Usually to be accepted by a PhD program by a reputed university the admission committee looks for candidates who have made research contributions to the desired field (specially through publications). A Masters student however only starts his/her research work in the last semester and even if something substantial is done during that time, getting it published would take a fair amount of time. How is it possible then for a masters student who's applying for PhD showcase their publications in the application?

  • 2
    You make a list, write (submitted) after each publication, + link to arxiv, if it is in math. Feb 19, 2018 at 10:17
  • Some masters degrees are not taught so the student will spend one or two years just on research.
    – Conrad
    Feb 19, 2018 at 10:28
  • Yeah.. The question was about taught masters.. Not for the research oriented ones..
    – Saurav Das
    Feb 19, 2018 at 11:18
  • @PerAlexandersson Are submitted publications also given as much importance as ones accepted. Specially for conferences where the acceptance rate is really low.
    – Saurav Das
    Feb 19, 2018 at 11:19
  • 4
    I’m not sure if this is entirely accurate, but I won’t list it as answer because I’m not certain. While have publications certainly helps your odds, it isn’t a requirement for a Ph.D applicant. Many fields offer Ph.D programs directly out of your undergraduate degree which certainly doesn’t always lead to publications. Programs are looking for students that have the capability for research. That is, they might see a student whose CV includes many side projects with professors and projects that extend beyond the scope of a course to indicate that they are prepared for higher research.
    – Ryan
    Feb 19, 2018 at 19:30

3 Answers 3


There are two ways to look at this question, both of which are answered in the comments. The first of which is just you asking, "I have submitted for publication, but they haven't been accepted yet." As Per Alexandersson said, make a list, write submitted, and if it's in mathematics, you can even link to Arxiv.

But addressing the implication of the question that it is required to have publications to matriculate, I'm not sure that's entirely accurate. Many Ph.D. Programs accept students directly out of their undergraduate degree, and so to expect them to have published research would be generally unfair. It makes more sense for Ph.D. programs to be looking for students who have the capability for research. This capability can be shown through projects that go beyond the scope of the classroom, research with professors that didn't necessarily result in publication, or as astronat mentioned in the comments, by strong references letters from supervisors, professors, etc.


You're making two false presumptions here. The first of these is:

You can't start doing research until your thesis during your master's degree.

Most applicants for PhD positions start getting involved with research projects in some capacity well before their final semester. Many will start doing research toward the end of their bachelor's programs, which will give them time to get a paper or two into the pipeline before then.

The second problematic assumption is:

Usually to be accepted by a PhD program by a reputed university the admission committee looks for candidates who have made research contributions to the desired field (specially through publications).

Admissions committees look for students who have the potential to make research contributions to the field in which they apply. Somebody can start in one field and move to another one for their PhD program, if they can convince the admissions committee that the move works.


Submitted manuscripts do not carry the same weight as accepted publications (you can submit almost anything that you want). However, submitted manuscripts backed by strong letters of reference from people the admissions committee trust (preferably your advisor) are very important.

If a reputable member from their field declares that you have done work that is paper-worthy, the committee will generally trust their judgement even if the paper has not been published yet.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .