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Chances of admission?


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I will be applying this fall and am hoping to start a PhD in higher ed in Fall 2015. 


-Undergrad: UCLA, Economics, GPA 3.36

-Grad: Johns Hopkins, Urban Education, GPA 4.0

-Professional experience: Accounting (2 years), urban middle school math teacher (2 years through TFA)

-Research experience: RA in grad school. Conducted large-scale research on financial aid and college access.

-Letters of recommendation: Grad school professors, principal at the school I worked at

-GRE: Will take this summer

-Research interests: financial aid, college access and completion rates, measurement/evaluation, quantitative research

-Schools of interest: USC, UCLA, Harvard, Stanford, TC, Hopkins, UPenn, Berkeley



With a fairly low undergrad GPA, I want to learn how I can boost my chance of getting into a funded doctorate program.

I plan to visit a few schools this summer to meet with the professors I want to work with to see the fit.

Any tips and advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

Edited by thdus82
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It's hard to comment without knowing your GRE scores.  That said, I wouldn't be too worried about your UG GPA in light of your performance in grad school.  Just make sure to review each school's admission requirements to see if there are GPA cutoffs.


Honestly I think your biggest weakness/vulnerability for admission to a higher ed doctoral program is your lack of professional experience in higher ed.  I don't see it as a deal-breaker, but it is a gap that you might consider addressing before application.  (Some faculty will give you "credit" for your experience as an RA and in TFA, others won't find that to be terribly persuasive.)


Two final points: 1) to the best of my knowledge neither Johns Hopkins nor UC-Berkeley offer higher ed doctoral programs or particularly robust post-secondary course offerings; and 2) TC generally does not provide much funding for its HPSE doctoral program.

Edited by hesadork
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I agree with hesadork. Work experience in higher ed would be quite valuable - in my interview with the University of Michigan, for example, it was the very first question they asked.


I'd also encourage you to research other schools in addition to the ones you listed - finding folks working in higher ed requires looking at higher ed programs, policy programs, ed programs, etc.

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OP here,


Thank you everyone for your advice. I appreciate you guys pointing out looking into other schools in addition to what I've listed above. Which higher ed programs would you recommend that offer full funding? 

Edited by thdus82
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