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Sloan Kettering (GSK) vs. Weill Cornell


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Hi everyone,

I'm very lucky to get accepted to my first two choices, even though now I'm faced with a tough decision to make. I'm interested in applying computational tools to biological problems, particularly in developmental bio (and slowly getting into cancer as well). Weill Cornell PBSB and GSK share a lot in common and have tons of available resources for PhD students, but there are still some distinct differences between them that matter to me:


GSK: 'leaner' curriculum that's completed within the first year, shorter rotations, smaller class size, better stipend and financial support

Weill Cornell: more faculty members I can see myself working with (like 8-10 people compared to 4-5 at GSK), connection with Cornell Tech so I can take more technical courses


GSK: fewer labs that I'm super excited about (the computational bio there is great, don't get me wrong, and the 4-5 labs there that do work I'm interested in are also amazing)

Weill Cornell: larger class size, financial support not as competitive as GSK, curriculum (I've heard) is biophysics-heavy and more spread out, long rotations 

If anyone is currently in these programs or know them well and could offer any insights that would help with my decisions, please let me know! I'm particularly interested in what people see as the biggest setback of the programs/what they could change if they were able to. Thank you in advance!

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I don't know too much about these programs, so maybe I'm missing something, but I feel like you're overvaluing the number of faculty aspect of each institution. It's not like you'll be doing 8-10 rotations anyways, so at most you'll only be working directly with 3-4 different faculty members at either institution. And if it's simply that you want to collaborate with them (or even just talk to them), the two institutions are so close (physically and relationship-wise) that I imagine it wouldn't be too difficult to do so at either institution. 

This does assume that you view all these faculty equally. If there's one in particular that you especially want to work with, then that changes things, but imo, the difference between 8-10 and 4-5 isn't huge simply because you wouldn't have the opportunity to work in 8-10 labs to begin with. 

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I'm also trying to decide primarily between GSK and another program (not Cornell), and I'm attracted by GSK's course/rotation setup etc. but one thing I've been hearing is that you really shouldn't base your grad school decisions mainly on first year classes, TAships or rotations. Yes these are non-negligible factors, but should not be the primary determinant; at the end of the day it's all about your thesis.

Are you going to GSK's revisit tomorrow? I think you can ask to speak with current students who are computational about how they made their decisions. Good luck with decisions and possibly see you tomorrow!

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Sort of in contradiction to mcfc, I think you should go for the one that has 8-10 faculty you're interested in. Funding is always a question, and if by chance none of the 3-4 faculty members at GSK happen to have funds to take on a new grad student you'll be really sad. Having a higher number of potential mentors is never a bad thing.

Also, I am of the mind that longer rotations are better -- in too short of a rotation it's hard to get a really good feel for how the lab operates day-to-day and it's hard to accomplish any kind of meaningful project. Just my 2 cents. 

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