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Chances of getting into top program? Synthetic Chemistry/Pharmacology


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Hello! I am an incoming senior from the UC system. I am studying Chemical Engineering with a emphasis is Biochemistry.  My GPA at the moment isn't the highest right now, but will gradually be increasing. I was wondering if some of my choices for a Ph.D in Synthetic/Organic Chemistry were out of reach. I am an engineering major, but I am trained in Organic Chemistry. I was wondering if the committee may look at my GPA differently, since it is relatively good for an engineer. 





Cumulative GPA: probably around a 3.4 by the time I apply

Chemical Engineering GPA: probably around a 3.5 by the time I apply


GRE Verbal: 160

GRE Quantitative: 168  

GRE Analytical: 5.0

GRE Chemistry: Not planning on taking it (no time).


Recommendations: (1) Strong Recommendation from my PI, who attended UC IRVINE for his PHD and Post-Doc at Princeton, (2) Distinguished Professor from UC Berkeley that was my PI during the REU; (3) Very Strong Recommendation from my Chemical Engineering Professor that I've been working for 2 years and will get a patent with; (4) Optional: Recommendation from the DEAN of the College of Engineering


Experience: 3 years of Undergraduate Research in Organic Synthetic (Natural Products), 2.5 years Undergraduate Research in Chemical Engineering Designs, and Summer REU at UC BERKELEY (UC LEADS Scholar)


Other unrelated EC's: PRESIDENT of my College of Engineering, Chapter PRESIDENT of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)


Besides that, I would like to mention that I am also a Gates Millennium and UC LEADS Scholar and is funded 5-years for graduate studies. 


Top Schools:

Johns Hopkins University, University of Washington, Columbia University, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Boston University, Yale University, Harvard University, and Boston College


Do you guys think that my GPA will be that much of an issue applying to these schools for the Fall of 2016? What are my chances?

Edited by johnydamanxd
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So you're funded for 5 years... you'll get into at least one of the schools on your list (probably multiple) based on that alone. Look at it from their perspective, there's very little risk in accepting you at this point so they probably will. You've got a strong application

Edited by lisadaran
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Hi Eteshoe,


Would you say that your Chemical Engineering background gave you an edge over other applicants, since it is different especially with an engineering degree?

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I'd say it did for the most part. A lot of the programs were very interested with someone with a strong quantitative background + chemistry to augment the biology side of things. One program even said something to the effect of "you can teach a grad student high level bio, but it's very hard (and time consuming) to teach high level math & chemical interactions to someone without the sufficient background".


Only one program felt that my background was not sufficient enough (thus my 1 rejection) even though I'd taken plenty of bio & biochem courses.


Overall, even though I won't be using every skill I gained from engineering, I know that I'll be able to handle the transition well since I'm used to thinking on my feet and I'm used to balancing a ridiculous course load while doing research. 


Work on your SOP, since that is where you'll really be able to tell the program why your unique background would positively impact their program. A lot of the programs I talked to really liked the fact that I had a clear and concise reason behind shifting my research focus. Also demonstrate that you understand the differences between pharmacology and medicinal/synthetic chemistry. PM me if you have any other questions. 


FYI my stats were as followed and I had no real issue getting into almost all my programs (so I think you should be fine):

BS cGPA: 3.68/4.00, MS cGPA: 4.00, GRE: 165Q, 167V, 4.5AW

Edited by eteshoe
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  • 3 weeks later...

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