Nazarbayev University
Graduate School of Education

Graduate School of Education


Stanislav Khanin

Stanislav Khanin

Program: GSE PhD

Year of enrollment: 2016

Research area/ area of interest: Critical thinking and digital technology

Degree hold prior: Bachelor in Political Science, Minor in Communications

What advice do you have for students who are trying to decide whether to apply to NUGSE?

Definitely do that. So far, that is the best education school you can find in Kazakhstan. Based on my experience of studies in several universities (HSE Moscow, regional Kazakhstani university and short-term studies at the University of Cambridge), I can surely state that GSE is the place for growth, place where you will be challenged and supported throughout your studies. But you should know that it won’t be easy – you will read and write a lot, really a lot. Therefore, make sure that your English is good enough to read scientific articles and write papers. Studies at NU GSE also imply obligatory attendance of courses and following hard work, so be ready to sacrifice time with your family and give up work. NU GSE is the place to go if you want to develop professionally and find a better job position after you graduate the school.

Any advice for prospective students on the application process?

There are two major things when you are applying to NUGSE: motivation letter (+ Ph.D. proposal) and the interview. If you are applying for a master’s degree here, be sure that you have a good quality motivation letter. It means that it is not full of water and clearly answers the questions of why you want to apply, why you deserve this position and how you are going to achieve if you are admitted. Triple check your motivation letter and try to avoid cliché and loud phrases, I am sure that the evaluation committee reads 90% similar papers all the time, which doesn’t add any points to your application. Make sure that your case of application is unique, show your strong sides and special qualities, tell the story of success and do not list boring facts about yourself. The Ph.D. proposal is a more challenging task – it should clearly demonstrate that you are able to operate with research methods, know the field of your proposed research. Good advice is to collaborate with a professor who would critically evaluate your proposal – research design, style, organization, etc. An extra tip is to communicate with current NUGSE students – that is how you will know more about the application process and receive a feedback on your case. Finally, an interview is the time to be sure of why you are here and what you are going to do if admitted – that it is not the place for doubts and general answers; you should demonstrate your educational experience here and be ready to answer questions based on your motivation letter. Sometimes questions asked can be challenging and you may not know the answers on them – my personal advice is to tell something cautious or ask to elaborate on the question rather than go off-topic and speak just for the sake of speaking. Finally, do not be afraid, examiners are there to help you tell more about yourself, guide you and definitely not to let you down (do not take a defensive position!).

How would you describe your overall experience at NUGSE with one or two words?

Hard but effective.