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Biomedical Science PhD Applicants (Fall 2021)


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I got accepted to NYU Vilcek!!!! It was the only school that gave me an interview and literally all other schools rejected me but I don't care anymore because I am getting my PhD!!!!

Does anyone know how competitive interviews will be this year? I've received 10 invites so far, but decided to decline three offers because I'm still waiting to hear back from a few other program

Hi guys, I hope you don't mind if I rant a bit. I guess this entire cycle has just been really hard. I received my waitlist from BU (where I currently work, got my undergrad and masters degree from AN

26 minutes ago, Tcellenthusiast said:

Does anyone who is interviewing at Brown Pathobiology have a confirmed interview date yet? I sent my request in almost immediately after getting the invite email, and now the first one is next week and I haven't gotten any sort of info back yet about what day I am expected to be there. 

That's weird - email them back ASAP. I had a conflict and Pathobio admin got back to me and rescheduled pretty quickly.

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2 minutes ago, ggthot said:

That's weird - email them back ASAP. I had a conflict and Pathobio admin got back to me and rescheduled pretty quickly.

I emailed them and also called but it looks like office hours are closed already.... ack. I am so worried! We're heading into a three day weekend and I hope they don't just completely disregard me as an invite now. Thanks for letting me know!

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3 hours ago, Tcellenthusiast said:

I emailed them and also called but it looks like office hours are closed already.... ack. I am so worried! We're heading into a three day weekend and I hope they don't just completely disregard me as an invite now. Thanks for letting me know!

I just interviewed with Brown MCBGP today and leading up to my interview it was pretty sporadic and sparse information. I think the programs are quite small and they don't have the same infrastructure as others do when it comes to planning and organizing these virtual events. For instance, i didn't get the interview schedule until Monday, didn't get the link to the interview website until Wednesday, and still didn't have access to some of the google sheets until Thursday morning, then the interview was today. It all went off smoothly, but it was a bit stressful leading up. I'd try sending an email or call (like you mentioned). They were pretty responsive to email inquiries. 

 

Good luck! 

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2 hours ago, icsyr said:

I just interviewed with Brown MCBGP today and leading up to my interview it was pretty sporadic and sparse information. I think the programs are quite small and they don't have the same infrastructure as others do when it comes to planning and organizing these virtual events. For instance, i didn't get the interview schedule until Monday, didn't get the link to the interview website until Wednesday, and still didn't have access to some of the google sheets until Thursday morning, then the interview was today. It all went off smoothly, but it was a bit stressful leading up. I'd try sending an email or call (like you mentioned). They were pretty responsive to email inquiries. 

 

Good luck! 

It’s possible that the reason for some of the planning issues is the interview being early on January 15th. I think most universities started the Spring semester only on Jan 11 and coordinating with everyone during the holidays is difficult. That’s probably why most programs have interviews in late Jan and Feb, it gives them more time to plan and execute meticulously.  
 

Advantage with early interviews such as this is that the program can make and communicate their acceptance/rejection/waitlist decision to the interviewees before other programs even have their interviews.

 

 

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I saw a number of people posting about receiving rejections from UNC BBSP in the results page today. I was one of them. 

I have a more fundamental question: why do so many students apply to the BBSP PhD program? I get that it’s an umbrella program with many disciplines but I don’t see why they should be getting so many applicants. It seems to be a good broad program but my cursory research indicated that it was not really top notch in any one area. In my case, I knew what my top 4 choices were but wanted to apply to 4 more to feel more secure. I don’t think that provided any extra security because I have received interviews from my top 4 choices but received rejections from 2 of the others, WashU and UNC BBSP and I have yet to hear from the remaining 2, NYU and UPenn (which mean likely rejections)

Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on why so many apply to UNC BBSP.
 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, sirtuingirl said:

I saw a number of people posting about receiving rejections from UNC BBSP in the results page today. I was one of them. 

I have a more fundamental question: why do so many students apply to the BBSP PhD program? I get that it’s an umbrella program with many disciplines but I don’t see why they should be getting so many applicants. It seems to be a good broad program but my cursory research indicated that it was not really top notch in any one area. In my case, I knew what my top 4 choices were but wanted to apply to 4 more to feel more secure. I don’t think that provided any extra security because I have received interviews from my top 4 choices but received rejections from 2 of the others, WashU and UNC BBSP and I have yet to hear from the remaining 2, NYU and UPenn (which mean likely rejections)

Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on why so many apply to UNC BBSP.
 

 

 

What did you apply to at NYU?

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3 hours ago, MicroPhD2021 said:

Hello, is there anyone who got an interview from the UTSW BBS? 

I've received an invitation and I know others have as well. However, someone posted in the results today that they got an invitation to interview today, and I believe their admissions is rolling, so more invitations could potentially be sent out in the future.

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14 hours ago, sirtuingirl said:

I saw a number of people posting about receiving rejections from UNC BBSP in the results page today. I was one of them. 

I have a more fundamental question: why do so many students apply to the BBSP PhD program? I get that it’s an umbrella program with many disciplines but I don’t see why they should be getting so many applicants. It seems to be a good broad program but my cursory research indicated that it was not really top notch in any one area. In my case, I knew what my top 4 choices were but wanted to apply to 4 more to feel more secure. I don’t think that provided any extra security because I have received interviews from my top 4 choices but received rejections from 2 of the others, WashU and UNC BBSP and I have yet to hear from the remaining 2, NYU and UPenn (which mean likely rejections)

Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on why so many apply to UNC BBSP.
 

 

 

UNC is actually a very good school. It consistently ranks among the top public US universities and is considered by many a "public ivy" (along with some UCs, UMich, UVA). UNC is also in the top ~20 institutions in terms of NIH funding. I am not surprised by how competitive BBSP admissions is.

I applied to BBSP and it is one of my top choices. some of my reasons (in addition to the high rankings): broad umbrella program, affiliated with an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center (important to me since I am interested in translational cancer research), wide T32 training program opportunities (including one in translational research), great professional development opportunities/support, very competitive stipend with a relatively low cost-of-living (their website states the stipend in Chapel Hill is comparable to almost 90k/year in NYC..for reference, NYU stipend is only ~40k/year).

Most of those things are not necessarily even special to UNC but apply to many similar umbrella programs. Therefore, the only major reasons I see not to apply to BBSP are: 1) there are no labs (or very few) that excite you; or 2) you don't like the location.

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On 1/13/2021 at 4:45 PM, wiz1810 said:

JHU CMM interview date confirmed, got the last interview weekend :(. 

Wait, is that bad? I specifically requested the last weekend so that I would have more time to prepare... kind of regretting that now...

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5 hours ago, helpert said:

UNC is actually a very good school. It consistently ranks among the top public US universities and is considered by many a "public ivy" (along with some UCs, UMich, UVA). UNC is also in the top ~20 institutions in terms of NIH funding. I am not surprised by how competitive BBSP admissions is.

I applied to BBSP and it is one of my top choices. some of my reasons (in addition to the high rankings): broad umbrella program, affiliated with an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center (important to me since I am interested in translational cancer research), wide T32 training program opportunities (including one in translational research), great professional development opportunities/support, very competitive stipend with a relatively low cost-of-living (their website states the stipend in Chapel Hill is comparable to almost 90k/year in NYC..for reference, NYU stipend is only ~40k/year).

Most of those things are not necessarily even special to UNC but apply to many similar umbrella programs. Therefore, the only major reasons I see not to apply to BBSP are: 1) there are no labs (or very few) that excite you; or 2) you don't like the location.

You make some great points and I don’t disagree at all with you. UNC BBSP is a good graduate biosciences program but it still gets double the number of applicants compared to other comparable public universities such as UMich, UCBerkeley, UCLA etc. You can make the cost of living argument and remove the California schools off the list. But UMich is comparable in every respect.

In my opinion, UNC gets way more applicants because of its excellent use of social media (Twitter), podcasts (Hello PhD) etc to market to prospective students. Back in September, Joshua Hall was marketing that UNC doesn’t require GRE. Kudos to him and the rest of the admissions marketing team of UNC. My point is that their marketing success that translates to a lot of applications allows them to be a lot more selective than they would be otherwise. 
 

Congrats on your success thus far with UNC, hope you get the offer from your top choice.

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2 hours ago, sirtuingirl said:

You make some great points and I don’t disagree at all with you. UNC BBSP is a good graduate biosciences program but it still gets double the number of applicants compared to other comparable public universities such as UMich, UCBerkeley, UCLA etc. You can make the cost of living argument and remove the California schools off the list. But UMich is comparable in every respect.

In my opinion, UNC gets way more applicants because of its excellent use of social media (Twitter), podcasts (Hello PhD) etc to market to prospective students. Back in September, Joshua Hall was marketing that UNC doesn’t require GRE. Kudos to him and the rest of the admissions marketing team of UNC. My point is that their marketing success that translates to a lot of applications allows them to be a lot more selective than they would be otherwise. 
 

Congrats on your success thus far with UNC, hope you get the offer from your top choice.

Hmm, that’s an interesting take on the marketing/advertising. Just curious, how do you know they are getting twice the applicants than UCs and Michigan? At least the UC part is surprising

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11 hours ago, helpert said:

Hmm, that’s an interesting take on the marketing/advertising. Just curious, how do you know they are getting twice the applicants than UCs and Michigan? At least the UC part is surprising

I don’t have data about UCs but I read that someone who got rejected by UMich PIBS in the last week of December asked for feedback and got a response that giving specific feedback is not possible because the program received over 1300 applicants for the Fall 2021 cycle and has invited approximately 100 to the interviews. 

I also read that UNC received over 2700 applications this year (versus 1900 last year) and have invited 310-320 to the interviews. They expect 85-95 to matriculate, a bit smaller cohort size than last year. I don’t know how many offers they plan to give out. Whether the slightly smaller cohort size estimate is based on a smaller number of offers to begin with or expectations for a higher percentage of students to reject the offer, I have no idea. I hope it’s not the former.

It seems to me that this year, PhD aspirants in biomedical sciences (including neuroscience) have applied to many more universities on average than last year. I think it’s because everyone kept hearing this year that there is a big increase in number of applicants and there are less slots in most programs. Even if the total number of slots is slightly reduced, the increase in number of applications outpaces that by a large margin on a percentage basis, based on my guesstimate. 

If a program typically gets 200 applications, it’s not too difficult to see an increase to 300 or even 400 this year. However, it is a major feat to increase an already large size of applications of 1900 to 2700. I attribute that mostly to excellent marketing and outreach and I saw that first hand.

Moral of the story.....if you receive interviews this year, you should feel damn good. If you haven’t heard back, you should not lose hope because programs have so many more applications to review. Also, I think this year many programs will get their acceptance percentage assumptions wrong and some will get less acceptances than they estimated. Hence, if you got rejected from one of your top choices, it wouldn’t hurt to contact the program in March and let them know that you are still very interested. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, sirtuingirl said:

I don’t have data about UCs but I read that someone who got rejected by UMich PIBS in the last week of December asked for feedback and got a response that giving specific feedback is not possible because the program received over 1300 applicants for the Fall 2021 cycle and has invited approximately 100 to the interviews. 

I also read that UNC received over 2700 applications this year (versus 1900 last year) and have invited 310-320 to the interviews. They expect 85-95 to matriculate, a bit smaller cohort size than last year. I don’t know how many offers they plan to give out. Whether the slightly smaller cohort size estimate is based on a smaller number of offers to begin with or expectations for a higher percentage of students to reject the offer, I have no idea. I hope it’s not the former.

It seems to me that this year, PhD aspirants in biomedical sciences (including neuroscience) have applied to many more universities on average than last year. I think it’s because everyone kept hearing this year that there is a big increase in number of applicants and there are less slots in most programs. Even if the total number of slots is slightly reduced, the increase in number of applications outpaces that by a large margin on a percentage basis, based on my guesstimate. 

If a program typically gets 200 applications, it’s not too difficult to see an increase to 300 or even 400 this year. However, it is a major feat to increase an already large size of applications of 1900 to 2700. I attribute that mostly to excellent marketing and outreach and I saw that first hand.

Moral of the story.....if you receive interviews this year, you should feel damn good. If you haven’t heard back, you should not lose hope because programs have so many more applications to review. Also, I think this year many programs will get their acceptance percentage assumptions wrong and some will get less acceptances than they estimated. Hence, if you got rejected from one of your top choices, it wouldn’t hurt to contact the program in March and let them know that you are still very interested. 

 

 

That's good information to know! Yeah, I'm hoping to glean more information regarding application numbers during my interviews. 

Originally, I thought that programs might get less applications this cycle because of people possibly not wanting to start a program during the pandemic, but that doesn't seem to be the case. 

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On 1/15/2021 at 11:09 PM, sirtuingirl said:

I saw a number of people posting about receiving rejections from UNC BBSP in the results page today. I was one of them. 

I have a more fundamental question: why do so many students apply to the BBSP PhD program? I get that it’s an umbrella program with many disciplines but I don’t see why they should be getting so many applicants. It seems to be a good broad program but my cursory research indicated that it was not really top notch in any one area. In my case, I knew what my top 4 choices were but wanted to apply to 4 more to feel more secure. I don’t think that provided any extra security because I have received interviews from my top 4 choices but received rejections from 2 of the others, WashU and UNC BBSP and I have yet to hear from the remaining 2, NYU and UPenn (which mean likely rejections)

Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on why so many apply to UNC BBSP.
 

 

 

 

3 hours ago, sirtuingirl said:

I don’t have data about UCs but I read that someone who got rejected by UMich PIBS in the last week of December asked for feedback and got a response that giving specific feedback is not possible because the program received over 1300 applicants for the Fall 2021 cycle and has invited approximately 100 to the interviews. 

I also read that UNC received over 2700 applications this year (versus 1900 last year) and have invited 310-320 to the interviews. They expect 85-95 to matriculate, a bit smaller cohort size than last year. I don’t know how many offers they plan to give out. Whether the slightly smaller cohort size estimate is based on a smaller number of offers to begin with or expectations for a higher percentage of students to reject the offer, I have no idea. I hope it’s not the former.

It seems to me that this year, PhD aspirants in biomedical sciences (including neuroscience) have applied to many more universities on average than last year. I think it’s because everyone kept hearing this year that there is a big increase in number of applicants and there are less slots in most programs. Even if the total number of slots is slightly reduced, the increase in number of applications outpaces that by a large margin on a percentage basis, based on my guesstimate. 

If a program typically gets 200 applications, it’s not too difficult to see an increase to 300 or even 400 this year. However, it is a major feat to increase an already large size of applications of 1900 to 2700. I attribute that mostly to excellent marketing and outreach and I saw that first hand.

Moral of the story.....if you receive interviews this year, you should feel damn good. If you haven’t heard back, you should not lose hope because programs have so many more applications to review. Also, I think this year many programs will get their acceptance percentage assumptions wrong and some will get less acceptances than they estimated. Hence, if you got rejected from one of your top choices, it wouldn’t hurt to contact the program in March and let them know that you are still very interested. 

 

 

Hey, sorry for being MIA: had my first interview this week and was swamped!

My two cents: More importantly, I think that UNC is considered a safety net for many, many applicants. It's an "easy" first interview, is a solid umbrella program, and has a reasonable priority deadline. I got my UNC rejection on Friday along with everyone else. I would argue that UMich has a better Neuroscience program than UNC (Huda Akil vs. Tom Kash,) but it depends on your specific research interests within the field. I'm surprised that PIBS only offered 100 interviews... wow! Thanks for providing that insight- I'm also hoping to get a better idea of the applicant pool size vs. interviews offered during my interview weekends.

I think that more students applied this year because a) they had nothing to lose and b) GRE requirements were dropped by more institutions than the last cycle. Plus: there is a higher focus on DEI and recruitment of minorities. That alone spikes the applicant pool a decent amount, especially when you consider first-gen and non-traditional applicants (like myself). I'm still amazed that I got at least one interview. The competition is berserk, and we need to keep uplifting and supporting each other. It's so competitive, I can't wrap my head around it. My interview this week only had 14 students! 

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5 minutes ago, Neuromantic said:

 

Hey, sorry for being MIA: had my first interview this week and was swamped!

My two cents: More importantly, I think that UNC is considered a safety net for many, many applicants. It's an "easy" first interview, is a solid umbrella program, and has a reasonable priority deadline. I got my UNC rejection on Friday along with everyone else. I would argue that UMich has a better Neuroscience program than UNC (Huda Akil vs. Tom Kash,) but it depends on your specific research interests within the field. I'm surprised that PIBS only offered 100 interviews... wow! Thanks for providing that insight- I'm also hoping to get a better idea of the applicant pool size vs. interviews offered during my interview weekends.

I think that more students applied this year because a) they had nothing to lose and b) GRE requirements were dropped by more institutions than the last cycle. Plus: there is a higher focus on DEI and recruitment of minorities. That alone spikes the applicant pool a decent amount, especially when you consider first-gen and non-traditional applicants (like myself). I'm still amazed that I got at least one interview. The competition is berserk, and we need to keep uplifting and supporting each other. It's so competitive, I can't wrap my head around it. My interview this week only had 14 students! 

My rationale for applying to UNC was exactly what you said....considered it a safety net. I wrote to a PI, he was enthusiastic about my application but when I followed up with him before Christmas asking when I might hear back, he replied that he has no idea because he is not part of the admissions committee. In the same email, he said that he is looking forward to interviewing me. Go figure.....

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