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Chance of Stanford PhD program with a 3.6? I just want to manage expectations here.

student387student387 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
edited May 19 in Graduate School
I would like to go to grad school at Stanford for Linguistics, but I have some concerns about my GPA. My undergrad GPA was a 3.62 cumulative, because I decided to take on a Computer Science major in addition to Linguistics. I struggled in the classes, and did mostly B work. My major GPA for Linguistics is a 3.97, and I have two papers currently submitted for review (one in semantics and one in natural language processing). I think I can get some very strong letters of recommendation from professors I have worked with, but they are not famous professors. Do I still have any chance at Stanford grad school with such a low GPA? Do they even look at applications with less than a 3.7?

Replies to: Chance of Stanford PhD program with a 3.6? I just want to manage expectations here.

  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 24,510 Forum Champion
    You will never know for sure if you don't apply. But as with undergrad applications be sure to apply to a range of schools.
  • student387student387 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    Does that mean there's not much of a chance then? I'd like to be realistic about what I'm hoping for.
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 26,674 Senior Member
    edited May 20
    sure, you have a shot, but why only Stanford? (There are other higher-ranked schools for linguistics....)

    What about GRE?

  • student387student387 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    Haha, I'm not only looking at Stanford. I was more using Stanford as a gauge for other highly-ranked schools. I do like their Linguistics program, though, because of the emphasis on Computational Linguistics. As much as I suck at software development, I tend to do well with the conceptual stuff and developing new ideas.

    I'm planning on waiting a year before applying, so I haven't taken the GRE yet. I'd assume I'll get a very high score on the verbal portion, and a low-ish score on the math. I may be able to get a high math score through lots of studying, though.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 32,390 Senior Member
    Yes, it is possible, since your major gpa is high. (Are you still a CS co-major or you dropped that?) But you start by talking to your major profs. They can help you assess and do figure in your chances.

    Grad school isn't just about continuing undergrad studies. There can be an expectation you've focused on a research direction. You'll want a dept where profs there share your interest focus and want to work with you, pull you in. You also want major funding from the U.
  • Racingfan53Racingfan53 Registered User Posts: 51 Junior Member
    Look at the University of Kentucky. Not sure if as a linguistics undergrad you're familiar with the program, but it's extremely well-regarded. Some very good faculty there; gem of a program hidden in a state university. I only know because my sister is a Linguistics major there.
  • student387student387 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    @lookingforward Yes, I did finish the CS degree as well.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 32,390 Senior Member
    edited May 20
    I don't know how those grades follow/affect you, then. Best bet is to speak with your linguistics profs for an idea of your viability for S and the best way to present your background and future interests.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,735 Super Moderator
    A 3.62 GPA is a pretty high GPA, and most PhD programs would cheat themselves out of some really great students if they refused to look at anyone below a 3.7. So no, a 3.62 GPA alone won't keep you out of competitive graduate programs, especially with your major GPA being so high and assuming the rest of your package is tight.
  • MWolfMWolf Registered User Posts: 1,112 Senior Member
    For acceptance to grad school, GPA is far from the most important factor. In fact, if you get your papers published, that is far more important. A PhD is not about coursework, but about research, and demonstrating that you have research chops is really important.

    You are now starting to put together an academic CV, and grades lose importance on them. Important things for application to grad school are: A. Your accomplishments, i.e., publications, presentations, work in the field (assistantships, etc), B, your cover letter/letter of interest on your applications - demonstrate that you know what you are getting into. Writing something like "I work really hard in class" won't get you anywhere. Present a general idea as to what you want to study. It should be specific enough to demonstrate that you know what a PhD thesis topic is like, so do not write something that 's good for a semester paper, nor a life's work. C, your Letters of Recommendation. Those are best from professors for who you worked, or with whom you worked, those in whose class you distinguished yourself, etc. At least one, if not all, should be in the field in which you want to do grad school, and, finally, D, GRE + GPA. Usually you need a minimum score. the better the rest of your application is, the less important this is. However, if you do not get the minimum, your application may get tossed without it getting to the graduate committee, which looks over the applications.

    Another important thing to do, is to contact potential advisers in each of the departments to which you want to apply. Having somebody who wants you is very helpful in many departments. It is also important for getting funding if you are accepted. I was accepted to my PhD program because my adviser wanted me.

    PhD programs are not ranked the same way that the colleges are. The departmental ranking is the most important, and that is not done based on things like class size, or alumni donations. It is usually based on the number of faculty, the research productivity, grant amounts, number of graduates students and number of PhDs produced, etc. So Stanford may not be the best place for your interests.

    Ranking of a PhD program within a field will often determine your chance to get an academic job. Unfortunately, in most of the humanities fields, most faculty are hired form the top 30 or so programs, with exceptions based on regional preferences, for example, many southern universities prefer hiring people who did their PhDs in a southern university.

    Look in your professional literature, and http://www.phds.org/ used to be a good place for this - it sets up rankings based on your own settings.

    For advice on PhD programs and academic jobs, you may want to visit the forums of the Chronicles of Higher Education. They're being closed down soon by the Chronicles, but they will be archived and searchable, and the members are migrating the forums to a different platform, which will allow you to post questions.
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