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Weill Cornell vs Penn for PhD Immunology


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I'm pursuing the PhD in Immunology, and have been admitted to USC, WashU, Weill Cornell (Cornell Med School in Manhattan) and University of Pennsylvania.

I've already decided WashU and USC are off the list, (although I sincerely think WUSTL has an excellent program) and it's down to Cornell Vs Penn.


I'm having a serious time making up my mind. Penn has a larger immunology community, while Cornell has a more focused/smaller department. I had a really great rapport with two PI's at Cornell, but I'm keeping the perspective that I may not rotate with them or get into their lab. Also only connecting with two PI's doesn't mean I have a grip in the rest of the program. I generally liked the PI's at Penn, but didn't have any PI that dead-set attracted my attention. However their community is so large it is likely there is a PI out there for me. 

There are a lot of factors aside from science, such as stipend levels, housing, and way of life. 

The housing at Cornell is pretty much pre-determined for you at the student housing across the street and isn't cheap, but the stipend is about $5500 more than Penn per year. Additionally I would have to sell my car (which is fairly in good condition) as a car in Manhattan isn't productive. On the plus side of that, not having a car means not dealing with car associated costs. 

The housing at Penn appears cheaper and more varied, but it would be a commute to school (from what I hear, it'll be a 30 min walk usually). The stipend is lower, but I would be able to bring a car, which would be nice around year 5 when I feel like driving somewhere.


Anybody have some input on my situation, or familiarity with the programs? Any feedback is appreciated.


Thank you,


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  • 2 weeks later...

Can't speak about the programs, but as a side note: I also visited Weill Cornell for a different program and a current student said she had a car and used street parking all the time (no meters).  Maybe having a car there isn't entirely impractical (at least for Upper East Side), but there is still some inconvenience with street sweeping rules.

I have a friend attending Penn who lives in Rittenhouse Square area, which is ~15 min walk.  He doesn't own a car, so can't speak to the practicality there.

Good luck on the decision!  I haven't decided yet either - perhaps I'll see you at Cornell.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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