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Biostatistics PhD profile evaluation + program recommendations


scsbs
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Hi, I'm currently a biostatistics MS student and I'm looking to apply to some biostatistics PhD programs. I would love to get some advice on improving my application and selecting programs. Thank you! 

Undergraduate Institution: Top 5 Public 

Major: Mathematics and Economics  

GPA: 3.5/4.0

 

Graduate Institution: lower end of top 10 for biostats according to US news ranking

Degree: Biostatistics 

GPA:  3.85/4.0

 

GRE General Test: 170Q  / 163V  / 4.5W


Type of Student: Domestic Asian


Math classes: Multivariate Calculus I & II (A), Probability I & II (A), Linear Algebra II (A-), Optimization (B+), Algorithms (A), Applied Numerical Methods (A), Real Analysis (C+), Discrete Structures (A-), Financial Mathematics (C+), Differential Equations (B+) 


Stat classes:  Biostatistical Methods I & II (A), Statistical Inference (A-), Data Science I & II (A)

Misc classes: Programming courses in C++, Python, Java, R and MySQL. 

 
Research Experience:

1. (Sophomore year of undergrad, 3 months) Summer research assistant in a biochemistry lab. Did some simple visualizations/analysis of data but mainly wetlab work. Not sure how relevant this is.

2. (Junior - Senior year of undergrad, 10 months) Research assistant at data science lab and worked with cardiovascular data. Produced some software but no publications.

3. (Current, 1 year so far) Research assistant working with functional genomics data. Wrapping up the current project and in the process of drafting a paper but it probably won't be submitted for review by the application deadlines.


Letters: 
One from the professor who is my current research supervisor and two from biostats professors who I took courses with. Not sure how strong the letters will be. The supervisor one will probably be on the stronger side but the other two will probably be just ok. I've talked with the two professors a few times throughout the year about course material / projects / goals but haven't done any research with them so the scope of their letters might be limited to classroom performances. 

 

Research Interest: statistical genetics 

 

Schools:

Biostatistics PhD Programs:

University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Columbia, UCLA, Yale, Emory

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My undergrad grades were pretty bad. I didn't really have plans for grad school back then and would slack on and off, so I often had semesters with all As and A+s followed by semesters with mixtures of As, Bs, and Cs. There wasn't really an upward trajectory. I'm not quite sure how I can make up for this besides getting better grades now. 

What are my chances at the programs that I have listed above, considering my low undergrad gpa and lack of publications? I'm a Washington resident so I'm considering applying to UW as well, even though I'm pretty sure my chances are slim to none. Will my state of residence matter and is it even worth trying? Please let me know if there are any schools I should cross off from my list and schools I should consider.

Any input will be greatly appreciated! Thanks! 

 

Edited by scsbs
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I'm not sure how likely you will get into at least one of those programs. The admission committee will focus on your grad grades over your undergrad grades so I wouldn't worry about that. Plus, your GRE is great. From personal experience and experiences of people I know, I found that it is difficult to predict which program will accept and which will reject so if you have the time and a couple extra bucks, I would apply to a couple more schools to increase the odds of acceptance.

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I think these are definitely big reach schools.  To completely make up for those math grades, you'd need to see more consistent A performance in harder courses.  Can you continue in the PhD program at your own program? That would probably be your best shot at a top 10 program.

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5 hours ago, MathMajor said:

I'm not sure how likely you will get into at least one of those programs. The admission committee will focus on your grad grades over your undergrad grades so I wouldn't worry about that. Plus, your GRE is great. From personal experience and experiences of people I know, I found that it is difficult to predict which program will accept and which will reject so if you have the time and a couple extra bucks, I would apply to a couple more schools to increase the odds of acceptance.

 

2 hours ago, bayessays said:

I think these are definitely big reach schools.  To completely make up for those math grades, you'd need to see more consistent A performance in harder courses.  Can you continue in the PhD program at your own program? That would probably be your best shot at a top 10 program.

Thank you both so much for the replies. I have applied to the PhD program at my current school as well but I don't think my application will be viewed any differently. I will definitely look into more programs and add them to my list.  

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