I am applying for a PhD program, in one of section they ask about my Current situation (professional/academic. I finished my master and now I do not have job and just applying for PhD and writing my paper. what should I write that have better effect on them? p.s :It is a mandatory part and it has a small line

  • 1
    Is 'currently job seeking' too negatively loaded for you? The unemployed are clearly lazy people who drink beer all day and watch sports compulsively. But job seekers are proactive. Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 21:51
  • 1
    When I was unemployed, I have jokingly used the term "freelance mathematician". Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 22:21
  • 2
    If are you looking to spin the truth that you are unemployed? If so I would say that would be a bad idea, they all probably can smell the BS a mile away!
    – user40830
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 22:56
  • 2
    I see nothing wrong with writing "unemployed".
    – Dan Fox
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 9:11
  • 2
    How about "Funemployed"?
    – user37208
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 16:10

7 Answers 7


As someone with experience of post-graduation unemployment, I'd say don't be worried about it. It is perfectly understandable that you finished your degree and are now applying to PhDs without being employed in between.

It would be helpful to know the exact phrasing of the question but if it is expecting a simple one line answer I would just put "Recent graduate" and maybe the classification of your degree (MSc, MA, etc. and the subject).

Think about why they are asking the question. Is it to check if you are in the middle of a degree or finished? Is it to check your grade? Or what type of degree you have? Or is it to check if you have a job so they need to think about your start date of PhD in relation to quitting your job? There is no shame in just writing "currently unemployed". I did this and I am now 2 years into my PhD. You may need to explain in more detail at an interview and justify why you are not working, but if you have a sensible reason this will not be a barrier.

  • thank you for your explanation, it really made me relax <3
    – maryam
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 18:52

I'd say "Applying to Ph.D. programs"

  • 3
    Isn't that fairly obvious given that this is on an application form for a PhD?
    – FJC
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 18:36
  • @FJC You'd think, but yet they ask...
    – Mark Omo
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 19:23
  • 3
    @MarkOmo ...which surely indicates that they are asking for some other purpose. Answering the question with an answer that is blatantly obvious and provides no information would, in my opinion, make the candidate look a bit stupid.
    – FJC
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 20:36
  • 4
    It sounds to me more like a smart-aleck response. As you say, it does tend to imply "doing nothing important", but the more conventional way to say that would be to simply write "Unemployed". Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 22:03
  • 1
    "Unemployed" can come across as the opposite of a "winner/go-getter" response; in fact in the wrong eyes it may read "I'm applying to your program since I can't get a job (otherwise I wouldn't care to)."My original advice is not as trivial as it seems: It means that her main current activity is, in fact, getting ready to pursue a Ph.D., and nothing that occupies her time is more important. Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 23:31

Surely you are doing something with your time. You might be able to touch on what you're doing, if it's in anyway relevant or notable. If not, don't worry.

Are you studying any textbooks or working at ALL? Tutoring, odd jobs, etc. Mention those. There is no harm in saying you're unemployed. I basically am, and I've been getting acceptances.


As is always the case, "answer may vary by culture".

What country are you applying in? (I'd guess US but you never know). In the US, I'd agree there's problem with writing "unemployed." In fact, that makes sense to do.

In Japan (and I believe Korea), you need to have some sort of zaiseki from which you are applying. Unemployed would be a mark against you. Ideally, get an affiliation with some university to be your basis. South of that, have a full time job that can give you status. Writing "unemployed" (mushoku) or "independent researcher" would both be negative.


if you are not doing anything, at present, then you can keep it blank. But blank doesn't give a good impression. So I suggest to summarize your research results on which you are concentrating now. Since you have modified your question saying that it is mandatory, then you may write something like "completed my masters degree in month-year and concentrating on the publications based on my masters thesis"

  • thanks for your answer but it is a mandatory part and it has a small line so I have no space for explaining
    – maryam
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 15:34
  • 3
    Then you can write something like "Completed Masters Degree in Month-Year and concentrating on publications."
    – Kay
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 15:43
  • @Kayan In case of an interview that might lead to the question on what kind of publication/topic you are currently working on. So you should be prepared to have an answer. Else don't write it.
    – skymningen
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 11:28

You have mentioned that you are writing paper. If you are working on materialising your master thesis or any other research work, you can mention the same with decent phrase in the current situation section. This will convince graduate committee members that you are still in field and you are keen on pursuing research.


It would be perfectly applicable according to your situation to call yourself as an

Independent Researcher

until you are admitted to a PhD programme. After which you could be known as a PhD student / research scholar / graduate student as what you may prefer.

You must log in to answer this question.

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