Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

You are here Graduates > Explore career options > Postgraduate study > How to find a PhD

How to find a PhD

If you are interested in pursuing a career in an academic or research and development environment, you will find that a PhD is often an essential requirement. Choosing and preparing for the PhD application can be challenging and therefore, take time to prepare. Below, you will find useful information helping you to find a PhD.

National variations

The structure of a PhD varies from country to country and therefore it is important to look at the differences:

  • Ireland/UK: thesis of 80-100,000 words; a private oral examination with varying stringency
  • Nordic Countries: 3 - 5 publications required
  • USA: rotation and advanced courses in addition to research
  • Germany: oral examination on broad range of topics plus research
  • France, Netherlands: Public examination

The Structured PhD in Ireland

  • Original Research
  • Formalised integrated programme of education, training, personal & professional development
  • Discipline specific knowledge, research skills & generic/transferable skills
  • Declared outcomes & graduate attributes in line with national and international best practice
  • Designed to meet an employment market that is wider than academia

Choosing a PhD project

When choosing a PhD topic you may want to think about the following:

  • Subject interest
  • Specific career choice
  • Broader career choice
  • Enjoy the academic environment
  • Choose a problem that interests you

How to write a good PhD application

Writing a PhD application takes a substantial amount of time, therefore, taking time to prepare is essential. Here are the following things you want to consider:

  • Start early – It is important to start thinking about your PhD application early due to availability of opportunities, for example, funding deadlines and advertised PhD positions.
  • Do your research – Think about what institution you would like to undertake your research, location, research topic and what kind of supervisor is required to assist you you’re your research.
  • Make contact with supervisor and/or institution
  • Present yourself effectively on paper – Take time to write your PhD application as you want to highlight your motivation, knowledge and suitability for conducting PhD. Yu will have an opportunity to talk about this in your personal statement. Click here (link to Personal statement) to view how to write personal statement.
  • Make an informed choice

Choosing a supervisor

During your PhD your supervisor will act as adviser and mentor who will be providing support throughout your PhD. Choosing a supervisor is an important step when opting for PhD and you need to consider this:

  • Take into consideration your work style
  • Talk to former and current students
  • Visit the research group or laboratory


Click here for information on postgraduate funding opportunities

Writing a personal statement

Click here for information on personal statements