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I am a final year Master of Technology Student studying Computer Science. I am planning to apply for PhD's in top US universities. But I have a problem of stuttering. I stutter a lot while speaking on phone or over the video chats, but very less while talking face to face.

Does PhD admission process in US universities for computer science disciplines involve interviews for international candidates? And if yes, I am very nervous, that I will fail because of my stuttering despite having sufficient knowledge.

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Disclosure: I am myself a person who stutters the severity of which depends on the position of stars in the sky.


First, I want to point out, that stuttering is OK. In the same way, as not stuttering is OK. Discrimination based on stuttering should not happen, and all the common misconceptions regarding people who stutter (not confident, less knowledgable, less prepared, etc) are simply misconceptions. While there are still a lot of people who believe in them, the situation is getting better for people who stutter; in particular, in the USA.

Regarding the interviews for candidates (whether domestic or international): that highly depends. In some universities/departments, some professors would want to interview their potential students. In others, the students are not assigned a particular advisor until the 2nd year; thus, no interview. It is a rarer situation when an interview is conducted not by a potential supervisor themselves. However, the specific fields like MBA or medicine might have a separate "Interview" stage in the application process.

Thus, I suggest you find that information directly from the individual program you are intending to apply.

However, I would strongly advise not to be discouraged by the interview. You should be judged by the essence of your speech, its organization, logic, and particular answers, and not by "the occasional repetitions and blocks". While there is very little you can do about the stuttering itself, there are many things you can do regarding your preparation and the way you formulate your thoughts. That is important. Focus on that.

One of the very useful tools is a self-disclosure statement. One can provide it in a written form before the interview, right at the beginning of the speech, or both. For example, I can suggest something, as follows (which you should modify so it becomes yours):

Hello, [my name is XXX]. Sometimes, in my speech, you will hear blocks and repetitions as I do stutter. Please, feel free to ask me a question if something is not clear, I would be really happy to clarify on that.

That has several purposes:

  • explicitly allows you to stutter during the interview (or any other speech or speech-related activity)
  • prepares the other participants that you stutter
  • calls to action of asking questions if something is not clear

Consider using one if you feel like it.

With that, I hope that whether you have an interview or get to a program where no interview happens, you will succeed despite the stuttering. As research (which is why you want to do a PhD, I assume) welcomes people irrespective of their stuttering. It simply should not matter.

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    +1 for the self-disclosure statement. Helps clear the air.
    – Jihadi
    Sep 2 '20 at 3:18
  • Thank you for your words and suggestions. :)
    – CODE GEEK
    Sep 2 '20 at 6:47

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