self funded how to contact supervisor


======= Date Modified 19 Sep 2012 14:08:17 =======

after trying to apply for funded phds for a year i havent had any offers and am thinking of self funding.

Most of the websites i go to say that i have to find and contact a supervisor in a subject area im interested in... iv got  an msc in human genetics only a Pass grade and want to do something in stem cells but dont exactly know should i contact a supervisor and what should i say..should i send my personal statement and cv???

p.s i want to do the phd around london as i live here and my living expenses would be lower.


If you know the university you want to undertake the PhD - contact their post graduate office and they will tell you if you have to send the supervisor your proposal. On the other hand you can check the university's website for potential supervisor's email address and contact him or her directly.


Here's a link to some self funded PhDs in London, in the area of Stem Cells: might be useful!


======= Date Modified 20 Sep 2012 13:37:21 =======
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but unless you are ridiculously wealthy then there is no way you could self fund a biomedical lab based PhD. Aside from tuition fees and living costs, if a lab doesn't have the funds for a student then there is the issue of bench/reagent costs. Cell culture is expensive and an intensive project could well cost £10-30,000 a year in lab costs.

I suggest as a first step, you get good honest advice from a careers service as to why your applications to date have been unsuccessful. It could be something about your approach to the application form, interviews or how you present your CV. It could be due to lack of experience - how much lab work have you done outside of your courses?

It is highly unusual for lab science PhD students to be taken on for a project that isn't already advertised. Certainly if you contact a supervisor with no firm idea of a project proposal, it's unlikely to be successful. It would be better to develop a relationship with a potential supervisor by working for them as a research assistant/technician, and developing a project proposal over time that can then be written into a grant etc. It'll also give you a better idea of whether or not this is something you really want to pursue, before making such a big commitment.

Finally, think hard about why you want to do a PhD. If it's because you want a career in academia, be aware that a lack of funding at PhD stage might hinder you in the future. It may be better to focus right now on addressing whatever is holding you back from being successful in your applications.

Good luck.


Just to add that I suspect when there are advertised lab projects for 'self funding' students, the assumption is that the student is bringing funding from their government or some kind of scholarship/fellowship. I've never come across a biomedical science student who funded a PhD from their own pocket.


Thanks for the replies
Iv saved up around £30,000 i was a bit worried about the lab costs...i do get accepted to interview stage (4 times although iv been applying for a year) but never make it through... a lot of the forums are saying getting funding has become very competitive and i thought since i got a pass grade marks (59) although from a good university (imperial college) i might not have a chance for getting accepted the funded route.


Work experience and connections can make up for any shortcomings in qualifications. I really would urge you to get some practical experience first and see if you can develop working relationships which might enable you to get funding in the future.

Alas, £30,000 might not see you through the living costs and fees for 3 years, let alone any further costs. It would also be difficult for you to undertake further work once the PhD begins.

Do get some advice on interview technique, because clearly your CV/applications are strong enough to get interviews. But think carefully about whether it might be wise to hold off until you have some more experience under your belt.


Hi. Try to find a supervisor who is interested / specialised in your field.Do not give too much info- I had an idea taken and given to another student. Also find the right Uni-- the review done by their ethics committee is important and they need to agree with your approach. I emailed them in the past; some I knew already. Just tell them the broad subject that interests you. they will ask to meet you if interested. You do not need to do it where you live. Can be done via email or occassional meetings. Thanks.


Would also support HazyJane's comment about not going for a PhD that isn't funded. When it comes to life afterwards, it can put you far behind your peers, as there is a bit of an unspoken stigma to self funding.


I'd have grave concerns about self-funding because that's a lot of money to invest in a PhD (added to the money you'll not be able to earn because you're busy doing a PhD) and PhD's are not always useful or take you to where you hope to go. Please give the advice you've been given serious consideration.