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Applying to Graduate School Pertinent Questions. Why am I considering going to graduate school? Expectations of family, faculty, etc. Don’t know what.

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Presentation on theme: "Applying to Graduate School Pertinent Questions. Why am I considering going to graduate school? Expectations of family, faculty, etc. Don’t know what."— Presentation transcript:

1 Applying to Graduate School Pertinent Questions

2 Why am I considering going to graduate school? Expectations of family, faculty, etc. Don’t know what else to do. Not sure what I want to do. Be occupied before reapplying to professional school. These are NOT GOOD REASONS!

3 What do I want to be? Imagine yourself 10 years from now. Will that career require a graduate degree? –If so, a Master’s or Ph.D?

4 What if I don’t know which career is for me? Career services –150 Careers in the Health Care Field Occupational Outlook Handbook HF5381. U62 1998-1999 + other Career Guides (HF5381 in Library) Other Websites listed on last slide Imagine! The 8+8+8 Hour Day for Pay Strategy

5 How can I be sure if a career is right for me? You can’t ever be certain, but you can be well informed. Go with your gut feeling.

6 What is the purpose of Graduate School? Prepare you for your chosen career Master techniques, develop independence Develop research skills Build credentials Graduate School is NOT a purgatory for pre-professional schools! Graduate School admissions requirements are NOT trivial.

7 Masters or Ph.D. Which is for me? Depends on career plans and job market What is the difference? Masters –2-3 years, pay your own way –more coursework, less research Ph.D. –4-6+ years, includes financial support (stipend) –1-2 years coursework, 2+ years fulltime research

8 How do I decide where to apply? Ask your professors for recommendations Look at Websites Check Peterson’s Graduate Programs in the Biological Sciences (copy in Dept. Office) Search for faculty who are doing interesting research –Keyword searching –Get abstracts or papers

9 What are the admissions requirements? GPA varies by program Research experience highly desirable –Letter from research supervisor Graduate Record Exam (GRE) –General Test: Verbal, Quantitative, Analytical –Computer-based General: 1 st 3 wks each month ($99) –Subject Test: 1 of 14 areas (Biology is one) –Paper based Subject test: ($130) Nov, Dec, & April Apply online (

10 How can I find out about a particular graduate program? Peterson’s “Guide” will provide –Description of the program –List of facilities –Financial aid.....Stipends!!! –Out of State Policy –Cost of study –Housing –Applying (Requirements, deadlines) –List of faculty & their research interests –Contact person

11 How do I contact a program? Write, e-mail, or call Graduate Director of the program listed in Peterson’s Guide Check Website Ask for information on their program

12 What should I look for in a graduate program? # 4 Expectations for teaching/work study # 3 Time to complete degree # 2 Reputation # 1 Several faculty who are doing interesting.......research

13 How can I increase my chances of being accepted? Get abstracts and papers from faculty doing interesting research Read those abstracts and papers Call or write the Graduate Director for application, mentioning the names of their faculty Call or write the faculty person(s) and inform them of your interest. (This is flattering.) Ask to come for a visit

14 What happens on a visit to a graduate school? Meet with –Graduate Advisor –Members of Admissions Committee –Prospective Thesis Advisors –Current graduate students Tour the –department –facilities –environs

15 What will they ask me during my visit? What research experience do you have? What topics interest you? How much do you already know? Why are you interested in their program? What are your career goals?

16 What should I look for on my visit? Modern facilities Enthusiasm of faculty and students How long to complete the degree Teaching/Work study opportunities/requirements Attitude of graduate students How hard people are working Attitude of faculty toward students

17 What should I ask? Degree requirements –Examinations –Timetables –Course requirements –Teaching/ work study expectations Basis of admissions decisions Questions about the projects you see

18 What are they looking for in me? Interest & Enthusiasm Evidence of preparation Reaction to criticism Work ethic Determination & Dedication Awareness of what you’re getting into

19 How should I follow-up my visit? Letter of thanks to –Admissions Director –others Grad students who you visited or hosted you Prospective advisors

20 What happens to my application? Examined by Admissions Committee You are discussed and voted on Your prospective advisor(s) can put in a good word

21 What is life like as a first year Ph. D. graduate student? 1st year coursework, many seminars Rotate through several labs of your choosing By end of first year, select thesis advisor Forget carefree summers Comprehensive exams on course work Select thesis project in consultation with advisor

22 What is life like as a 2nd year graduate student? Begin fulltime research on your project Become a specialist on the literature Master techniques Report your progress Select thesis committee of 3-5 scientists Specialty exam (oral and/or written)

23 How long does it take to complete the degree? Depends on –how hard you work –how difficult a project you attempt –how much support you get from advisor technicians –how much is expected by your advisor Thesis/dissertation committee

24 What is the most important decision I’ll make? Choosing an advisor Your advisor will –give you advice –establish how much must be accomplished to earn a degree –determine how fast you move along by how much assistance they give you –be a part of your scientific pedigree –influence what happens once you finish

25 What do I consider when choosing an advisor? How much s/he expects of students –time in the lab –contribution to the work of the lab –teaching Track record for grants Fate of previous graduate students Interpersonal skills –helpfulness (sink or swim vs. mentor) –patience –individual attention Other Commitments (teaching, people in lab, etc.)

26 What is the cost of graduate school? Doesn’t matter for Ph.D! Tuition and fees are often waived, even for out of state students. Most Ph.D. programs support you for the first year with a stipend of $15-20K After 1st year, most programs expect your stipend to be paid from your advisor’s grant. Since your advisor is spending money on you, they have a right to expect you to be productive!

27 If they’re paying me to get a degree, what do they expect in return? Productive research Publications Commitment to science –Some funding may restrict choices (ROTC Style) Intent to continue in industry or research or academics Enhance their reputation

28 What should I be doing and when? (for Seniors) October –Consider career plans –Prepare a list of programs to investigate –Schedule GRE November –Request information & applications –Check out faculty research December –Schedule a visit

29 The Time Line for Seniors (continued) Jan-Feb –Applications deadline –Follow-up correspondences –Invitations for interviews Mar-May –Admissions decisions are made –Notification of your acceptance/rejection

30 What should I be doing now? (I’m a NOT a Senior.) Investigate summer research opportunities! Arrange to get research experience!!! Look at admissions requirements. Prepare for GRE Be a serious student

31 Useful Websites eers.html (specifically for Bio majors) (Occupational Outlook Handbook) GRE http://www.gre.org Peterson’s Guides http://petersons.com

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