Jump to content

How are the 2019 applications coming

Recommended Posts

Hey guys! I wanted to ask you guys how your applications were going and also make a spot for questions to be made and profiles to be shared. I didn't see a 2019 application thread, maybe it has been deleted. This site has been a huge resource to me for the past few weeks so thanks to everyone who has contributed. For anyone applying during this application season lets talk! This is such a ridiculously exciting time and opportunity for all of us and I really hope everything works out for everyone. The more I think on it the more I say just apply to everything! You guys got this!

Undergrad Institution: big state school, decent for my major
Major(s): Physics and Astro
GPA in Major: not sure, 3.5
Overall GPA:3.62
Position in Class: Also not sure, we don't rank, probably top third 
Type of Student: Domestic

GRE Scores (revised/old version):

Research Experience: No Publications ?,

-About 1.5-2 years of research in astronomy and then atmospheric science

-REU and am doing an honors thesis both in atmospheric science

-presented research at AGU


-2 tuition reductions 

-2 research grants

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: 

-Peer tutor for the university 

-ambassador to a service program at school

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: 

Special Bonus Points: Met some really awesome people at AGU, specifically the POI from UCLA AOS and the POI from UCSC!

Lots of service hours and I have done a lot of traveling to study the social impacts of climate change in Peru? I don't know if this is helpful, the more I look it seems that its better to get more structured research as opposed to this kind of stuff... Oh well! It was fun! 

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: Gay latino wooo!!

Applying to Where:

Applying for PhD to study atmospheric science 

UC Davis - Atmospheric Science - Aerosols and Radiation

CU Boulder - Atmospheric Science - Aerosols/Atmospheric Dynamics /Radiation

Colorado State - Atmospheric Science - Aerosols/Atmospheric Dynamics /Radiation
UCLA - Atmospheric Ocean Science - Aerosols
UC Berkeley - Earth Planetary Science - Atmospheric Science
UW - Atmospheric Science - Aerosols
UC Santa Cruz - Atmospheric Science - Arctic Amplification/Planetary Atmospheres

University of Victoria - Earth and Ocean Science - Planetary Atmospheres

You guys think I should apply to more? Any recommendations or people that would align well with my interests? I have done a lot of digging so if you post here I will try and tell you stuff I have learned if its relevant to what you want to study! 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
  • Replies 222
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Hopefully I get these tags correct... Here is an update from what I know! I am sorry to tell you @5beats3summers but I received an official letter of acceptance for Stony Brook in late January wi

Im sure everyone is pretty stressed about waiting, so heres to hoping everyone who hasnt heard something gets good news soon!

Historically this is the now the time where the bulk of schools start releasing acceptance and/or quasi-acceptance info (e.g. visits).     Just wanted to wish everybody good luck in these ne

Hi I am applying as an international student. I have 3 pub as first authors in good journals, 34 months of research experiences, with a few conference presentations. I have obtained an MS from a non-US little-known institute and am applying to PhD programs in the US. I am applying to several programs that you are also applying to and good luck!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m definitely an oddball applicant, but I’m not sure “sticking out” is a bad thing yet. I guess we’ll see!


Undergrad Institution: Hippy school that doesn’t believe in grades where I designed much of my own curriculum and participated in some cool field work/research/international opportunities

Major(s): Pre-medicine and Biochemistry

Minor(s): Cultural Studies

GPA: None/Qualitative Evals (3.17 from a bunch of semesters at community college)

Grad Institution: Decent school offering MS program in Bioinformatics

Major(s): Bioinformatics

GPA: 3.75

Type of Student: Domestic 

GRE Scores:

Q: 154 (I kind of half-assed this since I am thinking about working for a year instead of starting a program in the Fall)

V: 159

W: 4.0

Research Experience:

Worked in an HIV lab for a year honing some wet lab protocols

8 month long Bioinformatics/Genomics internship at prestigious Cancer Center

Spent a year interning at NASA working on several different machine learning/“omics” projects (including a lead role on an “extracurricular” science payload project)

Currently working for a top cancer immunotherapy/pharma company as a Bioinformatics Associate

Also currently moonlighting at NASA to work on several metagenomics/machine learning projects

I’ve got a couple first/second author publications in the works but nothing substantial published yet

Presented at several prestigious conferences including some live streamed talks


Awarded several scholarships in undergrad

Founded and funded a new scholarship in undergrad

Pertinent Activities or Jobs:

Started a couple of student groups and was elected to student government (as well as served in a bunch of service organizations) in undergrad

Elected to leadership role in NASA intern student organization

Any miscellaneous accomplishments that might help:

Climbed two of the seven summits and am an avid mountaineer (I’m hoping this is helpful for field work intensive programs. My summit of Aconcagua was actually pretty impressive since I did it in a rapid timeframe while solo/unassisted)

Conducted a bunch of fundraising for family in Tanzania (including participation in an ultramarathon event)

Special Bonus Points:

Received a great letter of recommendation from a professor at MIT for a NASA science payload project of his that I coordinated (he also name dropped me at a prestigious conference with Nobel Laureates in attendance!)

Did a few months of volunteer medical assisting in Tanzania

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:

Family illness/financial related adversity story that explains rocky start in community college

Worked a full time job to support myself through undergrad (often on the graveyard shift)

Applying to:

MIT - Media Arts and Sciences

Stanford - Earth System Science

UC Berkeley - Earth Planetary Science

UC Santa Cruz - Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 

UNLV Las Vegas/Desert Research Institute  - Geomicrobiology

I think I am definitely a bit “unpolished” in terms of my applications this year since I didn’t have much time to study for the GRE (which is also terribly boring) and none of my publications are in print yet. I am kind of in the mindset that I (and my wife especially) wouldn’t mind making some decent money working as a Bioinformatician for another year before I start a program anyways, so this year’s round of applications are essentially doubling as a litmus test to see what kind of feedback I get.

I’ve already been asked to interview with a couple professors at UC Santa Cruz and have an interview with a professor at MIT later this month (I’ve been working closely with another professor there who helped me write my essay/provided me a really solid letter of recommendation). I also interviewed with the program at UNLV Las Vegas/The Desert Research Institute where my potential advisor actually offered me a job to start immediately as well as a berth on a research vessel expedition (I have been incredibly tempted to take this but my wife would probably be upset since we have some financial plans over the next year and it would be a significant pay cut from my current position). I also interviewed with my POIs at Stanford and UC Berkeley earlier last year which I think went well, but I haven’t heard anything about a formal interview since I submitted my applications. One issue might be that my skills and research interests are a bit all over the place, but I do have a bit of a desire to fashion myself as a polymath so I’m hoping this isn’t a huge issue.

Link to post
Share on other sites


Undergrad Institution: Big State School, not a robust undergrad Earth Science program, but famous labs

Major(s): Earth Science

Minor(s): Nope

GPA in Major: ~3.8

Overall GPA: 3.2

Position in Class: We don't rank

Type of Student: Domestic


GRE Scores (revised/old version):




Research Experience:

2 Undergrad Internships

2 Poster Competitions

Contributed to ~4 published papers



Won 2 Undergrad Poster Competitions


Pertinent Activities or Jobs:

Taught college algebra 1 semester


Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help:

Nothing I didn’t already mention


Special Bonus Points: Worked in remote sensing, currently doing a research project in geophysics


Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: Single mom, LGBT, non-traditional student


Applying to Where:

UBC, Portland State, Oregon State, University of Oregon, Boise State, Central Washington (all applications finished, in contact with several potential advisors)

Link to post
Share on other sites

@OcelotTracks UBC sounds awesome! I really loved vancouver when i visited, I also looked into Oregon State, I think Washington state also has a pretty good program for some things related to earth science (mostly atmospheric stuff). Good luck! I'm sure you'll get into a ton of places

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, Just wondering if anyone here has applied to Penn State or Maryland for the PhD programs? I applied on Dec 15 and 14 respectively, and haven't heard anything back yet. 


Undergrad Institution: Undergrad and MSc at Canadian schools (different schools)

Major(s): Undergrad - Chemistry and Earth Sciences, MSc. Earth Sciences

Minor(s): Nope

GPA in Major: A (MSc. )B+ (undergrad)

Overall GPA:

Position in Class: N/A

Type of Student: International

GRE Scores (revised/old version):

Q:157 V:156 AW:6

Research Experience:

Worked at Geological Survey of Canada

Lab assistant during my undergraduate

RA for my supervisor 

Undergrad honors research project 

MSc. is research-based

Presented preliminary MSc results at Goldschmidt


Won undergrad poster day

Partial MSc. admissions scholarship

Pertinent Activities or Jobs:

Worked at the geological survey and as a lab assistant 

RA for my supervisor

Numerous volunteer outreach in science organizations planned a grad student conference.

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: N/A

Special Bonus Points: worked in multiple lab settings, attended conference, well known MSc supervisors, good work experience 

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: mixed race minority female

Applying to Where:

Penn State, Maryland 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi everyone,

I have been on this site for a while (long story, ask if you want more detail - I was all around rejected my Fall 2017 cycle. The Fall 2018 cycle, I got accepted to some places but there was an issue with the my top choice advisor leaving her school so I waited another year to reapply where that advisor now works). I just received the acceptance letter/email for my top choice w/ a great fellowship so I can finally start my PhD! 

I'm mostly posting if people have questions about my experience and/or need a little story of inspiration. Getting completely rejected the first year really sucked, but looking back, I really had no idea what I wanted and it showed in my application. Now, I know more about my interests and am more confident in my choices (of school, advisor, subject). Hope you are all doing well!


Stats info(? if that matters)

GPA 3.2 at a prestigious school in biochemistry

GRE V/Q/W 160/161/4.5

Other stuff

1 year of research in undergrad which led to a senior thesis entailing a presentation and defense

1 publication published, 1 submitted publication waiting for edits

presented at AGU and some other poster sessions

worked for 2 years at a national laboratory doing related work

Field Non traditional stable isotope geochemistry 


Link to post
Share on other sites


I applied to a few programs this time around, after getting rejected from all eight schools I applied to for the 2016 cycle. For this cycle, I made a more concerted effort contacting potential advisors. I only applied to three schools, but received promising responses from professors at each.

I had a phone conversation with a professor at my top-choice school a few weeks ago. The faculty there were likely going to meet this week to finalize their recommendations for admittance. I had a few similar conversations in 2016. I really haven't missed the waiting.

Undergrad Institution: Mid-sized school in Texas.
Major(s): Physics
GPA in Major: 3.85
Overall GPA: 3.64
Position in Class: Slightly above average?
Type of Student: Domestic, male.

GRE Scores (revised/old version):
Q: 161 / 80%
V: 163 / 92%
W: 4.5 / 80%

(Percentages as of 2015. They've changed somewhat and I don't have the updated rankings.)

Research Experience:

  • Three semesters doing an independent study project
  • Three semesters in a space sciences remote sensing lab doing miscellaneous scripting/programming relating to ionospheric scintillations
  • Summer REU studying the ionosphere at a premier radio observatory
  • Poster presentation at LPSC for the independent study project and a poster at AGU for the REU


  • Dean's List one semester
  • Phi Theta Kappa community college honors society
  • Undergraduate travel award to LPSC from Lunar and Planetary Institute
  • Travel award from school to help with travel to LPSC

Pertinent Activities or Jobs:

  • Founded a campus space club
  • Peer-Led Team Learning Leader for three semesters
  • Teaching Assistant for intro physics laboratory for one semester
  • Extensive work experience, including several years in programming

Special Bonus Points: Recommendations from my two advisors on campus and my REU advisor

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: I first started college in 2002 before dropping out after an undistinguished four semesters where I changed majors three times, took no upper level courses, and had a 2.5 overall GPA. I eventually returned to my first university in 2012, after earning an associates degree in 2006.

Applying to Where:

Georgia Tech


Link to post
Share on other sites

Undergrad Institution: NC State 

Major(s): Undergrad - Meteorology

Minor(s): Nope

GPA in Major: 3.38 

Overall GPA: 3.10

Position in Class: N/A

Type of Student: Traditional White Male

GRE Scores:

Q: 162 V: 162 W: 4.0

Research Experience:

NSF REU at Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences researching stable water isotopes


Pretty bland in this department

Pertinent Activities or Jobs:

Student Volunteer at American Meteorological Society

Two internships and 9 month stint in broadcast meteorology

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: N/A

Special Bonus Points: LoR should be pretty robust, experience as a live TV weatherman is a unique.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: No

Applying to Where:

M.S. At Penn State, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Albany, UNC Charlotte 

For grad student standards I consider myself somewhat mediocre; proud of the GRE and cultivating great relationships with some professors, but wish GPA and extra honors and awards was a little more solid. Also would of liked to eke out a poster presentation from REU, but timing didn't work out

I'm also really hoping that schools don't view my quick departure from broadcast meteorology as a negative; touched on it in my statement of purpose some. 

Edited by 5beats3summers
Link to post
Share on other sites


International Phd candidate here with the research interest in geomorphology. 

Masters GPA - 9/10 (Earth Science)

GRE - 322 (165Q+157V)

Research ex - 2.5 years, with 1 pub (3rd author), 2 conferences, 1 in prep 


Applied to - Mix of programs in geology, physical geography, and earth sciences 


UIUC (accepted), UT Austin, Caltech, CSM, Stanford, UBC, UVA


Apart from UIUC, I haven't heard back from the rest. UIUC was fast, got the result within 4 weeks!

So anybody heard back from UT Austin/CSM (deadline was 2 months ago!) or other schools?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Undergrad Institution: Caltech
Major(s): Physics
Minor(s): (we didn't have minors, but I almost finished the math major)
GPA in Major: 3.88
Overall GPA: 3.86
Position in Class: top-ish
Type of Student: dwm

GRE Scores (revised):
Q: 170
V: 170
W: 6
Physics: 990 (it was free to report it alongside the general GRE so I did)

Research Experience: One year of research at a national lab after graduation, in computational soft matter physics. Paper under review, not close to first author. 

Special Bonus Points: I took a bunch of graduate classes in physics and grad/UG cross-listed classes in physics and math. One of my recommendations comes from a very famous planetary scientist, and I think it will be very strong.

Applying to where:

Caltech Planetary Scence
Columbia EESC 
UW Seattle - Atmos Sci - ACCEPTED Jan. 28

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Pangolin said:

Hey, that’s so great! Congrats!

Thanks! I'm feeling pretty positive; I also get to do the majority of my UW interviews after this, which is a huge relief! Have you heard back from Michigan/elsewhere yet?

Edited by kronotsky
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi! Excuse me if I did this wrong, it is my first time posting on Grad Cafe. 

Congrats @kronotsky on getting accepted to UW Seattle:D I was wondering if you've heard from Caltech GPS at all (or know anyone that has?), given that you did your undergrad there? Also, who are you looking to work with there? I ask because it's my top choice and it's the only school I haven't heard a peep from them since applying.

So long as I'm commenting, I will fill out my profile. I hope it doesn't give anyone anxiety, because I've heard from 4/5 schools already... I visited and had interactions with every school except Caltech well before the deadlines so that is probably why I heard so soon!

Undergrad Institution: University of Wisconsin
Major(s): B.S. Geological Engineering, B.S. Geoscience
Overall GPA: 3.585

Graduate Institution: Texas A&M University
Major(s): M.S. Geology
Overall GPA: 4.0

Type of Student: White Female

GRE Scores (revised):
Q: 166 (92nd)
V: 159 (82nd)
W: 5.0 (90th)

Research Experience: 3 years of oil and gas geology work experience for a mid-size oil and gas company. I was identified as a more "academic" geologist and have been put on a lot of more research-based projects involving chemostratigraphy, geochemistry, sequence stratigraphy, petrography, core description, etc. I worked on my MS at A&M on nights and weekends during the past 3 years. My company let me use their data for my MS thesis research and also let me publish it. So I have 1 accepted (AAPG Bulletin), first author paper and 1 in preparation second author paper. 

I also did 2 years of undergrad research at Wisconsin in structural geology of serpentinized ultramafics, was awarded several grants for that, did field work in Greece, and wrote a senior thesis. No publications from that work. 

Applying to where:

I have zero planetary science experience but a lot of skillsets that lend themselves well to planetary science. I'm interested in using my knowledge of chemostratigraphy to paleoenvironments from interpret Mars rover data and branch into the remote sensing world. I'd also love to work on Earth-based geologic analogues for Mars.

Here is where I applied, and the interactions I've had so far:

Caltech - GPS Geology Option - I spoke with PI about research opportunities on the phone in October. Have not heard anything since applying.

Brown - DEEPS Planetary Geoscience Group - Visited back in October, went very well, received an email in very early Jan (5th maybe?) from PI saying that he intends to admit me and that I can come visit again if I wanted (I declined the return visit since I'd already visited for a full day). We are "catching up" on a phone conversation tomorrow, where I anticipate a more formal offer.

Rice - Visited several times in the fall since I live down the street. Formally accepted Jan 15thish with full funding offer. Will be visiting Feb 5th.

Stanford - Geological Sciences - Unofficial admittance from PI last week, scheduled a visit for the end of Feb.

Stony Brook - Geoscience - Accepted, full funding offer, visit will be March 7th. 


Really just waiting on Caltech here... but super super thankful that I have lots of really good options! If I don't get into Caltech, my decision will be very very difficult (but good!). Caltech is my top choice not only because of the program but also because my partner has a lot of opportunity in LA. 

Good luck everyone!!


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi @rocksandstuff! I applied to Caltech and Stanford geological as well and I’ve been waiting to hear back from both of them. Congrats on the unofficial offer from Stanford! Did your PI share with you any details of their application reviewing process? Just wondering if I should expect to hear anything from them soon ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Undergrad Institution: Research Uni in Michigan (Well-known regionally for their rigorous STEM programs but not nationally famous probably)

Major(s): Geophysics

Minor(s): Geo. Engineering 

GPA in Major: 3.35

Overall GPA: 3.39

Position in Class: We don't rank so I have no idea

Type of Student: Domestic, first generation white female, low-income.

GRE Scores (revised/old version):

Q: 151

V: 159

W: 4.0

Research Experience: Four years in a research lab, co-author on one peer-reviewed publication, REU from NSF, REU from NASA, REU from SURF, two conference presentations, one symposium presentation.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Goldwater scholarship nominee, top student award from math department, departmental scholar award ("given to a senior that best represents scholarship at [school name]"), a handful of dean's list semesters

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Research assistant for those four years in the lab when I wasn't working on REU's, teaching assistant over the summer for Women in Engineering youth programs for middle/highschool students interested in STEM, assistant mentor for NSF career outreach program my lab participates in

Any Miscellaneous Accomplishments that Might Help: Studied abroad in New Zealand, have pretty extensive experience with field work for my research area.

Special Bonus Points: My letters of rec came from my undergraduate research advisor, the department chair, and a professor from a university in Ecuador that I collaborated with. I expect that they were very strong. My research advisor knows the POI at Harvard and we have exactly the same research interests so I talked with him over email/phone a few times about research methods and groups.

Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: I'm a first generation student from a low-income family (i.e. my mom made like $9k the year I first applied for FAFSA... that low income). 

Applying to Where:

University of Arizona - Planetary Science (PhD)
University of Colorado Boulder - Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences (PhD)
Harvard - Earth and Planetary Sciences (PhD)

Wanted to apply to more but couldn't get fee waivers in time (R.I.P.)
Saw that 1 or 2 people may have already been accepted to CU Boulder a few days ago so I'm not getting my hopes up on that one. I haven't gotten any interviews or anything yet, though so I am starting to worry a bit. Figured I'd post here.

I would really love to go to any of these schools, but if I don't get into CU Boulder I won't be heartbroken as its SOOOO expensive to live in Boulder I probably wouldn't be able to afford it anyway... haha. Good luck everyone!

Edited by rockwizard
Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Camillalxy said:

Hi @rocksandstuff! I applied to Caltech and Stanford geological as well and I’ve been waiting to hear back from both of them. Congrats on the unofficial offer from Stanford! Did your PI share with you any details of their application reviewing process? Just wondering if I should expect to hear anything from them soon ;)

@Camillalxy All the PI really said was that it was too early in the admissions process to say for certain but that he plans to admit me along with two other prospective students. And then he coordinated a visit for all three of us and him. So it's still really early!!! 

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.