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Application Process: Tips for Success

Doctoral Program Application Process: Tips for Success 

We realize that the application process can be stressful, and, although we can’t remove all of the stress, we want to help with reducing uncertainty. Thus, we have created this tip sheet so that we make our process and preferences more transparent for all who opt to apply. If you have any questions about these tips, please contact Dr. Christina S. Beck (Associate Director for Graduate Studies) at Beck@ohio.edu. She would be more than happy to clarify any questions, procedures, etc. 

  • Get the Big Picture: Just as one should do when driving, applicants should strive to get an overall view of the application landscape. Be sure that you understand all of the requirements. Know what documents or materials must be submitted, and create an action plan for ensuring that everything gets uploaded prior to the January 1, 2021 deadline.
  • Making Your Best Case: As you prepare your materials, strive to envision the process as making your very best case for why you want to earn a doctoral degree in our program. Notably, our program is a “direct to doctoral” one so you do not need a MA in order to apply. A number of our students have started after completing a BA degree. As you “make your case,” we encourage you to:
    • Select recommendation letters appropriately and persuasively: Choose individuals to write on your behalf who have direct experience of your ability to do coursework in our department. They should be able to write specifically about your ability to write, to create effective arguments, to contribute to class discussion, and/or to give presentations.
    • Select writing samples that showcase your ability to write, to construct arguments, and, if possible, to conduct research: You can certainly submit a writing sample that has been accepted as a convention paper or journal article, but it can also be a piece from a class that you have taken. Please do not submit a co-authored manuscript.
    • Create a meaningful statement of purpose: The statement of purpose is a very important part of the admissions package. In this document, please explain “why OU”—why do you want to be part of our doctoral program? Although your goals can change after you begin school, the committee wants to learn about your current interests—what do you want to study? Which faculty members interest you the most in terms of potential collaborations and/or a possible advisor? What attracted you to our program, and what would you like to gain from it? This document enables us to understand your potential fit with our program, and you should carefully address this issue as you “make your best case.”
  • Keep Lines of Communication Open: After you submit your application, please be sure to keep in contact with us. We anticipate making our first round of offers in the middle of January. If you receive an offer at that point, please keep in contact with us as you consider our offer and others that you receive. Even if you aren’t ready to give us an answer, please be sure to acknowledge our follow-up e-mails. It’s perfectly fine to respond with “I’m still considering offers.” However, we strongly encourage you to respond and keep the lines of communication open. Although we cannot ask for a decision prior to April 15, we would appreciate your help in letting us know as soon as you have made a decision. If you know that OU is the place for you, GREAT! We can start sending additional information to you and begin welcoming you into our community. If you decide that OU isn’t the place for you, we’ll understand and wish you the very best. Please take the time that you need to make your decision (up to April 15). We’re just asking that you let us know when you have arrived at a decision so that we can proceed accordingly. If mid-January comes and goes and you do not receive an email from us, please feel free to reach out and ask about the status of your application. The process of filling spots in our 2021-2022 cohort will likely continue until April, as individuals weigh offers and opportunities from various universities. If you have any questions during this sometimes stressful season, please just email.We're happy to help in any way that I can. 
  • Keep Asking Questions: Throughout the application journey, please reach out and ask questions if you are uncertain about expectations or process. We want to help you and reduce uncertainty, to the extent that we can. Just as you “can’t know what you don’t know,” we also don’t always know what might be serving as a source of confusion or stress. If in doubt, please email either Dr. Beck (Beck@ohio.edu) or her assistant, Kayla Duty (kr021812@ohio.edu).