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Religious Studies Project Opportunities Digest – 13 December 2016

Dear subscriber,

Do you have a call for papers, an event announcement, a job vacancy, grant or award you would like others to distribute?

How about having your notification posted with the Religious Studies Project’s weekly Opportunities Digest? It’s easy, just send them to oppsdigest@religiousstudiesproject.com, which is now back in order!

Don’t worry if you keep sending to oppsdigest@gmail.com; e-mails will be forwarded to the proper address.

Thank you!

You can find previous Opportunities Digests here: https://www.religiousstudiesproject.com/categ…/opportunities/

Calls for papers

Conference: EASR 2017: Communicating Religion

September 18–21, 2017

University of Leuven, Belgium

Deadline: December 31, 2016

More information

Conference: North Atlantic Catholic Communities in Rome, 1622–1939

June 6–7, 2017

Rome, Italy

Deadline: December 30, 2016

More information

Conference: Religion & Power

March 23–24, 2017

UNC Charlotte, USA

Deadline: January 7, 2017

More information

Conference: The Cognition of Belief

June 2, 2017

Georgetown University, USA

Deadline: February 17, 2017

More information

Conference: Háskóli Íslands Student Conference on the Medieval North

April 7–8, 2017

University of Iceland, Iceland

Deadline: January 5, 2017

More information

Conference: The Religious and Ethnic Future of Europe: An International Conference

June 12–13, 2017

Åbo Akademi University, Finland

Deadline: December 31, 2017

More information

Journal: The Graduate Journal of Harvard Divinity School

2017 issue

Deadline: January 10, 2017

More information

Journal: Nova Religio

Special issue: Peoples Temple and Jonestown

Deadline: February 28, 2017

More information

Events

Conference: “Too Small a World”: Catholics Sisters as Global Missionaries

April 6, 2017

Chicago, USA

More information

Jobs and funding

Grants

Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, USA

Deadlines: December 31, 2016; April 1, 2017; October 1, 2017

More information

Part-time Teaching Fellow in Religious Studies

University of Aberdeen, UK

Deadline: December 18, 2016

More information

PhD positions

Coventry University, UK

Deadline: February 17, 2017

More information

Research fellowships

University of Leeds, UK

Deadline: February 1, 2017

More information

Scholarships: Guest Doctoral Students

University of Erfurt, Germany

Deadline: December 18, 2016

More information

Scholarships: Female Junior Scholars

University of Erfurt, Germany

Deadline: December 18, 2016

More information

Religious Studies Project Opportunities Digest – 24 August 2016

Dear subscriber,

Do you have a call for papers, an event announcement, a job vacancy, grant or award you would like others to distribute?

How about having your notification posted with the Religious Studies Project’s weekly Opportunities Digest? It’s easy, just forward them to oppsdigest@gmail.com! Please be aware that the old e-mail address oppsdigest@religiousstudiesproject.com does not currently work.

We are back after some downtime due to technical issues. You can find previous Opportunities Digests here: https://www.religiousstudiesproject.com/categ…/opportunities/

Calls for papers

ISASR Essay Competitions 2016

Deadline: August 22, 2016

More information

Special issue: Performative Afterlife

Deadline: October 1, 2016

More information

Events

Public Religions and Their Secrets, Secret Religions and Their Publics

October 27-28, 2016

University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

More information

Jobs

PhD Studentships in Religion and Society

St Mary’s University Twickenham London, UK

Deadline: September 20, 2016

More information

Senior Lecturer and Lecturer: Islamic Economics and Finance

Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education, UK

Deadline: September 5, 2016

More information

Tenure Track position in Christianity

Cornell College, USA

Deadline: November 1, 2016

More information

Research Fellowships: Eurasia case studies

Käte Hamburger Kolleg, Germany

Deadline: September 30, 2016

More information

Part-Time Lecturer: Religious Studies

University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

Deadline: August 28, 2016

More information

Assistant Professor: East Asian Buddhist Traditions

Emory University in Atlanta, USA

Deadline: October 7, 2016

More information

Assistant Professor: Classical Islam

Brandeis University, USA

Deadline: December 31, 2016

More information

image of books

Religious Studies Opportunities Digest – 8 June 2012 Edition

8 June 2012 Issue

image of booksWe are not responsible for any content contained herein, but have simply copied and pasted from a variety of sources. If you have any content for future digests, please contact us via the various options on our ‘contact’ page.

In this issue:

  • Networks
  • Conference Announcements
  • Jobs
  • Calls for Papers
  • Studentships

NETWORKS


H-Net –  http://www.h-net.org/

H-Buddhism – http://www.h-net.org/~buddhism/

Virtual Worlds Research Network – http://www.vwrn.org/

Network for New Media, Religion and Digital Cultural Studies  – http://digitalreligion.tamu.edu/


CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENTS


Title: NSRN Annual Conference  Schedule announced and early

registration deadline extended

Date: 2012-07-04

Description: There is an urgent need to bring discussions of

micro-level nonreligion, atheism and secularity into contact

with treatments of political and institutional secularism a

pressing and vibrant area of academic discussion which has so

far focused on the protection and constraining of religion, and

not s …

URL:

nsrn.net/2012/05/20/nsrn-annual-conference-schedule-announced-and-early-registration-deadline-extended/

Announcement ID: 194738

http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=194738


Title: First International Conference JEWISH HERITAGE IN PORTUGAL

science, culture, knowledge

Date: 2012-11-18

Description: First International Conference JEWISH HERITAGE IN

PORTUGAL science, culture, knowledge (18th 20th November 2012)

Tomar, Portugal The AAST, Association of the Friends of the

Synagogue of Tomar, in cooperation with the Municipal

authorities of Tomar, the Portuguese Network of Jewish

Quarters, the Isra …

Contact: amigosdasinagoga@gmail.com

URL: www.aast-conf.ipt.pt/?lng=EN

Announcement ID: 194751

http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=194751


This is a reminder that you can still register for the “Biological and Cultural Evolution and Their Interactions: Rethinking the Darwinian and Durkheimian Legacy in the Context of the Study of Religion”. International Conference at the Section for the Study of Religion, Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University, 26-30 June 2012.

http://conferences.au.dk/biologicalandculturalevolution/


JOBS


Harvard University – Research Associate and Visiting Faculty

HARVARD DIVINITY SCHOOL announces five full-time positions as Research Associate and Visiting Faculty for 2013-14 in its Women’s Studies in Religion Program.  Proposals for book-length research projects utilizing both religion and gender as central categories of analysis are welcomed.  Priority will go to book projects for which most research has been completed.  They may address women and religion in any time, place or religious tradition, and may utilize disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches from across the fields of theology, the humanities, and the social sciences. Full-time residence at Harvard Divinity School during the 2013-14 academic year is required.  Associates meet together regularly for collective discussion of research in progress; each Associate teaches a one-semester course related to the research project; and the Associates present their research in a public lecture series.  Salary for 2013-14 will be $50,000.  The appointment is full-time, lasting ten months, and includes health benefits and reimbursement of some expenses.  Completed applications must be submitted online by October 15, 2012.  Applicants must have received their PhD by October 1, 2012.  Letters of recommendation should be addressed to the WSRP Search Committee and submitted electronically in word, rich text, or PDF format to wsrprec@hds.harvard.edu.  Information and application may be accessed athttp://www.hds.harvard.edu/wsrp/appform/application.htm.


University of Toronto – Humanities – Assistant/Associate Professor, Tamil World

The Department of Humanities of the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) invites applications for a tenure-stream position, at the rank of Assistant/Associate Professor, in the historical study of the Tamil world. The appointment will begin on July 1, 2013. Research focus and specialization are open but special consideration will be given to applicants who demonstrate a breadth in undergraduate teaching and whose research methods engages with a multidisciplinary department that includes historians, gender and women’s studies scholars, and area studies (including Asian) specialists. Applicants must have a completed Ph.D. and demonstrated excellence in teaching and research.

The successful candidate will draw upon, develop, and expand the department’s present strengths in one or more of social, cultural, intellectual, comparative history as well as histories of gender, race, colonialism/empire, diaspora and nationalism. The department particularly encourages applications from scholars who can contribute to interdisciplinary teaching, research, and programming. S/he will be responsible for the development of a range of undergraduate courses, including a thematic course in global/world history to be taught occasionally and a transnational South Asian survey course. S/he will be a full member of the integrated tri-campus Graduate History Department of the University of Toronto, including the supervision of masters and doctoral theses, and will collaborate with colleagues on relevant trans-disciplinary programs, initiatives, and public events. The successful candidate will be expected to develop an independently funded program of research and may have the opportunity to participate in developing new graduate programs to be located at UTSC. Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

UTSC is a research-intensive institution with an interdisciplinary commitment and a multicultural student body speaking a wide range of languages (including Tamil). The university offers the opportunity to teach, conduct research and live in one of the most diverse cities in the world. Additional information on the Department can be found at http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/~humdiv/index.html and on the tri-campus Graduate Department of History at http://www.history.utoronto.ca/.

All qualified candidates are invited to apply by clicking on the link below. Applications should include a cover letter, current curriculum vitae, a writing sample, teaching dossier (including a statement of teaching philosophy and sample syllabi relevant to the position), and a statement outlining current and future research interests.  If you have questions about this position, please contactTamilWorldSearch@utsc.utoronto.ca.  All application materials should be submitted online.

The UofT application system can accommodate up to five attachments (10 MB) per candidate profile; please combine attachments into one or two files in PDF/MS Word format. Submission guidelines can be found at: http://uoft.me/how-to-apply.

Applicants should also ask three referees to email letters directly to the Department at TamilWorldSearch@utsc.utoronto.ca.

The closing date for applications is 25 September 2012.


JEWISH HISTORY / STUDIES

Leo Baeck Institute – Executive Director

<http://www.h-net.org/jobs/job_display.php?id=44631>


Mount Allison University – Post-doctoral Fellow in East Asian

Religions

<http://www.h-net.org/jobs/job_display.php?id=44632>


 

Fully funded AHRC 3-year Studentship in visual anthropology at Oxford

Following the award of an AHRC collaborative studentship to Professor David Zeitlyn (ISCA) and Dr Chris Morton (Pitt Rivers Museum) for ‘Photographic cultures in Mbouda, Cameroon’ in conjunction with the British Library, a 3-year fully funded AHRC studentship will be available to the best-qualified candidate. The successful candidate will be expected to carry out research for a doctorate in anthropology on visual cultures in Mbouda, west Cameroon, supervised by Professor David Zeitlyn, Dr Chris Morton (Oxford) and Dr Marion Wallace (British Library), with support from Lynda Barraclough (BL/Endangered Archives

Programme). The student will undertake fieldwork in West Cameroon. Candidates should be able to demonstrate an interest in the study of photography and a commitment to ethnographic fieldwork in Cameroon. They should have a good Master?s degree and/or first degree in anthropology, museum studies or African studies. Some proficiency in French would be advantageous.

A summary of the project is available from http://www.anthro.ox.ac.uk/fileadmin/ISCA/FUTURE_STUDENTS/ Further_Particulars_AHRC.pdf.

Applicants must follow the usual application rules for admission as a Probationer Research Student (see

http://www.isca.ox.ac.uk/prospective-students/admissions/application-process/).

Applicants are bound by AHRC eligibility criteria: only EU citizens can be given awards and for a full award UK residency is required. Please see the Humanities Division and AHRC pages for detailed guidance on this.

http://www.humanities.ox.ac.uk/prospective_students/graduates/funding/ahrc/notes_of_guidance

http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/FundingOpportunities/Documents/GuidetoStudentFunding.pdf

The deadline for applications is 1 July 2012 and candidates should be ready to be called for interview for the studentship on 25th July 2012 at the British Library in London. It is expected that the successful candidate will take up the position in October 2012.

Further enquiries about the position may be directed to david.zeitlyn@anthro.ox.ac.uk


CALLS FOR PAPERS


Global Muslim Youth Resistance: Strategies for Social, Political, Economic and Cultural Change

Edited by Tahir Abbas and Sadek Hamid

Young Muslims under the age of 25 constitute nearly 800 million people across the globe and represent more than 50 percent of the population in many Muslim majority countries. The geopolitical implications of this demographic transformation are already making an impact. The uprisings in half a dozen Arab countries in 2011 demonstrated the potency of Muslim youth activism in the MENA region. Massive peaceful street protests, in part mobilised through a series of globally-networked social media platforms, confirmed increased civic and political participation among a new generation of Arab Muslim women and men, shifting the attention away from youth wings within Islamist movements. Similarly, young Muslims in Western Europe find themselves experiencing economic marginalisation, cultural exclusion and

political dislocation which have lead to frustration and violence. At the same time, there is a body of young Muslims who are immersed in positive social engagement and alliances against different forms of extremism. Their peers in North America are resisting social marginalisation, challenging Islamophobia, hybridising their identities, reinventing their religiosity and changing the perception of Islam in the West. Other young Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South East Asia are contesting anachronistic beliefs and practices within their communities, creating vibrant NGOs, social enterprises and are producing artistic, literary and musical expressions which redefine what it means to be Muslim in the early twenty-first century. Young Muslims are agents of social change, shaping the future of Muslim societies

across the world in matters of identity, politics, gender, violence, political participation, integration, multiculturalism and human rights in both the east and west.

This edited collection seeks to map the terrain of these diverse experiences of Muslim ‘youth landscapes’ across the globe as they determine their paths to resistance by challenging dominant paradigms inside and outside of their communities. We are seeking original multi-disciplinary contributions for a landmark extended edited volume that examines these changing realities. We wish to hear principally from scholars working in this area but we are also interested in contributions from youth activists, youth work practitioners, policy-makers and NGO professionals.

Please send a 500-word abstract and a 250-word biography to Tahir Abbas (tahir_abbas@hotmail.co.uk) and Sadek Hamid (sadekhamid@hotmail.com) by 31 August 2012. It is anticipated that the final 7,500 word chapters will be need to be submitted by 31 January 2013. We envisage publication of the edited book towards the end of 2013.


Title: Call for Papers: Catachreses? ‘Gender’, ‘Religion’ and

‘Postcoloniality’

Date: 2012-06-29

Description: CALL FOR PAPERS: WORKSHOP Catachreses? Gender,

Religion, and Postcoloniality December 1719 2012 Hosted by the

Centre for Gender and Religions Research School of Oriental &

African Studies, University of London on behalf of the

‘Innovations in the Study of Religion and Gender Project’

funded by The N …

Contact: cgrr@soas.ac.uk

URL: cgrr.wordpress.com

Announcement ID: 194823

http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=194823


Title: Orders and Itineraries: Buddhist, Islamic, and Christian

Networks in Southern Asia, c. 900-1900

Date: 2012-07-15

Description: Orders and Itineraries: Buddhist, Islamic, and

Christian Networks in Southern Asia, c. 900-1900 21 – 22 Feb

2013, Singapore The presence and importance of orders, as

corporate structures of ritual and interpretive religious

specialists, has long been noted in the history of South and

Southeast Asia. …

Contact: valerie.yeo@nus.edu.sg

URL:

www.ari.nus.edu.sg/events_categorydetails.asp?categoryid=6&eventid=1312

Announcement ID: 194728

http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=194728


Title: CFP: Appropriating the Bible in Medieval and Early Modern

Cultures – NEMLA 2013 (Boston)

Location: Massachusetts

Date: 2012-09-30

Description: CFP for medieval and early modern panel at 2013 NEMLA

Conference in Boston, MA, March 21-24: During the medieval and

early modern periods, the Bible was a source of worship,

instruction, and entertainment. This panel invites papers that

address ways the Bible was read, misread, adapted, or performed

Contact: pamela.longo@uconn.edu

URL: nemla.org/convention/2013/cfp_comparativelanguages.html

Announcement ID: 194742

http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=194742


Title: Call for Entries: Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia

Date: 2012-08-28

Description: Call for entries (Islam: A Worldwide Encyclopedia)

This is a call for entries for a major reference work on

Islamic faith contracted with ABC-CLIO. Inquiries should be

addressed to Editor, Dr. Cenap akmak, at cenapcakmak@yahoo.com.

Potential authors are kindly requested to send a brief CV

indicating …

Contact: cenapcakmak@yahoo.com

Announcement ID: 194805

http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=194805


Title: Post-Atheism: Religion, Society, and Culture in

Post-Communist Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Location: Arizona

Date: 2012-08-01

Description: The Melikian Center for Russian, East European and

Eurasian Studies at Arizona State University is pleased to

announce an international symposium on Post-Atheism in Eastern

Europe and Eurasia, to be held on the ASU campus in Tempe,

Arizona, February 7-9, 2013. The symposium will feature

presentation …

Contact: alalo@asu.edu

URL: melikian.asu.edu/events

Announcement ID: 194936

http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=194936


Title: South-East Asia as a Crossroads for Buddhist Exchange:

pioneer European Buddhists and Asian Buddhist networks 1860 –

1960

Date: 2012-09-13

Description: Conference Notice 2nd call for papers South-East Asia

as a Crossroads for Buddhist Exchange: pioneer European

Buddhists and Asian Buddhist networks 1860-1960 Study of

Religions Department, University College Cork, Ireland, 13-15

September 2012 http://buddhistcrossroads.wordpress.com With 12

presente …

Contact: phibulart@yahoo.com

URL: buddhistcrossroads.wordpress.com

Announcement ID: 194879

http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=194879


STUDENTSHIPS


Research Fellows (E13 TV-G-U, 75% part-time)

are sought by the Emmy Noether1 “Diversity of Non-Religiosity” Research Group at Goethe-

University Frankfurt am Main, based at the Institut für Ethnologie (Social Anthropology, Faculty

of Philosophy und History). The start date is 01.11.2012 and the positions are limited to a

period of three years.

The Doctoral Fellows will develop their research projects under the supervision of the Principal

Investigator. Their main task will be to complete individual research projects in collaboration with

the other participants. They will have an independent budget for research and travel expenses.

The Research Group further offers interdisciplinary and international collaborations and

comprehensive supervision by the Principle Investigator who is also teaching and conducting

research on this topic.

The Research Group is organized around the assumption that a comprehensive understanding

of the role of religion(s) within contemporary societies has to take the “diversity of non-

religiosity” into consideration. The aim of the Doctoral Fellowships is to conduct empirical

research on non-religious individuals, groups or phenomena – preferably in different countries.

For example topics may include but are not limited to indifference towards religion(s),

worldviews alternative to religion(s), or criticism of religion(s) made in relation to atheist,

humanist or skepticist thought or identity. The specific object of inquiry, methodology and

theoretical approach will depend on the Doctoral Fellows’ training, interest, and research focus.

Curiosity about the research topic, intellectual creativity, and an enjoyment of academic

collaboration are crucial for the success of the project.

All applicants must hold a master’s degree (M.A.) or an equivalent qualification in anthropology,

religious studies, sociology, or a related discipline.

The University is an equal opportunities employer and supports women’s career development.

Applications from women are thus explicitly welcome. Disabled applicants will be considered

preferentially in case of equivalent qualifications.

Please send the electronic version of your application (including cover letter, Curriculum Vitae,

university transcript/degree, two letters of recommendation, and a synopsis of the intended

research project of approx. 5000 words) to: quack@em.uni-frankfurt.de by 31.07.2012. Please

do not hesitate to contact Johannes Quack for further information concerning the research

project and the application process.

Getting into Graduate School

The following post was written by contributors, who blogs at A Theory of Mind. Erika  is a graduate student studying social psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has an MA in Cognition and Culture from Queen’s University Belfast and a BA in English from the University of Maryland. Her research focuses on religion and self-consciousness, religion as a social identity and moral community, and naturalistic thinking. The guidelines here are quite US-specific, however they are of use to anyone who is considering applying to further their education, and even to those who have already made this decision.

Erika’s work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, and can be freely distributed provided you acknowledge the source.

Getting into Graduate School

If you applying the graduate school, the first thing you should know about is what exactly goes into an application. Generally speaking, a graduate school application (in the US) consists of the following elements:

1. The application form—General questions (address, etc.) as well as possibly some department-specific questions.

2. A statement of purpose—aka SOP. A 500-1500 word essay describing your background, research interests (for research-based programs), career goals, and fit with the department to which you’re applying. It should be customized to each department.

3. Letters of recommendation—aka LOR. Typically 3, sometimes 2; some schools take more or fewer. You want as many of these to come from professors (as opposed to work supervisors) as possible, preferably ones with whom you have research experience or other outside-the-classroom relationships. Generally speaking, if you have 2 very good ones, the third one can be somewhat weaker.

4. Transcripts—from all post-secondary institutions. Some departments care about your overall GPA; others care more about your final 60 credits. If your transcripts look at all like mine [I got a 1.7 GPA (just about failing for anyone not familiar with the US point system) for my first year, had loads of Fs and course withdrawals, and finally withdrew from school entirely before getting my act together], you may consider putting a paragraph of explanation in your SOP, but be sure not to (a) explain weak performance with reference to a psychological or learning disability (prejudices against these are sadly present in graduate school, even in fields like education and psychology) or (b) appear to be whining or blaming poor performance on anyone other than yourself. Instead, focus on explaining why it could never happen again.

5. GRE score reports—(for US-based institutions) the importance of the GRE differs depending on the program, of course, as does the relative weighting of the subsections. If you don’t like your score, you can retake it, but you can only take the test once during a calendar month, so make sure you take the test at the latest in the month before you absolutely need it, in case you decide to retake. The scores are good for five years. Start studying now, and take as many practice tests as possible.

6. Curriculum vitae—aka CV or vita. Your academic resume. I recommend downloading some faculty CVs from the departments you are applying to. This will give you a sense of what these look like and what goes into them.

Some applications will ask for the following:

7. Writing sample—Generally, you should choose something you’ve turned in for a grade or publication. Preferably, it will be related to the field you are applying to. And, of course, take the time to thoroughly revise it.

8. Personal statement—aka PS. For some applications, this is the same as an SOP; however, others will ask for an SOP and a PS. In this case, the PS is generally used in deciding university-wide fellowship recipients, and it should be more personal than the SOP, focusing on challenges you’ve faced in education and/or membership in groups underrepresented in graduate education.

Generally speaking, the key to graduate admissions is fit—which means roughly that your interests are aligned with those of the department. So start browsing department websites. Get a feel for what the faculty are studying and decide if your interests match those of one or more faculty members. For large departments (such as psych and bio), the faculty are often further partitioned into divisions, and your application may be reviewed solely by the division to which you are applying, in which case you will want to focus on that division. Make a long-ish list of schools and faculty you are interested in, and then make an appointment with one of your professors to discuss that list. People in your field may know what departments tend to have good placement (getting people into jobs they want), have advisors whose students never graduate, etc. You want to know as much of this as possible.

Although I applied to 6 schools during each of my two application cycles, most people I know applied to double that number. This process gets EXPENSIVE. Application fees for US and Canadian schools range from around $50 to $100 each. Some of your undergraduate schools may charge for transcript copies. GRE score reports cost $20 each. It’s not uncommon to spend one to two thousand dollars on the applications. Then, some departments will have on-site interviews or visiting student weekends in the spring, for which some will reimburse travel expenses and other won’t. Depending on your geographic constraints in applications and in your luck in applying to wealthy departments, this could add in even more expense.

Overall, the grad school application process is capricious. Most excellent departments admit something under 10% of applicants; other departments are less selective. But admissions in any given year depend on such completely unknowable (to applicants) factors such as state budgets, the size of last year’s incoming class, the number of students who are leaving the program, the number of grants won by specific faculty members, etc. So getting in is at least as much about uncontrollable departmental factors as it is about being an excellent applicant. I recommend emailing professors you are interested in working with to inquire whether they are taking on new students in the next application cycle, as finding out ahead of time that a professor is not taking on new students will eliminate work and heartbreak spent on an opportunity that never truly existed.

_____________________

Now that I am a graduate student, I advise many bright, intellectually curious undergraduates who want to go on to graduate school. Over the last few years, I’ve compiled a fairly large number of resources and points of advice that I offer these students. While some of the advice is biased by the particular field (psychology) and degree-type (PhD at a US research intensive institution) I have chosen, I think that there are some common elements that can be adapted to any field.

Here’s an outline of the advice I typically give:

  • Gain as much research experience possible. Both because it is exactly the kind of training you need and because it is the best source of letters of reference. Working in more than one lab with give you a greater diversity of skills and training, and it will also give you multiple recommendation letters.
  • Read scholarly literature in the field that interests you. This will help you narrow down your interests, make you sound more intelligent and informed when speaking with potential advisors, and help you identify potential advisors of interest.
  • Speak to a professor in your intended field about what his or her job is like and what graduate school in that field is like. Similarly, speak a graduate student in your intended field about his or her experiences. Consult with professors and grad students about the schools/advisors you are considering applying to; ask them about who has good placement and whose students never graduate.
  • Email professors you are interested in working with. Tell them you’ve read some of their papers and share some interests. Ask whether they will be taking on new students and what they look for in a graduate student. Your match to an advisor is one of the most important components of your application and of your experience in graduate school, especially for students pursuing a research-oriented degree.
  • Join professional societies and honor societies and take an active role in them. Subscribe to their listservs. This will keep you up to date on the field, provide you with opportunities for extra experience/CV lines (e.g., reviewing submissions for student competitions, competing in those competitions, departmental service, etc.), and make you look engaged. You might also find opportunities for summer research positions or post-graduation jobs advertised on the email lists.
  • Read academic/science blogs or message boards. These will help you understand and navigate academic culture and give you better insight into the variety of experiences of academics. You can find great science blogs through ResearchBlogging, Scientific American, ScienceBlogs, Scientopia, and other science blog networks. You can also learn a lot about academic life in general by reading GradHacker, The Grad Café, GradLand, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  • Take the GRE seriously, if you are applying in the US. Study for a long time. Take lots of practice tests. Many US-based programs have unadvertised GRE cut-off points, or combine GRE with college marks (GPA) to create a composite score with which they rank applicants.
  • Seriously consider if graduate school and an academic career is a good option for you. Graduate school is intense. The academic job market is really tough, and the pressure does not end even if you land a great job at the end. You might be a post-doc or Visiting Assistant Professor before landing a more permanent position, and even once you are on the tenure track, you still have years of fighting for tenure ahead. Download CVs of professors you respect. Look at the number of cities they have lived in during their academic careers and the frequency of their moves. Is that a life that you want? If you are not interested in an academic position, understand that your supervisors in graduate school will have had precious little experience outside of academia that they could use to advise you.
  • Apply for jobs, too. You might not get in. Many students put in two rounds of applications or take a master’s position when they really want a doctoral position.
  • You will likely be rejected; it’s not personal, and it doesn’t mean you are not smart enough or capable enough to complete the program. What I’ve listed above are just the things that you can (more or less) control. There’s a lot that you cannot control, such as departmental funding, grants won by faculty members that might support students, the number of other truly awesome applicants who happen to apply in the same year to the same advisor, the number of students graduating from the program that year.

Of course, I don’t think that my opinions are the only ones prospective graduate students should consider, so I always give them links to lots of other opinions, including the following:

General Resources:

Letters of Recommendation:

If, after all of this, you still want to apply to graduate school: great! It’s a lot of work, but it can be a very rewarding choice. If you are a professor or graduate student who has a different perspective, please chime in! The more information applicants have, the better off they will be.