Find your perfect PhD program in Europe

Juhi Singh

Juhi Singh

I am theoretical physics PhD student at University of Cologne, Germany. I am working in the field of Quantum Optimal Control Theory. Before my PhD, I completed my M.Sc. Physics from Pune University, India.


Congratulations you have been selected for the Ph.D. position

This is a phrase that every Ph.D. aspirant wants to read in their inbox. With more and more advancements in technologies and the need for interdisciplinary research, the competition for funded PhD positions in countries of Europe is rising abruptly. Europe is becoming the largest hub for researchers because of its academic flexibility and research qualities.

Many of the undergrad or graduate students wish to pursue their PhD abroad like in the US, Europe, Singapore, Australia, etc. But they are either confused about the application process or overwhelmed with the selection of universities and their requirements.

Here, I will explain the process of how applying to European universities is totally different and easy compared to US universities.

You need to follow the below-mentioned steps to get your dream research career.

Decide your subject/topic of interest

Unlike US PhD programs, for applying in Europe you need to decide your research interest in advance. Deciding on the topic does not mean that you have to decide your whole research plan but just your sub-field of interest. For example, if you want to do research in Physics, you should have been your mind some subfield like particle physics, semiconductor physics, quantum field theory, etc. This helps in applying for only the relevant positions from the pool of vacancies.

Prepare necessary documents

Next, prepare the documents for applying for the positions at the beginning itself and keep updating them as per the position requirements. The two most important documents other than your academic certificates are CV and motivation or cover letter. Mention your background, research interests, and skills relevant for the position in your motivation letter. Try to keep it as precise (1-2 pages) and informative as possible. There is no need for any English language proficiency certificate like TOFEL/ILETS for PhD in any European country except the UK.

Letter of recommendations

This may sound a bit difficult task to do but with the right attitude, you can get it done easily. You will need 2-3 reference/recommendation letters for applying to a particular position. For this talk to your current Professors/project guides and let them know that you are applying for this field and ask them politely if they can give you a strong and positive recommendation. Make sure that you only ask Professors with whom you have a good academic impression and they know about you a bit. It will help them to write a positive reference for you.

Look for the open positions or contact the Professors

Now you are all set to start applying for your dream positions. Unlike US application rounds, in Europe, you will find open positions all year round. You can apply in two different ways for your position of interest. One way is to directly contact the professors with whom you want to work on your thesis. For this search through the university websites and/or professors’ lab page and see if they have posted for any opening in their group. Even if there is no current opening, you can directly send an email to the professor and ask them if they can give you some position of your interest. Make sure to personalize the email as per the position. Professors receive hundreds of emails that look irrelevant to them as students send the same email to every university.

Another way for finding positions is by looking into some general websites where all the open PhD and post-doc positions are posted frequently. Below I have mentioned some of them: 

  2. [ Mostly for positions in the UK] 
  4. [only for quantum computing-related positions] Depending on the application process mentioned in the vacancy description, either send an email with all you documents or apply to the link given there.

Wait for the outcome and prepare for the interview

After one or two weeks of the application deadline, the recruiters start sending interview invitations to selected candidates. Do not stop after applying to only one position. Keep applying to several positions of your interest as sometimes it takes 30-50 applications to get 3-4 interview calls. Keep preparing for the interview in the meantime as well.

Wait for your chance for interview

Perform with your best confidence and knowledge on ‘THE’ Day. They will keep you posted about the progress of the application and/or if they want to conduct another round of interview

After filtering through all the applicants they will send the offer letter/email to the suitable candidate. If you have received this email, Boom! You just got one of your dream jobs. Yes! It is a well-paid job where you will do research on your field of interest.

I hope this helps all the PhD aspirants.


5 thoughts on “Find your perfect PhD program in Europe”

    1. It’s mostly depends on the group and professor. But if it below average than it can certainly create a bad impression about the candidate’s credibility.

  1. Thank you for this informative post. I have a question. Do they provide scholarship and if yes, what is the duration of schoalrships?

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