Applying for PhD with a MS

<p>I will be graduating with a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering in about 6 months from Stanford and I'll be applying to other schools this December for PhD and wanted to know what to expect. I have seen similar posts online but with my profile I'm still not sure.</p>

<p>MS GPA = 3.6
UG institution = Georgia Tech
UG GPA = 3.85
GRE = 800/520</p>

<p>3.6 isn't all that great but it's improving. It took me a while to kinda get used to the rise in standards and to figure out how to study better.</p>

<p>I got rejected from all PhD programs I applied to when I applied after UG, I should have had some safety schools. The worst school I applied to was UMich. This was partly because I had a spot in Georgia Tech. I was told though that I was really close to getting into Cornell. </p>

<p>In stanford, I did research with 3 profs (working on a project with a third one right now)...I have no exceptional results to show from my research, like publishing reports. And in both cases, my work didn't lead me to a funded position in the prof's lab which kind of hints to the quality of my work.</p>

<p>However, I liked the projects I worked on and on a personal level, was satisfied with my results/reports and took a good amount from my experiences. They are also much more related to the field I am interested in. My research experiences in Georgia Tech were from different areas. The 3 LORs I will be submitting this time will be from prof's who I did research with as opposed to 2/3 from Georgia Tech so I have that going for me.</p>

<p>I will be widening my selection of schools this time. Any advice and thoughts on my application will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.</p>

<p>Hey Brahmin,</p>

<p>It sounds like you are in a great position to get into a very good PhD program. You have an undergrad degree and master’s degree from two of the best engineering schools in the country. I wouldn’t say a 3.6 GPA is bad either! Nobody can know exactly since everyone had different situations. </p>

<p>The one curious thing I saw was you saying you got rejected by UMich which was the “worst” school you applied to. It’s like #5 in Mechanical and basically top 10 in every engineering field. I’m guessing you went the usual tier of Stan/Cal/MIT/Berkley then? I’m surprised you got rejected everywhere as a straight PhD applicant. I am guessing you had no undergrad research experience. </p>

<p>I think with your background I couldn’t see why any school below (5-15 range) those wouldn’t take you, and they are all excellent schools (Anyone calling UMich/Cornell/Carnegie etc not a great school is nuts).</p>

<p>I’m currently a masters applying for a PhD as well but I don’t have the well known background you do. I think the problem you may face is what I have heard from many of my professor’s is lacking publications. So you have a Masters, you did work with 3 prof’s, but you have no published or results to show for it. In someone’s mind they might say “He wasn’t very productive”, you can argue that you were not doing a thesis, but I think that could be a bit dicey.</p>

<p>If you want to get into those top schools you might want to think about taking a year to find someone to work for that WILL produce published results. Try to have a lead authorship on 1 peer reviewed journal and a couple conference papers and you might be set. That is most likely about a year worth of work. I’m applying this Fall myself, but if I don’t get in (I only have 3 conference papers and co-author on a journal) I will be working to try next year when I should have more to show.</p>

<p>Also, why do you think your research was not good, you said you didn’t publish or get offered funding. Were you distracted by classwork too much, didn’t know the expectations, no interest in the topic, or have a hard time working self-motivated (doubtful considering your background). I would think about that yourself, a PhD is a research degree, so clearly you were ‘missing something’ to not get the results you wanted. It is a big transition from undergrad, I struggled with it myself.</p>

<p>I would say that you stand an excellent chance of getting in somewhere decent, but probably not a top-tier program. Your GPA is an issue (top programs usually expect a near perfect GPA for a masters), but the bigger problem is that you never had a publication - it does suggest a real lack of research ability, since even unsuccessful or in-progress work usually merits a poster or two at a conference and might still show publishable results. I would suggest that you might want to submit a paper or two before applying, so that you can at least say you have something “in review”.</p>

<p>I would not worry too much about the funding issue, since Stanford is notoriously stingy with masters candidates, but the number of advisors is worrisome - is there a reason you did not stick with one? Are you going to get good reviews from those advisors? This could be a big issue.</p>


If you are not confident in your own work, why do you want to pursue a PhD at all? Are you confident that you would succeed in a PhD program?</p>

<p>You guys bring out good points. I think I have the drive and the interest. I don’t think I’ve gotten the right project yet. </p>

<p>And so I wanted to know if it’s a good idea to reflect on my research experiences and kind of talk about what things I didn’t do so well or why I may have not gotten the results I wanted. The one prof I worked with was happy but didn’t have money so encouraged me to carry on. The second prof said he had ‘mixed feelings’ with my work and told me to think whether I wanted to continue working for him. The main thing he wasn’t happy with was I didn’t explain some anomalies of my simulation. So my point is I want to let the admission committee know that I haven’t hit my best want to dwell on that more. Good idea?</p>

<p>I don’t know if anyone can answer that, since it seems like that would vary greatly. You are saying you had a project you could work on, did well on, professor wanted you on, but you didn’t because of lack of funding… Just to play devil’s advocate here, you have no results. Anyone can say “sure I have soooo much potential, I’m going to publish 10 journals in Nature, I love this work, I’m passionate” I don’t think that will hurt you, but my understanding from all my faculty is “Results are what matters”. Good intentions are great and a positive start but you need something to back it up with. </p>

<p>Your in a great position with your background. I wouldn’t dwell on lack of published research. Highlight how you went to a fantastic undergrad, and one of the best ME graduate programs in the country.</p>

<p>Just roll the dice and see what happens, you can’t change the past. Worst case, find some research you can do with results and reapply next year.</p>