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Being approached by prospective students

Prospective students will typically contact you via email to see if you would be willing to supervise them as a PhD student; this is quite normal and accepted. At this early stage, you want to get a good overview of the student's interests, abilities, and experience, and so you should ask for an expression of interest with a short (2-3 page) description of your proposed area of research and a summary of the student's academic qualifications. The proposal should outline, for example, the relevance of the research, any research questions, a brief review of the literature, and possible method(s) of research. You should also ask for at least the following:
  • A CV, including academic and employment history, and referees
  • A list of publications
  • Examples of previous academic work (e.g., research essays, Honours thesis)
  • Examples of previous professional work (e.g., briefing papers, reports)
  • Anything that can give you a sense of the student's capabilities

It is, of course, essential that you carefully evaluate the student's academic credentials. An Honours degree, for example, is a research degree, whereas most Masters degrees today are coursework degrees. This could have implications for the amount of research training a prospective student needs once they get here. Many prospective Crawford students come from public service, NGO, or similar backgrounds and may not have undertaken academic study for many years. Such students often take a little time to adjust, but experience shows that once they get back into the swing of things, they can complete quite satisfactorily.

If the student has English as Another Language, then you should try to gauge their level of English language competence. IELTS or TOEFL test scores might provide some indication of this, but the results of these tests might not reflect the actual language competency of the student once they arrive. Back-and-forth email conversations can help you determine the level of language assistance that the student might require during their candidature.

If you decide that you want to supervise this student, then the next step is reply to them saying so. It is now up to the student to go through the normal application procedures (the HDR Administrator can assist the student from here; you have no part in this). The only thing that is likely to happen is that you will receive an email from the HDR Administrator confirming that you want to supervise the student -- just in case you have changed your mind, which, of course, you are at liberty to do.

If you don't want to supervise the student, you need to write back to them, outlining your reasons. If their topic is not of interest to you or not in your area but you still think the student might be a good candidate for the doctorate, then it is charitable to suggest some other people (if you know anyone) for the student to contact. If you think the student would struggle in some way (for example, intellectually, or in handling the workload, or in meeting the English language requirements) then you should perhaps also gently mention this. If you're not sure how such an email should sound, then you could run it past a colleague or the PhD Academic and Research Skills Advisor.

Administrative and academic skills staff cannot help a prospective student to find a supervisor; rather the person making the inquiry is directed to the Crawford academic staff pages to make a start on finding out who might make a suitable supervisor for their project. Please see Crawford's PhD programs for more info.

The application process and evaluating applications

There is very little that involves you (as potential supervisor) as regards the application process, but you might like to know how it works, so here's what happens. The prospective student gets in touch with the HDR Administrator, who provides the student with the relevant application information. The HDR Administrator goes through the application and checks that all the necessary information and documents are present (e.g., supervisor details, research proposal, academic transcript and certificates, CV, referee reports). If everything is in order, the HDR Administrator will contact you to confirm that you are willing to supervise the student for the duration of the candidature. Once you have confirmed your willingness to take the student on, the application then goes to your area's HDR Convenor who evaluates the application and decides whether or not the application should be approved. From here, the application goes to the Delegated Authority for approval. Finally, the HDR Administrator sends the approved application to Central Administration, who arrange to have a letter of offer sent to the prospective student.

Applications made by prospective students are valid only for 18 months from the date of submission.

Scholarships

Prospective wtudents might want to know about scholarship opportunities. Although it is not your role to help them gain a scholarship, you might nevertheless want to direct them to the following resources (either give them a link to this section of the current page, or copy and paste the following):

Enrolment in the degree

Once the student has accepted their letter of offer, they will tell us their expected start date. Once we know this, Central Administration will finalise the student's enrolment by adding them to the PhD course, 'CRWF 9540 PhD Crawford School of Public Policy'. The student arrives on campus, collects their student card, and can now officially start their degree.

Read more about Enrolment.

Coursework and coursework enrolment

Most new students have questions about coursework. In the first instance, students should direct those questions to the HDR Administrator, who can advise them on what courses are compulsory and how to apply for those courses. However, students should also talk to you about what other courses they might want to undertake -- this is particularly in the case of IDEC students, who must complete a number of electives as part of their PhD program. Supervisors in other areas might recommend that certain students undertake an additional course or two in order to get the student up-to-speed in certain subject areas, but this should only be suggested if the student has the time to complete the course and it really is deemed necessary.

Once the coursework program has been determined, the student fills out the relevant eForm in ISIS, which then goes to the Chair of Panel (i.e., you) for approval. From here, the form goes to the
Delegated Authority, and then finally to Central Administration for processing.

Some students want exemptions from compulsory coursework. As a rule, Crawford does not encourage exemptions, except in cases where the student has completed the same course in the last five years, for instance, maybe as part of a Masters coursework degree at Crawford. The only cases in which exemptions should be considered are those in which a student has undertaken a virtually identical course elsewhere -- and, here, we do mean 'virtually identical', in that the same content needs to have been covered, in the same depth, and evaluated in the same way. Professional experience in an area is not regarded as sufficient grounds for an exemption from an academic course in the same area.

If, in discussion with the student (and after checking the grounds of their claim for exemption) you decide that a student should be exempt from a course, then the student should approach the HDR Administrator who will supply them with a form to be filled out. Once that's done, the HDR Convenor will consider the request for exemption. If granted, a note will be made on the student's transcript citing the reason for the exemption.

Read more about Coursework.