Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pursuing a PhD in USA

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Thanks to my Cousin Ramakrishna Tippireddy for sharing these details and his experience. He did his graduation and masters from India and is currently pursuing his PhD from the University of Southern California.

The Important First Step

Before you get started with the application process, it is important for you to be clear on why you want to do your PhD. Once you are clear start researching about your areas of interest and search for the Professors and research groups working in those fields. Contact the Professors with your CV and express your interest in their work. If they like your CV they may show special interest during the application process which makes a big difference to your application.

PhD Application process:

The PhD application process is similar to that of Masters (MS). At a high level these are the key areas which will be covered in detail in the sections below.

1) Decide on the area of research
2) Choose a University
3) Get in touch with the Academic Advisor and apply.

Application requirements:

1) Undergraduate/Masters GPA
You can apply for PhD with a Bachelors Degree. Having a Masters degree is not a requirement .While doing PhD, you can also get a masters degree simultaneously. In either case, GPA is an important criterion. The GPA from the last two years of college is the key.

2) Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores

GRE is also very important and different universities give different weightage for GRE.GRE is mandatory.


TOEFL exam is required for international students whose native language is not English

4) Recommendation letters (3-5 depending on the university)

Recommendation letters play a crucial role in PhD admission process. The reputation of the faculty recommending in the area of research is key for your chances to get admission and funding. 

5) Personal statement

Personal statement describes you research interests and also demonstrates your writing skills. A well written personal statement is required.

6) Publications

If you have any journal publications and/or have attended any conferences it will have good weight.

The PhD process

Once, you get the admission for PhD, the PhD process can be generalized as follows.

1) Course Requirement

Depending on your research requirement, you will have to the course work. You will have to do 8-10 courses, if you have a master’s degree and 15-18 courses if you start after bachelors. Some of these courses will be counted for your Masters degree.

2) Screening/Qualifying exam

With in first 2-3 semesters, you have to pass a screening exam to continue in the PhD programs. This exam varies from university to university; it is either written, oral or combination of both. It is to test if you can continue in the PhD program.

3) Thesis Proposal (candidature)

In your PhD programs, you need to submit a new thesis which is novel and original research work. This is another exam in which you need to propose the problem you will be working on for your thesis. For this you need to form an advising committee
That consists of 5-6 faculty members. You have to convince the committee that your proposed thesis can be completed within the stipulated time of PhD program and is of quality research. Once you pass this exam, you will be PhD candidate.

4) Thesis Defense

After the proposal, the PhD candidate should continue his work towards finishing the goals set up during the proposal. When the work is finished he has written the thesis and defend in front of the defense committee consisting of a group of faculty members specialized in his field. After successful defense, he has to submit the thesis to the University to get his degree.

In the process of research work you will get to attend many conferences to present your work and publish your work in reputed journals. It is important to get your work published in reputed journals.

Pros and Cons of PhD


1) If you like research, it is very exciting to invent/discover/find something new
2) You will have in depth knowledge about your research area,
3) Can try for academic positions (very stable, more freedom on your work)


1) Area of expertise is narrowed as you get specialized
2) Long time commitment (4-6 yrs)
3) Be prepared for frustrating times

My Experience

I did my bachelors and masters from India and came to US for my PhD. I didn't have any intentions of doing PhD during my bachelors. Only reason for doing masters was to get a good job. During my masters, I liked my research work that I did as a part of my ME thesis. My Professor encouraged me to go for higher studies. These two things motivated me to go for a PhD.

Before coming for PhD I worked for a couple of years in India. It is good experience to work in industry to understand the practical problems. I

In the application process, I searched for faculty working in my area of research and
Also got advise from my ME thesis advisor. I contacted many professors, and then applied to selected universities.                       
I am currently, in 5th year of PhD. During the PhD, I got to attend many conferences,
Meet experts in my field and also got an opportunity to work in a research lab. PhD duration is lot of fun if we make use of the time properly. Some times it can be frustrating when you can't produce convincing new results. These are all parts of PhD process.

I suggest you go for your PhD only if you are passionate for research. PhD for the sake of a degree is not worth doing. With this I would like to express my best wishes for every PhD aspirant.

Check the following link for further details:

Ramakrishna Tippireddy

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Vendor Concept For IT Consultants

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Understanding the layers of the vendor onion is a must for every IT consultant .Though you have the required skills and work permits you can not just work as a consultant directly for a company in the US. Corporations in the US hire consultants only through a preferred vendor. Preferred Vendor is nothing but a business term for a body shopping company. And this preferred vendor will in turn have his preferred vendors who employ you. This can be compared to the Computer Networks OSI Model where the  layers below provide services to the layer above. The only difference in our case is that we are the only layer that provides services to all the layers above.

Even when you get paid on a 80-20 percentage basis, depending on where you stand in the food chain you end up getting paid half or less than what the client pays the preferred vendor. So working directly for the preferred vendor or the client should be our goal as a consultant. Not all preferred vendors process our visas and green cards. And that is just one good reason why we should get your green card processed ASAP through the employer we work for. Having a green card or at least an EAD will help us switch to different vendors and work directly with the client or preferred vendor.

While we get busy doing our best at our new clients place we should also keep up  with the happenings in the technical as well as immigration spaces. And when you are ready do not hesitate to run your own company to skip one or all the layers in between. In the consulting business even a dollar an hour makes a big difference and running pay checks and handling taxes is no big deal.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

5 Ways to Eradicate World Hunger In Our Day

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One US Dollar serves 8 meals
One Mouse click serves 1.1 cups of rice

When we see a skinny child deprived of food in a remote African/Indian village on TV we feel sympathetic and intend to help them. Let us take it to the next step of compassion by acting and making it a part of our life and we will eradicate hunger from this planet. One percent of the time and money we spend on celebrating a happy moment in our life, One percent of the time and money we spend on researching and buying electronics, One percent of the time and money we spend on our vacation is all that is needed.

Read more on hunger around the world by going to bread.org and http://www.wfp.org/. Here is how we can end hunger by making the steps below a part of our day - please remember and act.

1) What we and our family should do

Assess how much food is wasted in our household and find a way to reduce it. At every meal time remember those without enough to eat.Serve more meatless dinners a week using non animal sources of protein that require fewer of world’s resources to produce. For me the easiest way to give up eating any unhealthy food or eating just to satisfy the palate is to think about those I can serve.

Give one percent of our paycheck to the local schools or other places which serve food. Read my article on Providing Snacks to students during the study hours.
2) Serve at the Community Food Banks

Volunteer a local food bank or other program that server people who are hungry. Visit secondharvest.org to find local food banks or inquire locally.

3) Donate leftovers

Spur donations of good leftover food. Encourage restaurants, hotels, caters at work and even universities to donate usable food. In the US Bill Emerson Good Samaritan food donations act of 1996 protects donors from liability .Check secondharvest.org for more details. Many countries and cities have  toll free numbers we can call for our leftovers to be picked up. If not there is our opportunity to start one.

4) Work through Religious groups

Hunger doesn’t have a religion. I go to a temple which cooks and serves food to the community every Sunday. I help cutting the vegetables and cleaning the utensils. I am sure there will be similar events at your church, mosque or respective religious places. Suggest to your religious community to study hunger and your faith traditions response.

5) Use Technology To Serve

A)Click every day

Its free and it takes only a few seconds and we can do it every day .We click and the website advertisers contribute.
  1. Click by going to  thehungersite.com to help feed a child.The hungersite.com provides 1.1 cups of rice per click
  2. The literacysite.com provides books to children for every click.
  3. Serve rice while we play the Vocabulary game

Bookmark these URLs and click them every day.

B) Support by placing links to these programs on our blogs and websites 


Copy Paste the HTML from the link below on your blog or website to help Children with Autism.

What we do will have a positive ripple effect. For example by serving snacks during the evening study hours before the final exams the results were astonishing. Better education will result in better if not job opportunities which in turn will build a better family and society. 

Please act and share these with your family and friends.When we act as an individual we do something.When we act together we do everything to end hunger and poverty.

Related Articles

Indian Caste System : Know your history

One Village One India : Updates and Future Events

Inspiring Teachers : Importance of quality education

A Day To Remember- One Village One India!

Providing snacks to students during the study hours

Giving back to your school

From an NRI to an NRI : Unity and Clarity

One Village One India-Primary School Building and Facilities

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