Haven't heard back from unis regarding PhD application/interview?

J

Hi everyone,

I applied for 3 Astronomy PhD positions in January (at QMUL, UCL and Imperial) but I haven't heard anything back from them yet about an interview. I can track my application through their portals but all it says is 'decision pending' or 'under assessment'. I know interviews are normally held at the start of March and the deadline for STFC funding is the end of March, should I be worried that I haven't heard anything?

A

Hi Jhowell,

I've applied to two UK institutions and had one interview in December. I didn't receive any interview invitation from the other university so I thought I didn't get a place even though the application status kept showing 'decision pending' for several months. But a few days ago I heard back from them and received their offer. Unless it has been stated clearly there's an interview, I guess different universities have different timelines, and maybe the pandemic has slowed things down for them as well. I hope this helps a little! God luck!

Avatar for rewt

You can't be certain either way. Every university has their own timeline and it can take several months. It has only been a month which is quite a short time period for the university bureaucratic juggernaut. Though you could politely email the admissions staff for an update. Most admissions teams will give you an update as to what stage it is; still shortlisting, waiting on academic, rejection etc. However, I would wait a month or two before doing that as it is still early.

J

Thank you both.

I still haven't heard back from any of the universities and I think considering the deadline to accept an STFC funded studentship is 31 March, I probably would have been notified of an interview by now if my application was successful.

I was wondering if you could offer up some advice:

I graduated from my integrated master's degree in 2018 with a low 2.1 (62% or 63% - I can't remember exactly), but with strong results in my dissertation (module code shows that it was a master's level dissertation), master's research project, another research project in my second year and computing projects (at master's level). After this, I went on to do a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) but found the behaviour in inner-London schools too hard to cope with so I now work in the education team at the Institute of Physics. I manage a research project into children's misconceptions and a couple of websites, along with various other responsibilities; however, it is not all that relevant to astrophysics research.

I can't afford to do another master's degree and I'm not aware of any research internships open to people who have already graduated and entered the workplace. Do you have any ideas for how I could improve my application for next year?

Avatar for rewt

You can still email them and ask. The admission teams are used to people asking and will share what they can. There is nothing lost asking for a final confirmation.

Quote From Jhowell:
so I now work in the education team at the Institute of Physics. I manage a research project into children's misconceptions and a couple of websites, along with various other responsibilities; however, it is not all that relevant to astrophysics research.


You will be surprised how highly scientific outreach is valued. Universities compete over lecturers who can/willing do outreach activities to teach the public about their research. I am not sure how they rate outreach during the PhD admissions process but being able to engage children about science is a very useful skill in the long term.

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