How to get PhD abroad? In conversation with Ms. Maithili Joshi (PART 6)

1. In brief tell us about your PhD/Research work.

I am working to understand the mechanism of protein aggregation in neurodegenerative diseases using C. elegans as a model organism.

2. If someone is looking for PhD opportunities abroad then what are the ways (websites/social media platforms etc.) by which one can come across such advertisements.

Academic transfer, nature careers, find a PhD, Apart from these, one can also sign up for notifications from individual universities which can be done through their website.

3. How did you come across the PhD program you are/were enrolled in?

I had signed up for notifications of Utrecht University where I am currently doing my PhD.

4. One thing that we hear a lot while applying for PhD abroad is ‘SOP’. So, what can be the best practice one can apply to build the SOP?

SOP/cover letter can be considered one of the most important part of your application. According to me, there is no one right way to write it. However, I would say it is important to include how and why are you the ideal candidate for the position. Also, talk about the research done in the lab (read their previous publications for this), what is it that you find particularly interesting in it. It should be specific and not include generic statements and this part needs to be altered for every application.

5. Is research paper essential to get enrolled in a PhD program?

It is not a requirement but definitely gives you an edge over other applicants.

6. Similar to research papers, is prior lab experience/internship as project fellows or trainees essential/helpful to get a PhD position abroad?

Again, it is not a requirement. But for me personally, working as a project fellow made a huge difference. If you have done a masters degree where you did not get much research experience, I would recommend doing an internship/fellowship. This not only improves your CV but can also help gain confidence about working independently on a project.

7. How much time should one expect while applying for these PhD program from the date of application to enrollment?

It really depends on what kind of experience you have when you start applying and the availability of positions that suit you. But realistically I would say on average one year.

8. What are the challenges one should expect while doing PhD abroad?

According to me, being away from family is the most challenging. The initial few months are difficult since you will be starting life from scratch in a new place. But it gets easier, as one meets people, makes friends, things eventually fall in place. Some countries also don’t pay a lot so people face difficulty managing expenses. I would recommend checking the living expenses of a country to be able to make a well-informed decision.

I am a PhD candidate working in Tessa Sinnige’s lab at the Department of Chemistry, Utrecht University. I did my bachelor’s in zoology at Kelkar College and then masters in life sciences at St. Xavier’s College, both in Mumbai. After this, I worked as a project fellow in the lab of Jayant Udgaonkar at IISER Pune for two years on understanding the mechanism of prion protein aggregation.

I would be happy to answer any questions you may have. You can reach me at