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What are my chances of getting into UMD (PhD)?

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I'm a 2nd-year MS student who will be graduating next May. I am doing an original empirical project for my thesis (to be completed in April 2016). I have a 4.0 GPA and was recently awarded a fellowship by my department. While all these sound good, I have not been as proactive as my classmates in securing research opportunities. However, I have been an online TA and will be an in-person TA this semester (which includes giving guest lectures, meeting with undergrads etc.). As for the GRE, I received 160 V/150 Q/ 4.0 A in 2013. I thought of retaking it but changed my mind since my transcript will show that I received an A for my stats class (and also will take an advanced stats class this semester). Assuming that my personal statement shows that my research interests are a good fit for UMD, will I be penalized for not having criminal-justice related research experience? Can my thesis experience (using secondary data) make up for it? I was told by my prof, whom I will be TA-ing for, that guest lectures aren't usually done by MS students so that will be one feather in my cap. I know that UMD is very highly regarded in the field and am curious to know if others who have been accepted (or otherwise) can share whether they were in a similar situation like mine?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Honestly, from what I'be read stalking the old forums, if I were you I would retake the GRE... Your analytical writing score is below average and although 310 is a great cumulative score UMD is still considered the top PhD program for criminology. The average score for acceptance to these programs is normally a 312 and many programs use the GRE scores as a preliminary sorting measure. That being said, they may not even get to the section of your application that shows you received an A in stats. 

On the plus side, lack of research activity didn't seem to be a huge factor in the old forums! 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I ended up getting wait-listed at UMD (eventually withdrew and accepted an offer elsewhere) this past application season. Based on my own numbers, I'd definitely suggest that you re-take the GRE. That program is pretty quantitative, so I would think a higher math score would be important. FWIW, my quant (160) and writing (5.0) score were a bit higher than yours. In regards to research, I had two publications under review (co-authored with faculty) at the time of my application, and, like you, my thesis used secondary data. I would suggest that you attend/present at some crim. conferences, if you haven't already. If you are really set on going to UMD, I would highly recommend attending the American Society of Criminology (ASC) meeting in DC this year and seeking out faculty (especially those you are interested in working with) and students from the program. It is an awesome opportunity to put a face to your application and could *potentially* help your chances. 

All of that said, if I learned anything about this whole process, it is that the whole thing can seem very arbitrary and make little sense. Some programs that I thought were a great fit, rejected me, and some programs that I thought weren't such a great fit, accepted me and made significant offers. And honestly, I thought I stood no chance of getting into UMD and I came pretty close... So, you never know! 

Good luck! :D

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