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How many graduate schools to apply too

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  • Thread starter kuahji
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Just out of curiosity, how many graduate schools should a person apply too? I want to enter into a Ph.D or master's program in astrophysics. So far I have a relatively decent gpa, 3.8+, 4.0 in major. Summer internship with possible future publication, & I think my recommendations are solid (haven't done the GREs yet), but I come from a small school not known for physics. So yeah, just curious as to how many others applied too.
 

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  • #2
fss
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Typically 1-3 "reach" schools, 1-3 "probably" schools, and 1-3 "safety" schools. Sounds like you have a pretty solid basis to work with.
 
  • #3
eri
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I had about the same GPA, more research and publications, applied to 13 and got into 3. Better safe than sorry; I didn't get into any of the schools my advisers thought I'd get into easily.
 
  • #4
Choppy
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You should also make sure that you take the time to really investigate the school and the programs that you apply to. Visit if possible, and if not, at least reach out to potential supervisors and discuss project possibilities and make sure that the program is a good fit for what you want to accomplish. There's not much point in applying to a program that you're not going to be happy in. Remember the goal isn't to apply to the most schools, rather the right ones.
 
  • #5
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I had about the same GPA, more research and publications, applied to 13 and got into 3. Better safe than sorry; I didn't get into any of the schools my advisers thought I'd get into easily.
What kind of schools did you apply too? Ones in the top 10 (roughly) or just average schools? Seems like that's a pretty low acceptance rate for someone with that outstanding of a foundation.
 
  • #6
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You should also make sure that you take the time to really investigate the school and the programs that you apply to. Visit if possible, and if not, at least reach out to potential supervisors and discuss project possibilities and make sure that the program is a good fit for what you want to accomplish. There's not much point in applying to a program that you're not going to be happy in. Remember the goal isn't to apply to the most schools, rather the right ones.
This is sound advise. Thanks.
 
  • #7
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Just out of curiosity, how many graduate schools should a person apply too? I want to enter into a Ph.D or master's program in astrophysics. So far I have a relatively decent gpa, 3.8+, 4.0 in major. Summer internship with possible future publication, & I think my recommendations are solid (haven't done the GREs yet), but I come from a small school not known for physics. So yeah, just curious as to how many others applied too.
Just for another datum: I also went to a small school not at all known for physics (or anything else). I had a slightly lower GPA and certainly no publications. My recommendations were probably pretty good, but I'm not sure, and I did relatively well on the GRE. I applied to 12 schools and got into 8 (I was 1 for 4 with top 10 schools).

Note that for physics PhD programs in the U.S. (assuming this is what you're talking about), if you are accepted, the school will typically fly you out for a visit. So I have to disagree with Choppy somewhat. You should certainly investigate the programs before you apply, but actually visiting the schools and talking with current students is the best way to really get an idea whether you will be happy there. There is nothing wrong with applying to a number of schools, and then visiting as many as you can after being accepted. Application fees are expensive and can add up quickly, but this is where you'll be spending many of your prime years, so the cost is well worth it if it helps you find a place where you'll be happy.
 
  • #8
eri
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I applied to about 8 schools in the top 20 for astronomy/astrophysics, and 5 for physics, 2 in the top 100, 3 above that. I got into the low ranked physics schools (which still had some excellent programs, just small ones) and all the others (including pure astronomy programs!) turned me down, and when I could a reason it was because of my PGRE scores. Which weren't great, it's true, but I was coming from a liberal arts school.

One of my (completely incompetent at research but got good grades) undergrads got into a top PhD program in astronomy despite poor letters of recommendation. Really pissed me off to see that - you'd think a PhD program would care about whether or not the student showed any aptitude for research. Sometimes it's a crap shoot - you don't know what's going to happen.
 

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