What to Expect in Your First Year of a PhD Program?

If you are planning to pursue a PhD, you might be wondering what to expect in your first year of the program. A PhD can be a long and challenging journey, so it requires absolute dedication, perseverance and passion for your field of study.

In this blog, we discuss some of the common aspects of the first year of a PhD program and provide some tips on coping with the challenges you might face along the way.

PhD: Overview

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is one of the highest qualifications available in any field of study. These programs are heavily focused on research and innovation in a very specific area of a discipline. Hence, it paved the way for the cream of the crop.

Check out the table below for an overview of this program at a PhD university in Maharashtra or other states.

Course NameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Duration3 – 6 years
Eligibility CriteriaPostgraduate degree with minimum 55% (varies depending on the college and subject) 
Admission ProcessEntrance Test
Average Course FeeUpto INR 6 Lakhs
Average SalaryINR 5 – 10 LPA
Top RecruitersResearch Institutes, Government Organisations, Academic Institutions, R&D Departments of Private Companies, etc.

What the First Year of a PhD Entails

Let us now take a deeper look at some of the things you should expect in your first year of a PhD program:


One of the main components of the first year of a PhD program is coursework. Depending on your discipline and institution, you might have to take several courses that are relevant to your research topic and methodology. These courses are designed to provide you with the theoretical and practical knowledge and skills that you will need for your research.

Depending on your chosen subject, these courses will be divided into compulsory or elective courses at Universal AI University or any other institution offering PhDs. You might also have to pass some exams or assignments to demonstrate your proficiency in these courses.

The coursework can be demanding and time-consuming since you must balance it with your research activities. However, it can also be an opportunity to:

  • Learn from experts in your field
  • Explore different perspectives and approaches, and
  • Identify gaps and opportunities in your research.

Therefore, take your coursework seriously and make the most of it using the tips below:

  • Plan your schedule carefully and prioritise your tasks.
  • Engage actively in the classes and seminars.
  • Connect with your classmates and form study groups.
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to your instructors, advisors or tutors if you are struggling with any aspect of your coursework.


Conducting original and independent research that contributes to the advancement of knowledge in your field is at the core of any PhD journey. The first year of research is usually focused on developing and refining your research proposal, which outlines the aims, objectives, questions, methods, significance and plan of your research project.

The research proposal is a crucial document as it is a requirement for obtaining ethical approval, funding and supervision for your research. Therefore, devote sufficient time and effort to crafting a clear, coherent and convincing proposal that demonstrates the feasibility and originality of your research using the tips below:

  • Conduct a comprehensive literature review on your topic.
  • Consult with your supervisor regularly.
  • Seek input from other sources, such as other academics or peers who have expertise or interest in your topic.
  • Based on the feedback that you receive, revise and refine your proposal accordingly.


Supervision is the process of receiving academic guidance and support from one or more supervisors who are assigned to oversee your research project. The first year of a PhD program is an important period for establishing a good relationship with your supervisor(s), which can have a significant impact on your academic performance, personal well-being and career prospects. Therefore, it is vital to choose a supervisor who is suitable for you in terms of expertise, availability, style and personality. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Do background research on potential supervisors.
  • Contact them directly and express your interest in working with them.
  • Arrange a meeting with them and discuss your research project.
  • Evaluate the compatibility of the supervisor.


One of the practical challenges that you might face in your first year of a PhD program is securing funding. Funding is the financial support that you receive to cover the costs of your PhD studies, such as tuition fees, living expenses, research materials and travel. It can come from various sources like:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Fellowships
  • Assistantships
  • Loans.

Funding can be a major concern for many PhD students, especially if they have to relocate to a different city or country for their studies. It also affects the quality and duration of your research project, as well as your career opportunities and prospects. Hence, it is crucial to secure adequate and reliable funding for your PhD studies. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Start your search early and explore as many options as possible.
  • Prepare a strong application and proposal.
  • Apply for multiple funding sources.
  • Monitor your progress and budget.


One of the social aspects of the first year of a PhD program is networking – the process of building and maintaining professional relationships with other people who share similar interests or goals in your field of study. These can include other PhD students, academics, researchers, practitioners or policymakers.

Networking can be beneficial for your PhD journey in various ways, such as providing you with information, resources, support, feedback, collaboration or opportunities. It can also enhance your personal development, confidence and communication skills. Therefore, it is important to network effectively and strategically with other people in your field. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Attend events and activities, such as conferences, workshops, seminars, etc. that are relevant to your field.
  • Join online platforms and communities that are related to your field.
  • Initiate contact, follow up, and nurture relationships with people who interest you.


The first year of a PhD program is a challenging but rewarding experience that prepares you for the rest of your doctoral journey. It involves various aspects such as coursework, research, supervision, funding and networking that require different skills and strategies to cope with successfully. By following the tips and advice that we have shared in this blog, we hope that you will be able to make the most of your first year in a PhD university in Mumbai or other cities.


  1. What entrance test do I need to take to get admission to a PhD program?

To get admission to a PhD program, you can take national-level entrance tests like UGC NET, SLET, GATE, JRF, etc, or even independent entrance tests conducted by the college of your choice.

  1. Can I do a part-time PhD?

Yes, many part-time PhD programs are also offered for select candidates, such as full-time teachers or researchers.

  1. Which subjects can I pursue for PhD at Universal AI University?

You can pursue a PhD in Computer Science, Economics or Management at Universal AI University.

  1. What is the scope of a PhD?

The scope of a PhD cannot be really quantified, as it depends on the quality and acceptance of your research. While pursuing a PhD can guarantee you jobs in academia and research, many highly cited PhD holders even go on to receive international awards like Nobel prizes for their research.

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