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Biophysics Graduate School

  1. Oct 28, 2009 #1
    Hi guys. I'm a junior Phyics/Math major at University of Iowa. Last summer, I did an REU in biophysics and fell in love. I'm looking into graduate schools in this area, specifically top schools like University of Chicago, MIT, Harvard, etc. There's a plethora of sites showing admission statistics (GRE scores,GPA,Previous research experience, etc.) for Physics graduate programs, but for the life of me I can't find anything like this specifically related to biophysics. Many schools seem to have a different program from the general Physics program, so I imagine the statistics would be different. Does anyone know of sites that have this information, or have any experience applying to biophysics programs?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2009 #2
    You'll have much better luck applying to chemistry/biochemistry (a lot of schools of departments of chemistry and biochemistry) departments. Ironically, that's where most of the biophysics groups are, less so in physics departments. In which case, it's A LOT easier to get into a chemistry program than a physics program.
     
  4. Jan 9, 2011 #3

    Simfish

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    Seriously? Is there a way to quantify this? What are the acceptance rates of chem programs as compared to physics programs?

    I know that Physics majors have the highest average GRE scores of all majors, that's true. But that doesn't mean that physics grad schools are harder to get into - it's ENTIRELY POSSIBLE that physics majors may be good at taking tests relative to other majors, while also being weaker on another metric (GPA/conscientiousness, perhaps, or maybe research experience). And it seems that chemistry students do more research than physics students (though I may be wrong on that front).
     
  5. Jan 10, 2011 #4

    Ygggdrasil

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    I'm not sure if applying to a chemistry program is the best course of action. Depending on the chemistry program, these might not grand as much access to labs doing biophysics research as an applicant might want. A lot of good biophysics research does happen in chemistry departments (I'm a biophysics PhD student working in a lab in the chemistry department), but a lot of good biophysics research happens in other departments as well (physics, biology, engineering, medical sciences, etc.). Biochemistry and other biomedical graduate programs tend to give their graduate students access to labs in a wider range of departments. Furthermore, whereas biology-focused programs tend dedicate the first year of graduate school to rotations (students spend a few months in 2-4 different labs to try out different fields of research), most chemistry grad programs don't have rotations and instead expect their students to have a thesis adviser in mind when they accept.

    I'm not sure about statistics for acceptance into biophysics grad programs, but the requirements tend to be fairly flexible to accommodate a wide range of academic backgrounds. Most are well designed to help physics majors transition to research into biology.
     
  6. Jan 10, 2011 #5

    Simfish

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    Oh wow. Wait - do *most* biophysics students apply directly to chemistry or physics programs with biophysics labs? What about specific biophysics departments that are separate from chemistry/physics programs? How do they compare in terms of competitiveness? (relative to chemistry/physics programs?)

    Oh, very interesting. Is the same true for all the physical sciences?
     
  7. Jan 10, 2011 #6

    Ygggdrasil

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    Well, in my lab, which does biophysics research (single molecule spectroscopy), we have a mixture of graduate students from a variety of departments (chemistry, physics, engineering and applied sciences, molecular and cell biology, biomedical sciences) as well as graduate students from interdisciplinary programs (biophysics, virology, systems biology). Other labs that do similar experimental molecular biophysics research have a similar composition of graduate students from a variety of academic backgrounds (labs that do other types of research such as computational work, however, have a very different composition). So, there are many paths towards doing biophysics research. The best path depends a lot on the students specific interests and background, as well as the specific programs available at the school.

    I'm not sure if this is true for most physics departments (I'm mainly familiar with biology and chemistry departments), but I'm sure we can find some physicists here to comment.
     
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