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How can I gain further research experience prior to applying for PHD programs?
B

My plan is to apply for a PHD in 2022 in the field and discipline of International Relations – I have some ballpark area’s of study in my mind, although they are not clearly defined yet.

My last academic studies was in the year 2014-2015, when I completed an M.A. in International Security and Conflict studies. Since then I have been working in business development jobs which are completely irrelevant to my studies. However, the idea of returning to academia has always appealed to me and come next year I feel I will be at a time and stage in my life where I am ready to start applying for PDH programs.

I really need to develop some research experience in the next 6-12 months though – it has been six years since my Masters, after all. Therefore my focus for the next few weeks is to discover methods and opportunities by which I can build my research experience and increase the chances of a successful PHD application.

I have a couple of ideas on how I want to go about this:

- Pitching to universities and professors to see if there are any voluntary research positions going

- Researching journals/think tanks etc to see if there are any voluntary or even internship positions going, and sending speculative CV’s/cover letters if not.

My guess though is that there are many many others in the same boat as me who will be doing the same. I am curious how I could separate myself from others, and also if anyone can suggest any other avenue’s worth trying.

Thank you!

Some general inquiries about a PHD..
B

28 year old male, turning 29 in one week. European based and looking to do a PHD in Europe, probably in the Nordic countries, Germany, or Netherlands. I have always had an ‘academic’ side to me, enjoy researching and writing since a young age, have a genuine interest in certain subjects, and close relatives and friends think a PHD would suit me.

My B.A. was in Sociology which I received a first class honors in. My M.A. was in International Security and Conflict Studies which I received a 2.1 honors degree in. Aside from that, I have done a small bit of research for an N.G.O on re-building societies destroyed by war/violence, and also wrote a couple articles for a non-governmental website. But nothing special really.

Since finishing my M.A. in 2015 I have had general work experience unrelated to my field of study, moved to a new country, currently working in Sales with a really good company and defined career path…. But not entirely sure if it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life and need to start giving the PHD option some serious thought

In regards to what I want to do my PHD in, I’m not entirely sure. Something in relation to peacekeeping/conflict resolution/the dynamics of armed groups and the disarming process would perhaps be a field I’m into. Criminology and the relation between poverty and crime is another potential area.

I do have some general inquiries though on how to get started with the process.

(1) Are there websites I can use to search for PHD programs, or different supervisors, or what is the process of applying?

(2) When do PHD programs in these countries typically begin, and when do I need to start applying?

(3) I got a 1st class honors in my B.A., 2.1 in my M.A. But my M.A. dissertation was quite poor and I’m afraid it will go against me. How difficult is it to get into a PHD program, and what can I do in the short-medium term to increase my chances of getting accepted into one?

(4) Is it possible to live alone on a PHD stipend? I’m at that stage in life where I feel I need my own space, and would like to think it’s possible to afford renting my own apartment while doing a PHD but also need to be realistic.

(5) Finally… is it worth it? Sure I know people will say ‘’if you love what you’re researching and care about it, it’s worth it.’ But I’m in a comfortable job now which pays well in a growing industry, where there is a defined career path for me, and which I do enjoy even though it’s not 100% ‘me’. A PHD will involve a significant salary drop, a few years of financial insecurity, a few years of working towards a never ending thing, then some insecurity when finally in the job market. Part of me thinks it would make more sense just sticking to what I’m doing, forget the PHD, and maybe try to get into journalism and pursue that on the side instead.

Any ways I appreciate all your help in advance!