I'm just about to go into my final year of my computing degree, and I want to continue to a PhD after completion. What preparations do I need to do prior to applying for grants/scholarships/funding?

  • Get good grades.
  • Make sure (some of) your lecturers know who you are, so that you can ask for a recommendation letter.
  • Get involved in some kind of research, either a thesis or something extracurricular.
  • Work out what topic you want to study; at least have a first idea.
  • Select relevant coursework based on the previous point.
  • Don't be afraid of going abroad. Prepare yourself mentally for this now, so when the time comes to actually decide, you'll be ready. Check details such as visa requirements, as these can take 3-4 months to obtain.
  • Research good universities who do what you want to do. Find out about their application procedure is and their deadline.
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    Have already done some independent study/research with a few faculty so they can write you strong recommendation letters. – JeffE Aug 21 '12 at 13:29

Every school has its own requirements: typically, letters of recommendation, GRE tests, language tests. Check them with much advance: 1 year is not too soon, especially if you are applying for a US school as a foreigner.

Apart from that, nothing special: have a good academic record, and make sure that the first Google result for your name is not a college party Facebook picture in which you are drunken and naked.

  • I have to disagree with "nothing special", unless that's what you want your application to be labeled. At least in strong departments, PhD admissions committees looks for concrete evidence of research potential. Also, nobody cares about your Facebook picture; do what you like. – JeffE Aug 21 '12 at 13:33
  • @JeffE I disagree about your facebook comment. I often do a little Google searching when a student approaches me about advising them. – StrongBad Aug 23 '12 at 13:23

Apart from @Dave 's quite long list, I would also like to mention that by now you may decide on what area of research are you interested in and feel most confident about. This would help you to find the right professor/adviser and university and also keep you motivated in all good and bad times during your PhD.

  • 1
    I disagree that "you need to decide on what area of research you are interested in". This can be helpful, but is not necessary. If you haven't decided yet, I suggest that you apply to large departments, which often offer a wider range of faculty research areas. – Dan C Aug 23 '12 at 22:07
  • I mentioned it not just for getting the scholarship/university but to to be able to charge along with confidence and focus. ( I did a minor edit to my answer) – Stat-R Aug 24 '12 at 0:54

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