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Should I admit having no research training in my Statement of Intent?

  • 1.  Should I admit having no research training in my Statement of Intent?

    Posted 7 days ago
    Edited by Vu Tran-Thanh 7 days ago
    I'm working on my Statement of Intent with the hope of being admitted to a graduate program in the USA. One of my disadvantages is that I took a Masters by Coursework, which means I had no training in research methodology.
    Should I show this in my Statement of Intent and also tell the admission committee that over the years I have tried to teach myself by conducting several projects and presented them at some conferences in different countries (which were all funded by myself)?
    From your experience (and perspective), how would this be considered by the committee?
    Thank you very much!

    Vu Tran-Thanh, M.Ed.
    Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

  • 2.  RE: Should I admit having no research training in my Statement of Intent?

    Posted 6 days ago
    Hello Vu,

    An admission of this is not necessarily the shot in the foot that some people think it is, particularly if you can demonstrate applied learning through the various avenues you have mentioned. Also keep in mind that some PhD programs may offer courses in research methodology as part of their program, so being aware of the program offerings may help you choose a program that will support this.

    In other cases, schools may recommend and MRes (Research Masters) to supplement what you've done on your own, and I have seen some programs that combine MRES and PhD programs (though this is mostly in the UK where they offer a 4-year program instead of the usual 3-year program for the PhD).

    I would consider speaking to the academic advisers of the schools you wish to do your PhD at and ask them directly if you need a research Masters or if their program provides research methodologies.


    PS: I'm sure Betsy will be able to provide more insight into this as well. :-)

    Mr. Robin Dahling
    Lecturer, English Language Teaching Unit
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
    Sha Tin, New Territories
    Hong Kong
    Phone: (852) 3943 5941

  • 3.  RE: Should I admit having no research training in my Statement of Intent?

    Posted 3 days ago
    Thanks for the nudge, Robin--I was going to answer Vu's question yesterday and forgot!

    Once again, the answer depends a lot on the program you choose. As Robin noted, some programs do not expect you to have had any research training or experience in your MA, and others do.

    In my own education, my MA-TESOL degree was very pedagogy-focused, so the only research we did was action research, and my capstone work was a teaching portfolio. This wasn't a problem for going into the PhD, however, because the program I entered (PhD in Education at UC Davis) did not require any background in research. I was able to learn a lot from my courses that helped me shape my dissertation research.

    Here at U Hawaii, however, we do expect PhD applicants to have had some preparation and experience in doing research. What you describe of your own post-MA preparation is exactly what we would like to know about, since we are aware that not all applicants will have had MA coursework in research methods. It sounds like you've made an effort to learn how to conduct research and have actually carried out several studies that have led to sharing your findings internationally. That is all important evidence that you have the foundations for doing PhD research. In our program, we require students to take at least 2 research courses after they have been admitted, so we don't expect you to know everything you need for doing the dissertation.

    To answer your question, then, I would suggest that you definitely discuss your research training in your statement of purpose. Don't apologize for not having coursework during your MA--instead, play up the fact that you recognized a need and took the initiative to learn while you were already teaching!

    Best wishes,


  • 4.  RE: Should I admit having no research training in my Statement of Intent?

    Posted 6 days ago

    How are you doing Vu Tran-Thanh,

    Have you found a school in the USA where you want to apply?  If you have found a graduate study program in the PhD level already, and you are asking whether your previous academic college credits can be applied toward a (PhD Program), the answer to this question is---a sure yes!  Most schools in the states work very much the same way---as they are in your neck of the woods---schools accept college credits and will account them toward the degree you want to study.  But know this:  not all credits from you masters' program will be accepted---even if a school would count all (masters credits) toward the degree you want to pursue---the school would still give you more courses/subjects to take. Though schools differ in requirements, most have a minimum of at least (9 credits) for you to take in their school or in the program---as a requirement to get the degree.  If your question pertains to whether or not the schools here in the states would not accept you for---lack of research academic work, the answer is No!  PhD programs---has been addressed here already, can be difficult, but not impossible to achieve---we have so many people now with that academic achievement in classrooms, (i.e., educators in colleges and universities, right?).  Go ahead and apply and write your statement if the school will ask you for it, but if the school won't ask for an explanation, then, don't worry about it---do not write a Statement of Purpose, in other words.  Go ahead and apply and be prepared to have the (tuition money) and the (stamina) to work hard to finish the program.  Come back on this teacher's forum and share with us how did you get through the program.  We want to hear success stories from colleagues on this platform.  Good luck!  

    MerriLee  Leonard
    Greenville Univesity
    Author:  Beginner English Grammar Guide for English as a Second Language Students (1st Ed).
    ISBN-13: 978-1524962708.
    ISBN-10: 1524962708.

  • 5.  RE: Should I admit having no research training in my Statement of Intent?

    Posted 6 days ago
    Hi Vu,
    Academic integrity comes into play here. As professionals, propriety should be our watch word. You start now by showing your honesty, and this you will see you through your professional life. One day, you will sit on a committee that evaluates candidates and will expect honesty from the applicants.
    Be honest and be real.

    Okon Effiong
    Qatar University, Doha, Qatar