I am a European scholar. I would like to do a PhD dissertation in USA on an original and unpopular subject from a social science standpoint. I would like to empirically investigate the subject, which means I need a not-very-rich grant for this research.

I would like to know if I can get a PhD position in social sciences with a scholarship/grants in USA based on my research proposal and with no references.

Also, could you point me to resources to find potential american advisers and possible equip of research just digiting keywords of the topic I am interested in, please?

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    Is there a specific reason you do not have references? I find it surprising that you have no one who can vouch for you, or who you have worked with. – Compass Nov 7 '14 at 22:07
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    I don't see any way you could be accepted to a PhD program in the US with no references, regardless of where you're from. – BrenBarn Nov 7 '14 at 22:24
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    BrenBarn is correct. Without references, your applications will not even be reviewed, as it will be considered incomplete. – aeismail Nov 8 '14 at 17:42
  • One misconception is that the references have to be from professors. I successfully applied to a computer science PhD program with letters of recommendation from three senior industry colleagues. Are there any three people who know you and your work, and can write about your abilities? – Patricia Shanahan Jan 2 '15 at 15:36

It really does not matter where you come from. In general, to apply for a PhD program in the U.S., you need: application letter, resume, reference letters (usually 3), master's degree (mostly required), transcripts from bachelor's and master's program, and GRE score (many programs require it). In addition, TOEFL score if your native language is not English.

Most of the time, if you are admitted to a PhD program in social sciences, you will be granted with assistantship / scholarship at the same time. Mostly, it's an assistantship, which means you will teach or do something else for the department. The stipend of the assistantship usually is only enough for you to live, not for your research study. If you need funding for your research study, you have to invest your own savings, or get research funding from the department or other grant institutions, which is not easy to get.

For the resources, use Google or Google Scholar to look for related publications or scholars. Actually, it is a good strategy to contact professors for the research topic first. If a professor is interested in your research topic or finds you competent during the discussion, it will increase the possibility for the professor to accept you to his/her program. But, be carefully prepared, don't send email before digging into the literature.

  • reference letters (usually 3) The OP specificly said does not have references. We are trying to figure out why he does not have references. – scaaahu Nov 8 '14 at 6:24

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