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Please Help Pick Safety Schools (MSE)


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Hi all!  I could really use some help.  I am working towards my BS/MS in Biomedical Engineering, thesis option.  I want to pursue my PhD in MSE with a focus on biomaterials, particularly for diagnostics, biomimetics, and drug delivery.

GPA: 3.55 (not great)

GRE: 161V, 163Q

Research: 2 publications (1 first author, 1 2nd), 3 conference presentations, 3 years research at Tier-1 research institution, summer internship at top international uni

I will be applying to: University of Minnesota, U of Wisconsin, Boston University, Oregon State, UC Riverside, and maybe Washington State


I am hoping to add 1 or 2 safety schools to this list, as I feel I am shooting above where I can realistically get in.  I have no problem finding research I am interested in, but I don't know how to tell if I have a decent chance at admission.  Also, is there any way to determine likelihood of full funding?  I have heard many horror stories lately.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi @misslitty!

I am actually doing the opposite of you. I got my BS in MSE, and want to purse a PhD in BME. I also want to focus on biomaterials, but the tissue engineering side of it.

Anywho, I am applying to a few MSE programs that have a focus in biomaterials. They are University of Delaware and Boston University. You might also want to look into NC State and the University of Connecticut.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Perfect, thank you! I will look into the University of Delaware and University of Connecticut, as I have already looked into the other two quite a bit.  How did you determine your safety school, though?  I feel as though I am shooting too high and want at least one school that I am confident I will be admitted to.

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10 hours ago, misslitty said:

How did you determine your safety school, though?

First off, silly me for suggesting Boston when you already had it on your list. Sorry about that! 

I kind of determined them based on several metrics: their ranking, their average GPA and GRE scores (if they list them), graduate acceptance rates (sometimes they list those), reputation (is it an ivy league or a big name university?). So, for a safety school, their ranking could possible be lower with lower GPA and GRE averages of their accepted students and not as high of a reputation relative to other schools. However, I will say it is hard to choose safety schools for graduate programs compared to undergrad because I feel like they look at a lot of things, such as your essays (convincing them that you fit their program and the research being done there), your academics (GPA and classes), your letter of recommendations (what do they say about you as a researcher?), your awards, and your research experience. Fit into the program is especially essential because professors want to choose students they believe will do great research in their labs, not just make good grades in their classes (which is what undergrad is mainly about). So, safety schools are kind of thing, but not as easily determinable for grad school.

I hope that makes sense and good luck!

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