Top schools environmental engineering, already have masters?

<p>I'm currently working on my masters degree in environmental engineering at the University of Delaware, and would like to apply for a PhD this winter. I have three advisers, all distinguished professors, and all directors of various programs at my university. Grade-wise, I'm a solid student with either A's or A-'s, and I expect to publish 4 papers when the requirement is only one. In addition, I have experience in microbiology, biogeochemistry, and advanced tools of analysis in both disciplines which should be of benefit with the current push in academia for interdisciplinary projects. My GRE scores for the quantitative sections are below average for the top schools, but still in the 700's, and my writing score is above average. </p>

<p>I'm planning to apply to some top programs in environmental engineering, and also a few others on the outer edge of the top 20. Is it true that the acceptance rates are higher for those in environmental engineering, as opposed to chemical, mechanical, or electrical? Will already having a masters degree and a demonstrated ability to conduct independent research increase my chances of being accepted? Lastly, will the GRE scores hurt me if I have solid recommendations from well-known professors, a good personal statement, and several papers under my belt?</p>

<p>You say your advisers are distinguished professors in the field. Why are you not considering doing a Ph.D under one of them? If they are likely to give you solid recommendations, won't they like to have you as their Ph.D student?</p>

<p>That's a fair question to ask. All three have asked me to pursue a PhD under them, actually, but I've already spent my undergraduate education, now and part of my graduate education there as well. The PhD option is wide-open for me at UD, no question about it, but I'd like to be on the West Coast (Stanford, UCDavis which has a good geochemistry group, UCLA...etc) or south (UTexas at Austin) for various reasons.</p>

<p>1.) I'd like to broaden my academic experiences</p>

<p>2.) Three degrees from the same institution might kill me when I look for work in academia, making it seem as though I'm afraid to venture out of my bubble</p>

<p>3.) I'd like to develop myself in the west coast, and do it sooner rather than later. If not on the west coast, a position at a better university would trump this point.</p>

<p>4.) A top school would probably benefit me career-wise, assuming I don't end up under an associate or assistant professor. Maybe it's a shallow reason, but it'll boost my self confidence as well, and I feel that with a better attitude, I'll do better research and be able to focus more intensely on my work. Academia is extremely competitive these days, and I'm worried that a degree from a school that's not internationally known will prevent me from getting work at many universities. It's a fear that's constantly on my mind. Recently, 200 applicants applied for just one engineering faculty position, and I've heard that oftentimes, you can only find work at institutions at ranks at or below the school from which you graduated. I wouldn't want to limit my options.</p>

<p>However, staying at UD is not out of the question.</p>

<p>How is your undergraduate GPA? Having 4 real publications, master degree and solid letter of recommendation from experts in the field - sounds like a great candidate. If you haven't spent too much time practicing GRE, you can give it another shot.</p>

<p>For graduate school GPA, there are controversies whether A/A- is good or bad. For some program, B+ is considered good enough, A- is good, and A being excellent, but I have heard that in many places, anything below an A is not impressive at all, just okay. </p>

<p>I say it is very reasonable for you to decide against UD for PhD. However, you should still work at your best to get the highest stipend package from UD, in hope that other univ will match the offer.</p>

<p>Unless you have other motives to stay @UD (family, etc), going somewhere more prestigious is probably a better move, especially if you consider the chance of future employment in the industry. The caveat is: you need to make sure there are 2-3 PIs who seem promising in your field (and have spots for you).
Your performance + PI's reputation has greater impact than school's prestige/rank. Many would agree. </p>

<p>Btw, how distinguished are the 3 PIs? I don't know much about Env E, but there are plenty of so called distinguished professors out there. If I can work with the founding father of whatever subfield or someone who constantly publish in the best journal, I would not miss that chance for anything. You can always do post-doc to expand your horizon :) </p>

<p>So many factors.. GL!</p>