Most of the students don’t know about the Direct Admissions Process and 5 years PhD programs in United States institutes. This write-up will clear your confusion about the direct admission process and 5 years PhD Programs. This article consists of two parts:

First Part: This guide will help you in acquiring direct admission in US universities on scholarships.

Second Part: You will get to know about the difference between  Fulbright Vs Direct Admissions – USA.

Read it very carefully and share it with other students, so more students can take benefit from this informative write-up.

Guide for Direct Admissions:

  1. We often do not consider USA as an option for higher studies despite that fact that it has the most number of best universities and most of them have a lot of funding.
  2. USA PhD requires GRE and TOEFL (some accept IELTS too) and most of the PhD programs which have even less than decent ranking have fully funded scholarships awarded through fellowships and assistantships. (Here are free online courses on TOEFL & IELTS, Join it and get high score)
  3. Most of the students who ask about PhD in groups, don’t know that for USA PHD programs you don’t need a prior MS degree and you can apply with your 16 years (BS) education. If you have already done MS you can still apply for PhD but mostly the PhD tenure will remain the same.
  4. PhD in USA is almost always 5 years along, logically because most of the students joining such PhD are coming straight after undergraduate degrees, unlike Pakistan and Europe where PhD is done after MS (2 years) mostly for 3 years. So the total period (5 years) is the same but methodology is different. If you can’t or don’t want to study for 5 years after MS then you may not apply to US PhD programs.
  5. Some students ask that after BS we don’t have any considerable research experience, what they don’t know is that PhD schools in US don’t need experience from undergraduates. BUT…. If you plan to apply and still have time, I would advise to make a good research project in final year and a one or two local research publications or conference publications will significantly increase your chances of selection.
  6. PhD in USA mostly doesn’t require you to have prior contact with professors, if you have some contact that is fine but not required. So you will have formal dates for the application intake and deadlines for submissions and selection decisions. Therefore, the process is very smooth but the admission system is on rolling basis i.e. the earlier you apply the better are your chances to get selected and to get a good funding. Admissions normally start around early September and deadlines go up until mid to end of December for most programs (for the next intake, classes start in coming August/September)
  7. Most of the decent PhD programs are by default fully funded, you don’t need to bother about doing some external efforts in most cases. The selection automatically confirms full funding for 5 years.
  8. GRE scores vary by your field and University’s general and subject ranking. However, to get into top 50-100 schools in US (general ranking), approximately 315 is safe for almost 90% schools provided other components of application and your profile is sound enough. Scores of 305+ keep you in the game always and given a good profile can be enough in 70% of the cases.
  9. You should have some clear intent and goals for your research degree, a high quality personal statement and research proposal along with focused recommendation letters can enhance your chances. Also keep in mind that scoring good CGPA is not too tough in US that is why they generally expect the same from applicants. Many schools restrict applications to those who have at least 3.0+ or 3.3+ CGPAs. So if you have got good CGPA then you are already at a degree of advantage. TOEFL is not a very tough exam, anyhow if you have average language skills you must prepare for it as well and try to score at least 100 and ideally 102+.
  10. Don’t forget that even today USA based PhD is the most valued PhD in general if you even come back to Pakistan because USA is perceived as a global leader in education and their quality of research and related facilities are great. So if you intend to apply coming September, you should be done with your GRE and TOEFL maximum by July to Mid-August. Applications for USA schools require a lot of time so the next 2-3 months should just be dedicated for making quality applications. Lastly the application fee is not that cheap but I would say this investment can be very useful in the long run. Normally most of the students apply to at least 6-7 PhD programs in their field in various tier universities that they deem suited to their profile and their interests. So for applications’ fee you must save at least a 100K PKR. For shortlisting universities, you should do homework well before hand. Explore universities and programs with due care. You should only use US based special ranking website namely “US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT National University Rankings”. GRE is not as tough as you feel scared about it, a good preparation requires around 2-3 months of efforts for people who are below average in Maths and English, for those who are good in general Maths and English, a month is enough to cross 310-315 with ease.

Mr. Sohaib has also written an important & informative article on GRE Preparation (Best way to prepare Gre) , Erasmus Mundus Scholarship 2019, Gerneral Internet Searching Guidelines for Higher Education. Must read these Scholarship guidelines, It will help you in many ways.

Fulbright Vs Direct Admissions – USA

  1. Direct admissions don’t have a bond to return back on completion of PhD. Under Fulbright, you have to live in Pakistan for a tenure equal to the tenure of your USA based degree.
  2. Direct MS in USA sometimes can be partially or fully funded but it is not as common as direct PhD. Fulbright MS/PhD are always fully funded.
  3. Under Fulbright you can’t apply to 5 years PhD without already holding an MS degree. After BS you can’t apply to direct 5 years PhD, you need to apply for those programs under Fulbright which offer only separate MS degree. In other words, in direct admission you can go for 5 years PhD right after BS but for Fulbright you can only apply to either 2 years MS (if you have done BS) or PhD if you have done MS (not just BS).
  4. Fulbright doesn’t allow you to choose a university you like and you can only propose your suggested universities in the form etc. Direct admission are more logical as you will normally get into the degree commensurate to your profile.
  5. Related to the 4th point, ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND, Fulbright is not a purely merit based program, they also account for minorities, neglected sectors of society, prefer fields which are vital for Pakistan, your impact as depicted by co-curricular and extra-curriculars/unique research/jobs etc. Direct admissions are always based on merit irrespective of your socio-economic/ethnic/religious background.
  6. You don’t need to apply twice for MS and PhD under direct admissions if you are sure that you need an academic career and PhD is your dream. So you will be saved from costs and efforts of applying again, so one time efforts can be enough for a full package.
  7. Lastly from a behavioral and psychological perspective, there are 2 ways to ace in life, either compete and come on top in a thing chased by many (which has a scope) or make the competition irrelevant by being unique. So if you apply via Fulbright you are competing against many other good applicants and it is a rigorous process while in direct PhD, it is highly likely that you will be competing against very less applicants (because they all will be only from your field and it is less likely that many would be from our region or from Pakistan). So if you are competent, you will be assessed on the basis of your field worth and not on “other” criteria as I mentioned above which are important for Fulbright.

Yes, if you have a BS or MS you can apply for MS or PhD respectively in Fulbright (as a chance) and if you don’t get in then you may prefer direct admissions, especially those who don’t want a PhD and only master degree or they at least don’t want PhD at this stage.

For Fulbright, you can apply in any intake (like the one coming up soon for 2018 and deadlines are normally around end of April or start of May), if your degree ends before the end of same year that is before the end of December 2018 for the upcoming intake.

**You don’t need TOEFL to apply to Fulbright, only if you get selected in first round, they ask you to submit TOEFL score once you are called for Interview. You need only GRE to submit application for Fulbright.

But for direct admissions, GRE and TOEFL both are required to apply before the submission of application.

Muhammad Sohaib Niazi (Erasmus+ MS Scholar)
Erasmus+ Scholar – MS Work, Organizational and Personnel Psychology
HR Professional | Industrial and Organizational Psychologist | Coach | Counselor | Mentor | Writer | Trainer | Consultant

———————————————————–Good Luck—————————————————

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