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I have a question about grad school

  1. Jul 6, 2010 #1
    I am a Canadian and I plan to go to grad school, in Canada, we must get a Masters' before a Ph.D and I am wondering when I apply for my Ph.D, will grad school (that means grad school including those from the states) look at only my most recent work of my Masters or will they look at my Bachelor's? Also is it true that grad schools with top programs tend to throw away applicants with Masters from a foreign country?

    If I am applying for my Ph.D with a Masters, will I still need letters of recommendation? Can you re-use them?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2010 #2
    If there's anything consistent about graduate admissions, its that they're completely inconsistent. Just assume they're going to want to look at everything... (they're probably going to ask for your undergrad transcripts, anyway).

    Ask for positive recs from your undergrad profs AND your grad profs. What could it hurt?

    Plus... how "foreign" is Canada, really?
  4. Jul 7, 2010 #3
    As long as you are not american.
  5. Jul 7, 2010 #4
    I was speaking more to the similarities in the overall academic systems, not the formalities of the state department / foreign ministry.
  6. Jul 7, 2010 #5
    yeah, but when yuo apply you are treated as a foreigner aren't you?
  7. Jul 7, 2010 #6
    There is rarely much of a difference in the admissions process, as I've understood it... (but again, no two programs are alike).

    In fact, in my program, out of the 35 graduate students, I'm one of six Americans.
  8. Jul 7, 2010 #7


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    "Must" is a strong word. In Canada it's common for incoming graduate students to be admitted to master's programs. Often after a year or so, you can transfer directly into a PhD program, provided your supervisory committee is okay with it. In some programs you can be admitted directly into a PhD program - it's school specific.

    They will look at everything. Schools will have different weighting systems, but you can be sure that most of them will factor it all in to one extent or another.

    The concern is usually whether or not a school will recognize your university. With most Canadian universities, you won't have this problem. It's more important that you do well in the program that you're in. Also - the question seems to imply there are no "top programs" in Canada, which is highly debatable.

    Of course.

    There's no rule against it, but you should generally keep them current. If it takes you three years to earn a master's degree, do you really want to be relying on something that old? Remember, there is always a chance that a reference could be called up and asked about you (not very likely with most graduate admissions, but you never know).
  9. Jul 7, 2010 #8
    When you mean directly, does that mean no application process? How common is this and what is the rate of success?

    But which one will they look more into?

    But I've always been told that a school's reputation is of little concern.

    I think it is only 2 years in Canada.
  10. Jul 8, 2010 #9

    IMO, School name definitely matters. Suppose you are in a 3rd tier school, it is hard to get into top 15 even if you performed well. If you are in top 30, you have a good chance. Of course, good GPA and GRE is necessary in both cases.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2010
  11. Jul 8, 2010 #10
    I apologize if I am being critical, but that's a rather ambiguous answer. I think they will definitely emphasize on graduate classes more. I don't know if a good undergrad GPA can help you get in, but a bad can definitely keep you out. hope that helps. good luck!
  12. Jul 8, 2010 #11
    This is a tad misleading. I wouldn't insult the intelligence of the graduate admissions committees, as they understand that at the undergraduate level, there isn't a huge difference in material between the "tiers". As long as you've got a solid 3.7+ GPA, great recs, 1300+ standard GRE, ~85%+ on the subject GRE, and a solid undergraduate research experience, you've got a shot anywhere --and don't let anyone tell you differently.

    If it seems like "top tier" undergrad students go on to "top tier" grad programs more often than other students, it's because they tend of have more of these angles covered.
  13. Jul 8, 2010 #12
    I know UofT allows direct entry to PhD programs with only a B.Sc., whereas on the other hand some other universities I've checked don't allow that or allow it only under "exceptional" circumstances (UBC is an example of the latter category). I would be interested in hearing more about this, especially how it plays out in practice, as well, though.
    Yeah, and probably because in general they do tend to be "better" at the subject they're studying, otherwise they wouldn't have come through the highly selective admissions process in the first place (I know one that fact doesn't necessarily lead to that conclusion, but I guess it's strongly correlated at least).
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2010
  14. Jul 8, 2010 #13
    If I were applying, I'd certainly look at the grad admission profile before jumping to conclusions. We see that in the past five years Stanford have accepted most of their students from the top 30 schools for their engineering programs.

    I love your optimism, because I am not from a top 15 or top 30 school. I have decent GPA 3.7 (in my major), and good GRE scores, 1300+ (perfect on math). Great recs, but I was rejected from Stanford, U of Michigan, MIT, and top 15. Being optimistic is one thing, being realistic is another. I just don't want to mislead anyone who is reading this.
  15. Jul 8, 2010 #14


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    And they're probably more likely to want to go on to grad school in physics in the first place, and be more likely to try applying to the top-tier schools.

    Most students have at least some idea of their "comfort level" in terms of types of schools. Not everybody thinks they're MIT / Caltech / Harvard / whatever material. It just seems like it around here sometimes. :rolleyes:
  16. Jul 8, 2010 #15
    The only thing truly separating those in the tip top tiers of undergrad programs are guidance, confidence, and (when its all over) academic pedigree. I'll leave it at that, in an effort to self-moderate and keep the conversation from staying too far off topic.
  17. Jul 8, 2010 #16
    I very much disagree. Each university is different, and there is a difference. It would be naive to say the only difference is guidance, or confidence. It is important to credit to the top universities where credit is due: recognize their excellence in research and their quality publications. These work is not something you can find everywhere else. By the way, I did not go to a top 10 or top 20.
  18. Jul 8, 2010 #17
    I agree, which is why I was clear to specify their undergraduate students, not fifth-year PhD students.
  19. Jul 8, 2010 #18
    I'm a grad student at UBC. I just transferred to the Ph.D. program after one year in the master's program. It's a fairly common thing here; the only requirement is that you get a decent average in four of your first year classes. Since my first year consisted entirely of classes (i.e. no research), this path seems to mirror the US system fairly closely.
  20. Jul 9, 2010 #19
    Do you mind if I ask what undergrad institution?
  21. Jul 9, 2010 #20
    It was in Canada. Let's leave it at that....
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