There is a two year gap after finishing my Master's degree and I am applying to graduate schools in the same field. This time has spent on immigration and then unemployment, tutoring physics, and a job not directly related to my field. But I have been following new research on the topics that I was interested in, without being supervised or any serious research.

My questions is, what should I mostly emphasize on in order to explain the gap most effectively: My teaching experience (indicating interest in teaching the field), Having a job and paying for my family expenses (indicating maturity), or that I was following the current research on topics of interest (indicating persistence)?

2 Answers 2


I presume you are applying to PhD programs. If I were you, I would emphasize

I was following the current research on topics of interest

since research will be the primary task for PhD students.

Teaching experience should be also mentioned so that they would know you can be a TA.

Other things are not directly related to SoP. You can mention them briefly in your CV in case they wonder what you have been doing.

Good Luck!

  • 1
    @trxw I am not sure what kind of unrelated job you had. If it's high school teacher or the like, you should mention it in SoP even if what you teach has nothing to do with physics.
    – Nobody
    Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 8:13
  • 1
    Makes sense and to the point +1
    – trxw
    Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 8:52

You can mention all three. The trick is to make these parts of your CV look like "features," not "bugs." It sounds like you have an idea of what to do there. I don't think it would hurt to mention that this slight detour, while being slightly off the path to graduate school, has only convinced you that graduate school was the right place for you.

Of course, no one ever got into a good program by saying "I really want to be there!" I was in a similar situation when applying to PhD programs -- I was teaching high school, which was good, but my background was not directly inline with what some PhD programs were looking for. I emailed some faculty about what to do to bolster my application, and one suggestion was to go ahead and do some academic writing on my own and use that as part of my application. I'm not sure if that's possible for you, but it's something to consider. If that work is high quality, shows that you are up-to-date on the state of your field, and actively thinking about workable research topics, that will surely impress admissions committees.

  • Thanks Erik. +1 for " The trick is to make these parts of your CV look like "features," not "bugs." "
    – trxw
    Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 8:52

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