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Graduate school admissions 101

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Replies to: Graduate school admissions 101

  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit 12245 replies129 threads Senior Member
    Not to a very great extent. There are many people who switch fields entirely for grad school (mech Es to aero/astro, biology majors to bioengineering), and it's generally seen as neither worrisome nor unusual. Actually doing undergrad research is the important part; it doesn't have to be on the topic you want to study for your master's or PhD.

    Some programs will accept through subspecialties rather than for the whole department, but it's your intended research path, rather than the one you've already taken, that they'll use to determine whether your interests are a good fit with the faculty's.
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  • GatorEng23GatorEng23 1563 replies8 threads Senior Member
    Okay, thanks mollie!
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  • ryan2288ryan2288 2380 replies121 threads Senior Member
    What kind of difference do the types of courses in college play in grad school admissions(and also GPA leeway). For instance, my GPA is basically a 3.6 but my GPA without Chinese it is a 3.9(Chinese is a 5 credit course at my school). Will business schools(and other grad programs like law) like the fact that I can speak some Chinese and will they factor that into the admissions game?
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  • Professor XProfessor X 888 replies5 threads Member
    hopefulmom and William C,

    Depending upon the humanities discipline, many "terminal MA" feeder programs do indeed offer assistantships which carry full tuition remission as well as a living stipend.

    As William C advised, ALWAYS research the programs you're considering, and contact the Director of Graduate Studies in that department.

    (I'm the DGS in my program.)
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  • larationalistlarationalist 892 replies24 threads Member
    To expand on professor X's mention of the terminal MA, I thought I'd mention more specialized terminal Masters degrees such as the M.Arch and MFA. The funding for these programs seems to mostly be much like funding for undergrad: a select few will earn a full ride, many will get partial funding through scholarships, however there are a coveted few of the full ride type assistanceships out there, usually at state schools. For those that are not funded, it is usually acceptable to take a part-time job either at the university or in a professional capacity.
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  • Phoenix WrightPhoenix Wright 99 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Hey, my undergraduate record isn't stellar, but I got accepted into a great masters program (1yr) in the UK. I'm going because it's what I want to do, but will it help at all with my chances of admission?
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  • ysk1ysk1 546 replies194 threads Member
    What's the difference between interning at a company that does research than actually doing research. Isn't it the same?
    Generally, my feeling is that it's basically the same, particularly in something like engineering. Research and internships often serve the same purpose in grad school apps -- namely, showing the admissions committee that you're talented at designing and building stuff (or whatever you should be talented in) rather than just in spitting back memorized answers on exams.
    Is it the same for sciences as well?
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  • VissanikVissanik 121 replies37 threads Junior Member
    I am also very interested to know more about what ryan2288 mentioned as I am considering continuing my study of Chinese into college.
    On a different topic, can any other people with graduate school admissions knowledge alledge to the validity of the orginial poster's statement that extra-curricular's are often of no importance?
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  • ysk1ysk1 546 replies194 threads Member
    Vissanik: ECs are important only if they are related to your career goal.
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  • Ummmm......Ummmm...... 99 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I guess the only reason I'm worried is that alot of schools mention that they require a minimum 3.0 GPA for their Master's programs. So I'm just wondering if they put that to give credence to their admissions process as being highly competitive or is it that serious. I don't wanna get in a situation where I can't get into grad school although my research experience won't reflect for my less than stellar grades.
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  • friedokrafriedokra 401 replies13 threads- Member
    It does seem to me that some of your professors in your major in undergraduate school are critical for what you do and where you go. Particularly if you are looking at programs where they earned their PhD's.

    All the learning how to learn must be out of your system (or put another way, wired INTO your system). Graduate school is not a place to start figuring out what you want to do and how to do it. That is what undergraduate school is about. Thus, graduate programs are looking for superior scholarship skills (not just a high gpa and gre score). They want someone who will come in and make a difference, advance the ball, put them on the map, or be able to publish a major work.

    Good luck.
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  • WilliamCWilliamC 783 replies2 threads Member
    Ummmm......

    Yes, they are serious. Depending on the program and school, the effective minimum may be much higher. Your grades are the frontline indicator of your ability to handle academics after all.

    Professor X may weigh in with his actual experience in admissions, but personally, I would be be looking for a post-bac program or something like that to bring up my subject GPA if I had an overall GPA under 3.2 or so (and to demonstrate motivation and such).
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  • jmleadpipejmleadpipe 620 replies8 threads Member
    WillC is right. If you do some post bac work and prove that you can excel academically, you will have a much better shot at being admitted to grad school, even if it is only a few semesters of solid work.
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  • Professor XProfessor X 888 replies5 threads Member
    Ummm...

    3.0 minimums for admission are routine, and they are indeed adhered to. At many universities, the Graduate School (the administrative office) will not even send on applications to the relevant departments if they do not meet this minimum requirement. At other universities, the Graduate School will send applications that do not meet basic requirements, but they will include a note saying "We recommend denial of admission."

    Applicants routinely exceed the 3.0 minimum cumulative GPA, but it is the GPA in one's major that is more significant. Expectations are MUCH higher for the major GPA as well.

    I hope this helps.
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  • UCLAriUCLAri 14509 replies231 threads Senior Member
    In the 20 or so year history of my program, only one student has been admitted with less than 3.0. He's in my year, and very successful. However, he had a VERY uphill battle getting in, I heard.
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  • Ummmm......Ummmm...... 99 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for the help. It looks like I'll have to do what I can to raise those grades enough to be considered for admission....I'd hate to get shutout of grad school but since it's my goal, I'll just have to keep trying until I get there.
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  • GuyomarGuyomar 138 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Nicely written (very clear and to the point) and helpful as well.

    "You don't need to start thinking about graduate school in your freshman year of college."

    This made me laugh because just a few days ago I was playing around taking mock GREs.
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  • MissLovelyRitaMissLovelyRita 126 replies11 threads Junior Member
    I want to go into journalism, but I am at a private liberal arts undergrad that doesn't have a journalism/communications major. I am majoring in English because I am interested in that also. Do most people go to grad school for journalism if they don't have journalism as an undergrad? Or is it more about connections and grad school isn't needed as long as you can get an internship or job?
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  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit 12245 replies129 threads Senior Member
    ysk1 wrote:
    Generally, my feeling is that {internships and research in academic labs are} basically the same, particularly in something like engineering. Research and internships often serve the same purpose in grad school apps -- namely, showing the admissions committee that you're talented at designing and building stuff (or whatever you should be talented in) rather than just in spitting back memorized answers on exams.
    Is it the same for sciences as well?
    I think it is, with the caveat that science PhD programs often expect to see long-term commitment to a laboratory, so an internship held for just one summer might not be the best for you because you might not be able to get too much accomplished. But a summer internship or two in addition to research in an academic lab during the year would be more than fine.

    (I should add that one of the people interviewing with me last year for biology PhD programs actually didn't do research during the year -- she had only spent one or two summers in internships at another school, since her school didn't have any research jobs. But she was definitely the odd one out. Most of the people who interview for the top programs have been doing research in a single lab or two labs during term and during the summer for two or three years, or else took a research technician job for a year or two after graduating from college.)
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  • linguaelinguae 60 replies9 threads Junior Member
    Hello. I am a computer science sophomore who plans on applying to a PhD program in computer science in the future. I attend a school (Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo) that is not a research institution (i.e., no PhDs are granted here); only a few of the computer science professors here do research, and most research opportunities are generally for masters students. However, I still have research experience and opportunities; I did participate in a computer science REU at UC Santa Cruz the summer after my freshman year (in storage systems; UCSC, along with Carnegie Mellon, are the leading schools in this area of research, and UCSC has many connections to governmental research labs and Silicon Valley companies such as IBM), and the professors whom I worked with invited me back for another summer of research.

    What can I do in lieu of working in a lab throughout the academic year? By the way, all Cal Poly students are required to do a senior project (which is usually a year-long project); I am planning on starting my senior project a quarter early (such that prospective graduate schools can look at it) and do a senior project with a research emphasis.

    Thanks in advance.
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