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Requirements for Grad Admission

  1. Sep 23, 2010 #1
    I am approaching the 1/2 way mark on completing my BS and I was reviewing my grades because I felt it was about time to really get involved in anything that would allow me access to Graduate School. My GPA will be a 3.91 after this semester (currently a 3.8ish, the 3.91 assuming I keep up my 4.0 for this semester) which was a shock to me because I was expecting it to be higher. I have 2 B's, one in MacroEconomics, and the other in EnglishComp2. I had family issues during the Macro class, and a crummy professor that "does not believe in A's" for the Comp class. I have decided not to let that get me down though.

    The requirement for the desired Grad School I hope to attend is a 3.0 GPA. I am trying to figure out what GPA I would need to get my way paid though. I am on the GI bill, which will just barely cover my undergrad, but the only possible way that I will ever be able to continue straight on to grad school is if I can get full stipend/tuition. How would I figure out exactly what I need to accomplish to get there?

    I have looked at http://www.gradschoolshopper.com as was suggested by someone else on this forum, but it only gives me information that I already know from the schools website/listings.

    Would I be even remotely competitive where I stand now? What sort of GPA should I maintain? I am taking some Honors courses, because of the smaller class size, but I am a bit disapointed because the Honors professors are NOT the best on the campus. I will most likely not be able to graduate with honors, because I have already taken so many non-honors courses, but I might be able to get the Honors certificate? Is that worth it, considering taking these courses nets me a lesser education from my experience?

    I have checked out GREexplorer
    The information found there is encouraging. It says that the average GPA of new Doctoral Candidates is 3, but that seems like a bit odd of a number (no decimal?). I think maybe that data is not the average, but the requirement info from the school itself. I find it hard to believe that the average GPA is also the minimum acceptance GPA. I think I am pretty smart/hard-working, but I am just having some doubts, because I have yet to take any real "serious" physics courses to gauge my intelligence against.

    I just realized that is a long drawn out question, so, in summary:
    What a reliable GPA/GRE/Extra-curric plan that will net me a paid PhD?
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 23, 2010 #2


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    A reliable plan? Do research. It's about as reliable as you'll get. Keep up your good GPA, study for the GRE, and just try to get involved with your department to do research (or do research during summer). Most PhD students are funded in various ways, don't be so worried about funding as you should be about finding a good program that will suit your goals.
  4. Sep 23, 2010 #3
    It's been said before but I might as well say it again: GPA is only one factor and I find it hard to believe you'd be out of the running for many grad schools even with a 3.8 gpa, especially if it was only brought down by non-physics/non-math courses.

    Also, even if you don't do any research with your professors, you should try to get to know them (or rather, get them to know you) so at least a couple of them can write you a good recommendation.
  5. Sep 24, 2010 #4


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    Grad schools list a minimum GPA to apply of 3.0, but having that certainly doesn't mean you'll get in. They often get more than 100 applications for about 5-10 spots depending on the field you're going into.

    In general, if you're applying for a PhD program in the sciences, any real offer from a grad school will come with a tuition waiver and a stipend. If they don't offer this, it's basically a polite rejection. You should definitely be able to get in somewhere with a 3.8 (or even a 3.5 or a bit lower) and you'll get funded. But having some research experience will help you a lot.
  6. Sep 24, 2010 #5
    Don't get me wrong, I plan to do all of the research I can possible get involved with. I know that acceptance is dependant on multiple factors. I was just wondering if most of the people that end up with a tuition waiver and a stipend were 4.0 students etc. I did not know that the tuition-waiver/stipend was pretty much part of the deal. Is it really considered that way? If I was accepted, but required to pay (in which case I could not attend), that's really a polite no?

  7. Sep 24, 2010 #6
    Look, there's no real difference between a 3.9 and a 4.0. It's far more important that you have a solid foundation in your coursework (many upper-level courses) than where exactly you end up on the GPA scale.

    Think about it this way: A 3.9 means for every A- you receive, you earn two As, and the difference between an A- and an A is negligible to begin with.
  8. Sep 24, 2010 #7
    My school does not even have A-. It's a 3.5(b) or 4.0(a), though I suspect that works out to my advantage realistically.

    Thanks for the help guys, glad to know I can remain competitive with a <4.0.
  9. Sep 24, 2010 #8


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    You certainly don't need that high of grades to get a paid phd position. Remember though, it's not really a tuition waver, you're typically just given a teaching position or research position that will pay for your tuition and allow you to live off for the most part (as much as grad students can live...). It's also certainly not true that not getting a financial offer is a polite no! For one, universities aren't the only way to fund your PhD. Fellowships and grants are alternative financing methods that you can get.
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