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Hi All, I'm reaching out to the community for some advice. I've been applying to PhD programs in Ecology and or Marine Science for 3 years now without any success in obtaining a coveted position in the programs I've applied to. I have done a lot of research into how to best apply to these programs, including being proactive with contacting faculty directly, selecting strong references, applying for the NSF-GRFP, and truly catering my admissions essays to each institution. My interests genuinely lie within the subjects of Ecology and Marine Science, specifically I would like to investigate anthropogenic influences on marine ecosystems, species diversity, and impact of habitat protection and restoration efforts. I've done a lot of research into these topics independently through literature search, but obviously would have much more to gain through a formal education. I want to pursue a PhD to create a career for myself in these fields that would be both personally fulfilling and hopefully make a positive contribution to the scientific community. I really feel like my heart and mind are in the right place for this pursuit. Additionally, I now have about 11 years of research experience (graduated in 2012) through academic research at my undergraduate college in animal behavior and ecology, research pre-and post graduation in academics studying effects of invasive insect species on ecosystems, and more recently through industry research in microbiology and next generation sequencing. My undergraduate GPA could have been better (3.21, 2.8 in Science); however I did double major, participated in varsity sport the full 4yrs, and am a stronger researcher than student (although I think my studies will improve with my current maturity). The people I work with really value my contributions to the team through research skills, experiment planning, and overall work ethic- but I do have knowledge gaps that I would love to fill through continued education. I generally have had a lot of success with phone interviews with faculty, who seem very encouraging about my research experience and over all goals; however, when I've applied to PhD programs there always seems to be funding issues, sudden shifts in interests, or even feedback that my experience doesn't match the labs needs (which is always hard to swallow after positive phone and email interactions). I have had some in person interviews that seem to go well, but have not resulted in an offer to the PhD position. I have been accepted to a funded MS program in Marine Biology, but at this point in my life I am hesitant to walk away from my career for the MS degree when I really want the PhD. The program I would be entering cannot guarantee that I can transfer to the PhD, and the statics on students who have successfully done so are low. The question becomes is it worth it to my career and viable for my lively-hood to survive on a student's salary for 7yrs for a 2yr MS program + 5yr PhD (If I get in anywhere...). I am located in Boston and considering taking classes through the Harvard Extension School towards the Master's of Liberal Arts, Biology graduate degree. My work agreed to partially fund this endeavor and I'm hopeful that it could help me as I apply to PhD programs in the future. In the meantime I can come up with some savings to support myself and husband in the future. My broad questions for the community have multiple parts: Given my application attempts, research and work experience, GPA (3.21, 2.8 in Science), and GRE scores (155 Quantitative; 163 Verbal; 4 Writing) - why am I having such a difficult time securing funding a position in a PhD program? Could my undergraduate transcript be having a significant impact? Do you have any specific advice in improving my application? Is it worth the risk to pursue this funded MS program, although a path to PhD is not guaranteed through the program? Does anyone here have experience with the Harvard Extension School? Would an HES Master's in Biology be as valuable as an MS when applying to PhD programs? Thanks to all who read through this long post. I know there's a lot going on here, but at this cross-roads in my life I could definitely use some advice from this community. I know I have options, so I'm grateful for that- but at the same time I am so eager to get started with higher education in the way that suits my career/research goals. Please be aware that at this point I am a non-traditional student and have significant financial concerns to consider.
Hi everyone! I am 25 years old, I already hold a BA in communication from an italian uni, and a MSc in political sciences from the London School of Economics (LSE). I am currently working in international organizations such as the UN - it's now been almost 2 years. I would like to study again, most likely next year or in 2020, and I always wanted to go to a top tier US university - Harvard being the top choice. The fact is, my family cannot afford to pay me a Master at Harvard uni at the Kennedy School of Government or the GSAS, and as an international student I would never receive financial aid to totally cover the expenses of one of their Master programs. That being said, I still want to go to Harvard, and experience studying in a US university. So I casually found out about Harvard Extension School: a part of Harvard university, that offers special Master degrees (Master of Liberal Arts, AML) in a variety of disciplines, with the possibility to follow partly online an partly on campus, the possibility to take a maximum of 5 years to complete the program, and obviously reduced tuition fees. A Master at GSAS would cost me around 160.000 USD for two years, while a Master of Liberal Arts at Harvard Extension School would cost me a mere 55.000 USD. But admissions to the Harvard Extension School are way easier: you only have to pass a general reading and comprehension test, and then not let your GPA sink below 3.0 to complete the program. You spend half of the program on campus, you also have a final thesis to prepare, and graduate from Harvard during the May commencement ceremony. I am interested in the AML in International Relations (https://www.extension.harvard.edu/academics/graduate-degrees/international-relations-degree), and I already emailed Harvard Extension School for more information, but one thing that is not completely clear to me is: how valuable is such kind of degree for employers? I know many students blatantly lie and pretend they earned a Master of Arts from Harvard instead of a Master of Liberal Arts from Harvard Extension School, and employers, especially in the USA, are annoyed by this kind of behaviour. Let me be clear: I am not doing the program to mislead people into believing I earned a Master of Arts from Harvard Kennedy School of Government or the GSAS. I would just like to experience Harvard and a top US university, pursuing a degree which is more affordable for me and my family, can be completed while working, and that can give me some new skills and knowledge (being a political science graduate, I never took courses in human rights law, public policy law, international development, which I would find in this AML program, really giving some meaningful contirbution to my professional growth). Has any of you ever pursued a Master of Liberal Arts at the Harvard Extension School? Or is there any of you that could provide more information and more advice on the topic? Thank you!
I graduated with a bachelor degree in business administration in 2006 (foreign country). We don't do GPA there, but my uGPA is probably around 3.0. I worked on the family business for a while, then moved to the U.S. (husband was transferred). I didn't work for a very long time, just published a few ebooks online (in my native language). I knew I wanted to go back to school for a long time, but (not worth explaining the whole situation here) my husband wouldn't let me. Fast forward 10 years I got a divorce and enrolled in a community college to start getting core science courses. I'm halfway through with a 4.0 GPA. I always had a passion for science and only went to business because of family pressure. I live in Boston, so there's a lot of opportunities in biotech here, but for most part, you need a PhD to have a successful career in industry (I don't want to work in academia). I'm trying to get it right, now that I'm "free", so to speak. But here's the thing: I'm 37 years old, with no science background, other than these community college classes. I initially thought I would need a second bachelor degree in science to successfully make this change and be accepted in a PhD program. However, professors and counselors I've been talking to say that I don't need another undergraduate degree and that doing a masters after the core science block would be enough. My concern is that my GPA is too low for graduate school, but as I've been reading, it seems that the way that education works in the U.S., I can never erase my past. That number will follow me forever, regardless of a second bachelors. How much coursework would be necessary to raise my uGPA to acceptable levels? I also hear that the farther you are from your previous education, the less important it is. But the problem is that I haven't done much of anything since then, other than be a housewife. On the other hand, due to financial aid limitations to second bachelor candidates and lifetime limit on federal loans, the only schools that I could afford to attend are the state schools, which in MA are not well regarded. I've also been told that associating myself with say, UMass, would be more detrimental to my application. I'm trying to figure out if getting a bachelor in biology or biochemistry would really raise my chances of getting into a doctorate program in genetics/biotech, or if I could "fix" my GPA with an associate degree in science and then proceed to get a masters before applying. Some people suggested getting the Harvard Extension School masters in biotechnology and then applying to a full time masters in a really good school. HES would be an "intermediate step" between my weak background and a strong science program. I'm lucky enough to already work in biotech (as an executive assistant) and have the chance to do real scientific research in my community college (in molecular biology), participate in journal clubs (which I hear, students only get exposed to in graduate school). So, I believe these things are a plus and may offset the fact that I don't have degree in science. What do you guys think?