Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How difficult is it to get into a top ranked graduate school for chemistry?

  1. Sep 13, 2011 #1
    I have a 3.94 GPA (got one stupid B my freshman year). I am a junior now. I have been doing undergrad research since the start of my sophomore year. This past summer I did an REU that was 10 weeks of full time research. I know I am going to have great letters of recommendation. I am also planning on continuing to do undergrad research so by time I go to apply for grad schools I will have 4-5 semesters of research as well as two summers of research (I have something lined up if I can't get into another REU or land an internship for next summer).

    Let's just say that my performance continues and I continue to get As in my classes, and I do well on the GRE.

    What are my chances of getting into a top ranked school? I feel like I'm doing everything right. I couldn't be working harder or getting more research experience. But I also just have this feeling of dread that despite doing everything I can to get into the best grad school that I can, it still somehow will not be enough. I want to go to a big name school. Do I have a chance at Ivy League, or is the selection process somewhat arbitrary and I still will struggle to get in?

    I just have this feeling (based on no actual facts) that it's not going to be enough and I won't get into my school of choice despite achieving my maximum potential.

    So... do I have a shot?

    EDIT: I go to a second tier school right now.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 14, 2011 #2
    Apply and let them decide. They can only say no.

    It sounds like you're making all the right noises. I think most of us have some feeling of inadequacy, which we really shouldn't.

    "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."
  4. Sep 14, 2011 #3


    User Avatar

    About as good as anyone else whose paper qualifications give them a realistic shot of getting into a top-tier graduate program.
  5. Sep 14, 2011 #4
    First and foremost - top graduate programs in chemistry are not synonymous with Ivy League graduate programs in chemistry. (Disclaimer - I went to one, but because it was an ideal match for my interests. If my research interests coming out of undergrad were different, I'd have gone elsewhere.) By the time you start applying to graduate programs, you should be thinking about departments in terms of prospective advisors, not whose university seal would end up on your doctoral diploma.

    If you can keep up your grades and research, you sound as good a candidate on paper as anyone. If there's any arbitrariness in graduate admissions, it's probably going to come down to the department thinking you might be a bad fit (e.g., if you express an interest in a particular area of chemistry, and they really don't have anyone in that area, they might save you and them the trouble of admitting you and finding out later on it's not going to work).
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook