At the first time I applied PhD programme, I got confused which one I should apply first, the scholarship or the offer/acceptance letter from the University? Actually, you can do both in the same time. But in my opinion, if I were the owner of scholarship foundation, I wouldn’t give my scholarship to person who doesn’t have any eligible proof to make me sure that he/she will going to take a higher study. Well, you can think conversely, once I had an email reply from Professor XX in Univ YY, he required a financial letter to prove my funding at the first we chatted, even though I haven’t submit any application yet in his University. That time, I couldn’t give him any letters yet, so he dumped me *sad*.
That’s why, you can do that in both ways, never give any limitations to yourself. Here they are the documents that will be required through your PhD applications process. Good Luck!
– English translation of your undergraduate and master certificates and transcripts (mandatory)
Please go to the accredited translators to have those eligible translations or you can go to university that issue your academic certificates. In my experience, it took about 3-4 weeks and it can be requested whenever you want. So, I suggest you to have those translations long time before your PhD application due date.
– Referee Letters or Recommendation Letters (mandatory – one is from your master’s supervisor)
Again, never burn the bridges. You should maintain your good relationships with your previous supervisors, both in undergraduate and master degree, because you will never know that they are the most valuable persons in your next education. Please make sure that your supervisors are IT literate, most of good universities will send an email directly to your supervisors and they will be asked to log into their application systems with provided username and password. So, your physical recommendation letters sometimes are no longer required.
– Cover letter (mandatory)
This letter is your first gun. By reading this letter, the proposed professor will have the first impression of you, whether you are just an ordinary applicant or you are the one that they looking for. So, sometimes you need to revise it several times to have the feeling. FYI, the professor is not always available, most of them are really busy with their publications and teaching agenda, moreover it is not only you who sent them offer letter, may be there are hundreds emails in their inbox. That’s why you should catch their attention begin from the email subject. Don’t have a hard feeling if they don’t reply you yet or they ask someone else (secretary) to reply your email. I’ve sent around 50 cover letters before I got my offer letter.
– Curriculum Vitae (mandatory)
There are bunch of websites which provide tutorials about how to make your CV alive *not literally alive*. It has to be concise, detail and simple. Attach your newest and formal photograph in your CV, in case they have abnormal personalities (racism or hate specific religion), they can decide it by the time they look at your CV. My friend suggested me to put my marital status too, may be it also works.
– Personal Statement (mandatory)
This is similar to CV but you have to explain it in paragraphs, please do not write the same things as you wrote in your CV. It needs special skills to make your personal statement speaks ‘more’ than your CV, I don’t think that I can write my personal statement perfectly too, but please ask someone expert to check your sentence, grammar and logical order. You can also find many dos and don’ts in writing personal statement in Google 🙂
– Passport (optional)
As your plan to going abroad, it certainly require an ID proof that is internationally recognized which is Passport. Please obtain your passport as soon as possible 🙂 In some cases they require the passport number and expiry date of your passport, furthermore they ask you to enclose scan image of your passport.
– English proficiency test certificate (optional)
I noted it as an optional requirement, yes it is true, you can still be accepted even you haven’t uploaded your IELTS yet. But, once again, if you are trying to pursue PhD abroad, it is mandatory to have English proficiency test certificate 🙂 at least if your score is below than their minimum requirement, they will ask you to attend English course there based on your score which is not free, of course. If your test score has not been published yet, they will require your TFN number (IELTS).
– Research Proposal (optional)
Emm, well it took a long time for me to decide whether it is mandatory or optional, because usually in my offer letter I prefer attaching CV and Research Proposal. Well, research proposal can help you to find professor that really match with your research preference, but I decided to make it as an optional requirement because in my friend experience, her professor didn’t ask about her research proposal and she has been accepted. But, it is better to you if you already made your research proposal before applying or sending offer letters to professors.
– List of Publications (International preferred)
This is a valid evidence that show your capability of writing publications. Preferable the international publication either in conference or journal. If you already published books, it would be more than better.
– Field of Study (optional)
While Research Proposal tells about the next research you want to do, the field of study consist about the summary of your undergraduate and master theses. May be they want to know the quality of your previous final projects to help them decide whether you are eligible or not.
– Funding Information (optional)
I haven’t this document, so I can’t write much about this 🙂 Later, I will show you once I get it.
– Award Certificates (optional)
Many of universities require distinction degree, previously I didn’t really get what it means. But, several professors call it ‘Cum Laude’ degree, they will be delighted if you can show your distinction or any award certificates you have.
I hope this list can help you to prepare your PhD study 🙂 Keep it in your mind that all documents must be written in English. Best wishes for you!