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Admission to HSE Was a Key Event in My Life

Ekaterina Vasilevskaya is a second year student on the full-time advanced doctoral programme, and also a visiting lecturer at HSE. Since 2016, she has participated in the 'Health Literacy and Its Impact on Weight-Related Behaviors in College Students’ research project at Florida International University, USA. In her interview for the Doctoral School of Psychology, Ekaterina spoke about being admitted to the HSE doctoral programme, and her studies.

How to become a doctoral student

I have spent almost eight years at HSE already: four at the Faculty of Psychology undergraduate programme, two years doing an MA, and two more years on the doctoral programme in ‘General Psychology, Personality Psychology, History of Psychology’. Admission to HSE was a major event in my life. I have become the person I am today largely at HSE thanks to communicating and collaborating with my professors, colleagues and classmates.

About the full-time advanced doctoral programme

The full-time advanced doctoral programme offers a good stipend (by local standards), and the ability to devote yourself fully to research, as you have a unique opportunity to spend time at an international university.

The most important part of the doctoral programme is carrying out research and writing your thesis. Students can choose what they would like to focus on in the upcoming year and plan their activities in advance.

In my doctoral research, I look at people’s views of themselves in the future (their ‘future selves’) and how this correlates with their motivation. The most general question I am interested in is: what characteristics should future selves have in order to motivate people to make this future reality?

The topic of my research is being actively developed in the West, so I knew from the very beginning that I would take up a place at a US university. There is also evidence that what motivates people’s views of their future selves varies from culture to culture, so I was particularly interested in a cross cultural study, which would enable me to compare Russian and American respondents.

Time at Florida International University, USA

I have a lot of great memories of my time at Florida International University. First, it was thrilling to immerse myself in life at an American university and work on a huge campus. Second, I gained invaluable experience in communicating with my American colleagues, working in a laboratory, and attending lectures. Before taking this placement, I was concerned about my level of knowledge, but it turned out that the education I had received at HSE was on a par with that at the American university, and that our educational systems have a lot of similarities.

Doctoral students’ everyday life

When it comes to doctoral students’ everyday lives, HSE students have to attend a selection of obligatory and elective courses.  I found the courses in Academic Writing, which helps you write academic texts and give presentations in English, and statistics and data analysis in SPSS and R, to be the most useful. Thanks to the Academic Writing course I was able to prepare a poster presentation for the 31st International Congress of Psychology (ICP2016), which took place in Yokohama, Japan. The courses in statistics enriched my set of data processing methods, which I used when presenting data at that conference.

One of the conditions of doctoral studies is teaching practice, as part of which the doctoral students teach undergraduates. Over these two years, I had the chance to work with students of history, philosophy, and psychology. I’ve had excellent experiences interacting with student audiences.

After graduating from the doctoral programme, I am considering continuing in research and teaching. I am also very interested in psychological counseling and therapy. I am confident that the knowledge, experience and opportunities that I’ve received at HSE will be useful in any professional activity.

Deadline for applying to HSE Doctoral schools is September 15, 2017. Find out more here.

See also:

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September 4, 2019 was a day of firsts for the School of Psychology and the Centre for Cognition and Decision Making. Zachary Yaple, who was born in the United States and grew up in England, defended his dissertation, 'Neurophysiological Correlates of Risky Decision-Making'. His defense marked the first PhD to be prepared at the Centre for Cognition and Decision Making and the first PhD to be awarded to an international student by the Doctoral School of Psychology.

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