6

If you want to get a doctorate (especially in the US) then apply to doctoral programs. Apply to several, not just a few, and make sure that they aren't so similar that being rejected by one is highly correlated with being rejected by all. Cast a wide net. If you are "well enough" prepared to enter a program then you are fine. You will have an ...


5

I would have no problem providing a generic open letter of recommendation. Other academics might. If you ask respectfully a "no" answer should not have any negative impact on future requests for particular letters. I regularly share letters of recommendation for students with the students. They have usually waived their right to see them, but I ...


4

I wouldn't recommend it. Standards vary but from my experience, it can be seen as trying to influence your chance of admission. Generally speaking, if you want to contact faculty before getting accepted, the appropriate time to contact them is before submitting your application (and even then, it's not uncommon to be turned down). Again, standards vary and I'...


3

(My context is math at an R1 in the U.S.) Our usual admission criterion is on merit first, and then have number of admissions limited by our capacity. The point I want to make is that "capacity" does not only mean "number of Research Asistantships or Teaching Assistantships or Fellowships" we have, but, also, on the number of faculty we ...


3

I think you are complicating the situation by conflating two things. You would like to be able to provide evidence to support the entries in your CV. You want references attesting to your capability. For the first, I think it would be reasonable to ask your boss/supervisor to provide a 'To whom it may concern' letter on headed notepaper recording the ...


2

This would depend on the place and probably isn't uniform for physics in the US. In most places the funding decisions and the acceptance are done separately. If you don't qualify when needing funding then funding isn't going to help. There may be a few positions (spread over a lot of places) where it might matter if the lab you join is grant funded. If you ...


2

An alternative to an open letter, that has its own advantages is as follows. First, tell people that the time will come in the future that you will want/need their support in the form of letters. It is best if you do this when actually requesting a letter so that they have an opportunity to archive it for future reference. More important, however, is to keep ...


2

The best letters are from those who both know you well and can make an honest prediction about your success. Instructors, with whom you have little real contact, are much less valuable as they can say very little. Perhaps there are other people from your undergraduate years that fulfill the "best writers" criteria. They would probably be better ...


2

While your GPA is a bit low (if based on math courses), your overall profile, including letters (provided they are very supportive) seems fine. Having famous recommenders is helpful only if they honesty predict your future success. It is what they say, as much as their own reputation that matters. "Jane/John did well in my class" is never enough, ...


2

There is nothing inherently problematic about getting two degrees. There is certainly nothing problematic about getting sick. You appear to have went back to school a second time so the first is only loosely relevant. One should not be generally concerned about "extra" education when you are going for a PhD. (I have met people with multiple PhD's ...


1

There is a bit of a balance here. Yes, I'd suggest that you spend a few words on some topic that interests you a lot, though perhaps not so much as a "proposal". I'd also recommend that you don't commit yourself too deeply to following that precise line of interest for dissertation studies. Why... On the one hand, saying something indicates ...


1

Non-academic projects are fine, as long as they are related in some way to the field. So, for CS, your examples are fine. But coaching youth softball is probably better left out. Just keep it relevant. Caveat: this is a US based answer, where prior research experience isn't a requirement for doctoral admission. Other places may be similar or not.


1

Yes, but make that clear in your application or email a professor directly.


1

From my personal experience both in the US and in Europe, a Fachhochschule will be seen as technical education and not equivalent to a Bachelors. I believe there is a now a route to convert your Fachhochschule degree to a Bachelors equivalent, but don't remember the details or if its true. Personally, if you are thinking about further education, I would go ...


1

There is no one correct answer since it will depend a lot on the personalities of the professors and whether they already work together. A hybrid strategy that can be efficient in some cases, is to first contact the person who is closest to your theme, and finish by asking whether they advise you to contact the other names on your list. That shows that you ...


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