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Low uGPA, strong otherwise. Care to evaluate my application?


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Please give me any feedback that you can. I welcome all the help I can get!

Undergraduate institution: Top 15, USA
Undergraduate GPA: 2.05 (not a typo)
Undergraduate Major: Molecular Biology & Bioinformatics

Graduate institution: Harvard Extension School
Graduate GPA: 3.8
Graduate major: Biotechnology - Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (master's program)

Years of Work Experience: 5ish

Describe Relevant Work Experience:
- 1y research associate (current) for exciting startup in my field
- 1y research assistant (current) for major research hospital (thesis related).
- 2.5y research associate for high-prestige core lab in my field.
- 8mo research intern, undergraduate
- 3mo contract research assistant, small startup

Publication record:
None as of yet , but should have 2 (based off thesis research) and MAYBE 1 (based off work) by the time I apply. Not sure of impact of journal, etc.
I have been acknowledged in a major PLoS paper, but alas acknowledgements count for nothing. Read as: 0 publications.

1 poster presented at a popular global conference in my field

Will address low uGPA, upward trend, strong experience, and commitment to research.

Plan is to have letters from 1 grad prof (3 classes, all As), my thesis advisor, and a former boss.

Take my GRE Saturday. Will update with results.

Anything that you see that I can add here to attempt to compensate for my uGPA?

My unordered list is below which has been carefully selected from PIs that share my research interests. I know there are some big names on there, but I'm hoping that some are within my range.

Thanks in advance!

yale - microbiology (biological and biomedical science)
northeastern - biology
u conn - molecular and cellular bio: microbiology
u new hampshire - genetics
u toronto - molecular genetics
boston u - molecular biology, cell biology, and biochem (MCBB)
harvard - organismal and evolutionary biology OR molecules, cells, and organisms
u illinois uc - molecular and cellular biology
brown (collab with MBL) - computational molecular biology (igert program - reverse ecology, microbial & comparitive genomics initiative)
u mass amherst - molecular and cellular biology
u waterloo - biology
u georgia - microbiology OR genetics
u mass boston - molecular, cellular, and organismal biology

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I'll be honest, your uGPA jumps out a bit. Your biggest draw is that your research experience is extensive--and the fact you were in a "high-prestige" lab may be an important shoe in the door. My GPA was not particularly strong either, but the fact I worked with big names in my sub-field threw things in my favor more than once.


How do your grades breakdown? Did you do particularly poorly in some subjects, like physics or English, while doing well in biology classes? My uGPA was a 3.2, while I realize not quite as dire as your situation, is on the lower end when it comes to applicants. However, one could clearly see from my transcripts that organic chemistry was the culprit (4 freaking semesters), as I maintained relatively high grades in the life sciences. A little trick I used in the first draft of my SOP was calculating my "life sciences" GPA (biology, public health, and bioanthropology classes). That....was a 3.8.


In the end, I ignored it--because most departments cares more about research than petty scores. 

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  • 2 months later...

You're uGPA is shocking, but I think the fact that you got into and excelled in your Master's program says a lot more about you. I think that unless the programs you are applying to have high cutoff for uGPA, they will look at your time during your Masters degree more.

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