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Importance of Research for a Masters Degree

  1. Jan 22, 2013 #1
    I'm wondering how much undergraduate research really matters when applying for to get into a masters program. Obviously different schools have different requirements. I know that. Try as I might, though, I can't get any research experience.

    I'm a third year student in a physics-mathematics BSc.. My GPA isn't stellar, 3.38 on a 4-point scale. The thing about that is that during my second year, I had heavy family obligations (working three days a week at a completely unrelated job and taking care of a sick family member).

    Because of that, I wasn't able to get an early start on research and my grades during second year were not up to par and my GPA has suffered for it.

    My grades aren't good enough to get a scholarship for research and whenever I offer to volunteer in a lab, I explain my situation, though I would think that it seems to the professors that I'm just making excuses for poor performance and, consequently, I haven't had the opportunity to work in a lab environment.

    I have been doing better this year though.

    My question just boils down to this: in the event that I'm not able to get any research experience, are my chances of grad school essentially null given my GPA (3.38/4)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2013 #2
    You are talking about applying to a terminal masters program? They are usually much less strict because rather than paying you like a PhD program does, you pay them. If you fail out its not much skin off their back. They come in many varieties though and are not nearly as standard as physics PhD programs are.
  4. Jan 22, 2013 #3
    Actually, no. I was referring to one in which you receive a stipend. At my school, it is the norm to receive one for a masters degree in physics. I know about terminal masters degrees, but was curious what my chances were to be paid for one from other peoples' experiences.
  5. Jan 22, 2013 #4


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    Does your school have an option for a fourth year thesis project? That counts as an undergraduate research experience. There are other factors that can count as well, such as active membership a competative engineering team - particularly one that does well in competitions.

    You may not get into your first choice of graduate program, but depending on what you're aiming for you'll likely be able to get in somewhere. The real questions you should be asking yourself are what your strengths are, where your interests lie, and what sub-fields and specific programs would be best suited to match them.
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