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No internships/field experience - how big of a deal is this?


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Hi all. My first post here! I'm a 3rd year undergrad at UF and planning to apply to UF's M.S. in Biostatistics next year. I have a strong GPA and relevant coursework and some light research experience (co-authored one paper) in biostats, but I have zero internships and really no experience in the biostats, public health/epidemiology, or pharmaceuticals fields... I've applied to a small handful of internships for Summer 2019 that seem to be relevant but I'm not going to bank on being accepted to any of them.

I just feel like my application is going to be lacking something huge because of this. Are internships/field experience really expected for fields like Biostats, with a relatively limited number of options out there?

There are also some summer programs in Biostats at different universities, but they are all like 10-week full-time research programs (or diversity camps in most cases) across the country and I don't think they're quite the same thing as an internship - should I apply to some of these or is it just a waste of time/money when I could instead spend the summer taking required pre-requisites and studying for the GRE?

Thanks all. I'm sort of new to the grad-school process as I spent the first 2 years of undergrad in a pre-med mindset only to finally realize that is not what I truly want to do.

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Hi there. First of all, I would recommend you repost this to the Math & Statistics Gradcafe forum, since you'll probably get more responses there. 

In my opinion, participating in more biostats research will only make your more competitive for biostats programs. What programs are you thinking about when referring to "diversity camps"? The 10 week full-time research programs are often NSF funded REUs. One of NSF's goals is to promote diversity in science, so decisions are made in consideration of applicants' race, gender, etc. However, these are legitimate research opportunities. But you should never be losing money from these. The applications should be free, and REUs offer stipends + living expenses ranging from $4000-10,000 value. If you're applying to a research-based Master's program, then research experience is at least equal and probably preferable to internship experience (depending on the nature of the internship). Assuming you already have satisfied prerequisites for a biostats program, then research/internship over the summer is more beneficial than additional coursework in my opinion. Also getting a decent score on the general GRE really should not take months of dedicated study over the summer, if you have excelled in the quantitative courses required for a biostats Master's. 

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