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Admissions Undergraduate college Name Recognition - Graduate School Admissions

  1. Apr 14, 2010 #1
    If I go to Arizona State University to major in Physics w/ an Astronomy minor, get good grades (GPA ~3.0 to 3.3), do some research, and get good letters of recommendations, do graduate schools look at what school you went to for the admissions process?

    In other words, do astronomy graduate programs factor in if you went to a good astronomy school (Caltech, Harvard, UC Berkeley, etc.) or an ok astronomy school (ASU, etc.) for admitting a student? (Assume that the grades are similar.) I'm curious because it seems that a Physics major at different schools are so similar in difficulty and quality, that maybe name-recognition will eventually win out.

    Last edited: Apr 14, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 14, 2010 #2
    As I understand it, (and I could be wrong, I'm still an undergrad myself), graduate schools don't care about where you obtained your degree. They're mainly concerned with your GRE scores, GPA (~3.0-3.3 isn't really a good GPA), letters of recommendation, research, and related extracurriculars (robotics team, math competitions, etc.)

    Most undergraduate programs are equal between U.S. universities.
  4. Apr 14, 2010 #3


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    Yes, actually, grad schools DO care where you went to college. It's one of the factors they take into consideration. A friend of mine was on the admissions committee at a top school the year I was applying, and said they basically threw our every applicant not from another top school in the field. Which did not include my (very good) liberal arts college, even though I had paid the application fee, had a high GPA, and tons of research experience (and publications).

    You can still get into a top school from ASU or any other not-top school, but you'll have to do a bit more to stand out. 3.0 - 3.3 GPA really isn't good when applying to grad schools in the sciences. Aim for at least a 3.5, if not much higher. 3.0 is nearly failing in grad school, and graduate classes are a harder than undergrad. Top schools really do expect more from their students than lower-ranked schools can, and it shows in their ability when they get to grad school.
  5. Apr 14, 2010 #4
    It really does depend on the committee since the people I know that do admissions don't care much about brand recognition.

    One other thing the "top schools" may not be where you think they are.
  6. Apr 14, 2010 #5
    The ones I know don't. Also don't confuse "top school" with "famous school."

    It's not clear to me that Harvard does or does not have a better department in some things that ASU. There's probably some area of physics or astronomy that ASU does better than Harvard (looking at the web pages, it seems like planetary science and spacecraft instrumentation) and you can focus on that.

    If you get recommendations from professors that the committee has heard of, it will help a lot. and well-known, respected professors are pretty well scattered.

    Schools may similar but students aren't.
  7. Apr 15, 2010 #6
    What a dark world
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