PhD Application Process

Applications must be submitted online via the Graduate Admissions Office

The application process begins in October and continues until all places are filled. We strongly recommend that you apply by the end of December for entry in September of the following year. We assess applications as quickly as possible, but you should allow at least eight weeks from the date on which you submit your application. If you apply outside of term time it will take considerably longer for your application to be assessed. 

Applicants who are nominated by the selectors for possible admission to the MPhil/PhD programme will be interviewed  before any final decision is reached regarding entry, either in person or by Skype/Zoom. More than one interview might be conducted.  

Entry requirements

All applicants should have completed a taught MSc in Statistics, Mathematics or a related discipline (e.g. computer science, economics, etc.) or equivalent, plus an undergraduate degree of good standing.

There is also an English language requirement for all applicants for whom English is not their first language. The British Council's International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an accepted qualification. Applicants should already have or expect to gain a minimum score of 7.0 in the IELTS.

More information about English language tests.

International students should consult the graduate prospectus for details of equivalent qualifications. Please see Graduate Admissions.  

Your application 

We consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on your application form, such as:

  • academic achievements (including pending qualifications)
  • research proposal
  • statement of academic purpose
  • references
  • CV
  • sample of written work

Guidance on the research proposal and statement of academic purpose is provided below.

Research proposal

When applying, you should provide evidence of your ability to undertake independent research and state your research topic as accurately as possible. 

Your research proposal should be approximately 1,500 words in length and should address the following questions:

  • What is your general topic?
  • What questions do you want to answer?
  • What is the key literature and its limitations?
  • What are the main hypotheses of the work?
  • What methodology do you intend to use?
  • What theoretical/conceptual framework will you adopt?
  • What are your case studies, if any, and what are your case selection criteria?
  • What previous research have you undertaken in this field?

Most applicants will have little or no prior experience of research and therefore we do not expect a fully-developed research proposal. We are assessing the potential of the applicant for research and the chosen topic. The following is a guideline of what to emphasise in the proposal:

  • A research question rather than a very broad research topic
  • Be specific, to aid selectors to assess the suitability of the topic for PhD study
  • A statement of how the proposed research builds on earlier research on the topic, with reference to two or three key papers
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the area and the need for further research
  • Selectors will look for a sense of the merits of your approach
  • Most topics will involve an application of the proposed methods to a substantive research question. Give a brief outline of this question and explain how it will benefit from this particular approach
  • Be specific about the training and skills you have to undertake the proposed research (do not simply list courses attended: this information is already available in the CV and transcripts)

MPhil/PhD applications that are received without a research proposal that addresses these questions will not be considered.

Statement of academic purpose

In addition, you should submit a statement of between 1,000 and 1,500 words, describing your academic interests and your purpose and objectives in undertaking a doctoral research degree. Your personal statement should also explain why you have chosen LSE.

Your statement should provide the following:

  • A clear sense of why you wish to undertake a PhD
  • What you hope to gain from PhD study
  • Why have chosen this particular topic?
  • Details of prior research experience - for example, an undergraduate and/or MSc project
  • To what extent did the project involve independent thinking?
  • Why have to chosen to apply to this department rather than another statistics department?
  • If you have discussed your research proposal with a member of academic staff prior to the submission of your application, why do you consider that person to be an appropriate supervisor for your research?

Informal Application Enquiries

Places on our MPhil/PhD programme are limited and we strongly recommend that you submit your full application and supporting documents to the Graduate Admissions Office as early as possible. However, you may wish to first send an informal application email to the research manager to enquire about making a formal application within the area of your research interests and to check the availability of potential supervisors.

To do this, please submit the following documents:

  • A brief research proposal that clearly states the specific areas of your proposed research
  • A brief personal statement that states your academic interests and your purpose and objectives in undertaking doctoral research study. You should also state your reason for applying to the Department of Statistics at LSE
  • An up-to-date CV (curriculum vitae)
  • Academic transcripts covering your study to date

Your informal application documents will be forwarded to appropriate members of academic staff for consideration and the research manager will communicate the recommendation back to you as soon as possible.

If a formal application is invited, this should be made to the Graduate Admissions Office in accordance with the normal application procedure.