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What else should I learn to get into a PhD?

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I wish to apply a PhD in integrated in biology and medicine, focusing on cancer and stem cell research, my BSc is Biomedical Science and I have an introduction level cancer biology and stem cell biology course but it seems not enough, do I need to learn something else in the field?

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On 4/26/2018 at 9:25 AM, catsareme said:

Do you have any research experience at all?

I agree. Research experience is a must otherwise you are not going to get any interviews. If you haven't yet, look at labs that specialize in cancer research and stem cell research of your interest. 

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The MOST important thing you can do (even more important than having stellar grades) is to get into a lab as an undergrad and actually do some research. I had the opportunity to help with admissions one year, and that is definitely something they look for!

Summer Research Experiences for Undergrads (REUs) are okay, but they're not really that great for building confidence in your research ability. In a 6-8 week REU, all you really do is learn the basics of a technique, but you don't really get into much real science. What would be better would be to spend a whole academic year, 20 or so hours a week, working in a lab either on a small project or with a grad student/ postdoc on their projects. This will get you into the nitty gritty of science, making your troubleshoot and come up with new hypotheses. Basically it will help show yourself and the AdComm that you get what science will be and are likely cut out for grad school. If you've already graduated, work as a tech for a year or two before you apply to grad school. You'll thank us for it, later.

I know for a fact that my 6 years research experience (4 years undergrad, 2 years MS) are what got me into grad school, despite that my 3.6 GPA was lower than some other applicants. I also know that there have been people that have been rejected from programs with 4.0's because they didn't have research experience. Remember for Biomed PhD programs, they're going to be paying you to do the research. Having research experience helps show them you're worth taking the chance on. What they don't want are people who go to grad school without knowing what to expect as a researcher and then dropping out. Does that make sense?

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Agree with research experience. Having specific coursework is nice, but it's also something you can make up for in grad school (for example, I'll be taking a statistics class during my first year as a PhD student because I didn't take it in undergrad, but this didn't prevent me from being accepted.) Having research experience in biomed is absolutely vital though. I took a year and a half off after my BSc to work in a lab as a technician and that combined with my other undergraduate research experience (totaling approximately 5 years cumulatively) made me a very strong candidate for my program. Every single professor I interviewed with mentioned how much of an advantage my research experience was. I had a lower GPA (3.4) and slightly lower than average GREs, but my research experience and multiple publications showed that I was ready. You can't just rely on your coursework to get you in. Of course, take classes that are relevant and interesting to you - I took like 6 different microbiology/related courses as an undergrad - but you will learn far more from actual lab experience

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