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Would grad school be worth it in my situation? (low GPA, among other things)

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Hi everyone. I graduated in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry; shortly thereafter I got into cosmetics and currently run a product development lab for a small cosmetic raw material company. This would be my second job in cosmetic r&d, and I had a ton of chemistry-related internships during school, worked in a couple of professors' labs, etc. I've never published anything though.
That being said, I was a mediocre student, and my GPA at graduation was around 2.95. Part of this was my own fault, and part of it was a bad situation in my personal life during freshman year from which it was difficult to bounce back academically. (My GRE is 162 verbal/158 quant/5 essay; I took it a couple months ago.)
Nearly two years after graduation, I am thinking of going back to school for a master's in the 2016 spring semester. The thing is, I don't know where to begin. I know it's still early. I'm in NYC metro area and looking to stay on the east coast (MIT, BU, VA or GA Tech, etc), or go to Canada/other Francophone country. Actually, anywhere overseas would be fine as long as the language of instruction is English and/or French.
My undergrad university was a large public research school in a large Midwestern city which was known for being academically rigorous.
On the other hand, do I even have a chance of getting in to any good schools with my awful undergrad transcripts? Are my professional experiences enough to override the bad grades? Two of my former professors have agreed to write letters of recommendation, I can probably ask the VP or president of this company to write one if necessary. I'm interested in material science and related topics, if it matters.
When I graduated, I was mentally "done" with school and academia, but now that some time has passed, I actually want to go back to school and study chemistry again (intellectual curiosities and all that), however I'm afraid that my options are slim. I'm not sure if I want a Ph.D right off the bat, but definitely a master's. I'm sure I could spin "my life story" into something positive for the personal statement, but there's no going around my grades and transcripts.
Thank you for reading.
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Just a note, a Master's in Chemistry is not common. Terminal Master's programs typically do not exist for chemistry. Most programs admit for PhD, and if you cannot finish the PhD, SOME schools give an option to graduate with a Master--which can be an indication to future employers that you could not handle the PhD and quit. Some Master's may be awarded alongside Bachelor's degrees after addition (usually 1 year) of study from the undergrad institution.


That said, the industry experience sounds great and GRE scores are respectable. Find some professors at your prospective schools, tell them you're interested in their research, and ask for any advice for admission to their program.

Edited by pepsico
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It's definitely not impossible, but it will require that you put in a lot of effort to circumvent any worries about your GPA. I applied this application cycle with a GPA of 2.93. I made up for that with my GRE scores (see my profile), research experiences, teaching experiences, and my letters of recommendation. In my interviews and visits, not one person has brought up my GPA, but many have commented on my personal statement and my letters of recommendation. You may have it a bit easier since you've had your industry experiences to separate you from your undergrad academics (I'm still finishing up my undergrad), but you still should work as hard as possible to stand out. Keep in mind that master's programs will be easier to get into, but typically they are not offered (or only seldom offered) at universities that grant PhDs in chemistry. You generally have to look elsewhere (non-flagship state schools, smaller private schools, etc.) for terminal master's degrees in chemistry, and only some of them will be funded.


Feel free to pm me about this, and good luck!

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One thing you will run into is some schools have a minimum 3.0 requirement on the graduate school level regardless of the department requirement.

Six schools in my state offer terminal MS Chemistry programs. So does GA Tech and many many others. I attend a funded chemistry program (no tuition waiver but the stipend is much higher than the in state tuition).

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