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PhD Programs in Education & GRE Scores


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Hello everyone,


I'm considering applying to PhD programs in Education at the following schools:


- Harvard

- Columbia

- Berkeley

- Johns Hopkins



- Ohio State University


My academic background is not in education, but in sociology and public health. However, I've worked in the education research field.  I am, however, concerned about this and my GRE scores hurting me in the application process.


Current scores:

164 V (93%)

151 Q (44%) (I know, awful!)

5.0 AW (93%)


In terms of background, I have a BA in sociology with a 3.8 GPA from a small liberal arts college in New England (no big name), and a Masters in Public Health from Drexel University with a 3.8 GPA (concentration in community health and prevention).  After undergrad, I worked for a year as a Research Assistant at an education nonprofit that does work related to using history to teach students about ethical decisionmaking and global engagement.  While in grad school, I was part of an NIH-funded training program to develop health disparities researchers, which provided me the opportunity to work on two research projects, one of which resulted in a second authorship publication.  I also worked with Big Brother Big Sister of America during this time period as a RA, as well as a Teaching Assistant/Course Facilitator for a first-year graduate student course.


By the time I apply, I'll have also worked for two years as a Research Analyst for a social sciences firm that works on research and evaluation studies for a variety of clients, mainly government agencies (NSF, Dept of Ed, FDA, DC public schools, etc.), nonprofits, and state and local governments.  My primary responsibilities are assisting in the design of research and evaluation studies, conducting focus groups and interviews, analyzing qualitative data, conducting literature reviews, writing reports, and disseminating results to clients and communities.


In terms of future research interests, I'm primarily interested in race and its intersection with education and health disparities.  I'm interested in exploring issues of school discipline disparities (why Black and Brown students are expelled and suspended more frequently than white students, and what social, emotional, academic, and health impacts this has on them), as well as the ways in which white parents teach children about colorblindness.


I'm not sure about the likelihood of acceptance given my GRE scores and lack of publications.  I also want to go to a program that offers strong funding and research opportunities.


Thoughts on feasibility of acceptance given my GRE scores and other stats/info?

Any thoughts on programs I should look into?

Any other feedback?

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I don't know, but I just wanted to let you know that I am in a very similar boat.  My GRE is 165 (V) /150 (Q).  I have similar research interests (minus the health aspect), but a different background (current ECE college instructor/ program coordinator with a MA/ years of being a stay at home mom).  I will have 2 conferences at the time and blog postings from a couple of notable organizations, but no real publications or anything like that.  My research background is pretty miniscule, but I have also organized a large scale community event that speaks to my research interests and I've done other smaller projects with more in the works.


I've done a lot of googling trying to glean information as to whether it is good enough for a top school, and the truth is that I really have no idea.  I concluded it is certainly worth trying for what its worth.  I feel hopeful that I will get in at least somewhere with funding.


Sorry, I know that isn't very helpful, but at least you know you are not alone!  I am applying to 2 of the schools on your list, too.

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  • 3 weeks later...

You should definitely retake the GRE and try to raise your quant score. You have a good research background, but without a decent quant score, it going to be very difficult to get into any of the schools you listed.

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Top schools receive applications from many people with similar (and probably much stronger) backgrounds and higher GRE scores. If you have any hole in your application package, you should work on it. Ph.D applications are more competitive than you think. My program receives more than 200 applications per year and gives between 5 and 10 admission offers. If a program is large, it will take more students but in this case not all of them receive full funding. Some may receive none. You have to be strategic. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Hi All,


I'm in a similar situation-- I took my GRE yesterday and ended up with a 166 V/150 Q; still don't know my writing score. My undergrad GPA is a 3.6 and my Masters in Teaching GPA is a 3.9. I've taught for 6 years in low-income communities and have done international work in many developing countries. My aim is to pursue doctoral programs in International Comparative Education and I'm currently planning to apply to at UC Berkeley, Stanford, Davis, and Santa Cruz. 


I'm wondering: are my GRE scores prohibitively low? Will my quant score preclude me from getting into these programs? As a follow up, if I take the GRE again do I have to send both sets of scores to the schools? I already sent my scores from yesterday (though am regretting it somewhat). Thoughts?


Thank you!

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  • 2 weeks later...

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