A master’s and doctoral degree can be important for anyone seeking financial stability and professional achievement. But, for that reason, the selections are usually competed. Here are some tips for getting into the postgraduate degree you both want.
First of all, it is important to clarify: Masters and doctorates are traditionally courses to conduct research, develop theory and prepare teachers. But there is also the professional master’s degree, which emerged as an attempt to combine academic masters with the more practical and immediate needs of the job market.
Regardless of your training area during your undergraduate degree, research hard on the masters and doctoral programs that interest you most. It is useful to search the program site and read the material, paying special attention to the lines of research, which helps identify which one of your work fits best.
It seems obvious, but an important step to entering a master’s and doctorate is also to know the work of the teachers well. Take a look at teachers’ Lattes curricula and try reading some of their articles. In addition, compare the grades of each program according to the area evaluation of the Coordination of Improvement of Higher Level Personnel (Capes, the body that oversees this type of training).
How does the selection process for masters and PhDs work?
The selective processes for masters and doctorates vary from institution to institution. All details will be in the edict, so read the document carefully and note important information such as dates, documents and phases of the selection process. If this year’s call for proposals is not yet available, use the previous year’s reference.
Despite the differences, it is possible to identify some points common to most graduate programs. In general, the processes are composed of up to three phases: one or more written tests, documentary analysis and interview with the candidates.
In the first, the competitor undergoes a test in which it must obtain minimum score – besides a good placement – to be selected for the next phase. In the second stage, you should send several documents, such as the curriculum, the pre-project, the school history, among others.
The documents will be analyzed and the selected candidate will be invited to a faculty group. The last phase consists of a Saturday in which the candidates answer questions about the relevance of the theme chosen, the dedication they want to offer to the program, among others.
Written exam time
Before taking the written test, it is imperative to read the recommended bibliography and answer the questions carefully. Most programs also require proof of proficiency in a foreign language, usually English. If you do not have language proficiency, it is worth investing in a good instrumental English course, since the second language will be useful not only in the selection, but also during the course.
Remember that the proposal of the written test is to separate the most capable candidates from the rest of the interested parties. It is a knockout stage and getting a good grade does not guarantee the place, but rather that the selectors will read your work.
Preparing the pre-project
The most important document in a graduate selection is your project or pre-project, since it explains what you intend to do during the study years. It indicates what their interests are, their theoretical baggage and the ability to formulate problems and solve them and should be appropriate to the lines of research and, if possible, to some advisor.
The most difficult thing is to formulate a research problem. The question must condense premises and hypotheses, so it is something that requires time, reading and observation of the object. Do not forget to follow ABNT standards at the time of writing.
To do a good research project, it is always interesting to talk to other post-graduate students, especially if they research in your area of interest. They will be able to give opinions and critiques about the project, to verify that their idea is clear enough and if the theme is original. This is a good way to improve the project before it is evaluated by the graduate program.
Every candidate for a Masters or PhD candidate must have an academic curriculum on the Lattes platform. Just like in professional curricula, make sure you do not make mistakes in Portuguese, list all information about your academic history, such as courses, specializations, publications, articles and research. Avoid being informal in the presentation text.
About the interview
The professors of the masters and doctoral courses generally want to know if the selected candidates will be able to finish the dissertation or thesis within the period stipulated by Capes. That is why it is important to be safe and credible during the interview.
They may ask if you will be able to reconcile work and family with your studies, if you wish to pursue your master’s and doctorate even without scholarship assistance, and in the case of private universities, tuition may be paid during the course.
Questions about the research proposal are also common at the time of the interview. The goal is to discover the candidate’s familiarity with theory and especially with methodology. Interviewers want to know if you know how the master’s and doctoral program you want to join works. Therefore, they will ask you to describe the steps you intend to take and how exactly you intend to achieve the objectives you have set for them and respond to the research problem.
It is good to be prepared to explain all of this, although research may change over the masters or doctorate. Interviewers may also ask if you would like to make changes to the project. In that case, show your detachment to your project, because, as you study, you will make corrections voluntarily. Some people even change the focus and the theme of the research.
Some selective processes require students to go through interviews or oral defenses of their research projects. To avoid getting upset by nervousness, get ready in advance, with the help of friends, for the most common questions about your project and line of research. Be ready to answer questions about your academic background and future dedication to your studies.
Did not pass?
If you did not get approved the first time, do not worry. It is possible to apply again in a next call for proposals and to use previous experience to increase the chances of passing the master’s and doctorate of dreams.