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Does it worth to volunteer for a summer research opportunity?

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I got accepted by the Lee Summer Fellowship at the Southern California Research Center for ALPD and Cirrhosis for this summer. Since I graduated with a bachelor degree in biochem, I'm thinking to work in the research lab for a year as a research associate if it is possible. Does anybody know what the possibility for an undergraduate to work in a research lab following summer research is?

I also got accepted with a one-year master degree in global health. Does it worth to give up the Master degree and work in a research lab? I want a Ph.D. degree in the future. I need something to build my resume because of my poor GPA.

Please write any related thought that you have. Thanks!

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What was your GPA? On one hand, if your goal is a PhD, then the summer fellowship will be a positive addition to your resume, especially if they keep you on as a research assistant afterward (I'm not sure what the chances of that would be, but you could discuss that with them and see if it's an option if the summer fellowship goes well). On the other hand, if your GPA is really low (<3.0), then you may need to take some masters-level courses to prove that you can in fact do graduate-level work before a PhD program would consider you. 

You could do the masters degree in global health and gain research experience there, as well. Since it is a one-year degree, I assume there is no thesis option? It may be a little more difficult to gain meaningful research experience in a one-year program. You need to do more of your own research on both the masters degree (research experience?) and fellowship (chance to stay on? Paid or unpaid?) before making a decision.

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On 6/20/2018 at 9:29 AM, Sangria1700 said:

What was your GPA? On one hand, if your goal is a PhD, then the summer fellowship will be a positive addition to your resume, especially if they keep you on as a research assistant afterward (I'm not sure what the chances of that would be, but you could discuss that with them and see if it's an option if the summer fellowship goes well). On the other hand, if your GPA is really low (<3.0), then you may need to take some masters-level courses to prove that you can in fact do graduate-level work before a PhD program would consider you. 

You could do the masters degree in global health and gain research experience there, as well. Since it is a one-year degree, I assume there is no thesis option? It may be a little more difficult to gain meaningful research experience in a one-year program. You need to do more of your own research on both the masters degree (research experience?) and fellowship (chance to stay on? Paid or unpaid?) before making a decision.

My GPA is right at 3.0... LOL... I plan to talk to my PI in the middle of July to see if I can stay in the lab next year. If I get a position in the research lab, I will apply for MS and Ph.D. one more time for Fall 2019 season. And you are right about the research opportunity in the One-year program. It's not thesis-based, and I possibly won't have any hands-on experience in a research lab, definitely won't have my project.  I lean toward the research opportunity that I'm doing for the summer because the PI is introducing a new research direction to the lab and I can be part of the team. Is there a chance to compromise my low GPA in an application if I work on a project in a research lab for a year?

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The answer depends on a few things. First, how well known is your PI in the field to which you're applying? A recommendation from a well-known or well-respected researcher can go a long way, especially if they know someone at the program you're applying to and they reach out on your behalf. It also depends on the tier of the program you're applying to; top programs may have a harder time overlooking your GPA unless you get very high GRE scores, but even then, these programs are super competitive and receive applications from students with near-perfect scores on everything (though I'm not saying you'd have no chance; it just means the rest of your application needs to be very strong). Lower tier programs may be more forgiving, but you still want to consider if they'll help you reach your goals (what are their placement records, and where do they place? Are students generally happy and healthy, or miserable? Attrition rate?). 

Also keep in mind that you can take graduate-level courses as a non-degree-seeking student. So if you stay in your research lab next year, you could still take a few grad classes relevant to your field, be sure to do well in them, and use that to try and offset concerns if you want to go directly into a PhD program without doing a full masters degree first. 

If you do apply this fall, apply broadly to different tier programs that are a strong fit for your research interests. Also get feedback from your PI on your application list and see what insights they have as to whether you'll be a strong applicant or if they know anyone in the program. Just be sure that you're only applying to programs you'd be happy to attend if they're your only choice. 

Edited by Sangria1700

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