Category Archives: PhD/Doctoral in the US

PhD Student Customized Counseling

PhD Student Customized Counseling

Congratulations! You are now in an elite category of students who is dreaming of earning a doctorate from a US university! As you may know, the United States has some of the most prestigious, comprehensive and rigorous doctoral programs in the world. The rewards of earning a PhD from a good US university are enormous in terms of prestige, career growth, and earning potential. If you are hard-working, dedicated, and persevering, success is guaranteed. PlanetGPA (A service of USAsiaEdu, Inc) is here to assist you every step of the way!

We do not accept every student that applies for our services. Instead, we carefully select the students that we want to work with. Once we accept you, PlanetGPA will provide you with step-by-step guidance regarding short-listing universities, selecting the right program, timelines, application process, and career counseling. Our goal is to make sure that every student of PlanetGPA is fully funded in the doctoral program. We work only with students that are fully committed to earning a doctoral program. The more dedicated and responsive you are, the higher are the chances of your success in gaining funding and admission to a top doctoral program.

Funding: One of the great benefits of a doctoral program in the US is that most doctoral students are partially or fully funded, thus reducing the financial burden on a student and his or her family. On the other hand, since the student is funded, US universities receive a large number of applications from international students eager to enter the doctoral program. Hence, your grades and test scores must be good and your application must be thoughtful, well-written, and nearly perfect! Our goal is to make sure that students like you get the maximum amount of financial aid available.

An important point to note: even though you may get funding, in order to get a visa, financial documents showing that you have funds to support your education are essential.

Timing: You must start the application process as soon as you can. Hence, if you are interested in enrolling in August 2011 in a doctoral program, your application must be submitted latest by January 2011. The earlier, the better and time is of the essence.

Tests: It is important to take the tests that are relevant to your discipline and to score well on these tests. If you do not wish to take these tests, there are a few universities that may not require them; however, in all likelihood these will not be top-notch universities.



We follow the following rigorous steps in assisting you with your doctoral application. Comprehensive

  1. Student Profile Form: We are able to successfully short-list universities based on our in-depth understanding of you, your career goals, your research interests, your academic profile and accomplishments, and your personality and preferences.

This form consists of the following sections:

  1. Contact details
  2. Academic Profile
  3. Financial Profile
  4. Career Goals
  5. Research Interests
  6. Preferences


  1. Review and Assessment: Based on the information you provide, we will do a comprehensive assessment of your profile and provide you with feedback on how to improve your chances of gaining admission to a good doctoral program.


  1. Customized and comprehensive list of doctoral universities: Unlike other degree programs, short-listing universities for doctoral students is one of the most critical and time-consuming steps. It requires in-depth knowledge and expertise on the part of the counselor about US doctoral programs, admission criteria of institutions, funding opportunities and other related matters. Your report will include information on the following factors:






Average GRE score
Average TOEFL score
Publications per Faculty member
Citations of faculty work
Percent faculty with grants
Awards per faculty member
Percent new students with full financial support
Average Completion Percent
Time to degree
Percent PhD with Academic jobs
Alumni employment
Percent of Foreign students
Number of PhD graduates (2002-06)
Percent Interdisciplinary faculty
Percent new students with external grants
Student work space


Why are these factors important? These factors are important because they will affect not only your chances of gaining admission, but also your career opportunities and future earning potential. Hence, while any consultant can come up with a few names of universities that offer doctoral programs, the key is to find an experienced counselor who is an expert in doctoral programs. PlanetGPA specializes in admission to doctoral programs.


  1. Review of universities and selection: Based on the information we provide in our Customized Report, you should review the list of recommended universities. This review should be thorough, on your part. If you have any questions as you review these universities, our counselors will be happy to assist. Based on your review, you should identify 3 to 5 universities and rank them in the order of preference.


  1. Essay Development and Review: The essay is one of the most important parts of your application. Unlike other degree programs, essays are reviewed carefully by doctoral committees and funding decisions are sometimes based on the quality of your essay. One essay does not fit all schools! Your essay has to be customized to the vision and mission of the institution and the department. Your essay should show your knowledge and understanding about the department, its programs, and faculty profiles. Your essay will be reviewed by our experienced counselors for content and then it will be reviewed by an editorial team for writing style and clarity. You should expect several iterations of your essay and should be patient and cooperative throughout this process.


  1. Letters of Reference: Like your essay, your letters of reference can make or break you. We will work closely with you to draft letters that align with your research interest and career goals. Further, your letters should appeal to the unique interests of the institution to which you are applying.


  1. Application Assistance: We will assist you to complete the doctoral applications to three universities of your choice.
  2. Comprehensive Review of Documents: All documents will be mailed to the US office for a thorough review before it is mailed to the university. Each university has its own unique processes and procedures that must be met for successful admission. The more thorough and accurate your application package is, the better are your chances of admission. A team of US counselors will review your documents, ensure everything is in order, and mail the package to the university once the checklist is complete.


  1. Follow-up: If and when necessary, we will follow up with the university to determine the status of your application.


  1. Deadlines! Deadlines! Deadlines are firm in the US. There is no leeway. Hence, one of our tasks is to make sure that you meet all deadlines. In fact, we highly encourage early applications as funding decisions at some universities are made on a first-come, first-served basis.


  1. Visa Counseling (Applicable to Indian Students only): Our expert team in India will prepare you for your visa interview. With years of experience and knowledge about the visa process, they will ensure that your visa interview is smooth and successful.


  1. Ethics: We hold ourselves and our students to the highest standards of integrity and ethics. We expect our students to provide accurate and truthful information at all times.


  1. Communications: You can schedule a 1-hour weekly online chat session with our counselors by appointment.

PlanetGPA has earned a world-wide reputation as a leader in assisting doctoral students pursue  doctoral programs in the US with funding. If you are committed to pursuing a PhD, PlanetGPA is your best and most trustworthy resource.

Do I Need a Counselor to Apply to Top US Universities for PhD?

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Do I Need a Counselor to Apply  to Top US Universities for PhD?

You may be wondering whether you should apply on your own or seek the help of a counselor. This is like learning to drive. You can do it your own. You may find it difficult and you may get involved in a few accidents, but  eventually you will be able to learn to drive. On the other hand, if you have a teacher, you will be more successful and the chances of success are a lot higher. If you don't do it right the first time, you will lose a year of your life and career before you can apply again. More important, you may not get into the university of your first choice, and even if you do, you may not get scholarships. So a counselor, the right counselor, can be very helpful.

Is it worth the cost of hiring a counselor is the other question that students face. If your counselor is good and can get you a full scholarship for four years (this means you are earning a PhD for free!) the small investment you make for a good counselor is well worth it. In other words, the return on investment can be more than a 1000%. You can't beat that!

Getting into a top US university for PhD depends on your academic profile and test scores. But simply having great scores does not always get you into top US universities. This is because US universities are looking for more than just top scores! They receive thousands of applications from excellent students from all over the world. Our job, and your job if you decide not to use a counselor, is to stand out and impress the faculty and Admissions Officers that you are the best.

Is a PhD worth it?

Is a PhD worth it?  Well, simple answers are no longer popular and therefore a more detailed response is due. The detailed answer is: It depends! It depends on your attitude and aptitude to long hours of hard work, curiosity, frustration, and love for one's discipline.

A PhD in the US is definitely worth it. This is what most people who have earned a PhD in the US will tell you. Faculty (most) are passionate about their discipline and are great mentors. Lab facilities in the U.S. are usually top notch and research is often cutting-edge. US faculty are active in their disciplines and their reputation depends on the careers their PhD students pursue. So, all in all it is a great investment. But if you want to earn a PhD just to earn "more money" it may not be a good idea. The number one question to ask is: Do I love my major or discipline enough to dedicate my lifetime to it? If your answer is yes, you have crossed the first barrier. Here is a great website from Purdue ( that answers most questions students considering a PhD have: