1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

4.0 for an REU?

  1. Oct 6, 2009 #1
    I know there have been threads with a very similar subject but specifically, how beneficial is a 4.0 versus say a 3.8 or 3.9? The reason I ask is that right now I have a 4.0 but - as much as I hate to actually type this out much less think it - it looks like I could be losing that this semester. I had always had my hopes set to do an REU this coming summer (of 2010) but I feel like with less than a 4.0 my opportunities will be much less. Thoughts/advice? Thanks.

    edit: I should have mentioned I am a math major and am looking at only pure math REU's.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 6, 2009 #2
    I think GPA is one of the least things that matters for an REU.
  4. Oct 6, 2009 #3


    User Avatar

    I helped select REU students for the program at my university this past summer, and frankly a 4.0 vs 3.8 really makes no difference. As long as you have a good GPA, the actual GPA doesn't matter all that much. A 3.0 or below makes you stop and pause, and if there are hundreds of applicants you might screen a bit by GPA, but things that matter more include the courses you've taken, the experience you have (math, programming background) and best of all - prior research experience, either at your own school or another REU program.
  5. Oct 6, 2009 #4
    I don't know if this is helpful or not, but last summer I had a 3.7 GPA and did an REU at the University of Illinois in Urbana, a top 10 physics school.
  6. Oct 6, 2009 #5
    Ok that's all good to know then. Thanks for easing my mind. However eri said mainly what is looked for is prior experience in research and this would be my first tiem applying for an REU so how does that factor in? Obviously not everyone applying has done one before. One more thing; if not another REU, is it possible (in your opinions) to do research with a professor during a semester unofficially and document this? Unofficially as in you may or may not get paid but it is not a registered class. Thanks for the replies so far.
  7. Oct 6, 2009 #6
    First, if you are a woman or a minority you will definitely get into an REU, so you shouldn't worry.

    If you aren't, then I think the fact that you don't have experience in research will hurt your chances. Its kind of annoying because everyone wants you to have research experience but its hard to get if they all want you to have it first. But, if your application is strong in other areas then you still have a shot, I think. Such as, a good repertoire of classes, programming, good recommendation letters.

    Doing research during the year with a professor would be a good deal because then you would have experience and could get a recommendation letter.
  8. Oct 6, 2009 #7
    My REU was my first one. I think you have a better shot at getting one if you've already done 2-3 years at university. Also, check with the profs at your school. Many should be willing to take on an undergraduate to work in their labs, especially if you're willing to work for free.
  9. Oct 6, 2009 #8
    You can absolutely do research with a professor at your school "unofficially" as you call it. I have done plenty of research without getting paid or credit and I do it because I enjoy it, I learn a lot, and it helps with getting things like REUs.
  10. Oct 6, 2009 #9

    Can this be backed by statistics?

    Since most REU's post their students who attended, it should not to hard to find the statistics of minorities (especially male/female) in an area verses those who were a part of the REU. For example, lets say that Bobology is known to have 90% males, but a study of all Bobology REU's from last summer which had NSF funding shows a 50/50 split in males/females. Of course, one would have to account for non Bobology majors being accepted as well, but this should not be beyond the scope of possibility.

    Personally, I am currently looking over a proposal for research for next semester (I may begin before this semester ends) which, if all goes well, I hope to extend into the summer.
  11. Oct 7, 2009 #10


    User Avatar

    Definitely try to get some research experience in your department before applying for an REU - even unofficial research can earn your valuable experience you can tell potential REU programs about, give you some useful skills, and get you a good letter of recommendation as a result from a professor who now knows you outside of class. And REU programs like to see that you've exhausted opportunities at your own school - sure, everyone might want to work at Harvard or JPL for the summer, but start locally. After one summer at my local university doing a basic research project, I got into half the REUs I applied to the following year.
  12. Oct 7, 2009 #11

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    This is false.
  13. Oct 7, 2009 #12
    A great set of replies and alot to think about, thanks again everyone. At the end of the semester (or toward the end, maybe before) I suppose I'll go asking some of my professors if there's anything I can do in the realm of research with them. Only one problem: this is math research, so it's not like I can do things such as run lab equipment or clean up or anything, it's my impression (which could very well be wrong) that if I don't know enough to actually help the research then I'm useless and noone will take me on. Anyone know what to do about this or am I just worrying too much?
  14. Oct 7, 2009 #13
    My advice would be don't limit yourself to just one department. Chemistry (Physical, Analytical, Theoretical or Computational) can all use math. Look up some physical chemistry faculty and see who is doing something interesting and then go talk to them.

    I started in labs that way (working for free) and ended up getting course credit and the opportunity to do real research and not just clean up after grad students.
  15. Oct 7, 2009 #14
    When one mentions prior "research experience," are we referring to novel, publishable material?

    The reason I ask is because I had worked with a professor for a full year setting up computer models in Excel and later C++ for astronomical events. However, it certainly isn't something that's never been done before. It doesn't have the clout that a published paper does, but this professor now has a very high opinion of me and has already volunteered to write a strong letter.

    Would something like this qualify as decent research?
  16. Oct 7, 2009 #15
    Who the hell has an even 4.0 as a physics major? Whoever you are I hate you. How is this even a question?
  17. Oct 7, 2009 #16
    Yeah, from what I understand undergraduates aren't really expected to publish. The most important part of research as an undergraduate is to a) Learn as much as possible about what real research is like and b) to make a good enough of an impression on the prof so that they'll be willing to write you a letter.
  18. Oct 15, 2009 #17
    here's my 2 cents
    I've had an REU or internship each of 3 summers since starting college.
    I've also never had higher than a 3.4 gpa.
    I have also been rejected by reu applications but did succeed in obtaining a position each summer though the position after my first year was more because a friend's dad ran the lab. However the next 2 summers I had an internship then an REU.

    So in that sense gpa probably does not matter much at all.

    As far as having prior experience, its not so much that you need to have prior research experience but more that you have certain skills. for instance if you can work with electronics (soldering, circuitry.. etc) or if you know how to program in any various language. things liek that will be a big plus on your applications.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook