Category Archives: PhD in Top US Universities

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.

Top Three Things to Do When Writing a College Essay for PhD at top US Colleges and Universities

A college essay is important. In fact, next to test scores and your academic marks, it may be the most important thing in a college application. In fact, some even say that a good college essay can even overcome a not-so-great test score or overall marks. While a college essay is very important for all degree applications to top US colleges and universities, it becomes the most important thing in a PhD application to top

US colleges and universities. In this post, which is Part 1 in a series of articles on college essays, we offer some tips and guidelines to get you started on the right path.

  1. What is the purpose of the college essay? Students often forget about the purpose of the college essay. It is very simple: to tell the Admissions Officer or the faculty at a top US college or university about YOU  and your academic interests. You should not repeat what you made in your test scores like the GRE or GMAT or your degree marks or GPA. That is already given in the application. Instead, you should tell them about your "other" academic credentials or interests. In other words, in your college essay you should tell them about things that you were not able to say in the application form. Don't write anything in your college essay that is already covered in the application form at a US college or university. The first thing to do in writing a college essay is to outline all your academic accomplishments and interests. Tell them why you want to major in your chosen area. Tell them what you hope to do with that major. Tell them how you got interested in this field. Tell them about a Professor or friend who motivated you. Tell them
  2.  if you have done some thing interesting in this area. The reader should have an ah-ha moment after reading your essay. In other words, he or she should be able to know you better after reading the essay than they did before they read the college essay. This is the most important part. If you can do this, the rest is easy. Unfortunately, this step is not easy. So we recommend that you do a brain dump. What is a brain dump? Simply write everything that comes to your mind when you think about your academic profile and interests. It doesn't have to be in any order nor does it have to be in good English. Just write down whatever comes to mind about your academic profile. You may not remember everything the first time you sit to write. So just keep adding to it every time you remember something. Take several days or even weeks to complete this exercise. This is the most important step in writing a good college essay, particularly for top US colleges and universities that pay a lot of attention to your college essay.img34
  3. Want to impress someone? If you want to impress someone, write your college essay in simple English. For God's sake, don't use words that no one can understand in your essay. Simply because a word can be found in the dictionary, does not mean you should use it in your essay! We read a number of essays with big words and the essay stinks! Why? Because often students use big words without truly understanding their meaning. They use it because they read it somewhere or they like the sound of it. What happens to your essay when you do this? Your essay reads terrible and the reader is really put off. Top colleges and universities in the US and around the world want to get to know you - they are not interested in seeing how many words you know from the dictionary.
  4. Short on time? Stressed? Not a good time to write the college essay if you are stressed or short on time. In many ways, the college essay is like a piece of art. Sure, you can do a sloppy job, but a good essay is a sweet experience for the reader. Set aside several weeks or even a couple of months to write your college essay. Most students applying to top US colleges and universities think they can write an essay in one weekend or over a couple of days. This is a bad idea. When you are in a rush or in a lot of stress, the chances of you writing a good essay reduce significantly. Instead, set aside several weeks to write the essay. Write it and re-write. Write it and then read it a day or so later. Continue to refine your essay. 

So there are three things that you should remember from this article about how to write a good college essay:

1. Make a long list of everything you want to share with a top US college or university Admissions Officer about your academic profile and interests.

2. Write your college essay in simple language.

3. Set aside several weeks to write your college essay. Start to write your essay the day you decide which colleges or universities you plan to apply to in the US for your PhD or for that matter, MBA or any other degree.

In the next article, we will offer tips on the content of your college essay. Good luck!

How can I get full scholarship to study at a top US university for PhD?

How Can I Get Full Scholarship to Study at a Top US University for my PhD?

The good news is that almost all top US universities offer PhD scholarships to attract good students.  These scholarship can cover all your tuition expenses (basically you earn a PhD with no tuition) and some top US universities even pay a small amount to cover your living expenses, like accommodation and books. It is very rare that universities will admit students without any kind of scholarship for a PhD program.

So what should you do to get a PhD scholarship at a top US university?

  1.  Your academic profile and GRE scores or GMAT scores must be good. So work hard and study hard for these tests. Your GRE scores and GMAT scores will decide the kind of university you get admitted to. So if it is very important.
  2. The percentage of marks in your Master's program must also be good. If you are below average, then your test scores must be very strong to prove to the university that you are a good student with the necessary skills. 
  3. Make sure that your TOEFL or IELTS score is also above average. This does not apply to students from English speaking countries.
  4. Write a strong, clear and compelling essay explaining why you think you are a good fit with the university that you are applying to. Don't just praise the university or say flattering things. Instead really understand what the university has to offer and make a compelling argument about it.
  5. Write clearly about the focus of your research. Be specific, to the extent possible, about what you plan to study and research. Tie this with the research profiles of faculty at the university.
  6. You must get a strong letter of recommendation from faculty and researchers in the field who know your work.
  7. Apply early. Some universities will give out scholarships as they receive the applications. If you apply late, all the money may be gone!

Because good scholarships are available, top US universities receive a large number of applications from PhD students. The competition is still.  So you must stand out from the crowd. Hence, your grades and test scores must be good and your application must be thoughtful, well-written, and nearly perfect! An important point to note: even though you may get funding, in order to get a visa, financial documents must show that you have funds to support your education. We like to add that each and every one of the students that we have counseled for PhD has received full scholarship!

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

geralt / Pixabay

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.