Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited


About ianmleavitt

  • Rank

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Boston, MA
  • Interests
    Cycling, running, hiking, genealogy, hockey, literature, indoor house plants
  • Application Season
    2018 Fall
  • Program
    Harvard - Population Health Sciences PhD

Recent Profile Visitors

3,914 profile views
  1. This is what I used when I had this dilemma. Never a great feeling turning down a good program/PI! "Thank you for your offer of admission to the PhD program in XYXYXYX at XYXYXYX; I truly appreciate the interest you have shown in me. However, I regret to inform you that I will not be accepting your offer of admission, as I have officially declared for another program. I'm quite grateful for your time and consideration of my application, and wish you and the program the best moving forward."
  2. Congratulations! Hope you can make it out for the admitted students visit in the beginning of April!
  3. At least for my cohort that began this year, 42 students entered for the PHS program across all 5 fields of study (Epidemiology, Environmental Health, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Global Health and Population, and Nutrition). SBS had 8 students and Nutrition had 5...unsure about the other fields of study off the top of my head, but I know that Epi was the heaviest.
  4. I had my first responses starting on January 13th of last year (and heard from 4 of 5 that I applied to by January 19th)...most admissions committees at top tier schools are likely not going to meet until after the holiday season. For Harvard (since I see that you applied), I was reached out to on January 17th about conducting a a video interview. Be patient! And here's hoping for good news come January!
  5. I would definitely contact faculty first. If there are no faculty members that you share research interests with at the school at which your applying (or if they aren't taking on new students), it's a bit of a waste of time (and money). PhD level work is about having that good research match, after all!
  6. It's hard to spitball an actual number, as most programs will simply say that they want "competitive scores." Again, to me, it's more about connecting with your potential mentor, having a well-written SoP, and letters of support that sing your praises. With that being said, if you can get your quantitative score in the 75th-80th percentile range, I would think that it wouldn't be a limiting factor whatsoever for programs. But I'm just guessing! If you find yourself concerned enough, take the GRE again (if money isn't a limiting factor) with adequate quantitative prep that leaves you feeling you'll score in your desired range. Also, if you have a Biostatistics course available to you this fall, shoot to take that (if it's not too late).
  7. I think it's also going to depend on how much of a quantitative focus an individual program is going to have. For example, Harvard has a yearlong quantitative methods course for their Population Health Sciences PhD program and Brown recommends you do a Biostatistics self-analysis on their website before you even apply to their Social and Behavioral Sciences PhD. For programs with the greater focus, they might view the Q score on the GRE as more important. Without the Master's degree, I think getting that score up could be valuable. But remember, at the end of the day, it's how you justify yourself as a good fit for the program within your Statement of Purpose that is really going to sell (or not sell) a program on you. Also, consider the fit for yourself. Do you think you want to be in a program that has a substantial quantitative focus? Or would you be a better fit for a program that puts less emphasis on it?
  8. At least for me, it's a bit too early to contact any POIs. You could try, but as it's the end of the summer/beginning of the fall semester, professors are going to be a bit more inundated right now than if you wait until mid-September.
  9. For a December 1st application deadline, I began contacting POIs in mid-September (mid-October is probably the latest you'll want to send them out). For those that I didn't hear back from after a little while, I sent a follow-up email about 2/3 weeks later. Avoiding the end of summer/beginning of the fall semester is recommended, as your email may very well fall into a void. My goal for sending the emails was to see if the POIs were indeed open to accepting new PhD students for the upcoming cycle, as well as to get more information from them in terms of the program. Some simply responded to me with an affirmative that they were accepting students - I kept those schools on my list. Others, I was able to arrange a phone call with - these are highly valuable! Those who said that they were not looking for new students recommended some other professors for me. Perhaps I was lucky, but I heard back from everybody that I had contacted. Remember, you don't want to just reach out haphazardly to them...you want your research goals to line up at least moderately with their research interests and the program. At the time I was ready to send my emails, I had identified 9 programs that I felt as if I could fit in well with AND had a good mentor match, and had ranked them into three tiers. When I sent my emails, I reached out to my POIs in my top 2 tiers - the bottom tier were programs with later application deadlines, so there was no need to rush. Initially, contact your top choice POI at your programs of interest...see if you can arrange a more in-depth discussion to determine if you do indeed match well with their research interests (and personality). If Dr. X isn't accepting new students for the upcoming cycle, reach out to your next choice - I would personally hesitate to have more than one ongoing discussion with any given professor at a school at one time. Maybe it's just being cautious, but it could reflect poorly on you if you're just throwing your hat in as many rings as possible. In the email, keep it brief (something that I obviously struggled with, given the length of this response). I discussed who I was (pertinent academic/professional/research background), research topics of interest to me, some of their current/previous research, (ask a question about this...show interest!!) and then asked if they had an opening for a doctoral student. My emails were ~250 words, and even that was on the long side. And yes, I included my CV - whether they opened it or not is still a mystery to me, but it can't hurt.
  10. If anyone has questions regarding the upcoming application cycle, feel free to ask me!
  11. I think it will definitely ramp up once this Spring semester is over at your individual programs. My program at Harvard just sent out a very detailed email today, which was the first communication over the past month. They stipulated that we should be hearing from them on a bi-weekly basis from here on out, which is quite encouraging! If all else fails, reach out to your program contact(s) and inquire as to when you'll start to receive all of that other information that you mentioned.
  12. I second this notion. @epi_2018, in my SOP I discussed five different research topics I'm interested in (chronic disease prevention, health behavior change, community based participatory research, at-risk populations, and dissemination/implementation science) and wove them all together to show they are interrelated and can build off of one another. While I didn't ask any finely pointed questions, I did write some short questions within my SOP that were broad in nature to briefly show where I may head in the future.
  13. I think it's vitally important to contact professors before applying; they can provide information on if they are taking on new students, have suggestions for other professors at the university you may want to work with based on your research interests that you might have overlooked, and be able to provide general information on the program that could help you choose whether to apply or not. In preparing your application, spend plenty of time on your statement of purpose. Write it, rewrite it. Get plenty of sets of eyes on it; I had both people within the field and friends not very familiar with public health research take a look at what I wrote and suggest edits.
  14. Has anyone else committed yet? I committed to Harvard on Friday and it felt so good to sign off on the paperwork!
  15. Hey there! It was actually a two day event, both yesterday and today. My overall impression was quite positive; one of the best pieces was seeing how the different concentrations all mesh with each other and build off of one another's ideas. This was even evident in the admitted students! I'm in the SBS concentration, but I was finding plenty of research similarities with other students in Nutrition and Epidemiology especially. It's definitely valuable to know that I could jive well with both the current and admitted students. As for the faculty and staff, they were nothing short of wonderful. Obviously, this is an event where they are putting on their best show, but you could still tell that the underlying vibe was genuine. They were very open in fully explaining curriculum during the first semester (being that it is pretty much set in stone aside from one class), the financial package, life in Boston, and everything else that people had questions on. The biggest thing they drove home was the notion of impostor syndrome; that some of us might feel as if we don't belong because it is Harvard. And you know, they were very good about not only making us feel welcome, but also showing that each and every one of us did belong. Let me know if you have further questions!
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.