Should I get an M.S. or Ph.D. degree?
Some schools only offer Ph.D. degrees. Other schools offer M.S. degrees only if you decide not to complete the Ph.D. degree after working on your Ph.D. degree for a few years. At other schools, you can select to complete a M.S. degree from the start.
What graduate schools should I choose to apply to?
By the time you have reached your junior or senior year you have probably chosen an area of interest in biology and have done some research. Your readings of the literature probably introduced you to some scientists whose work you admired. Look into the graduate programs that do the kind of research that interested you. If you get an opportunity, visit the graduate schools and/or visit the labs of scientists that are investigating issues that you could feel passionate about. Many graduate programs have open houses set up to recruit graduate students. Contact the graduate departments in your junior year to find out about these open houses. This site will try to keep up with the listings under Local Events.
DO take advantage of the rich scientific environment in Atlanta and attend lectures (see Local Events). Many interesting and distinguished scientists travel to Atlanta to give talks at the local universities.
And DON'T FORGET the lecture series that the Biology Department has in the spring. You do not have to be signed up for the seminar to attend the lectures.
What tests are required to get into graduate school?
Take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). The scores must be less than 5 years old. Some schools require both the general and subject tests and some only the subject test. Your scores are important but if you did not do well or your undergraduate GPA is not that high, then you can strengthen your application by doing research. consider getting an M.S. before pursuing a Ph.D. Often getting into an M.S. program is not as competitive and you can prove your abilities and improve your grades by getting an M.S. degree before you pursue a Ph.D.
When should I apply for graduate school?
The application deadlines for many schools is January 1. Start working on your applications in the summer and fall of you graduate. Make sure that you have taken the GRE exam by the proper date so that the schools will receive your scores in time.
What are graduate schools looking for in their applicants?
- A strong GPA.
- Good GRE scores, particularly in your science of interest
- Research experience
Research experience is highly favorable whether you do it at Clayton State or in a research lab elsewhere. Working as a lab technician for a year or two before applying to graduate school may help you to determine if you are really interested in research. Getting experience in research will also show graduate schools that you have carefully considered this career
If you get a chance to present your work at a conference, jump at the opportunity. This experience will also look good on your application. If you have collected enough data to produce a paper or have collaborated with others, make an effort to write up your work so that you can publish it. The drive and motivation it takes to produce a paper makes a very favorable impression.
However, if your GPA and GRE scores are good, it is possible to get into graduate school without lab experience. If you want to apply for graduate school in a particular area, it is important that you have taken one or more classes in that area.
Who should I ask for a letter of recommendation?
You get letters from professors who had you in class and any professor who served as an advisor for your research. how are you problem solving skills and what are you like personally. It is important that you have received a letter of recommendation from someone who you do research with.
How are you going to pay for graduate school?
Remember that each school has an application fee. You will probably want to be selective in how many schools you will apply.
Many schools provide fellowships and stipends so that you will not have to pay tuition. At some schools, you must serve as a teaching assistant inorder to get the stipends. You should think about whether or not you are interested in teaching.
It is also important to think about the cost of living of the city where you want to go to school. Will the stipend allow you to cover the cost of living in this city. Stipends vary a little but it might be easier to go to school in a city that is less expensive to live in.