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Biology PhD advice required??

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Replies to: Biology PhD advice required??

  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Registered User Posts: 12,374 Senior Member
    I really can't predict, because admission to the top programs isn't very numbers-based. The different departments seem to be using the same criteria, because you see the same group of applicants at different programs' interview weekends all winter, but I don't know how they sort through the pile of applicants with great research experience and recommendations and solid GPAs and test scores.

    Again, a trusted professor in your field will be your best source of information and tips. My favorite professors predicted my eventual results quite accurately -- since they sit on admissions committees themselves, they have a better eye for competitive applications.
  • MCBartistMCBartist Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    So, I was checking the various websites for the GRE subject tests, and their requirement didnt make much sense to me. They say- encouraged/recommended/strongly recommended/not required/etc..What does this imply??? Thanks
  • greennbluegreennblue Registered User Posts: 1,736 Senior Member
    If you are good enough at biology to be applying to top PhD programs, you should be able to get an excellent score on a subject test. Take it.
  • MCBartistMCBartist Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    Thinking about letters of recommendations....I think my manager from my internship will be able to write me an excellent one..but do you think this would be valued accordingly or do they only value recommendations from professors etc...? Please let me know. Thanks
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Registered User Posts: 12,374 Senior Member
    If you're relatively sure you can get an excellent score on one of the biology subject GREs (most schools will take either biology or molecular/cell), then take the test. If you are not positive you will do well (and remember that you almost certainly won't be able to see the scores before you send them to the programs), don't bother. It's not going to make or break an application unless you have a poor score. For the top programs, ideally you'd like to have a subject GRE percentile of 90 or above, although people certainly do get interviews in the 60-80th percentile range.

    As for recommendations, ideally you'll have all of them from professors, but if there's someone you think would write a very strong letter, it's okay to have one non-professor. I had a postdoc write one of my three letters, and it worked out very nicely. Having very strong letters is the most important factor, but it's preferable to have them all from professors.
  • MCBartistMCBartist Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    Considering my stats, what schools do you think I can bank on as "safe schools" like from rank 15 onwards or rank 20 onwards or rank 10 onwards, etc....or if you could name some schools that are good and could be easy-safe -getin- schools..Thanks :D
  • DespSeekPhdDespSeekPhd Registered User Posts: 991 Member
    There's no such thing in grad school apps. You need to find those that match your research goals, then look into their admissions averages (if you can find them). Even then, there is no safe school.
  • MCBartistMCBartist Registered User Posts: 69 Junior Member
    Hey Mollie, do you think it helps talking to deans etc for the colleges that I am gonna apply to?? Does it affect one's chances of getting in? What are your suggestions?? Anybody else has something to add???
  • molliebatmitmolliebatmit Registered User Posts: 12,374 Senior Member
    Admissions committees at PhD programs are generally administered by individual departments rather than by the school as a whole. At MIT, for example, there's a dean of graduate studies, who is almost certainly completely uninvolved in admissions. The administrative staff in the biology department probably has more logistical information about applying to the program, but they are also uninvolved in admissions.

    It can be useful to email professors in the department who are doing work that interests you. I wouldn't advocate doing it unless you have a compelling reason -- simply emailing and saying "I like your work" is unlikely to earn you any bonus points in the application process. Having a meaningful conversation about science can probably help, though.
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