Whenever I worried I wasn't going to finish my PhD – I looked
at the people dumber than me finishing theirs, and I would
think to myself, if that idiot can get a PhD, dammit, so can I.
Olin Shivers, cited by Matt Might
I assume you have read a description of our group and our programs.
Parts of information on this page were written in different years and may be obsolete or not applicable to the current call. The rules tend to change over time. Please adjust the information on this page to the current call. Ask me if in doubt.
Disclaimer. Any information on this page is my personal interpretation and can be incorrect, incomplete, or obsolete. No guarantee. Read carefully the official calls. The only official information is published on (WARNING: read next paragraph before clicking here) the official site of the CIC.
Warning about automatic translation. On the official page of the call, you will probably see the text in your language, such as English, French, or German. However, this text is the result of automatic translation (though the page does not say it) and in some crucial passages can be catastrophically wrong. Only the text in Spanish was manually written there. Plus, in the past I have found obsolete and wrong statements there. When you see something strange there, try to switch to another language or contact me for clarification. Note that using Google translator does not guarantee correct results either. Below (see the table) I provide my own manual translation with my comments; I suggest you to read this one. However, see the Disclaimer above.
English exam. See an important note about the English exam.
On communication. Always send all communication with a copy to your advisor, for your advisor to have full information of your admission process.
When you feel that something was to happen (such as the date of your interview assigned, or the results communicated) but you don't have news about it, please send a message to the official address or to the official with whom you had communication previously (who responded to your application). If they don't respond in reasonable time, send a message to your advisor. If he or she don't respond in reasonable time (I often miss emails), or if the thing is urgent, ping them on Skype or WhatsApp (for me, see my contacts).
On deadlines. Deadlines in Mexico are a legal issue. If you miss the deadline by one second, you probably miss it completely and you application is rejected (I have had such experience with a very large and important project proposal). It is better to send your application incomplete and/or imperfect but in time, than complete and perfect but missing the deadline even by one second. You might be able to send missing documents later or replace the version if your application is considered at all, but if you miss the deadline, your application will probably not be considered at all.
On the other hand, if you have already missed the deadline, please go ahead and try submitting anyway, and contact your advisor urgently. We might be able to still process your application (or might not).
The following table provides links to information and official calls in various forms, in particular, in interactive form with automatic translation (use flag icons there to translate). These pages contain more information, such as FAQ, than my translation, and might be more up to date. Also, I provide Google translation: it might be more up to date if the original pages change; on the other hand, my manual translation has important comments (see the cells in yellow color below) -- you can check both to be sure. Past calls give examples of dates for the other semester, but there is no guarantee the dates will not change.
Note that you must fill in an online registration form before sending the files (if you see this form in Spanish, try to use Google Translator).
|For Fall 2019
|For Spring 2019
|For Fall 2019
|For Spring 2019
|Deadlines (note *)||Proposal & application||May 12||Nov 23||May 12||Nov 16|
|External exams results||June 21||Dec 7||June 21||Dec 7|
|Local English exam option
(no problem if you miss this:
see other options)
with my comments
(may be out of date)
with my comments
with my comments
with my comments
with my comments
translation (use the
flag icons there).
|General info||info and application form. See above the WARNING ABOUT TRANSLATION.|
interactive and more complete
(link seems broken). WARNING
interactive and more complete
(link seems broken) WARNING
|Call: live web|
|General info||info and application form (don't use this, use flag icons on the original page). WARNING|
|call (don't use this, see above). WARNING||call (don't use this, see above). WARNING|
|Call: live web|
* Note on the deadline: Please contact your future advisor ASAP, don't postpone things until the deadline: preparing the documents and the proposal takes a lot of time. On the other hand, we might be able to handle incomplete applications or late submissions. Incomplete application is better than late submission: send us the docs you have and complete the missing ones (such as translation and certification) later. Don't give up only because you don't have some docs ready or because you have missed the deadline; do fight for your future and use your chance.
Please send a copy of all correspondence to your advisor. However, the only official application is done via the official address: sending anything to your advisor does not constitute an official application.
Note on the average score. A jury will decide whether your average score is sufficient for scholarship. As of 2015, the jury used the following procedure to judge (no guarantee it will be the same in this semester):
Typically you are OK if your average score is at least the middle point between the lowest pass and highest score in your school. Example: if at your school the lowest pass score is 6 and the highest is 10, then you need at least (6 + 10) / 2 = 8. This is simple arithmetic, not weighted, average score. In this case the jury typically assumes (unless there is a reason to believe otherwise) that you comply with the condition in the next item.
Strictly speaking, the simple average of your score sheet during MSc (BSc) should be within top 63% of the graduates of your university or your country. For example, your score sheet includes 30 subjects, for which the numeric scores sum up to 114, which gives a simple average of 3.8. Then you are OK if you can reliably prove that at least 37% (100% – 63%) of the graduates of the MSc (BSc) program of your university have this figure below 3.8.
If your score is not sufficient, then we still may admit you, but we may not be able to provide your scholarship for the first semester. In this case we will still normally provide a scholarship starting from from the second semester. However, if your score is really low, think twice whether CIC is for you.
Depending on your case above, you will need to provide the following evidence from an official, reliable, and verifiable source:
Case 1 above: The lowest pass and highest possible score in your school (usually already printed on the score sheet), or
Case 2 above: Statistics of the average scores of the graduates of MSc (BSc) level in your university or country (e.g., an official webpage of the university or Ministry of Education, or an official letter from your Dean might do), or
Case 3 above: Financial solvency to stay in Mexico during your first semester without scholarship.
Admission is two times a year, for Spring and Fall semesters.
To start your study in August, it is best to start preparation in February (including contacting your advisor) and apply in April or May (see the call); for January, it is best to start preparation in September and apply in early November (but see the call). The admission process can take a couple of months, plus getting a visa can take also a couple of months. However, if you read this too late, do try: we might be able to process your application quickly.
Meanwhile you can advance in getting certified translations of the documents (see below; it's not what you think) because this also takes time.
Notably, getting certified translation and equivalence judgment of your score sheet can take a couple of months or more. Send your score sheet to your chosen advisor ASAP.
The NLP Lab's faculty are: Alexander Gelbukh (that's me), Grigori Sidorov, Ildar Batyrshin, and Hiram Calvo; other labs of CIC have other faculty.
Please choose only one as your possible future advisor; if we detect that you contacted more than one without clearly notifying all of them of this fact, your submission will be immediately rejected.
Please use the Subject line "Prospective PhD student" or "Prospective MSc student" as applicable. Messages with a different Subject line might be lost.
Contact this person in order to agree on the topic. Send him or her as many of the documents listed below as you have now, for the advisor to judge whether you are a strong candidate.
At least send the CV, score sheets, and all your publications and awards if you have any. In case if they are not in English or Spanish, please provide a translation (at this stage it can be your own tarnslation).
I advise you to describe your research idea (see the next section) or several ideas for the advisor to choose from. Without this, the person you contact might not be interested in you.
Discuss with your advisor the topic of your future research. Suggest several topics and let the advisor choose which one is better. Don't suggest random topics, take it seriously and research about these topics before suggesting them. This is an extremely important decision, many years of your life from now on will be dedicated to the topic you choose. A good topic is where you have some ideas of your own (maybe wrong ideas, but your own ideas); for this you should know something about the topic, enough to suggest a specific problem and specific solution:
Wrong: I'm interested in Natural Language Processing because this is an important topic; tell me what I should do.
Right: I'm interested in Natural Language Processing because this is an important topic. I have an idea that we can measure semantic similarity between words by similarity of contexts in which they are used. Namely: download the whole Wikipedia; for each word w form a set C(w) of all words seen within 5 words distance from w in Wikipedia, and use the Dice coefficient between the sets C(w) and C(u) to measure semantic similarity between words w and u. I have read papers  and  (attached) that discuss applications of semantic similarity and evaluation measures for it.
As you see in this example, we don't expect something fancy or lengthy, but some clear idea (maybe wrong idea, your advisor will decide) to start a discussion from. This will also show that you didn't copy-and-paste a random topic taken from your advisor's CV, and that you devoted enough research effort to investigate on your future topic.
After your advisor approves the idea, coordinate with your advisor writing a detailed research proposal. This is a formal document resembling in format a thesis: title page, contents, section headings, numbered pages, etc. Please write and format it well: this is the main document on which your admission will be judged; if we see there careless writing, logic, or formatting, we will suspect that you would not be a responsible student and a careful researcher.
The call seems not to specify the number of pages, but typically people write 10-15 pages. If your proposal is too short, the committee may feel offended thinking that you did not care to dedicate your time to writing it.
See the official call for the structure of this document. Use exactly the items specified there (in exactly the same order) as section titles, and fill in the contents for these sections. For each section, have a short and clear formulation in the first paragraph, easy to locate and labeled in boldface, such as "The problem to address in this research is to build a sentiment classifier for medical texts", and then add more paragraphs with description. Some readers might not be willing to read the whole description, so provide a short info for them in the first paragraph of each section.
If the call requires you to include a calendar of activities, then this can be a table as follows. Your goals are the partial objectives that you specified in your PhD proposal (copy the goal titles from there and use "X" for "..." as appropriate), plus include the following obligatory items in the following specific semesters:
|Your goal 1... such as development of the dataset||...||...|
|Your goal 2... such as implementation of classifier||...||...|
|Registration of PhD topic||X|
|Sending a paper to a top journal||X|
|Thesis review exam||X|
|Final graduation exam||X|
This document seems not to formally require (but check the current call) to include scientific methodology, i.e., how you plan to reach the goals. However, I strongly encourage you to seriously discuss with your advisor and probably include in the document (perhaps under the section of description of the problem or the section of the expected results) the following sub-sections:
At some point of the submission process (or before), you will need to sit for the GRE / EXADEP and English exams, which you can present in your country.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE ON THE ENGLISH EXAM: In case of TOEFL, we may need a hard copy original certificate mailed to us many weeks before the admission decision. This has caused many problems in the past; in particular, the company (ETS) is very reluctant to send out the hard copy certificate, or they say they have sent it (and take money for it!) but it never arrives. (Some people succeeded to receive the certificate to a friend's address in the US: ETS seems to really send the certificate within US, but not internationally, even if they take money for sending it internationally.) My advice is to avoid TOEFL if you can and opt for another exam, such as IELTS, for which you always get a hard copy certificate. We are working on changing our rules (which is a very complicated bureaucratic process) to be able to proceed with the PDF and without the hard copy. If you really prefer TOEFL and cannot opt for IELTS or another exam, please contact your advisor to see if we have achieved to abolish that archaic rule of requiring the hard copy.
Please make an appointment for these exams (GRE / EXADEP and English) ASAP, because later dates within the deadline might not be available, plus receiving the certificate by mail takes several weeks.
Note for India: in India, to sit for GRE you need to get a passport prior to the exam date. This is very unexpected, and other countries seem not to have this problem. Getting a passport is a very slow procedure. Please start it well in advance.
Note that contacting your advisor does not constitute a formal application. You or your advisor will need to pass the documents listed below to the PhD / MSc committee; see the respective official call. Sending only the proposal does not start your admission process. However, your advisor may be able to start preparation for the application process with some of those documents.
Send as many of the required documents as you have now to your advisor. The more of these documents you send the more your advisor might be interested in you. However, please avoid sending irrelevant documents: bombarding your advisor with many irrelevant documents will only prevent him or her from paying attention to relevant ones.
Please send to your advisor scanned copies of the documents in the original language. If this language is different from English or Spanish, then at this stage it is enough if you provide your own translation of them (for some of them you will eventually need a certified translation into Spanish, see below).
Please zip all docs together, and use DropBox or similar if the zip file is too large to be sent by email. Use meaningful file names easily understandable by others, and include the number of item in the list in the call as the first character of the file name, such as a-CV.pdf or b-Letter-of-motivation.pdf. Use exactly the same order and numbering in which the documents are listed in the call.
Here are some recommendations:
CV: Emphasize your education (specify average marks when applicable), honors, academic and/or relevant work experience and publications. I advise you to include a folder with additional documents (don't mix them with the main documents required by the call; instead, put them in a separate folder or archive). I advise to include there the full text of all your publications, if any. It would also help if you send any other relevant documents or explanations that proves what you say in your CV and/or helps us to interpret it. For example, if you have a "Second National Diploma," please explain how this can be mapped to the education hierarchy in the countries we are likely familiar with. Please report your average score and indicate the lower pass and higher possible score in your school and give some idea of what percentage of students have same or higher mark as you. Help us to really understand your CV, don't assume we are familiar with realities of your country or school. Don't be modest, state clearly which of your achievements are great achievements, and why we should consider them so great.
Letter explaining your motivation to enter CIC: This should be a formal signed letter addressed to, say, PhD Committee of CIC (not to your advisor). Please include a clear statement of a promise to finish the PhD program in time and to get a degree from this program and not abandon the program before getting the degree. We need a clear promise not to desert from the program and not to change to another program (except of course for really force majeure circumstances like sever illness). When explaining why you decided to apply to CIC, don't hesitate to state clearly that you are familiar with the work of your advisor and it is the excellence of his or her work that inspires you to choose CIC (if this is the case of course).
(for PhD) Recommendation letters: The letter should state whether you have good research abilities and why they think so (say, in which projects you participated and what was their impression of your work), not just repeat things already seen from your CV. The letters can be addressed to the PhD Admission Committee of CIC.
(for PhD) PhD research proposal: It should be close to 15 pages (not longer, but not much shorter), and should be very clear. Clarity is the first priority, not vague "scientific air". Contact your advisor and discuss your proposal with him or her first.
(for PhD) Presentation of your proposal: I'd advice to include a couple of slides about your MSc thesis topic and results – I personally think that to show what you have done is more convincing than to show what you plan to do.
Degree certificate (diploma): averse and reverse. If you don't yet have it but will obtain it soon, it can be presented later when you have it; in this case present some evidence of your graduation or planned graduation date. For MSc, present your BSc certificate. For PhD, present your MSc certificate or equivalent.
Marks (scores): Include the official transcript of the scores received during MSc study (or BSc if you have not studied MSc) and a formal evidence of what is the lowest pass score and the maximum score (often this info is printed on your score sheets; if not, then we will need some evidence, such as a formal letter from the university or a webpage of the university or the Ministry of Education). You can attach information on the finished (BSc / MSc) programs (subjects, syllabus, evidence of quality); this is not required but might help us to interpret the quality of a degree if your diploma is from a less known university or country. Often the subjects are already listed in your score sheet. It would greatly help if you provide an Excel sheet with your scores: just one column of the scores (credits are irrelevant for us) in the same order as they go in your score sheet, for us to verify the average (otherwise your advisor will have to spend their time on keying your scores into a calculator, which will not add them enthusiasm for your case, right?).
Professional license: In many countries there is no such thing, then a note stating that there is no such thing in your country is enough.
Sending your documents to your advisor does not constitute a formal application. See the call for the submission procedure.
If you do not have all the required documents by the submission deadline, submit with what you can. You may be able to send the missing documents or correct your data later provided that you submit your application in time; however, if you miss the deadline, you just miss the whole thing. Applying in time is more important than applying with perfect documents.
Almost all submission is electronic, with one exception: you will need to send us a hard copy original certificate of your English exam, such as TOEFL or IELTS, and preferably in advance. (Note: it seems we can handle it in a scanned copy, so that you submit the hard copy upon arrival. This is a recent change. I advise you to send it in hard copy if you can. In any case include a scanned image.) Please have it ready and ask your advisor where to send it. If you don't have it by the deadline, send your application anyway, but try hard to send this certificate as soon as you can. In particular, request your hard copy certificate in time.
In the PDF file you send, place the documents exactly in the order in which they are specified in the call. If you still do not have a document translated and have to include a document in a language other than English or Spanish, then provide your own translation of essential parts of it, or at least write over its image something like "This is my birth certificate, with place of birth: India; date of birth: Jan 21, 1992." for us to have some idea of a document in a language that we do not understand.
If you submit a link to a set of documents in DropBox or similar, then use descriptive file names, with the first letter to be the number of the item in the list in the call, such as a-proposal.pdf, b-presentation.pdf.
I advise you to include (as a last item) a copy of your current passport (the main page) that you will use to get your visa. This is needed for the visa paperwork and they will likely contact you later for it, which will cause an additional delay.
While you probably can start the application process to without certified translations (so postpone this step if there is no time for before the deadline), eventually you will need to present the following documents and their certified translations:
and probably some other documents (see the call). For the submission process, all documents are sent electronically; however, when you arrive here, you will need to present these three documents in hard copy original and their certified translations into Spanish (not English!) in hard copy original (don't forget them at home!). It is better to bring all other relevant original documents with you (such as the professional license).
If your country is a member of the apostille convention (most countries are), then the documents must have an apostille (in my own case I had the apostille on the translation and not on the original, and they accepted it, but I would advise you to get the apostille on the original, or both). It is advisable that you first send a scanned copy of all these documents to your advisor, who will tell you which of them really need to be translated and have an apostille. If you have many score sheets and if getting an apostille on each one is expensive, then getting an apostille on the last sheet which specifies the average may be enough. If in your country the apostille is made as a sticker, then please keep a scanned copy of the document (or even better, a certified copy) before getting the apostille if you think that the sticker may cover important parts of the document (we have faced this problem in India with score sheets where the apostille sticker covered the explanation of the score scale).
If your country is not a member of the apostille convention, then there should be another legalization procedure. For example, for Pakistan, the two academic documents stamped by the Higher Education Commission; then all three documents are legalized at the Pakistani embassy in Mexico; see the table below. Call your local Mexican embassy to ask for the specific legalization procedure.
After this certification, we will need a certified translation (into Spanish, not English). This can be done in Mexico or maybe at the Embassy of Mexico in your country (ask them if they can do it). The rules say this should be Mexican certification, but in the past people successfully submitted certified translations made in their country. You can contact your advisor on whether he or she can help you to get a certified translation in Mexico (in my case, I can).
To summarize, here is what is to be done with the three documents (but before doing that, send to your advisor a scanned copy of your original documents as is):
If your country has apostille:
|1. Apostille||2. Certified translation||3. Equivalence judgment|
|Degree certificate||You in your country||Your advisor in Mexico, or you in Mexican Embassy||—|
|Score transcript||You in your country||Your advisor in Mexico, or you in Mexican Embassy||Your advisor in Mexico|
|Birth certificate||You in your country||Your advisor in Mexico, or you in Mexican Embassy|||
If your country does not have apostille, the procedure is different for each country; ask the Mexican Embassy what the procedure is. Here is an example for Pakistan as I understood it (in Pakistan, each step should take a day or two):
|1. Higher Education Commission||2. Ministry of Foreign Affairs||3. Embassy of Pakistan||4. Certified translation||5. Equivalence judgment|
|Degree certificates||You in Pakistan||You in Pakistan||||You or your advisor in Mexico||—|
|Score transcripts||You in Pakistan||You in Pakistan||||You or your advisor in Mexico||Your advisor in Mexico|
|Birth certificate||||You in Pakistan||You in Mexico upon arrival||You or your advisor in Mexico|||
If you were graduated in a third country or from a university that belongs to a third country but has a campus in yours, such as Lancaster University (British) at Lahore (in Pakistan), then the legalization procedure may become quite complicated and may involve getting legalization in that third country. This will need more time, so you will need to start it many months in advance, because without legalization your scholarship cannot be requested.
In complicated cases, the academic admission decision may be made using your original (not certified and not translated) documents, and upon arrival you do what is to be done in Mexico already. Of course in such a scenario your admission is conditioned by eventually providing all the certificates, even if during the first semester after your enrollment.
Disclaimer: this what we have done in the past. The rules tend to change over time; there is no guarantee that you still can do it this way.