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BME: Do I have a chance to go to graduate schools for PhD?


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I just graduated from UCSD as a bioengineering:biotechnology major with low gpa, about 3.2 (my major and cumulative gpa are exactly the same...). I have 3 month of research intern outside of the US, 3 month of laboratory volunteer, and UCSD senior design ( I am not sure it this will be recognized as research experience...). I want to go to grad school for fall of 2014, and what are my chances for it? Before I apply for the grad school, can u guys suggest anything so that I raise my chance?

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If you can make it work financially, get more research experience, preferably with the same PI for longer than three months. That will make their LOR more convincing -- admissions committees will trust their judgment more if they've known you for longer. But if you can't, work experience will still make you a stronger candidate. Teaching/tutoring experience is helpful if you have plans to TA and/or end up as a professor.


You can emphasize the research-y nature of your senior design thing in your SOP. Speaking of which, start working on your SOP early. Request advice and feedback from your advisor(s).


You could also revisit your senior design project to revise and improve it, for submission as a writing sample if applicable, or even publication. If you don't have a professor's feedback on how to improve it, ask for their feedback.


I cannot personally speak to how accurate this is, but at least one professor who serves on admissions committees claims that GPA isn't important, it's all about capacity to do original research, as evidenced by your work and recommendations.


If you don't know how to code and you think you could learn between now and application season, try to do so. Everyone can use someone who can code.


ETA: I've heard if you have some external (e.g. NSF) funding of your own, schools will be more likely to offer you the rest of the funding you'd need (since then they only need to meet you partway, so to speak, instead of funding you entirely themselves). I don't really know anything about the procedure or timeline for that, but I'd recommend looking into it.

Edited by lzs
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Thank you for your advice. yes I am trying to get involved in research labs or secure internship this week so that I can boost my chance to go to grad school XD it might be tough but I will try hard along with your advicee. Btw, so code means computer language like python ? I am not an expert in python but I have a bit of knowledge..hmmm

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Yes -- keep in mind I don't really know how to code in any language, so I can't give advice on which language or anything like that, but I've gotten the strong impression that if you can do some basic programming, it'll significantly increase your value and appeal to a wide range of people, and will probably make your life easier (in the sense of accomplishing various tasks) in the long run. I also don't know anything about bioengineering specifically; my advice was generic grad school advice not particular to any discipline.

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being a former triton, I wondered why do you wanna get a PhD in first place. besides, what program(s) are you applying? bioengineering, as far as I know, are quite different than biotechnology, and the others. So one program may be more competitive than the others. If money isn't an issue, why not getting a MS before you leave La Jolla/UTC?


by the way, I would expect engineers know how to code... given that there are significant numbers of non-engineering students know the basic (python), you'll have to be better than the norm.

Edited by aberrant
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