So you’ve decided to apply to a PhD program, and are now trying to figure out a best path forward. It can be an extremely stressful time as you balance finishing classes, finding and applying to programs, and work. I was finishing up my master’s thesis during the application period, while also working part-time to save up for the eventual move. I’ll give you some of my strategies on how I applied to PhD programs as a first-generation international student. Decide on a research area A PhD program will train you to do original research in your area of interest. Your first year will usually consist of taking graduate courses related to your area of research. You will learn to conduct literature review, find the gap in your area of interest, develop research questions you want to answer, conduct experiments to answer those questions, and write and defend a dissertation

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