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How tell if a Potential Grad School is a Safety School or Not.

  1. Sep 1, 2014 #1
    Hi there! I'm choosing my Grad School Applications now. I'm looking for a balance of reach and safety school- all with programs I'd like.

    Now, when I find a school I like, how can I tell what my chances of being accepted are? Is there a resource I can use to tell how competitive a program is?

    And, on a side not: Would it be a good idea to apply for a Masters and then go for the PhD? I didn't too much undergrad research. Actually, my supervisor for that wouldn't even give me a letter for something completely unrelated to grad school because he didn't really supervise me at all (we met like 3 times throughout the semester.)
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 1, 2014 #2
    As far as I know, but it really depends on the university, you just go straight with the phd. Some schools don't really even have a masters.

    Also since most of my professors at my university couldn't speak english that well, I'm actually asking some of my profs from my community college because they can speak english and write better!
  4. Sep 1, 2014 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Did you do a search on "Safety School"? There are 42 threads with potentially relevant information.
  5. Sep 1, 2014 #4


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    Where do you live? In some countries (like many European countries) it is impossible to get a PhD program without a Master (or equivalent), in others (like the US) it is very uncommon to do that.

    What about the Bachelor thesis? You should have worked with someone, even if that was not your official supervisor.
  6. Sep 1, 2014 #5
    No, I didn't have a bachelor's thesis. There was a class project that didn't go anywhere in the latter half of our senior year, but nothing that I could put on a resume because we didn't accomplish anything. (They basically said: Hey, last year we had come with a concept for a simple Muon detector to put on display. See how far you can get, even though you haven't built anything before! Also, when you need to order stuff, it's going to take 2 or 3 months to get it, if you get it at all!)
  7. Sep 1, 2014 #6
    Man, does this sound like my senior year capstone project or what, except we chose a different project. We hadn't really build anything until this senior project, and my undergrad research in plasma physics didn't really help me. My other team members had some coding experience, and One of my team members was unreliable and lazy (got through the program with C's and B's and lots of copying friends homework. I am surprised he made it through). We were told by our professor to parallelize our work so we could all work independently and increase efficiency. Except, this is great advice if all tasks being set in parallel are of equal importance and equally-near-hanging fruit, and if each of your team members is reliable. This was not the case, and we blindly took our professors advice to parallelize tasks completely, and ended up giving the hardware design / prototyping task to our lazy team member, even though this was the most important and first step in the process. And because of what you mentioned about parts taking so long to show up - we didn't notice this until it was too late cause we figured it would take so long to get the parts he needed. This guy even ended up getting pissed when we'd do any hardware work he thought he was entitled to be in charge of. Me and the other hard working team member ended up basically doing everything without nearly enough time to add fine tuned software to our project, hurting our grade and not letting us add the original planned features. Although I did learn some things building that project, I got some hard-earned management and leadership lessons as well.

    I know this is off topic but I did just get a frustration-fueled flashback. Woosh.

    Anyway, to your point, you can always look at rankings of grad schools and where graduates end up. phds.org is a starting point I used. If you've heard of the school and you know it to be a good one, I'm sure it's decent.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014
  8. Sep 1, 2014 #7


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    Probably the best way to assess your chances of acceptance is through direct communication with the school itself. You should be able to talk to someone like the graduate advisor or the associate chair in charge of graduate students who can give you some solid numbers like how many applicants their school had in the previous year, how many are expected this year, and what GPA will make you competitive broken down by sub-field. They can also make you aware of situations where, for example, there are not expected to be any openings.

    Also talk to other graduate students and potential supervisors. Be open about where you stand and ask what your chances of acceptance are on a realistic scenario.
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