How to Apply for Graduate Studies at the PDS lab

Time frame

  • The best time to apply is from October of year X to January of year X+1 for starting on September of year X+1. Full application materials must be received by end of February.
  • Decision of acceptance will be made between January and April of year X+1 depending when your application package is received.
  • Starting graduate program on January is not recommended due to conflict with course schedules.

How to apply

  • It is essential that you contact Dr. Xu first by email ( during the application period for quick screening. A detailed resume shall be supplied (see below).
  • Dr. Xu will evaluate your informal application. If there is a reasonable chance (>20%) to accept you, he will inform you to proceed with formal application through our department website.
  • In the application material, it is useful to indicate that you have contacted Dr. Xu. This information will remind the department to forward your application materials to Dr. Xu.
  • It is critical that you inform Dr. Xu AFTER your materials have been received by the department and are ready for evaluation. Dr. Xu will not be able to take any action until you have done so.
  • If your formal application materials have been received by Dr. Xu, you will get an email confirmation so that you know the status of your application. If you don't get confirmation after 2 weeks, feel free to send a reminding email to him.
  • For the formal application, you need to pay the application fee. It is important to note that submission of a full application package does not guarantee acceptance. But you have a higher chance to be accepted after the initial screening.

Your resume for initial screening

  • Your resume shall present a frank and honest picture of yourself. Inflated resume may help you pass the initial screening but will fail you during the formal application process - resulting in wasting your application fee and related expenses.
  • The most important information to include in your resume is 1) your average undergraduate marks for the last two years, ranking and scholarships received etc. and 2) any papers and reports published and submitted.
  • Additional information includes 1) your master degree average marks, ranking and awards, 2) universities you have studied, 3) research interest, 4) research, work and related experiences, and 5) your career goals
  • Other information that may help your case

Other information

  • Full financial support (RA and TA) will be provided for accepted PhD students unless they have received sufficient scholarships or supports from other sources.
  • Full RA support will be provided for accepted MSc students unless they have received sufficient scholarships or supports from other sources. According to the department policy, TA is not available for MSc students for the first year and possibly for the 2nd year.
  • Dr. Xu will always reply to students who have a chance to be accepted and will try to reply to those who did not pass the initial screen. If you don't receive Dr. Xu's reply, it is likely that you did not pass the initial screening
  • When you contact Dr. Xu first time, feel free to request a 'read receipt', a feature normally available in email programs.
  • Visiting Ph.D. students will also be evaluated similarly. Some form of application is required.
  • Some of the above information is also applicable to PDF and other applicants (except timing).