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Admissions Undergraduate GPA appx. 3.5 to Ivy League Grad School?

  1. Apr 20, 2016 #1
    I currently study Nanotechnology at UNAM's (National Autonomous University of Mexico) CNyN (Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. I have an 8.85 / 10.00, or roughly a 3.54 GPA (when calculated) but I see that for convenience, 3.5GPA is usually equivalent to a 9.00 / 10.00. *
    Is it recommended that if I don't have a great GPA, I obtain a Masters degree in Mexico or elsewhere before applying to these US schools for my Ph.D?

    I thank anyone and everyone in advance for reading and all of your help!
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 20, 2016 #2


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    Categorical statements like this are not accurate, nor particularly helpful, when it comes to graduate (or undergraduate) admissions .

    This is not true here in the U.S. I don't know about the U.K.

    Why don't you recast your questions by telling us what you want to do, not what your friend thinks is possible/not possible.
  4. Apr 20, 2016 #3
    Thanks! I omitted that part and asked directly,
  5. Apr 20, 2016 #4


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    Do you have any particular motive for wanting to attend an Ivy League school, as opposed to any of the other 100's of excellent R1 research institutions in the US? Is there a research program in one of the Ivy's that is not to be found elsewhere in the world? What research experience do you have?
  6. Apr 20, 2016 #5
    With a 3.5 GPA and being an international, you'll have to work quite hard to set yourself apart enough to gain admissions to a top US school. How many publications do you have? How many strong letters of recommendation do you have? What is your physics GRE score?
  7. Apr 21, 2016 #6


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    The Ivys are not equally good for physics. Brown and Dartmouth are much weaker than the others and are likely easier to get into. On the other side Harvard and Princeton are among the most competitive to be accepted to with Cornell (and probably Columbia, Yale, and Penn) not being too far behind.
  8. Apr 23, 2016 #7
    Thank you for all of your answers. I was asking about Ivys because that's always been the dream, but also very interested in many other schools, such as the UCs. I was born and raised in California and them moved down to Mexico with my parents around '08. The main goal is to go back for grad school, and I still have time to get my GPA up.

    Thank you :)
  9. Apr 23, 2016 #8
    You might consider aiming for schools that are good in practice, and not just schools that sound impressive. Some of the Ivies are the top of the field (e.g., Princeton and Harvard, as radium said), whereas there are plenty of other schools where you'd be better off than some of the Ivies.
  10. Apr 24, 2016 #9


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    California is probably the state with the most top physics programs by far. Four out of the top ten schools are in California: Stanford, Berkeley, UCSB, and Caltech. UCLA and UCSD are also top notch programs. The grad students also seem very happy at many of the programs.
  11. Apr 24, 2016 #10
    Except that internationals are at a disadvantage at UCs (especially UCSB). Hence why I didn't apply at UCD, plus UCD (and also UCLA/SB) was characterized as being a "TA-level Ponzi scheme" by professors at home in that they will admit a lot of kids, but set up a rather large fraction of them to fail before they would even contribute in research. Maybe that description is inaccurate, maybe not.

    To be fair, the other depts I could qualify as TA-level Ponzi schemes, outside of UCs, usually have decent TA budgets but little research money and, unfortunately, Dartmouth is one such department (I got rejected from that place but that might be because I was a victim of Tufts Syndrome)...

    If you're a condensed matter lover, you'll probably find Cornell (or UPenn if you're more into soft CM) to your taste, but if you're an astronomy buff, UCSC takes the cake.

    Probably the OP wants to leave doors open outside of research (even in industry) that Ivies (and Ivy-equivalents like Caltech, Stanford, MIT, Duke) will open but UCSB/UCSD won't.
  12. Apr 24, 2016 #11


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    They said they were born in the US, which means they have citizenship.

    I am sure people from industry would value a degree from UCSB. The physics program is outstanding and I'm sure people who hire physicists know that. Also they are a very well regarded research university worldwide and have great science and engineering programs. It is correct that they don't admit many international students.

    While it may have been true in the past, I definitely don't think UCSB does that now. Their physics program is actually not that big. And I have only heard very positive things from the undergrads and grad student who go/went there.

    I wouldn't put Duke on the same level as the other schools based on their reputation as a research university. Many schools like Dartmouth are very highly regarded for undergrad but are not as well regarded as research universities.
  13. Apr 24, 2016 #12
    The main question left unanswered is: what is the OP planning to do in research? It would be ill-advised to apply at UCSD, or UIUC, for something other than condensed matter, whereas UCSC, Arizona State or Case Western may be a better fit for someone interested in astronomy.

    As for particles? Stony Brook has had trouble getting domestic students, despite their strong relationship with Brookhaven (alongside Yale, which is much more difficult to access), but IU-Bloomington, Brown or Duke may still be a good fit for an experimentalist.

    AMO? Arizona, Rochester, Virginia...

    Quantum computing? LSU, USC being the main ones I would recommend at this level.

    Plasma is the hardest to answer, but UF and Wisconsin are the ones I would recommend at this stage.
  14. Apr 24, 2016 #13
    I value all of your responses, and I thank you all.
    My goals are to continue in research, but as Catria said, I would like to leave a door open to industry, since Nanotechnology is a growing field ( I would guess it will grow faster in California).
    I have been looking at UC Irvine, Chemical and Materials Physics , seems like a very solid program.
    One of the original motives for asking about Ivys was because I know a couple of physicists who studied at UNAM and then moved on to MIT, Harvard and Columbia, to fields like Physical Chemistry and Biophysics, among others.. but as far as I know these guys had crazy high GPAs.

    *UCSB and UC Berkeley are definitely some of my strong choices as well.
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