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Title says it all.

 

Dream is to go to a top school for neuro--can go more into detail if anyone wants to PM--research, but have a subpar GPA in my M.S. program at a pretty big public school (~3.5 GPA). 

It seems like M.S. GPA's are expected to be 4.0's for a solid Ph.D candidate/interviewee; what are your thoughts on this?

 

Is anything below a 3.8-4.0 GPA in a M.S. program despicable/frowned upon? Is it possible to still be a competitive Ph.D candidate? Basically, how screwed am I?

 

**pretty bummed right now :( Why did I pay all this money just to get a crappy GPA 😢 

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I didn't do a master's so I can't speak too much to this, but from what I can tell they actually look at undergrad grades even if you have a masters. 3.5 isn't despicable, but it's also worth setting your bar at working with a top scientist rather than going to a top school. Maybe you don't get into a top school, but you get into a mid tier school and work with someone great - you could end up at the same place regardless.

I don't like when people start with "my dream is to go to a top school" because TOP school shouldn't be the dream. The dream should be to go to graduate school at all to study some important thing and figure out something others haven't. Down the line, the science you do, the connections you make, and the skills you gain will benefit you beyond just what a "top school" would, so focus on going to a school with research you're interested in and strong mentorship - those matter more. 

Good luck. 

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2 hours ago, BabyScientist said:

I didn't do a master's so I can't speak too much to this, but from what I can tell they actually look at undergrad grades even if you have a masters. 3.5 isn't despicable, but it's also worth setting your bar at working with a top scientist rather than going to a top school. Maybe you don't get into a top school, but you get into a mid tier school and work with someone great - you could end up at the same place regardless.

I don't like when people start with "my dream is to go to a top school" because TOP school shouldn't be the dream. The dream should be to go to graduate school at all to study some important thing and figure out something others haven't. Down the line, the science you do, the connections you make, and the skills you gain will benefit you beyond just what a "top school" would, so focus on going to a school with research you're interested in and strong mentorship - those matter more. 

Good luck. 

I totally agree with BabyScientist. The undergrad mentality is to be at the best school with the most prestige etc. Grad school is different, in the end a PhD is just a PhD no matter where you get it. What matters the most is who your advisor, and the work (publications, conferences etc) you do during your PhD.

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@leeal0011 and @babyscientist.

 

thnx for the replies!

you bring up a good point babyscientist, I suppose the reason why I say “top school” is more so because a lot of the “top scientists” are at pretty top/high level schools. And the ones who arnt, normally seem to get tons of interest in their labs regardless.

 

that said, I went to a really small LAC and community college and had a gpa of again, ~3.5, so nothing extraordinary. slightly higher in community college though ( basically a 3.8-4.0 if I remeber correctly) where I got my A.A. 

 

Idk I guess just being here at a big, pretty well known research intistuition for the first time and seeing all these “kids”interviewing for spots I’d like to be in is kinda demotivating when I’m paying a ton to take similar classes and not doing as well as I’d hoped/not doing significantly better than them—which from what I’ve heard seems to be expected of masters students. 

 

Thanks for the support!

 

 

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5 hours ago, Throwawaydnf99 said:

@leeal0011 and @babyscientist.

 

thnx for the replies!

you bring up a good point babyscientist, I suppose the reason why I say “top school” is more so because a lot of the “top scientists” are at pretty top/high level schools. And the ones who arnt, normally seem to get tons of interest in their labs regardless.

 

that said, I went to a really small LAC and community college and had a gpa of again, ~3.5, so nothing extraordinary. slightly higher in community college though ( basically a 3.8-4.0 if I remeber correctly) where I got my A.A. 

 

Idk I guess just being here at a big, pretty well known research intistuition for the first time and seeing all these “kids”interviewing for spots I’d like to be in is kinda demotivating when I’m paying a ton to take similar classes and not doing as well as I’d hoped/not doing significantly better than them—which from what I’ve heard seems to be expected of masters students. 

 

Thanks for the support!

 

 

@Throwawaydnf99 No problem! I can totally understand your worries, but think of it in the greater scheme of things. Sure, being smart as indicated by GPA, standardized test scores etc is important, but what's even more important is having direct research experience (publications, strong LORs from professors whom you've done research for etc.). Having such experience demonstrates to adcoms that you know what you are getting yourself into, and not just getting a PhD to "figure out" the next step in your life. Think of it this way, if you were an employer and you had two applicants, one of which is book smart, 4.0 GPA etc, and the other had applicable experience to job, but average GPA. More often than not, the employer is going to choose the more experienced applicant over the bookworm any day. This applies to PhD programs as well. It doesn't matter if you are a walking textbook reciting facts left and right. What truly matters is being able to take those facts, and design experiments to answer certain questions/tackle problems. So fret not, and good luck!

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  • 7 months later...

Hello Throwawaydnf99, I have my MS and a Post-Grad Certificate. Based on my experience, I think, if you have awesome Subject GRE Scores, more importantly publications/patents and LORs, this may help you still get into good and even top schools. Some good schools need just a B average as their cut offs, then they base their admissions decision on research experience and skills. You can discuss their research and the application strength with professors whom you are interested in working with. They would surely stress research fit, most probably. 

Good Luck!  

Edited by Hr. Gore
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