Applying to Graduate School Or, is there life after college?

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  • Applying to Graduate SchoolOr, is there life after college?

  • The steps:Choosing a graduate program The admissions process Money: financial support

  • Getting started What field are you interested in? Do you want a graduate (Ph.D.) or professional degree (M.D.)? Talk to as many people as possible. Career/employment opportunities? See www.aps.org/jobs/index.html, http://physicsweb.org/ If you are interested in a Ph.D. in physics, you'll need to think about a subfield (e.g., condensed matter physics, particle physics), and theoretical vs. experimental.

  • Researching programsSurf the web. See http://www.gradschoolshopper.com/Use Peterson's Guide, the AIP Guide to Graduate Programs in Physics and Astronomy. Rankings National Research Council http://www.nas.edu/nrc/U.S. News and World Reports also provides rankings (see http://www.usnews.com/usnews/ Look for strength in programs that interest you. If you are undecided, go for a large department.

  • Questions to askSome items to ask about:External funding of research? Support for students?Are faculty widely recognized-are papers widely cited, are they invited to make presentations on their work)? What are the facilities like?Are the current graduate students happy and productive?What do graduates do?

  • The processSend in the application well ahead of any deadlines (good manners). The deadlines are usually in Jan. or Feb.Notification will probably occur during Feb. or MarchIf you are offered the chance to visit, do so!Deadline for reply is April 15. You might be placed on a waiting list.

  • The Graduate Record ExamMost graduate programs require the general GRE, and possibly a subject test.Can now take computer-based exams. Faster, more convenient. See www.gre.org for details, and sites.Study!Take it twice if you aren't happy with your score.

  • TranscriptsTranscripts from all colleges attended are required.Hopefully you have mostly A's and B's in your major courses.A couple of C's are okay. A D or E(F) requires explanation.If your college has an unconventional grading system or curriculum, attach a letter explaining it. Better yet, have a college administrator attach a letter explaining it.

  • Personal statementA statement of purpose is usually required.Keep it short-about one page.Make it germane, don't get weird.Why you want to attend graduate schoolWhat you hope to accomplishHow you plan to accomplish itEmphasize any research experience (REU).Briefly explain any embarrassing grades.Type it, check for mistakes.

  • Letters of recommendationUsually two or three letters of recommendation are required.Some letters need to come from your instructors, but others can come from employers, research advisors, and so on.Think about whether the letter will be relevant.Talk to the person about the nature of the letter. Supply him/her with an up-to-date resume, and your statement of purpose. Personal information is important.

  • Financial supportMost science Ph.D. programs will offer financial support, as a teaching or research assistant.Check on the amount of support. What is the cost of living?Is insurance provided? Does it include the summer? Does it cover tuition?For how many years is support provided? What are the requirements?You should investigate fellowship opportunities.

  • FellowshipsNational Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships. $30,000 per year stipend. Deadline in November. www.ehr.nsf.gov/EHR/DGE/grf.htm. National Physical Science Consortium (NPSC) Graduate Fellowships in the Physical Sciences; see http://www.npsc.org/ Deadline: November 5.Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowships; see www.hertzfndn.org/index.html. $25,000 per year stipend plus tuition paid! Requires a GPA>3.75/4.00. Deadline in November.U.S. Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellowships. http://www.ed.gov/programs/iegpsgaann/index.html

  • Other opportunitiesAmerican Association of University Women Fellowship ProgramDOE High-Performance Computer Science Fellowship ProgramFord Foundation Predoctoral Fellowships for MinoritiesLucent Technologies Foundation Bell Laboratories Cooperative Research Fellowship ProgramLucent Technologies Graduate Research Program for WomenNational Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowships (NDSEG)National Institutes of Health Predoctoral Extramural Research Training AwardPaul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New AmericansSRC Graduate Fellowship ProgramU.S. Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate FellowshipsWhitaker Foundation Graduate Fellowships in Biomedical Engineering

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