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How competitive is Stanford Biosciences?


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I heard that Stanford Biosciences is more competitive (acceptance rate wise) than its peer institutions, e.g. MIT Biology, Harvard Integrated Life Sciences (HILS), UCSF, GSK. Why so?

Edited by tsusanto53
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  • 4 weeks later...

Can't talk much about other schools, but Stanford's review process is very holistic. I have seen people get in with various experiences, undergrad institutions, ages, GRE score ranges, GPAs, etc. The one unifying factor was research experience, which most people seemed to have a few years under their belt and were actively involved in their projects (as opposed to being a pipetting robot for a postdoc).

I can also say that having publications won't automatically give you an interview. In my program we have interviewing people with Nature, Cell, Science papers and have both accepted and rejected them, some rejected without interviews. I, and many of my peers (probably more than half of the people I know), got in without a publication. 

Finally, other than research, I feel Stanford really values diversity as a whole. The Biosciences program and the School of Medicine, which Biosciences is affiliated with, make a great effort at promoting and culturing diversity. If all you have for your application is research, research, research, you might be at a slight disadvantage. 

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^ +1 to Orims, but also OP should be aware that most of these things can be said about any of these programs. People with NCS papers get rejected from these PhD programs every cycle. The fact that Stanford Biosciences cares a lot about diversity is good info, though, I didn't know about that.

I also don't know of actual acceptance rates for any of these programs. They may have them on their website somewhere, but most places don't disclose. 

Some of my friends who got into MIT Bio, HILS, UCSF, etc., also got into Stanford Biosciences. Conversely, some of my friends who got into Stanford Biosciences did not get into MIT Bio, HILS, UCSF, etc. I think it's a person-by-person and department-by-department thing.

Departmental variability could be for a variety of reasons. For example, if just one person on one of those committees has a lot respect for one of your letter writers, that may really help you get an interview. There's also just stochastic processes at play--one of my mentors (who is on his harvard program's admissions committees each year) talked to me about how they make a pile of everyone who is very qualified for the program, but they can't admit all of them, and he said he thought that they way they choose between those people isn't any better than chance. So, once you're qualified enough, then there's also some rolling of the dice for each program.

Edited by VirtualCell
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