Can a PhD Admissions Consultant Help You? — The Admit Lab

Philippe Barr, PhD
8 min readFeb 7, 2023

Numerous enthusiastic prospective students apply to master’s or PhD programs at top graduate programs but only a fraction of them are accepted at their target school. Various components contribute to the admission rate into grad school — from your academic transcript, test scores, and course competitiveness to the reputation of the university — each matter just as much as any other factor.

Admittance rates in graduate admissions can be dramatically disparate. While some of the most competitive programs have acceptance rates as low as 5%, others may range from 11–27%. Of course, having a strong GPA and a strong GRE score is essential to ensure you get accepted — but that isn’t all you need! Equipping yourself with extra knowledge and skills can be extremely helpful in giving you an edge in securing your place in ivy league schools.

How Competitive Are PhD Programs?

In 2021, acceptance rates for doctoral programs remain relatively low in comparison to other post-graduate options. While data varies depending on the field of study, in general, acceptance rates for doctoral degrees range from around 5–15%, with some of the more competitive fields having even lower numbers. Additionally, acceptance rates can also vary depending on the institution and its admissions requirements. Despite the relatively low acceptance rate, more and more students are recognizing the value of a doctoral degree and are applying to grad school in higher numbers than ever before.

Regardless of your field and interests, securing a spot in a top master’s program or PhD program at a top university can be an intimidating undertaking. Remarkably competitive fields accept only the most qualified applicants — some schools even admit just two to three people per specialty! To be successful, your grad school application must dazzle among the competition with both strength and finesse.

MBA admissions is an extremely well-documented and understood field, with plenty of resources available online to help students learn about the application process in business school, apply, and get accepted into MBA programs at tops business schools. From videos and podcasts to blogs, guides, and even full-fledged admissions services, there is an apparatus in place to help aspiring MBA students navigate the admissions process and make their dream of being admitted to an MBA program a reality.

Despite the rise in online resources about admission procedures, information on specific programs remains scarce and not easily accessible. Admission to PhD programs and specialized masters degree programs at top graduate schools such as Masters of Public Policy or Master of Public Administration remain a highly competitive process that is often opaque and nebulous online. Moreover, the criteria for admission to these programs can vary greatly from one program to another, making it difficult to compare or contrast programs. Such an opaque admission process can be difficult to navigate, particularly for those lacking the necessary guidance or support. As such, prospective applicants must avail themselves of all available resources to gain insight into the admission process and increase their chances of success.

Graduate school admissions consulting can be an invaluable asset by providing you with the support and direction you need to succeed.

Do You Need Help and Should You Care?

Graduate school admissions consultants can be an invaluable asset in achieving success on your PhD journey. They are experts in the graduate school admissions process and can provide you with valuable insight and guidance throughout the entire application process. They can identify potential weaknesses in graduate school applicants and offer advice on how to strengthen them. They can also help you develop a strategy for presenting your best self to admissions committees, thus increasing your chances of being accepted at your target university.

Graduate school admissions counseling can also provide resources to help you with admissions interviews. Consultants often offer interview prep by providing mock interviews to hone your interviewing skills. They can provide a comprehensive review of your application materials and provide feedback on how to make them even more competitive. They can also answer questions about best-fit programs, provide personalized feedback for writing the best possible essays to stand out from other applicants, and even help you create a timeline to ensure that all deadlines are met and that they align with your personal goals.

Moreover, a PhD admissions consultant can help you identify the best fit for your academic and career goals. In addition to providing an analysis of program options, reviewing your application materials and providing personalized advice on which graduate school best meets your needs, they can also provide information about funding opportunities that may be available to you and advise you on developing a budget for your program.

Taking advantage of the resources of graduate admissions consulting can help you reflect on your accomplishments and construct application components that perfectly capture your skills and ambition. The expert guidance of your consultant can help you ascertain the most significant, noteworthy aspects of your background to ensure that you put forth your best self in front of the admissions committee. In other words, graduate admissions consultants provide personalized feedback with any application components-such as the statement of purpose, CV, additional application essays, or even reference letters (if both parties have concurred on composing a letter) -to guarantee that it reflects positively upon you.

Overall, tapping into the resources of sound graduate admissions consulting can provide guidance in maximizing your chances of success in the application process for your chosen program. It can provide invaluable resources that can give you the best chance of success in a competitive admissions process. With the help of an expert in admissions, you can ensure that your application materials are well-crafted and demonstrate your best self, thus increasing the chances of obtaining your dream graduate degree.

Additionally, a PhD admissions consultant can help provide clarity on the decision-making process. They can give you an understanding of what criteria schools use when making their admissions decisions and provide insight into the best way to approach each component of the application for each university.

How to Choose The Right Phd Admissions Consultant For You?

The key to finding the right PhD admissions consultant for you is doing your research and taking into account your own needs. Start by looking at the experience, qualifications, and services offered by the consultants. Is their experience specific to business school, law school, or medical school? Do they have experience with the humanities or social sciences? Make sure to find out to what schools their clients have been accepted in the past. Read any reviews or testimonials from former clients to get a better idea of what their services are like. Set up a meeting or call with each consultant to ask questions and discuss your needs in greater detail. Make sure that the consultant you choose is someone who understands your personal goals and is willing to work with you to reach them. Ultimately, selecting the right consultant should be a well-informed decision that you can feel confident about. With the right consultant by your side, you will be more likely to succeed in achieving admission into a top-tier university.

What Questions Should Prospective Graduate Students You Ask Before Hiring a Graduate Admissions Consultant?

Before hiring a PhD admissions consultant, it is important to ask some key questions. What type of experience do they have in higher education? Have they ever been part of a PhD admissions committee? How familiar are they with the admissions process of top graduate programs? What kind of success rate have they had in the past and with which grad schools? Additionally, ask about their fees and payment structure, so that you can be sure it is a good fit for your budget. Finally, ask if they have any other extensive experience that may be beneficial to your applications, such as expertise in essay support and writing, or specialized knowledge of your target schools. Once you have asked all these questions, you will be better equipped to decide if the consultant is the right fit for your needs.

Having a PhD Should Not Be The Only Qualification of Your PhD Admissions Consultant

Having a PhD does not automatically make someone an expert in the admissions process. A lot of the details surrounding university admissions can vary drastically depending on the institution, their requirements, and how applications are processed. Even with a PhD, it can be difficult to stay up to date on all of the details and nuances that can affect the outcome of an application. Understanding all the different variables involved in the admissions process requires research, knowledge, and especially experience. Without that specific insight, your consultant might not be able to ensure the best possible outcome.

Working with a PhD admissions consultant who has extensive experience in higher education as a member of admissions committees is the ultimate guarantee that the advice you will receive will be accurate. Look for someone who has real-world experience with the admissions process and has sat on the other side of the table. Titles you should look for would be professor or former professor, a director or former assistant or former associate director of admissions, an admissions officer or former admissions officer, an assistant dean, or any type of function with tangible experience within the field of admissions. Keep in mind that having a PhD doesn’t necessarily give you magical insight into the PhD admissions process. Whatever good intentions they might have, beware of people who self-improvise themselves as “experts”.

Instead, look for consultants who have a deep understanding of the admissions process and have experience on both sides of table, which gives them the insight to know exactly what is needed to make a successful application. They can provide invaluable advice that will help your application stand out from the competition and increase your chances of getting accepted. With their expertise and knowledge, they can help you craft a well-structured application that will show your qualifications in the best light possible. You can rest assured that the advice you receive from an experienced admissions consultant is accurate and tailored to your individual needs. With their help, you can be confident that your application will make an impact and help you reach your career goals.

You’ve decided to take your academics to the next level by applying to PhD programs, and now it’s time to arm yourself with the best resources possible for achieving your goal. Don’t go into this process alone- a PhD admissions consultant can provide you with individualized attention and years of experience to help increase your chances of being accepted into the school of your choice. Make sure you work with someone who meets all of the qualifications we listed so that you know you are making a sound investment in your future. Check out our PhD application services to learn more about how we can help you get admitted to the top PhD programs out there.

Originally published at on February 7, 2023.



Philippe Barr, PhD

I am Philippe Barr, founder of The Admit Lab, a graduate school admissions consultancy that helps students get admitted into grad school: