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Doctoral Schools 2016: What Applicants Can Expect

What changes have been made to the application process for HSE’s doctoral schools? How does submitting a portfolio increase your chances of getting in? Below is a discussion of everything 2016 applicants to HSE’s doctoral programmes can expect. The application period is already open.  

How HSE’s Doctoral Programmes Are Structured

There are currently 13 different doctoral schools at HSE, and one more will be added soon – the doctoral school in physics – as this is becoming one of HSE’s more prominent fields of study. In total, HSE’s doctoral schools are expecting to accept 340 individuals.

Upon being accepted to a doctoral programme, some of the best applicants might be offered a spot in the full-time advanced doctoral programme. As part of the programme, students receive a stipend of 30,000 rubles per month, and from the programme’s onset they are given the opportunity to participate in some of HSE’s various research groups, laboratories, and institutes. These students are, however, also expected to meet higher expectations, particularly in regards to the number of articles published in international peer-reviewed journals. The advanced doctoral programme began in 2010 with the economics and sociology schools, but the programme now covers all areas of study, from the humanities to the technical sciences.

Other doctoral students will have the opportunity to receive scholarships as well. Depending on the results of their research activity during the first year, PhD students might be awarded special scholarships comparable to those offered in the advanced doctoral programme. It is ultimately up to the HSE Academic Fund to decide who receives which scholarships and stipends.

HSE also partners with a lot of foreign universities and research centres, which is why dozens of PhD students have written their dissertations abroad.

The Doctoral Curriculum

As a national research university, HSE has the right to develop its own educational standards. ‘Not only have we taken advantage of this in our bachelor’s and master’s programmes, but we’ve also done so in our doctoral programmes as well,’ notes HSE Vice Rector Sergey Roshchin, who is also an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Economic Sciences.

Lectures only make up about 16% of HSE’s doctoral programmes, and classes focus on disciplines that help students master various research methods and prepare for comprehensive exams. All other coursework is aimed at developing a wide range of research skills.

Who Applies to the Doctoral Programmes

Half of all applicants and around 40% of those who get into a doctoral programme at HSE have statistically been graduates of other universities. ‘We try to find hardworking and capable individuals who are interested in conducting research and working with HSE’s research team. It’s not important where prospective students are from or whether they graduated from a different Russian or foreign university,’ Sergey Roshchin adds.

The Portfolio Competition

This year, just like a year before, students have the opportunity to participate in a portfolio competition, though this is not a requirement. The window is already open for students to apply to a doctoral programme; just be sure your portfolio highlights your accomplishments and motivation. The doctoral schools will evaluate these portfolios and select candidates with the most notable achievements. These candidates are guaranteed a spot in a doctoral programme and do not have to participate in the general application process. The candidates need only pass the entrance exams, which include a subject test.

In 2015, more than 250 people submitted portfolio applications, and over 80 of them were accepted. It is important to understand that even if a portfolio is not successful in the competition, the applicant is still encouraged to apply for their respective doctoral programme the normal way, which includes obtaining high marks on entrance exams.

Portfolio applications are accepted electronically. The applicant may also be required to attend an interview. This can be done online, so there is no need for a prospective student to travel to Moscow just for the interview.

New in 2016

International agreements have long set quotas for international students in bachelor’s and master’s programmes. This year, for the first time ever, this practice will extend to HSE’s doctoral programmes as well, with 20 spots being set aside for foreigners.  

The second important change this year is that prospective PhD students can now take their entrance exams not only in Russian, but in English as well. ‘We’ll give this opportunity to our foreign applicants,’ Professor Roshchin says. ‘In addition, international doctoral students will be able to take classes in English in any of our doctoral programs,’ he adds.

Additionally, there has been a change to the list of entrance exams. The previously required philosophy exam will not be necessary in 2016.

Requirements for Doctoral Students

It is still extremely important that PhD students defend their dissertations on time. ‘A dissertation is a project, and a project has a time dimension to it that you need to adhere to,’ Roshchin notes.

In order to defend your dissertation, you have to have three publications (two for several programmes). In addition to quantity, quality is also important here. Further, the university does not distinguish between ‘junior’ and ‘senior’ academics – the requirements and criteria are the same for the entire academic community. The publications must be in peer-review journals that have a high reputation and are available to other researchers. There are also no language requirements for doctoral students who are not in the advanced doctoral programme, though they should keep in mind that it is always a good idea for their research to be accessible to their foreign colleagues. As for students in the academic doctoral programme, they are required to produce a publication in English.

See also:

HSE University Launches Study at GES-2 Cultural Centre

The MendiT Research Lab, based at the HSE University Doctoral School of Arts and Design, will become a resident of the GES-2 Cultural Centre for a month from June 5th. The researchers will introduce members of the urban community to the lab and explore the practices of mending clothes together with them. Some of the lab participants told the HSE News Service what it's like to be searching for a method and object of research.

Doctoral Students Need the Support of Not Only Their Academic Supervisor, but Also of Other Faculty Staff

To successfully defend a doctoral dissertation, PhD candidates need not only the support of their academic supervisor and close friends and relatives, but also system-wide assistance from the university department or faculty where they study. However, HSE University researchers have found that such support can take different forms and that each has a different effect on how confident a student feels in their ability to successfully defend their dissertation. The results of their study were published in the journal Higher Education Quarterly.

‘I Want to See Studies Emanating from Africa Contributing Substantially to Cognitive Science’

Abdul-Raheem Mohammed from Ghana has recently defended a PhD dissertation in cognitive psychology at HSE University via remote procedure. Abdul-Raheem and his academic supervisor, Dmitry Lyusin, talked to the HSE News Service about their cooperation, the advantages and complications of remote PhD defence at HSE University, and the prospects of cognitive science in African countries.

Applications Open for 2022 Full-Tuition Doctoral Scholarships

International students interested in joining HSE University can apply for full-tuition scholarships from the Russian government. Applications for the 2022/23 academic year are open from March 1–11. We spoke to HSE University doctoral students about their work and about how scholarships have helped them pursue their research goals.

‘Gaining Practical Knowledge and Learning to Do a Lot in a Short Time’—The Life of an HSE PhD Student

Milica Simonovic, from Belgrade, Serbia, is a doctoral student at the HSE University Faculty of Economic Sciences. She is currently working on her doctoral thesis on corporate governance and intellectual capital disclosure. We interviewed Milica to find out more about her thesis and her experience of the university’s application process for PhD students.

‘A Good Teacher Is a Good Student.’ Cultivating Success Through Patience and Openness

Alaa N. Assaf is a doctoral student at HSE University’s Faculty of Law. In addition to doing research for his PhD thesis, he teaches undergraduates. Alaa has shared his thoughts on studying international law, life in Moscow, and what he misses about teaching in person.

‘One Year of Combined-Track Studies Expands Students’ Research Horizons’

HSE University continues to develop its new study format for students embarking on a research career: the Combined Master's-PhD track. This year, there will be 75 places for Master’s students on the track—two thirds more than last year. HSE Vice Rector Sergey Roshchin talks about the appeal of the combined-track option, how to enrol, and the achievements of last year’s applicants.

'When We Find Something That Doesn’t Work Well Enough, We Replace It in Order to Develop a More Effective Approach'

The winners of the third annual Ilya Segalovich Award were recently announced in Moscow. Established by Yandex, the award promotes the scientific endeavours of young researchers from Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan in the field of Computer Science. Among this year’s winners were three HSE students, including Alexander Grishin, a Doctoral student of the Big Data and Information Retrieval School of the HSE Faculty of Computer Science. Alexander spoke to us about his work, research challenges, and why he was surprised to receive the award.

HSE Researcher Named First Winner of British Early Career Researchers Award

The British Educational Research Association, BERA, has announced the winners of its Early Career Researchers Award, founded this year to recognize emerging researchers. The new award’s first two winners are Saule Bekova, Research Fellow at theInstitute of Education of the Centre of Sociology of Higher Education, and Binwei Lu of Durham University (UK). In the announcement, the organizing committee praised them as ‘outstanding scholars’ and noted the potential significance of their research for the field of education.

In Plain Text: HSE MIEM Doctoral Student Wins a RusCrypto Competition

At the 2021 RusCrypto Competition, HSE PhD student Anastasia Malashina (MIEM) won the student report category by the unanimous decision of the competition committee, which included the directors of the RusCrypto-2021 Association, members of the programme committee, and experts in the field of computer security. Anastasia spoke with HSE News Service about her presentation.