Doctoral Programs

Prepare for Doctoral Programs

Pursuing a PhD is a big endeavor. Most programs take over five years to complete and the academic route frequently requires additional years of postdoctoral research before acquiring an assistant professorship. If you are interested in doctoral studies, there are a few things to keep in mind as your prepare.  

You will want to illustrate an upward trend in your GPA as you begin to take more specialized classes. Maintaining your GPA as you challenge yourself with upper level courses will also be important.

Build relationships with professors, PIs, and advisors who can give you advice and later advocate for you in a letter of recommendation. One on one meetings are an ideal time for your future recommender to get to know you, your interests, and your abilities. Understand that it is critical to receive a recommendation from someone you have conducted research with.

Gain Research Experience

A key component of a strong application to doctoral programs is research experience. As an undergraduate at MIT, you can participate in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Seek summer research programs beyond at MIT at other universities or national labs. Research experience not only prepares you for graduate school, it’s also a good gauge for how much you will enjoy pursuing a PhD.

Take the GRE

Depending on your areas of study, you may need to take the general GRE and a subject area test. Your academic advisor will be able to give you more information about the graduate admissions standards of your discipline. ETS, administrators of the GRE, offer an official prep book that include full-length practice tests pulled from older exams. Many students have found taking practice tests to be the most helpful method of preparation for standardized testing, but if you seek more structure, there are classes available through test prep companies.