - that could be good as we could complement each other.

* I can supervise students in either our economics or our environment programs.

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