Tag Archive for 'doctorate'

Graduate Program Profile: Physics

The Milky Way galaxy.

From Newton to Einstein to Hawking, humanity’s pursuit of knowledge and study of the natural world has never been closer to complete; conversely, humanity has never so fully understood how far from a complete knowledge of the universe we really are. Physics, from the Greek physis, or “nature,” encompasses a marvelous spectrum of ideas and studies, but is, above all else, an endeavor to better understand the behavior of the universe.

Encompassing everything from classical mechanics to quantum mechanics, to relativity and the study of electromagnetism, physics is comprised of many disciplines and subdisciplines. As a potential graduate student, a background in physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology, or some other natural science is absolutely fundamental to success at an advanced academic level.

Neil de Grasse Tyson

“Where ignorance lurks, so too do the frontiers of discovery and imagination” – Neil DeGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist/author

Before we turn our attention to the most reputable and highly ranked Physics graduate programs, let’s take a look at some of the employment and wage statistics associated with the field of Physics.

According to the US Bureau of Labor, physicists make, on average, over $100,000 a year, and have a median hourly pay of over $50/hour. Given the difficulty of obtaining a doctorate in physics, it should come as no surprise that there are approximately only 20,000 professional physicists in the country (note: this number is an approximation from employment surveys conducted in 2010; the “Job Outlook” for physicists and astronomers is expected to grow at a rate of about 14%). It should also come as no surprise that the most highly paid physicists work in the private sector and not in a classroom. Another note for Ph. D hopefuls is that most physicists do not start out in the private sector, instead they typically spend 2-3 years in a “temporary postdoctoral research position.”

Now that you are aware of the more important generalities associated with a professional career as a physicist, we can begin our examination of the best physics graduate programs.

#1) California Institute of Technology

Between breaking information transfer records and winning Nobel Prizes, Caltech has certainly earned its reputation as the number one graduate school for physics. According to their website, to be prepared for the Caltech Physics Ph. D. you must be familiar with, “Mechanics at about the level of Goldstein’s Classical Mechanics; electromagnetism at the level of Reitz and Milford’s Foundations of Electromagnetic Theory; atomic and nuclear physics at the level of R.B. Leighton’s Modern Physics; introductory quantum mechanics at the level of Dicke and Wittke’s Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, and advanced calculus at the level of T.M. Apostol’s Mathematical Analysis.You can learn about their policies regarding GPA, GRE, and TOEFL here. 

#1) Harvard University

It is no surprise that Harvard is, once again, at the top of our list of graduate schools. Among the many benefits of attending this Ivy League institution is the emphasis they place on interdisciplinary studies, the post-graduate employment help they offer, and the financial support they offer to graduate students. Like most graduate schools, students will not be automatically disqualified from consideration or admitted based on their GRE scores, although you should probably have a perfect or near perfect score. You can learn everything you need to know about the admission process to Harvard through this FAQ.

MIT prof webceleb

MIT physics professor Walter Lewin has become a web celebrity, making his lessons available for free on the internet and dazzling millions with his experiments and lectures.

#1) Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Aside from being one of the overall best universities in the world, one impressive feature about MIT’s physics graduate program is their hands-on, inclusive approach; “Learning takes place in both formal and informal settings with a broad spectrum of colleagues, including faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, research scientists, and graduate student peers.” You can learn more about the admission process for the MIT physics graduate program here.

#1) Stanford University

Stanford University describes its admission process as “holistic”; of the 500+ applicants who apply each year to the Stanford Graduate Physics program, only about 60 are accepted. Admission decisions are based on “the student’s academic record, the letters of recommendation, the scores on both the General GRE and the GRE Subject test in Physics, the statement of purpose, personal qualities and characteristics, as well as past accomplishments.” You can learn about life as a Stanford graduate student here and you can begin your application here.

#5) Princeton University

The Princeton Department of Physics Ph. D. program stands out as having one of the best faculty to student ratios; with a ration of about one to two, you can be sure that all of their Ph. D. candidates receive the attention they need to successfully develop and defend a thesis. Princeton also does an excellent job of preparing their students to be exemplary research scientists; the main philosophy of the Physics Department at Princeton is that the Ph. D. is essentially a research degree that is developed primarily through a general background in physics and then more fully through the completion of a thesis.

Well-known institutions like the ones listed above consistently rank at the top of every program they offer. The fact of the matter, however, is you do not have to attend one of these schools in order to get a great education out of a Masters or Ph.D. program. At “It’s Not GREek!” we want our readers to be aware of not only the important generalities of the field they are considering, but the multitude of options they have when it comes to picking a graduate school. These are some schools you may not be aware of, but that experts in your field of study certainly are.

Honorable Mention:

Rice#26) Rice University

Rice is notable for several reasons – though not quite as prestigious as an East Coast Ivy League school, Rice is widely considered one of the best schools in the country. Rice offers both an M.S. and Ph. D. program, both of which culminate in a defense of your thesis; topics by subdiscipline include Astronomy and Astrophysics, Atomic and Molecular, Biophysics, Condensed matter, Nuclear and Particle, and Space Physics.  You can learn more about Rice admission requirements and procedure here.

#30) Brown University

Brown University is known as the premiere liberal arts university in the country, but given it’s Ivy League status it should be no surprise that it’s Department of Physics is so well regarded. With an acceptance rate of 8.9%, Brown is one of the most selective schools in the world.

#40) Texas A&M University – College Station

The Texas A&M University Physics and Astronomy Department welcomes all prospective graduate students with an official “Howdy.” Research in the department focuses on astronomy, atomic, quantum optics, condensed matter, nuclear (in association with the Cyclotron Institute), and high energy physics. A&M has developed a culture built on trust and mutual respect, and endeavors for that culture to feature as prominently in its academic community as its residential one. You can learn more about the application process to Texas A&M University here.  

#52) University of Rochester

Located in Rochester, New York, the University of Rochester, is one of the smallest (in terms of University of Rochester logostudent body) leading research institutions in the nation. With a Ph. D. degree path that takes most students between four to six years to complete, the University of Rochester prides itself on turning each student into “a professional scientist: an independent and critical thinker, capable both of conceiving and conducting innovative research programs that advance the frontiers of physics or astronomy, and of disseminating the resulting knowledge widely and effectively.” It might impress you prospective graduate students to know that the University of Rochester physics faculty played a key role in the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle.


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Graduate Program Spotlight: Environmental Studies

One beautiful reason to consider Environmental Science as a career path.

One beautiful reason to consider Environmental Science as a career path.

Well-known institutions like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Yale, etc. consistently rank at the top of every program they offer, and this is no different for Environmental Studies graduate programs. However, the fact of the matter is you do not have to attend one of these schools in order to get a great education out of a Masters or Ph.D. program. At “It’s Not GREek!” we want our readers to be aware of not only the important generalities of the field they are considering, but the multitude of options they have when it comes to picking a graduate school. These are some schools, along with the usual suspects, you may not be aware of, but that experts in your field of study certainly are.

For years, global experts in environmental studies have been proclaiming the necessity of greener living and a reduced carbon footprint. Nobel Prizes have been awarded to especially outstanding activists (Theodore Roosevelt, Al Gore, Wangari Maathai) and the study of environmental sciences has blossomed into an important and prominent part of the scientific community. Though many people associate Environmental Studies with greener living, as a science, Environmental Studies is not strictly limited to campaigning against deforestation or global warming; many environmental scientists are tasked with identifying and eliminating pollutants, concern themselves with issues affecting the general health of the public, or, as we will see, focus primarily on solving environmental problems with innovative engineering solutions.

U.S. Bureau of Labor is an excellent source for occupational projections. If you're interested in a particular field, I strongly recommend visiting USBLS.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is an excellent source for employment and wage projections. If you’re interested in a particular field, I strongly recommend visiting USBLS.

With this broader categorization of Environmental Studies in mind, it is easy to understand why the occupational statistics, including wage and employment, seem so bright for Environmental Scientists and Specialists. Though the employment statistics are not particularly staggering, the mean hourly wage is a comfortable $33.08. This hourly mean is an average that includes both the higher-level earners (those with M.S. and/or Ph. D) and the lower-level income earners (those with only a Bachelor’s or Associate degree). An individual with a Masters or Doctorate in Environmental Science can potentially earn up to $110,000/year or more in salary.

It is important to keep in mind, as we begin our Graduate Program Spotlight: Environmental Studies, that the employment statistics above do not include specific niche areas of environmental studies like Conservation Scientists, Forest and Conservation Technicians, Game Wardens, or Wildlife Biologists; the US Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains separate statistics for each of these employment categories. So, while the employment statistics for Environmental Scientists and Specialists are “not particularly staggering” (with a 19% Job Outlook for 2010-20, which is about average), the existence of these specialized niches suggests that a broader, aggregate consideration would reveal Environmental Studies is a pursuit that is excellent not just for the endeavors of the field but the employment opportunities associated with it.

#1) Stanford University

Stanford offers a number of graduate level studies related to studying the environment, including Energy and Climate, Earth Systems, the Emmett Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies in Environment and Resources, Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy Program, Center for Social Innovation, and the Public Policy Program. Additionally, Stanford’s geographic location has two “unique natural laboratories,” the Hopkins Marine Station and Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, both of which have proven to be outstanding sources for study and research. The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment includes the Rising Environmental Leaders Program, which is an “innovative interdisciplinary initiative that exposes graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to national policy development, partnership building and public service careers.” You can find out more about Stanford graduate admissions here.

Oski the bear is just one more reason to go to Berkeley.

Oski the bear is just one more reason to go to Berkeley.

#2) University of California, Berkeley (UCB)

The University of California, Berkeley offers a stunning array of graduate programs for students interested in post-undergraduate studies in Environment and Sustainability. The university takes a very serious approach to the issue of sustainability; they have even gone so far as to introduce the Cal Climate Action Partnership (CalCAP), which is “is a collaboration of faculty, administration, staff, and students working to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at UC Berkeley.” Recent environmental studies released by UC Berkeley range from why species migrate, or don’t migrate, in response to climate change, to air pollution as it pertains to diesel versus other gas emissions, to the environmental quality of child care settings. The issues UCB considers most important include Agriculture, Air Quality, Energy and Climate Change, Environmental Economics, Natural Resource Management, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Living, Transportation, and Water. You can find out more about Cal Berkeley graduate admissions here.

#3) Harvard University

Harvard’s Sustainability and Environmental Graduate Program is one the best in the country. Their extension program offers a great degree of flexibility, requiring student to take only one classroom course and the other courses online. You can choose from two concentrations, one in Ecosystems and the other in Sustainability. Like every program Harvard offers, admission is competitive. You can find out more about Harvard graduate admissions here.

#4) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Areas of study in MIT’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering include Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Microbiology, Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Coastal Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering and Geomechanics, Hydrology and Hydroclimatology, Materials and Structures, and Transportation; their related graduate degree options are Master of Engineering, Master of Science, Master of Science and MBA, Doctoral Degree, Interdepartmental Master of Science or Doctorate in Transportation. You can find out more about MIT graduate admissions here.

#5) California Institute of Technology

The Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) program is an interdisciplinary degree option, culminating in research leading to a Ph. D., which aims “to provide a comprehensive understanding of our complex environment and offer efficient and effective engineering solutions to environmental problems.”  Cal Tech requires its Environmental Science and Engineering students to have foundations in science, engineering, or math. Specific research areas include Atmospheric chemistry and air pollution, Environmental chemistry and technology, Dynamics of climate, Biogeochemistry and climates of the past, Environmental microbiology, and Landscape evolution. You can find out more about Cal Tech graduate admissions here.

Honorable Mention:

“Buzz” is a very inspired nickname for a bee, I think.

#27) Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) offers 4 MS degrees: Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE), Master of Science in Engineering Science and Mechanics (MSESM), Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (MSEnvE), and an undesignated Master of Science (MS). In a Welcome from the Chair, Reginald DdesRoches writes, “We believe that our strong reputation is based on several factors, including our attention to engineering fundamentals, investments in state-of-the-art technology, and the world-class scholars that comprise CEE’s faculty.” Research in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering is broadly categorized into six “affinity-areas”: Construction Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Water Resources, Geosystems Engineering, Structural Engineering, Mechanics and Materials, and Transportation Systems Engineering. You can find out more about Georgia Tech graduate admissions here.

#39) University of Washington

The University of Washington’ School of Environmental and Forest Sciences “focus (is) on the sustainability and functionality of complex natural resource and environmental systems, using an integrated, interdisciplinary approach across multiple scales involving the urban-to-wildland gradient.” Graduate degree programs include a Master of Environmental Horticulture, Master of Forestry – Sustainable Forest Management, Master of Science, and A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.). Though ranked #39 by US World News, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (which ranks universities based on academic or research performance) has consistently ranked UW in the top5 globally for the excellence of their staff, students, and research. You can find out more about University of Washington graduate admissions here.

If you are a fan of the environment, you will be a fan of CU-Boulder.

If you are a fan of the environment, you will be a fan of CU-Boulder.

#43) University of Colorado at Boulder

CU-Boulder’s Environmental Studies Program (ENVS) offers both a MS and a Ph. D; that said, Colorado at Boulder prides itself on the “truly interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Environmental Studies that awards (these) two degree(s).” One of the more amazing aspects of CU-Boulder is the breadth and scope of their Certificate Programs, which are offered to interdisciplinary and professional graduate students to complement traditional educations; in the certificate programs, students take classes outside of their department and work directly with a faculty member affiliated with the program. You can find out more about CU-Boulder graduate admissions here.

#50) University of California, Irvine

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering (HSSoE) at the University of California, Irvine offers a Civil Engineering M.S. and Ph. D. with an emphasis in one of three areas: Hydrology and Water Resources, Structural Engineering, and Transportation Systems Engineering. The CEE also offers an Engineering M.S. and Ph. D. with a concentration in Environmental Engineering.  Scholarship in the department is focused around four primary application domains: environmental processes, hydrology and water resources, structural engineering, and transportation systems engineering. You can find out more about UC Irvine graduate admissions here.

This concludes this week’s Graduate Program Spotlight: Environmental Studies. Remember, all of these schools are great and they will all require excellent GRE scores to be admitted into. If you’d like to know more about the GRE keep checking out “It’s Not GREek.” If you’d like additional help, the experts at Test Masters are available year round all your test preparatory needs.

Graduate Program Spotlight: History

Washington Crossing the Delaware, by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze

Well-known institutions like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Yale, etc. consistently rank at the top of every program they offer, and this is no different for History graduate programs. However, the fact of the matter is you do not have to attend one of these schools in order to get a great education out of a Masters or Ph.D. program. At “It’s Not GREek!” we want our readers to be aware of not only the important generalities of the field they are considering, but the multitude of options they have when it comes to picking a graduate school. These are some schools, along with the usual suspects, you may not be aware of, but that experts in your field of study certainly are.

Before we spotlight the most highly ranked History programs in the country, there is some basic information any aspiring historian should be aware of before pursuing a career in the “lore of yore:”

Unfortunately, there is a trend of noncompetitive salaries and limited employment opportunities associated with the field of professional history. A Forbes article, “The Best and Worst Master’s Degrees for Jobs,” recently reported that Masters Degrees in Chemistry, Biology, and History top the list of worst graduate degrees to find a job. You should also consider this: according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for historians is $53,570, but according to dailyfinance.com the median salary for someone with an advanced degree is $73,738.

Some of the biggest headlines of the 20th century.

These articles’ assessment might be a little biased; most individuals with an advanced degree in History understand that a Masters will make them too qualified for most jobs, and not qualified enough for the job they want. Additionally, there is compelling evidence that suggests a Ph. D in History might be more valuable than previously considered. The American Historical Association reported in 2005 and 2006 that Ph. D. conferrals in History were no longer surpassing History job postings; that is, for two years in a row, there were more new History jobs being created than there were qualified candidates to fill them. More recently, however, there have been mixed results regarding professional historians’ place in a slowed economy.

As the decision to pursue a graduate degree is often more closely associated with a passion for the subject than economic factors, let us, like any prudent historian, turn to the facts of the matter and begin our Graduate Program Spotlight: History.

#1) Princeton University

#1) Stanford University

#1) University of California – Berkeley

#1) Yale University

#5) Harvard University

Okay … The only surprise in the Top 5 list is that Harvard is ranked fifth. Each of the above-mentioned universities has an amazing and prestigious program; unfortunately, in addition to being the most excellent programs in the country, the above-mentioned universities are also some of the most exclusive programs in the country.

Luckily, there are a number of very well regarded History programs outside of these highly reputable institutions. Some ranked universities that might surprise you are:

#22) Indiana University – Bloomington

Indiana University’s Department of History enjoys an international reputation; they are known for placing an emphasis on training in research and teaching. Additionally, Indiana takes pride in training its student to succeed in both academia and the private sector. Some of Indian University’s concentrations in History include American, Russian/Eastern European, and Ancient History/Language Acquisitions, as well as several other Masters and Ph. D. programs.

#22) University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign

In the words of the Director of Graduate Studies, Adrian Burgos, “With diverse course offerings, excellent teaching and learning resources, a highly regarded faculty with wide-ranging interests and a supportive intellectual community, few schools offer a richer experience than can be had at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.” Financial support opportunities for graduate students include fellowships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, minority student fellowships, and tuition waivers.

#36) Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon fully funds all full-time graduate students for at least four years; funding includes tuition, health insurance, fees, and a living stipend. Carnegie Mellon shapes its curriculum around what it calls its Faculty Thematic Strengths, which include: African American/African/Diaspora, Culture and Power, Gender and the Family, Labor and Politics, and finally Technology, Environment, Science and Health. Another impressive and pertinent piece of information for potential “Scotties” (Carengie Mellon’s official Mascot is Scotty the Scottish terrier) is the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries holds almost 900,000 volumes, and almost 800,000 microforms, in addition to a subscription to 4,200 journals.

#42) University of Arizona

With a very small program, around 100 M.A. and Ph. D. History students on campus, the University of Arizona offers graduate training in five major historical fields–United States, Latin America, Early Europe, Modern Europe, and the Middle East–and two minor fields–World/Comparative and Gender and Women’s history. Two very good reasons to consider the University of Arizona are the students and staff: since 1996, UA’s students have received over 160 grants, awards, and fellowships for individual research, including a number of Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays fellowships and UA currently has 30 ranked faculty members.

#56) Tulane University

Tulane’s Department of History puts it most aptly, “The city of New Orleans, where Tulane is located, offers varied research opportunities. With its unique French, African, and Spanish heritage and its successive waves of immigrants, New Orleans has been and remains a city with a remarkably rich and multilayered past. Records of this past–scattered throughout the city–are a constant reminder of the complexity of the human condition even to those whose research interests lie elsewhere.” Some additional information about Tulane includes: admittance into their graduate program requires a 20-30 page writing sample, admittance is extremely selective (Tulane admits between 4-8 students annually), all graduate students are required to be full-time, and students may only be admitted in the fall.

Still interested in graduate school, but not sure what field is right for you? Click here for more information! Want to know more about the GRE? Click here! Interested in GRE courses in your area? Click here to find out more!

Top 5 Graduate Programs: Microbiology

Microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms; microbiology includes the fields of virology, mycology, bacteriology, and immunology among other branches. Microbiology plays an important role in many professions, including but not limited to disease research and prevention, general health care, environmental studies, and sanitation. The demand for microbiologists is expected to increase about 13% through 2020, and the median salary for Ph.D.-level microbiologists is $93,800.

Well-known institutions like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Yale, etc. consistently rank at the top of almost every graduate program they offer, and this is no different for Microbiology Ph. D programs as well. However, the fact of the matter is you do not have to attend one of these schools in order to get a great education out of a Masters or Ph.D. program. At “It’s Not GREek!” we want our readers to be aware of not only the important generalities of the field they are considering, but the multitude of options they have when it comes to picking a graduate school. These are some schools, along with the usual suspects, you may not be aware of, but that experts in your field of study certainly are:

1) Harvard

2) Stanford

3) University of Wisconsin – Madison

Madison’s top priority is research training. Their campus encompasses over 80 faculty trainer labs covering a considerable range of scientific questions and approaches. Nearly all careers that Ph.D. microbiologist students may pursue involve teaching, either as a formal component in academia or in industry, government service, and even private foundations. For this reason, UWD focuses on enmeshing teaching and learning.

4) Johns Hopkins University

4) University of California – San Francisco

In addition to having a 21 full-time faculty members, including a former Nobel-Prize winner, on staff, research at UCSF concentrates mostly on areas related to infectious diseases, immunology, and cancer. PIBS has allowed the creation of interdisciplinary graduate curricula rather than limiting students to studies in conventional departments. While the five Ph.D. programs differ in their emphasis and degree requirements, students admitted to any PIBS program can enroll in course work, attend retreats and carry out their thesis studies in any of the 150 labs affiliated with PIBS.

4) Washington University in St. Louis

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis recently made headlines when they received a $5.3 million dollar grant to explore the way gender and age influence in susceptibility in one of the most common types of bacterial infection, the UTI. This fact might not immediately strike you as a reason to attend WUSL School of Medicine, however there are a more similar stories coming out every year about this program. Check it out here!

7) Massachusetts Institute of Technology

7) University of California – Berkeley

7) Yale University

Honorable Mention:

Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University has two different Ph.D. programs in this field of study; the first is in Molecular Biology Microbiology and the second is in Molecular Virology. In the academic school year of 2009-2010, graduate students in the program received full tuition as well as a stipend of $25,000. From 2003-2005, Case Western’s average quantitative GRE score was a 656. There are many appealing aspects to Case Western’s Ph.D. program, like a collaborative and enthusiastic scientific community, an outstanding and promulgate faculty that regularly contributes to national scientific publications, as well a strong commitment to growth and research. Perhaps, though, we should let the Ph.D. Department Chair, Johnathan Karn, speak for himself.

Tufts University

The Sackler School claims collaborative and interdisciplinary research are hallmarks of its program. Their graduate programs emphasize research, teaching, interdisciplinary studies, and an integration with the university’s entire scientific community. Some outstanding facts about the Sackler School include a student/faculty ratio of 2:1, an student age range of 22-55, and that 98% of students receive a stipend. An additional university perk is its location in the heart of Boston, “thee largest city in New England, and one of America’s most stimulating places to live, offering a rich history and an abundance of culture.”

University of Pittsburgh

The Graduate School of Public Health focuses on developing methods for disease prevention and treatment, and places a special emphasis on population-based education and prevention for control of infectious diseases. Among the various degree programs offered by the U. of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health is a Master’s International Program with the Peace Corps. Though the University does not guarantee full funding to its students, last year the Graduate School of Public Health received over 5 million dollars in financial aid.

I Want To Go To Graduate School To Study Stuff!

What field do you intend to specialize in? All of it.

Far be it from me to discourage anyone from going to graduate school, but this Xtranormal video, which has been floating around for quite a while, demonstrates exactly the kind of vague and unfocused thinking that is exactly wrong for graduate school.

Watch the video after the jump.

Continue reading “I Want To Go To Graduate School To Study Stuff!” »

Applying to Doctoral Programs: It’s All About the Match!

Not a good match.

My advisor told me today that Ph.D stands for Piled High and Deep. I’m not quite sure how to interpret this but at least I love what the program piles on. For those that are interested in a research doctorate, whether it’s a Ph.d in Biology, Chemistry, History, English, Sociology, or Psychology, there are various commonalities to the graduate school application process.

The first and foremost important thing to know about applying is that it all comes down to the match! In the world of academia, faculty members view their students as colleagues they will be working intimately with for five or more years. If the student and the professor do not share the same passion, those five years could be pretty unpleasant.

For example, suppose Harvard is your top choice and Dr. Smith at Harvard is studying depression in adolescents. You apply with your perfect GRE and GPA, have numerous publications and conference presentations, and feed blind homeless children three meals a day seven days a week.  A letter arrives in the mail and you have been invited to attend interview day! Yayyyy…time to book a flight!

You and Dr. Smith really hit it off during the interview. The two of you have so much in common. You both are hikers, dog lovers, Harry Potter readers, and super-liberal. It’s a match made in heaven with the exception of one thing; you are interested in ADULT depression.  Sorry dude but you won’t be going to Harvard this year. This may seem blunt but it really all comes down to the match.

Finding the Match:

Now you may ask yourself, “How do I decide if I am good match?” I recommend getting into the literature and figuring out who is publishing research that catches your interest. After doing this, Google them and see what institution they are affiliated with. Next, see if they mentor graduate students. Sometimes this information is visible on the department website but if not, contact them directly. Repeat the above steps and you will have a preliminary list of schools. I did this for days straight and eventually created an Excel document that included the faculty member, their university, admissions data, contact information, and hyperlinks to bio pages and application documents.  This made my life so much easier and I recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing a Doctorate.