I know for a fact this question has been asked on here before and I searched for a long time to find it but couldn't so... here we go! I'll be graduating in 2014 at UIC in Physics with a lower than ideal GPA (3.4-3.5 if I get all A's from now on). I will have had one research experience which would be working extensively with a professor and post-doc on interfacial physics which includes preparing samples in a lab, collecting and analyzing data, traveling to the APS at Argonne National Lab to observe data collection there. I'm looking at going into Astrophysics now and the research I'm doing doesn't really give me any experience in that subject so applying to an Astrophysics program would be hard. Here's the big question: Would it be easier for me to get into a better PhD program if I got my Master's somewhere with a higher GPA and did research/internships in Astrophysics or just straight apply to an Astrophysics PhD program? I know one of the disadvantages of getting a Master's first is that taking those classes at one institution means you aren't taking classes at the PhD institution which they might not like. Any insight into this would be greatly appreciated.