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Does Military Service really gives a leg up in admission to PhD programs

Site123Site123 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
I was wondering if having served in the Military or currently serving in the Military gives a lep up to applicants when it comes to top ranking engineering schools (MIT, Stanford, UCBerkeley, GT, Caltech... etc) for their PhD programs.

Also, does in the case it matters, will being enlisted vs officer in the uniformed services count? As an example, will officers be more considered then enlisted if everything else was the same.

Thank you.

Replies to: Does Military Service really gives a leg up in admission to PhD programs

  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston Registered User Posts: 14,019 Senior Member
    Military service per se will not help your application. What you learned in the military will help: leadership, technical skills etc.
  • FluentInCarbsFluentInCarbs Registered User Posts: 112 Junior Member
    I just applied to grad schools this year and a lot of my friends have applied for grad school too. I've never heard of military experience in itself giving applicants a boost. However, you could write about your experience within the military in your SOP and how that has influenced your research goals. But I wouldn't focus on the military the whole time.

    What will matter is your GPA, GRE scores, Statement of Purpose (SOP), letters of recommendation, past research experience, and whether its a "good fit". What I mean by good fit, does your research/interests align with at least one to three professors within that program? If it doesn't then you won't get accepted. Grad school and undergrad are completely different.

    Also if you have never done research I would suggest a masters before jumping in to a PhD. That way you can figure out if going down that route is what you want. Also it depends on whether the program is actually taking on students for the next academic year. Unlike undergrad, in grad school you would be working with a professor. So you need to make sure that the professor/professors that you are interested in are actually taking on students.

    Good luck!
  • Site123Site123 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    edited May 2016
    Thank you very much, this helps a lot.
    In order to have a chance, will being able to participate in different REUs help when combined with research internships like surf-NIST? Also does this REUs have to somehow be related to the same topic? Thank you again
  • Site123Site123 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    edited May 2016
    Thank you very much. @TomSrofBoston, @Beerme and @FluentInCarbs. This helps a lot.
  • lostaccountlostaccount Registered User Posts: 4,638 Senior Member
    As the poster above has already mentioned, above meeting a minimal criteria, fit is most critical. I would add one more step. Someone reading your essay would want to know how your military experience relates to your readiness to pursue graduate work. I don't think that the service persons rank matters. But, the person's achievements while in service matter or at least can be used to show readiness to study.
  • Site123Site123 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Thank you very much @lostaccount
  • crankyoldmancrankyoldman Registered User Posts: 454 Member
    Serving as enlisted or officer are two very different things, and usually require very different time commitments. The path to both is very different also. I'd recommend that you review both before making any decisions. Are you currently in high school or college?
  • Site123Site123 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Thank you @crankyoldman .I am currently in college and I am serving as an enlisted. I was contemplating switching to an officer position by contracting through rotc upon graduation.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 28,093 Senior Member
    REUs are good. NIST would be good. Work on developing and maintaining your relationships with the various PIs you spend time with. When you are ready to apply to grad school, some of those old PIs and your old professors will be able to help you sort out which programs to apply to, and will be able to help you with your SOP, as well as providing the necessary LORs. Depending on the specific research that you are interested in, your old professors and old PIs may be able to pretty much hand you off to one of their professional cronies, and get you into the research group you really want to be in.
  • Site123Site123 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Thank you very much @happymomof1 . Will do
  • FluentInCarbsFluentInCarbs Registered User Posts: 112 Junior Member
    No problem! I would have to say those internships that involve research will help. But presenting at a conference/co-author a paper with a professor might be better. I would have to say get some experience in the workforce before jumping into grad school though. If after a year or so, you still want to go through it definitely apply.

    Grad school will always be there. Also maintain contact with your references! I suggested a masters program because they are usually more forgiving when it comes to people who don't have experience with research. Only thing is that sometimes masters programs aren't as well funded as PhD programs. I'm going for my MA. Also spread out your applications, those fees are insane.
  • Site123Site123 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    That is very true. Thanks a lot @FluentInCarbs
  • FluentInCarbsFluentInCarbs Registered User Posts: 112 Junior Member
    @Site123 Anytime! I would suggest you visit thegradcafe, that site has been a huge help for me.
  • Site123Site123 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    edited May 2016
    @FluentInCarbs . I am checking it out at the moment. Thank you again
This discussion has been closed.