Jump to content
frisbeeindustry

Help! UCSF or Berkeley for Biophysics

Recommended Posts

Hello everyone,

I really loved both of these schools when I visited and it feels impossible to decide between them. I'm laying out some logistical things here and would welcome any insights that might help me decide.

UCSF

Pros:

- Four faculty that are close research fits and many more doing research that I am less experienced with but find fascinating

- Great grad students and culture - everyone seems happy and taken care of

- Excellent facilities

- Seems like a truly collaborative environment

Cons:

- I'm moving with a partner and a big dog so living in SF is probably not feasible, I would most likely have to commute from Oakland or Berkeley

- No undergrads (could also be a pro)

Berkeley

Pros:

- One faculty that is a leader in my research field, another that is a good match for my current interests, many more that are interesting (similar to UCSF in this regard)

- The "good match" is someone that I have met on several occasions and I really like, I am confident that I could join their lab if I wanted to and would be happy there

- Much better subsidized housing situation 

- Easy commute by bike even if we don't move into grad housing

Cons:

- The campus is HUGE and PI that I have met with before is in a building that might make it hard to work collaboratively, maybe this isn't an issue but I'm not sure how much people see each other across campus

- The program is spread over so many departments it seems like the cohorts might not be very tight-knit 

- A lot of undergrads and tourists everywhere

- Some of the other labs I'm interested in are much larger than I've ever worked in before, not sure if it's an issue for me 

 

There are also many strengths that these two schools share such as career development services, opportunities for mentorship and science outreach, and the fact that I left both visits feeling very excited about the research opportunities and environment. Their stipends are similar - UCSF is a little higher but Berkeley has the housing and subsidized transportation perks that probably outweigh the difference. 

Thanks for reading this and for any insights you can offer!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No undergrads is definitely a pro, trust me!

And it's not that difficult to have a dog in SF, everyone does! Especially with two stipends.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi! Currently making the exact same decision with an almost identical pro/con list. Have you made a decision yet, and were there any other bits of information that helped you decide? What was the deciding factor?

Either option is a great choice, so congratulations! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SF house prices are better than what people believe, and UCSf offers student housing which is relatively easy to get (and they're building more). I highly reccomend it. It is a truly incredible and collaborative environment. And no undegrads means that faculty are more focused on you and on research.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't posted on this forum in years! But since I'm procrastinating on writing my thesis:

On 3/5/2018 at 4:11 AM, frisbeeindustry said:

Cons:

- The campus is HUGE and PI that I have met with before is in a building that might make it hard to work collaboratively, maybe this isn't an issue but I'm not sure how much people see each other across campus

- The program is spread over so many departments it seems like the cohorts might not be very tight-knit 

- A lot of undergrads and tourists everywhere

- Some of the other labs I'm interested in are much larger than I've ever worked in before, not sure if it's an issue for me 

My personal opinion is that none of these are cons.

- The campus is actually relatively small compared to most universities. No one takes the bus from one end to the other unless they have time to kill.

- The program being spread out is not necessarily bad at all. The places you get your best ideas from will never be where you expect. Having to walk by people from other departments might help you in ways you wouldn't expect.

- There's a very good reason undergrads and tourists visit Berkeley all the time.

- Large labs have their own pros and cons. (They got large for a reason!) It's more important to have options in case it ends up not being for you.

Other things:

- Did you take into account that Lawrence Berkeley Lab is right up the hill as well? I knew several people who did their PhD's with PIs up there, and I knew many more who collaborated with them.

- Biophysics is about as interdisciplinary as it gets, and Berkeley also comes with world class math, physics, and chemistry departments as well. Research from those and other departments have serious overlap with biophysics. Often times the help you need will be a five minute walk away.

- Berkeley's alumni network is gigantic. This will matter a lot when you get toward the end!

Despite this shamelessly biased post in favor of Berkeley, congratulations by the way, because both USCF and Berkeley are excellent programs!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

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