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I thought it'd be interesting to pull some stats out of last years data, just for curiosities' sake.

Take all of this with a large shovel of salt since none of this is scientific. And it is all based on voluntary (probably inaccurate) reporting. But anyway ...

"Top" 10 schools based on "Average Accepted GPA"

  1. Stanford University 3.84
  2. Princeton University 3.83
  3. University Of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) 3.80
  4. University Of Washington, Seattle 3.79
  5. University Of California, Berkeley (UCB) 3.78
  6. Cornell University 3.78
  7. New York University (NYU) 3.78
  8. Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (MIT) 3.76
  9. University Of Chicago 3.75
  10. Harvard University 3.74

"Toughest" 10 schools based on "Average Rejected GPA"

  1. University Of Michigan, Ann Arbor 3.78
  2. Harvard University 3.78
  3. Princeton University 3.78
  4. Brown University 3.78
  5. California Institute Of Technology (Caltech) 3.77
  6. Stanford University 3.77
  7. Yale University 3.75
  8. Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (MIT) 3.74
  9. University Of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC) 3.73
  10. Cornell University 3.733

"Most popular" 10 programmes in Fall 2010 based on number of acceptances and rejections

  1. Economics 4198
  2. Computer Science 2994
  3. Philosophy 2159
  4. English 2082
  5. Physics 1841
  6. Political Science 1744
  7. Mathematics 1294
  8. Sociology 1056
  9. History 813
  10. Statistics 659

Obviously all of this is heavily dependent on the number of users to the site and their particular interest. Seems like economists have nothing better to do than apply and post their data ;-).

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I realize you said "shovel of salt," but I'm curious about the numbers. Are they cumulative of all graduate applications or are they based on specific degrees or fields?

The averages are taken over all programmes. If there was a school with fewer than 20 data points we ignored it to get some kind of true average. We also only included GPAs reported that were below 4 (some schools use 5 and international countries use 10).

I tried doing a report based on programmes too, but I thought the results too contentious to post.

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So basically.... people with high GPAs get into really good programs, but people with high GPAs also don't get into really good programs. tongue.gif

Cool stuff! Perhaps you could expand this by doing also doing average rejected GPAs for top schools, and average accepted GPAs for toughest schools, since only 3 of the top and toughest schools overlap.

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"Most popular" 10 programmes in Fall 2010 based on number of acceptances and rejections

  1. Economics 4198
  2. Computer Science 2994
  3. Philosophy 2159
  4. English 2082
  5. Physics 1841
  6. Political Science 1744
  7. Mathematics 1294
  8. Sociology 1056
  9. History 813
  10. Statistics 659

Interesting how people keep hammering it into our (at least, Americans') heads that the humanities are no longer "relevant" (whatever that means), and yet Philosophy, English, and History are all on this list. Those who apply for (non-professional) advanced degrees are still a sliver of the overall population, but the humanities are well-represented in that group. In fact, the two "least relevant" (English and Philosophy) come up right after the two most practical ones (Economics and Computer Science) on the list. We still have to battle for respect year after year (HEY GUYZ iz thinking about bookz and art still good thing cuz maybe not important ne more???1), and so many of us still jump headfirst into the abyss, full-knowing that hardly anyone cares about us but us. Anyway, I just thought it was interesting that "useless" degrees get almost as many applications as "useful" ones (though Economics is pretty far ahead even Comp Science).

Edited by sarandipidy
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Interesting how people keep hammering it into our (at least, Americans') heads that the humanities are no longer "relevant" (whatever that means), and yet Philosophy, English, and History are all on this list. Those who apply for (non-professional) advanced degrees are still a sliver of the overall population, but the humanities are well-represented in that group. In fact, the two "least relevant" (English and Philosophy) come up right after the two most practical ones (Economics and Computer Science) on the list. We still have to battle for respect year after year (HEY GUYZ iz thinking about bookz and art still good thing cuz maybe not important ne more???1), and so many of us still jump headfirst into the abyss, full-knowing that hardly anyone cares about us but us. Anyway, I just thought it was interesting that "useless" degrees get almost as many applications as "useful" ones (though Economics is pretty far ahead even Comp Science).

Interesting observation. I don't want to say anything too polemical, but I think that this just goes to show that the humanities are far from dead, and perhaps may be more necessary than ever to counteract some of the risks of scientific and technological advancement (head without heart and all that stuff).

I'm not interested in starting a flamewar, so please take this as the personal opinion of a humanities student very aware of his own bias and fallibility :)

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Interesting how people keep hammering it into our (at least, Americans') heads that the humanities are no longer "relevant" (whatever that means), and yet Philosophy, English, and History are all on this list. Those who apply for (non-professional) advanced degrees are still a sliver of the overall population, but the humanities are well-represented in that group. In fact, the two "least relevant" (English and Philosophy) come up right after the two most practical ones (Economics and Computer Science) on the list. We still have to battle for respect year after year (HEY GUYZ iz thinking about bookz and art still good thing cuz maybe not important ne more???1), and so many of us still jump headfirst into the abyss, full-knowing that hardly anyone cares about us but us. Anyway, I just thought it was interesting that "useless" degrees get almost as many applications as "useful" ones (though Economics is pretty far ahead even Comp Science).

I beg to differ. Please don't think I am being ignorant or arrogant as I present my opinion.

I am not willing to buy that idea that non-science majors have dominated the list 'because they are still important'. For one, I have always thought they were important. I mean, as important a doctor/engineer/scientist is to the society, a teacher/writer/historian is the same, if not more. Second, I think a lot of confounding variables have to accounted for in order to understand the list. Such as, perhaps the humanities majors have dominated the list because most people (choose to) study those majors? And/or, comparatively, many people from the humanities hover around in this board (again, because most people are in such majors)? And could it be that people from science/professional majors have less time than other majors, because of their course load? Or perhaps they just choose not to join these kind of forums? Further, may be they don't know about this and similar forums? Many reasons here. The point is, non-science majors could have been represented more either due to their still-existing-importance (as you are saying), or because of unexplained factors/trends that shift these statistics. And thinking that you guys don't get respect is a fear you have from within. Any educated person always respect another human being - regardless of class, rank and education. Please don't self-depreciate yourself... like I said above, you guys are as important contributors to the balance of our society as we are.

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Thanks, Bhikaari. (And a very logically-argued post, I might add :) )

For those of us in the humanities, particularly those living in, shall we say, environments that are not so fond of "big government," it's quite easy to feel assailed by all the op-eds and other opinion pieces about how money is being wasted on worthless research (read: anything that doesn't cure a disease, increase technological productivity, etc.). Not to mention the constant conversations with people who aren't necessarily hostile, but just can't figure out why somebody would devote their professional career to some obscuro topic like the music of Swedish immigrants to North Dakota or whatever. I think these experiences help feed our inferiority complex. The general public seems to have more of a reverential attitude toward the sciences (even if they don't understand them), due to the obvious, measurable results I guess. But I'm glad that you feel like we in the humanities aren't all off simply arguing over minutiae or trying to measure the number of angels that can fit on the head of a pin.

Of course in an ideal world there wouldn't be this huge divide. I've always been fascinated by cosmology, evolution, neuroscience, theoretical physics...and I think that the humanities have interesting things to offer scientists too. But the language is so specialized that interdisciplinarity is just freakin' impossible past certain broad generalities, at least in my experience. That's why I'm reading Carl Sagan and Daniel Levitin instead of science journals. I could go on a lot longer about all of this, but I think I've already started blathering.

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  • 2 weeks later...

For those of us in the humanities, particularly those living in, shall we say, environments that are not so fond of "big government," it's quite easy to feel assailed by all the op-eds and other opinion pieces about how money is being wasted on worthless research (read: anything that doesn't cure a disease, increase technological productivity, etc.).

*laugh* And yet, those same people who write those op-eds tend to be hostile to evolutionary biology, climate science, stem cell research, social psych, ecology, cosmology, and any kind of science that's easy to make fun of in a nonsensical soundbite, which covers most of them (was it Bobby Jindal who made fun of volcano monitoring in a speech several months ago? and anti-science laypeople always love to pick on anything involving fruit flies...). And presumably any engineering that clearly stems from any of those fields. I'm not sure what fields such people DO support - it seems like most fields eventually take their turn at the hot spot on the pundit roulette wheel.

I have to say, I've never much appreciated the idea that STEM is "head without heart." Would a humanities student appreciate scientists calling their field "heart without head?" :D

What this list says to me is that computer science majors spend a lot of time reading fora on the Internet. B)

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so what happens to peeps with oh-not-so-impressive (~3.4) GPAs :((((((((( but great research exps

There's a reason they post the averages... someone has to bring it down just like how someone has to bring it up! Keep in mind the fact that Harvard is rejecting a (very tiny slightly) higher average than accepting.

...and a 3.4 is a fine GPA, especially with great research! Toss in some excellent letters and a really well written personal statement, and you can do it! Chin up! :-)

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There's a reason they post the averages... someone has to bring it down just like how someone has to bring it up! Keep in mind the fact that Harvard is rejecting a (very tiny slightly) higher average than accepting.

...and a 3.4 is a fine GPA, especially with great research! Toss in some excellent letters and a really well written personal statement, and you can do it! Chin up! :-)

I knew someone who managed to get into the U. Penn history department with a 3.4 GPA, which by all account is a very competitive department to get into. He had excellent recommendations and had presented papers at several conferences. It is possible to get in with a lower than normal GPA. GPA is only one aspect that admissions committees consider.

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Meh. There will always be an exception to the averages and expectations. If you are worried about something in your application, just remember that you could always be one of those exceptions. Because at this point in the game, obsessing about it will accomplish nothing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

What a nifty thread. Points (literally and otherwise) to bhikhaari and Ludwig von Dracula for an exchange both intriguing and very civil!

I knew someone who managed to get into the U. Penn history department with a 3.4 GPA, which by all account is a very competitive department to get into. He had excellent recommendations and had presented papers at several conferences. It is possible to get in with a lower than normal GPA. GPA is only one aspect that admissions committees consider.

The converse is the case as well. My undergrad GPA was great and my references were good and all that, but I only barely got into my MA program off the waitlist. Why? Mainly because I'd done very poorly in a single class that the department (rightly) considers crucial background. So yeah, you never know what could make a difference one way or the other!

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Well the most popular programs list is misleading in my opinion. It doesn't account for how many programs there are in a specific discipline or the number of applications that an average applicant sends or how large the entering cohort is in that program. It could be that there are simply more Economics graduate programs, the applicants apply to more schools, and their cohort size is larger than other programs. (I have no idea if that is true but I am just using it for an example.)

You can't really conclude that social science programs are more relevant than science or humanities from sheer numbers alone. I also think it's pretty silly to quibble on which field is more "relevant." To be honest, a lot of our research in whatever field we chose to study is usually only "relevant" to the small number of people within our sub-discipline. That tends to be the running joke about academics.

If you do want to look at some nation trends on graduate school, NSF's Survey of Earned Doctorates has some pretty interesting data. You can find it here: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf11306/

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Interesting page ZeChocMoose.

Was not aware that among Americans, women have gotten more doctorates every year since 2002.

It is interesting. Women tend to be underrepresented in the academy especially at the admin level (deans, dept chairs, VPs) and in some fields for the professoriate.

The item that surprised me was that life science was the discipline with the most doctorates earned. I would have guessed social science or education.

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Just goes to show GPA doesn't count for everything :-)

God, I sincerely hope not, otherwise I may as well just accept my 7 rejections and go cry quietly in my pillow.

The writing sample has to count for something, right? Right? Where's my pillow. . . .

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God, I sincerely hope not, otherwise I may as well just accept my 7 rejections and go cry quietly in my pillow.

The writing sample has to count for something, right? Right? Where's my pillow. . . .

So.....when did you invade my thoughts? Because I was thinking exactly the same thing.

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