Question about my bachelor's GPA vs. my master's GPA and my PhD applications

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TL;DR Summary: I am applying to multiple PhD programs around the world in chemistry, specifically supramolecular and nanoparticles related research field. I am extremely concern about my bachelor GPA as it is much lower compare to masters.

Hi. I have some questions regarding my current PhD application chances. I am a master degree student now with 3.83 cGPA and one published paper in a journal with IF 20.1. However, my bachelor performance was very poor, cGPA was 2.6. Maybe a good thing is that in most chemistry related classes I got B or higher during my bachelors. Now I have very good relationships with my supervisor and other faculty staff, so its very likely they will provide good recommendation letters.

What do you think about my chances? Is bachelor GPA a milestone in the application process?

Just wanna know some advice on how to improve my application or just some thoughts.
 
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I think this really depends on the program that you're looking at. In some schools they base the formal GPA calculation on the most recent two years. In some schools there's a formal requirement that you have at least a 3.0 GPA in your undergraduate work and won't even forward your application to the admissions committee for review if this isn't met. Admissions committees will certainly want to know why the reason for the discrepancy. Are you a case of a student who gets bored easily and only does well if the stars align in your favour? Or did you experience a bad sophomore year because it was hard to study during your leukemia treatments?
 
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Comment #1: "Wanna" is nor a word. If you want a doctorate, you need to use proper English.

Comment #2: @Choppy is right. Furthermore, we can't tell what variation there will be even year to year from different schools, as people rotate on and off the admissions committee. The best advice is to apply to a broad range of schools.

Comment #3: It depends a lot on the classes you took. If you got poor grades in undergraduate E&M and an A in graduate E&M that will look good. If the MS classes look easier and far from the core curriculum, it will not.
 
  • #4
Choppy said:
I think this really depends on the program that you're looking at. In some schools they base the formal GPA calculation on the most recent two years. In some schools there's a formal requirement that you have at least a 3.0 GPA in your undergraduate work and won't even forward your application to the admissions committee for review if this isn't met. Admissions committees will certainly want to know why the reason for the discrepancy. Are you a case of a student who gets bored easily and only does well if the stars align in your favour? Or did you experience a bad sophomore year because it was hard to study during your leukemia treatments?


Thank you for your reply. I think I am a type of student who can get bored easily if I study something I am not particularly interested in. Its actually one of the reasons why I want to do PhD. I just like doing research in my area. Because of this disadvantage I got poor grades in even some “easy” classes just because I didn’t want to spend my time on it, I would always prefer to study something that I actually like.
 
  • #5
Vanadium 50 said:
Comment #1: "Wanna" is nor a word. If you want a doctorate, you need to use proper English.

Comment #2: @Choppy is right. Furthermore, we can't tell what variation there will be even year to year from different schools, as people rotate on and off the admissions committee. The best advice is to apply to a broad range of schools.

Comment #3: It depends a lot on the classes you took. If you got poor grades in undergraduate E&M and an A in graduate E&M that will look good. If the MS classes look easier and far from the core curriculum, it will not.
Thank you for your reply. I got poor grades in engineering related courses. My bachelor was in pharmaceutical engineering and master in chemical science. Almost all my master courses are considered advanced.
 
  • #6
nArA said:
think I am a type of student who can get bored easily if I study something I am not particularly interested in.
Then you should seriously reconsider why you want a PhD. A lot of research involves pieces that are not fun but need to be done if you want to get the right answer. A lot.
 
  • #7
nArA said:
I think I am a type of student who can get bored easily if I study something I am not particularly interested in. Its actually one of the reasons why I want to do PhD. I just like doing research in my area.
First you're still going to have to do courses as part of your PhD and it's quite possible that there will be mandatory courses that you will not be interested in that you will need to pass.

Next there'll be the matter of having to pass your comp/qual/prelim exams which will require reviewing all of the foundational material you have taken thus far.

Then when you start working on your research while the ideal situation is that you're given free reign to pursue whatever topic of research you're the most passionate about, the reality is that that's not likely to be the situation. It's much more likely that you'll need to work on a topic that may only be tangentially related to your specific field of interest.

Finally even if you were so fortunate as to have all the starts align during your PhD studies and you were given the freedom to focus on your exact area of interest, once you've complete your PhD there's a high probability that in your working life that you will be constrained to working on topics for which you can receive funding or whatever meets your employer's corporate goals. Unless you're independently wealthy or can secure a private patron who is willing to fund you to work on whatever you want, you're going to have work on research topics decided by other people.

As a proof in point I refer you to:

https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...nt-of-my-phd-keeping-same-supervisor.1060298/

If you would be challenged to maintain your motivation under less than ideal conditions you should seriously reconsider doing a PhD. You will need to maintain focus over a period of 5-6 years during which much of the time you will be required to study/work on topics that you're not in fact deeply passionate about. What you need to consider is that pursuing a PhD is much less about being able to conduct the specific research you want as it is about learning how to be an independent and competent researcher. In many cases it's more about the skills you acquire than the actual scholarship.
 
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I agree with everything @gwnorth said, but it goes even deeper.

"I want to discover the top quark"
"Good. Now measure the tension on 2304 wires."
"Now ring out 2000 cables."
"Now find out which adapter card is flaky"
"Now figure out why there's too much alcohol in the gas"

Get the picture? I would estimate that 75% of research is "not fun stuff that nevertheless needs to be done." You will not be successful if you only do well with things you like doing."
 
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