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Identify a Graduate Program

For applicants interested in graduate study in the United Kingdom, the UK maintains a ranking system for graduate programs based on formal evaluation by UK faculty in dozens of fields:

  • Use the UK government's Research Excellence Framework 2021 ranking of UK graduate programs to identify the strongest and most appropriate UK graduate degree programs that fit your interests as determined by UK faculty. This is an extremely useful snapshot of the quality of graduate programs based on the academic strength of departments at UK universities as determined by UK faculty, and helps dispel the myth that Oxford, Cambridge, and the best-known universities in London are the strongest academic programs in all fields. Instructions on how to use the REF 2021 results by subject
  • Once you have identified potential faculty mentors in the UK (ideally with advice and assistance of your Penn faculty mentor):
    • Contact faculty with whom you wish to study under or work with on a specific research project
    • For program questions, contact the faculty "Course Convener" or department administrator as directed by a program's website 
  • Watch this 2022 video on Graduate Study in the United Kingdom led by representatives from Imperial College London and University College London (information applicable to applicants to any UK university): London Calling: Learn How to Successfully Apply to Graduate Study in the United Kingdom

In the US, students typically seek a graduate degree in a "field" (e.g., Epidemiology), while in the United Kingdom, graduate students often pursue what the UK calls a "Course" in a much more specialized area (e.g., "International Health and Tropical Medicine"). When seeking a fellowship for graduate study, selecting the appropriate course is among the very most important aspects of one's application.

The first question you should ask yourself is: "What skills will I need to enhance to make myself more effective at contributing to solving this problem?" In UK terms:

  • Do you need to pursue a "Taught Course" (consisting primarily of course work and culminating in a thesis)?
  • Or would a "Research Course" such as an M.Phil. (consisting almost exclusively of a research project under the guidance of a leading faculty member) or even a doctorate (typically three or four years of research culminating in a major contribution to knowledge) be more useful and appropriate?

Whichever type of Course you pursue, who are the specific faculty you wish to work with, and why? The answer to the following question should be clear in your personal statement: "Why will this program be so valuable to me and my ability to address the problem?"

Funding Graduate Study in the UK

In addition to the fellowships listed on CURF's Find Fellowships page, potential funding resources for graduate study in the UK for both US citizens and non-US citizens include: