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Admissions Importance of undergrad research experience?

  1. Jun 2, 2017 #1
    My school doesn't really offer research opportunities for undergrad level. so i lack experience. being a senior student now, I spoke to a professor and arranged a year in his lab starting next semester. but i am afraid that wont be too much. Already handled my toefl, i am confident i will do good in physics gre. Will lack of experience effect the chance of getting accepted to pHD significantly?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 2, 2017 #2


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    The point is to have *some* research experience. This can come in many forms: a senior thesis project, a summer job, volunteer or part-time work with a professor, an internship, competitive engineering team. In most cases these experiences are evaluated by the content of reference letters from your supervisors, and if you have them, and tangible evidence of academic output like publications or conference abstracts.

    The thing is, the quality of a reference letter is not necessarily going to improve with time alone. If you're in the top 25% of students (but not the top 10%) for one year, doing another year is probably not going to boost you into the top 5%. That will require that you change in a major way.

    What you can gain with more time in, or with doing multiple research projects, is the development of skills, and gaining a broader range of experience on which to base your future decisions. With multiple projects you also increase your network a little bit too.

    Generally, I wouldn't worry about not having done anything up until now. Lots of people get into great graduate programs with little to no research experience and do just fine.
  4. Jun 2, 2017 #3


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    Because you mention the TOEFL, I suspect that you're not in the US (or Canada). I have the impression that opportunities for undergraduate research are less common in non-US universities than in US ones. US graduate schools nevertheless have many non-US students, so admissions committees must take this into account when evaluating non-US applicants.
  5. Jun 3, 2017 #4
    Lack of research experience impacts your change of selection for Phd. Here is an example which I am sharing here: Two friends were going to apply for a scholarship in the same field. One of them had good CGPA (3.5+) whereas the other one had (3-). However, the second one was researching fella having two research papers by his name. He easily got a scholarship from the University of Barcelona, whereas other was not able to do so. In nutshell, the research experience has great value.
    However, you still have a good chance of getting selected stay positive.
  6. Jun 3, 2017 #5
    thank you for your answers everyone!

    I guess i will mention all these issues in my statement of purpose. my gpa is 3.80ish and I am going to spend whole summer to study pgre, if i can score above average, perhaps i can balance out my application.
  7. Jun 3, 2017 #6
    Yeah, that is an edge for you, I wish you best of luck. But I will strongly recommend you to do some research and publish at least 1 research paper. It will boost your career.
  8. Jun 3, 2017 #7


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    Is there anyway for you to take an internship over a summer or even during a semester? Working as a research intern would be excellent.

    Other than that, as others have stated - if you are strong elsewhere, it shouldn't hurt too much, but UG research is important!
  9. Jun 3, 2017 #8
    I might be able to attend a summer school in Cern next year, but i will submit my applications in october so that i can roll in september 2018 without losing a year. other than that, there is my senior project. not sure if any of these will help tho.
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