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Admissions Determining where I'm competitive

  1. May 16, 2016 #1
    (My apologies if this is the wrong place to post such a topic.)

    I'm finishing up my bachelor's in physics and I'll be applying to grad schools this upcoming year. One part of that is of course choosing which schools to even apply to. I've looked into quite a few different schools and have been searching/communicating with different research groups just to get a feel for what they look for and expect from applicants and also the type of work they do. Right now, I plan on applying to a few MSc programs across Canada and a couple PhD programs in Nuclear Engineering in the states (I will be writing the GRE soon). Now before I get ahead of myself, I think I should still determine where I have a decent chance of getting in before applying. So if you have any advice given my information below, that would be greatly appreciated!

    I am a Canadian citizen. Attend Western University and am completing a BSc in Physics.

    Year 1 - 3.99
    Year 2 - 3.91
    Year 3 - 3.87

    I did a brief research project during my first year on medical imaging/neuroscience. No publication and I was just helping out in a fairly minor role. I also worked on a particle detector in a prior summer involving some computation work which was quite successful and fairly fun (but still no publication which we never really intended to do; although I got a couple poster presentation awards if it's important). I am also now working on a project in astronomy that will lead into my honours thesis which I think will be a great experience.

    I also have quite a bit of professional and volunteer experience working in medical (e.g. hospitals, clinics) and veterinary (e.g. small animals, wildlife rehab) capacities. I also believe I have strong references from both professors and supervisors. I've also applied for a lot of scholarships/grants in my undergrad and fortunately won a few of them. I'm not sure how much of a bearing these experiences and awards will have on my application, but hopefully it will give you better idea of my overall application. (If there's any further info you think would be pertinent to assessing my chances, feel free to let me know.)

    After checking out these schools across Canada and different research groups at each one, I will likely be applying to: UofT, Waterloo, UBC, and McGill for their MSc in Physics. I'll be writing the general GRE soon and plan to apply to the states this upcoming year for graduate programs, too, but namely PhD programs in nuclear engineering. In the states, I have heard good things about Purdue, University of Michigan, and UC Berkley. Thus far, I'm planning to apply the schools mentioned above along with a few backup options. Given my background and experiences, do you think these are feasible schools? Anything in particular you would recommend to improve my application?
    Last edited: May 16, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. May 19, 2016 #2


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    I worked for several years in Career Services at a major university in Texas, and it was not Texas A&M. However, I believe it should be on your list. They have an excellent nuclear engineering department with two reactors, seven accelerators, and also have emphases in nuclear health technology, which is something I noticed in your post.

    Internships will be vital for standing out in consideration in graduate assistant positions in the US. Your professional experience may qualify as an internship if you are able to get your university to grant credit for it as such, and it relates to your pursuit. Otherwise I would begin working on obtaining some now, if you haven't done so. Curriculum vitae are not used as much in the US for general employment and internships but are in the academic world here.

    Of course writing is very important as well. There has been a strong focus in the US over the last 20 years on communication skills since many US graduates haven't been able to communicate adequately. Publish or perish is a reality, and the more you write and cite now the better off you will be later.

    With your cum laude/magna cum laude region GPA (provided you did not just state your major GPA) you should have no problem obtaining internships or graduate assistant positions.
  4. May 19, 2016 #3
    Thank you for the input! I'm actually a bit more interested in the others aspects of nuclear technology at this time although I'll definitely look in to Texas A&M. Yes, that is my overall gpa according to this http://www.ouac.on.ca/docs/omsas/c_omsas_b.pdf [Broken]. I'm not too sure how gpa would be converted from my university, but I'd expect something similar.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  5. May 19, 2016 #4


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    We use the typical GPA scale you mentioned in your OP, 0.00-4.00. 3.85 is generally the cutoff for cum laude, although individual colleges differ. Good luck!
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