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Old 21.12.2014, 15:41
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low undergrad GPA + 2 master degrees = Phd?

Hello everybody ,

I realise that part of my question is repetitive, but could not find a satisfactory answer to my predicament, so here goes:

Low undergrad gpa in biochemistry ( aprox 7/10, where 5 is the minimum passing grade and 10 is the maximum) from a european university.Bad moves and wrong choices...Now trying to improve the situation : MSc degree in neuroscience ( at the moment, in the top 3% of my class, 9.60 out of 10) and a MSc degree in chemical biology (considered somewhat of an elite program,research oriented and offering great letters of recommendation , obviously not related to neuro).I will be finishing both of them in 2015.
Want to apply to a phd in Basel (neuroscience) and found a lab that tackles my (narrow) interests.There is the possibility of applying directly to the phd coordinator (and thus maybe having a better chance?).
Also I should mention that I have some experience in bioinformatics, that could be applied to neuroscience to some extent.

My questions are :

1.Classical question: does a good/great GPA at Msc level outweigh undergrad gpa(at least to some extent)?
2.Two master degrees better than one or viceversa? In my mind, it would be somewhat of minus to have them both.What do you guys think?
3.Would a GRE subject test in biochemistry help to offset the mediocre GPA or would it be a waste of time and money?
4.Also, I am applying for a internship at the lab I mentioned, in the hope that it will count for something.
5.In light of all of this,do I stand a fighting chance of getting in or am I deluding myself?

Thanks
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Old 21.12.2014, 16:49
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Re: low undergrad GPA + 2 master degrees = Phd?

I think it's worth a try. If you are now a strong candidate, and have good gre's, good recs and have done well in your MS, why not? I would think success in a grad program is more important than undergrad.

Try not to keep looking back at your undergrad. It's been a while since i've been a grad student, but i graduated with a total crap gpa, scored quite high on the GRE and did volunteer work in a lab. This got me into grad school for an MS. Later, when i wanted to go back, what they really cared about included grad school experience, GRE, recs and my own essay. I got in to a good place.

I can't speak to your specifics. Tho if you can get both MS degrees, go for it, especially if it helps with networking and valuable recs.

There are smart, capable people who only get their shit together after undergrad. You might be one of them.
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Old 21.12.2014, 19:13
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Re: low undergrad GPA + 2 master degrees = Phd?

I agree. Good (but great is better ) results in your two Master's degrees would be highly advantageous. Usually, Master's degrees are weighted more heavily than Bachelor's in assessing candidates for tertiary studies. That was my experience, anyway, and the volunteer work experience that I undertook (similar to edot, above), also counted strongly in my favour.
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Old 21.12.2014, 20:32
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Re: low undergrad GPA + 2 master degrees = Phd?

True. If you get fabulous results on just one MS and good on two, go for the one. One of the really important things to demonstrate for a PhD is focus.....focusing on a single MS and getting superior results will help. One of the biggest problems new PhD students have is learning to focus on that tiny point of expertise which becomes your topic. However, if you do equally well on both, go for both.
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Old 21.12.2014, 20:44
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Re: low undergrad GPA + 2 master degrees = Phd?

In my experience the factor with the most weight will be the topic and quality of your masters thesis work, then the topics covered in the courses you did in your masters, and the grades you got. Strong letters of recommendation of course. Your intended advisor might even want to speak to your MS thesis advisor.

Not much attention will be paid to your undergrad stuff, so dont draw attention to it by trying to explain it if no explanation is asked for.
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Old 22.12.2014, 10:13
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Re: low undergrad GPA + 2 master degrees = Phd?

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Hello everybody ,

I realise that part of my question is repetitive, but could not find a satisfactory answer to my predicament, so here goes:

Low undergrad gpa in biochemistry ( aprox 7/10, where 5 is the minimum passing grade and 10 is the maximum) from a european university.Bad moves and wrong choices...Now trying to improve the situation : MSc degree in neuroscience ( at the moment, in the top 3% of my class, 9.60 out of 10) and a MSc degree in chemical biology (considered somewhat of an elite program,research oriented and offering great letters of recommendation , obviously not related to neuro).I will be finishing both of them in 2015.
Want to apply to a phd in Basel (neuroscience) and found a lab that tackles my (narrow) interests.There is the possibility of applying directly to the phd coordinator (and thus maybe having a better chance?).
Also I should mention that I have some experience in bioinformatics, that could be applied to neuroscience to some extent.

My questions are :

1.Classical question: does a good/great GPA at Msc level outweigh undergrad gpa(at least to some extent)?
2.Two master degrees better than one or viceversa? In my mind, it would be somewhat of minus to have them both.What do you guys think?
3.Would a GRE subject test in biochemistry help to offset the mediocre GPA or would it be a waste of time and money?
4.Also, I am applying for a internship at the lab I mentioned, in the hope that it will count for something.
5.In light of all of this,do I stand a fighting chance of getting in or am I deluding myself?

Thanks
There are more spots in the universities for PhDs than minimum capable applicants. If you get a good grade on your thesis then your low undergrad GPA will mean nothing.

Still, always have a good excuse in case someone asks you about it in the interview, nothing fancy or long.
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Old 22.12.2014, 15:09
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Re: low undergrad GPA + 2 master degrees = Phd?

Thanks for the replyes,guys!

Quote:
always have a good excuse in case someone asks you about it in the interview, nothing fancy or long.
Any suggestions?
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Old 22.12.2014, 17:11
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Re: low undergrad GPA + 2 master degrees = Phd?

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Any suggestions?
You drank a lot and didn't sleep for 3-4 years?


Seriously, you could say that you enjoyed your undergrad years, but you've matured since then, applied yourself exceptionally well to your Masters(es) and developed a strong focus.
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Old 22.12.2014, 17:19
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low undergrad GPA + 2 master degrees = Phd?

I was a dual biology/chemistry major. I took mostly science courses, couldn't focus and was discovering boys and alcohol. I was immature, and took on more than I could handle. I had a great time.

My masters was more focused, I had a clearer head and concentrated on my strengths.

You need to be straightforward and unapologetic.
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Old 22.12.2014, 18:19
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Re: low undergrad GPA + 2 master degrees = Phd?

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You drank a lot and didn't sleep for 3-4 years
Not very far from the truth

Quote:
You need to be straightforward and unapologetic.
I'm not one to hide behind the bush, but I wasn't sure if that would be the best choice as far as the prof is concerned.

Thank you all for your replies !
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