“I’ve wanted to be a scientist since I was a child…Gradschoolmatch played a huge role in helping me find Vanderbilt and making my dream come true,” says Alyssa Rodriguez.
Her enthusiasm for the platform came about after she failed to get accepted into a graduate program.
“I think there are probably a few things that helped my application when I attempted again,” she says. “On the second try, I did have work experience, which looked good. But what really made the difference was the ability to highlight the amount and variety of my research work on my Gradschoolmatch profile…I feel that was easily overlooked in the traditional application.”
Rodriguez found Gradschoolmatch to be very user friendly; program administrators started sending her messages and bookmarks on her first day.
“Alyssa’s profile really stood out for me and she seemed like the type of student who would excel with our program,” Bowman says.
Vanderbilt’s ranks in the top 20 biomedical sciences programs in the country and competes against universities such as Harvard, Yale, Emory and Duke for students.
“We’ve seen a 5–10 percent increase in the pool of students looking at our program and I attribute that to Gradschoolmatch. Everything they are doing is what we wanted…I feel it is very cost-effective…it allows me to talk to as many grad school applicants as possible. We are always focused on admitting quality students, but having that larger pool is essential.”
Soon Rodriguez will be one of those students; she is eagerly looking forward to packing up and moving from Southern California to Vanderbilt’s Nashville campus and making even more progress on her goal of discovering cures for life threatening diseases.
Which, in the end, is what the perfect match is all about.
Gradschoolmatch sat down to hold a Skype chat recently with Dr. Mike Nielsen, Ph.D, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychology at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. His department uses Gradschoolmatch to identify and guide prospects who might be interested in their MS and Psy.D. human psychology graduate programs.
The Georgia Southern University Psy.D. program, in particular, caught our eye because the niche it fulfills struck us as one that is very unique in the overall space of psychology graduate programs. Georgia Southern University offers many graduate programs but the Psy.D. has a strong focus on mental health care problems and needs in a rural setting.
If you’re anything like us, as soon as you read that you’re struck by how obvious the need must be for psychology graduate programs specializing in that niche. But until now, like us, you may never before have considered the possibility a university department exists to offer graduate programs that ensure the specialization is fulfilled.
Finding the right graduate program is a path of discovery. Many people often don’t quite know what they are looking for until they see it for the first time. If you’re looking for psychology graduate programs and like the idea of living and working in rural areas, this just may be your match.
What follows is the transcript of our chat session.
TJ Murphy: Hi Michael. Thank you for joining us. As we’re chatting, the mid-Atlantic is getting slammed by the blizzard of the century. How is the weather in Statesboro?
Mike Nielsen: We are getting rain at the moment, with a 50% chance of snow tonight. In the 23 years I’ve lived here we have had snow only twice, so this is a rare event!
TJ Murphy: We’ve had a bit more than that in Atlanta but not by much. I think the (relative) absence of winter weather in the south is one of the best reasons to live here.
Mike Nielsen: Yes, I prefer to watch pictures of people shoveling snow, rather than shovel snow myself.
TJ Murphy: Indeed. So how about beginning with a my big question. Psychology is one of the largest undergraduate majors that we see on Gradschoolmatch, #3 behind business and education majors. There is a ton of interest in psychology graduate programs, too. Why are so many people attracted to the field?
Mike Nielsen: I think that there are many reasons but at the core is the fact that we are self-reflective beings. We wonder why we ourselves do things, and we wonder why other people do things. Psychology offers tools or methods that help us begin to understand these kinds of basic questions about ourselves. Plus, psychology is a useful area of study. Psychology helps us understand what motivates people, and gives us pointers on how best to interact with family, friends, and coworkers.
TJ Murphy: That’s interesting. So what I think you are saying is that students of psychology are students of other people. They are people persons. It seems to me a good people person could go in a lot of directions.
Mike Nielsen: Yes, absolutely! Of course, psychologists study many different species, but the great majority of our work at Georgia Southern is with people. What we are really interested in is, Why do we do, think, or feel what we do? And there are many different perspectives from which we can answer that question. With that knowledge of why we do/think/feel what we do, then we can begin to work with people to modify their actions, thoughts, and feelings so that they accomplish their goals, increase their happiness, and so on.
TJ Murphy: Where do Georgia Southern’s psychology graduate programs fit into that point of view? You seem to say that generating new knowledge about psychology through research and applying knowledge are both important. Is that what you’re trying to accomplish in your department?
Mike Nielsen: Yes, it is. Our faculty believes that we have a responsibility to better understand people, and to use that knowledge in an ethical, responsible way to improve people’s lives. So, in our two graduate programs we take this to heart. Our Master’s of Science program focuses on generating a better understanding of people. We connect students with faculty members and together work to answer the question of why people do/think/feel as they do. In order to do this, students pursue research projects to answer basic questions about people. This culminates in a thesis showing the student’s independent investigation using psychological science.
Our Doctor of Psychology program does this as well, as each student conducts a dissertation that pursues a basic question. In addition, Psy.D. students study how to assess problems and use therapy to try to address the problems people encounter in their lives.
Because Georgia is a relatively rural state, our Psy.D. program focuses on training students to be therapists in rural and under-served areas. This is one of the unique things about our psychology department. In a rural area, access to resources such as transportation can be very limited. Factors like this can pose challenges, and make mental health care a scarce resource. We hope to help address this, so that all people can have access to good mental health care.
TJ Murphy: Obviously, graduate school is where specialization happens, and there are many specialties people can pursue at the graduate level. But frankly, I had never thought before of the need to train people to specialize rural mental health care delivery. That’s strikes me as a real niche in a world of niches. What are some of the challenges you face in finding students who might be interested in that?
Mike Nielsen: Good question! Many people are interested in psychology, as you noted, but most of them are in cities. So, one of the challenges we face is simply the fact that people in recent history have moved from rural areas to cities. If we are going to address the mental health shortage in rural areas, we need to find people who want to be a psychologist and want to live in small towns. Small towns have a lot of positive traits, even if they might not have a huge shopping district or cultural center. Finding students who are interested in that is the key.
But each year our Psy.D. program has existed, we have had more and more applicants. This year we have had nearly double the number of applicants, and we will be able to accept only about 10% of them. So, as part of our application process, we ask students about their interest in serving rural areas and under-served people. We take this part of the program very seriously at admissions, and it continues throughout the entire program. Even students’ dissertations address rural living in some way.
TJ Murphy: Your recruiting successes sound great, I hope Gradschoolmatch helped to contribute a little bit to your application pool. Students out there reading this will be wise to understand how important “the fit” is in making admissions decisions. Programs need to make sure they are training the right people, whether there are many or just a few applicants.
Mike Nielsen: Yes, we really do believe in finding the right fit between the student and the program. A tremendous student can be in a great program but, if their goals don’t align well, the student won’t be getting the education or training that s/he wants. And by finding the right fit, you will be on track for a more productive and fulfilling career!
Because we have been using Gradschoolmatch for just two months, it is hard to say how much of the increase in our applicant pool is due to the website, vs. how much is due to our recent accreditation from the American Psychological Association. I have corresponded with several people as a result of Gradschoolmatch, but most of them are anticipating applying for admission in 2017. 🙂 I can say that the people I’ve corresponded with have been very articulate and have asked good questions. I expect that we will be seeing some strong applications from them next year!
TJ Murphy: The more we look at the data the more impressed I am in how much work prospects put into exploring their graduate school options. For many, it begins years in advance of the application deadline. I think they know very well this is the biggest career decision they’ll make in their lives. It changes their trajectory.
Mike Nielsen: Yes, absolutely. People with a bachelor’s degree are not as focused in a single trajectory as are graduate degree holders. It is a big decision!
TJ Murphy: What people may not realize reading this is that it takes a bit of work to get to this point in the conversation, since we’re both typing in a chat function. This whole session has been very informative. I’ve stolen enough of your time for one day, and I thank you very much for it and all of your insights.
Mike Nielsen: Thanks! Have a great evening– stay warm!
In our recent article on Fordham University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, we highlighted 18 GSAS programs actively recruiting students on our platform.
In Fall 2016, Fordham University is introducing it’s newest graduate program, a Master’s Degree in Public Media.
Learn more about this exciting new graduate program, and how you can get a jump-start on applying for acceptance into the inaugural class of 2017.
What is the new Masters in Public Media at Fordham?
The M.A. in Public Media is a one-year professional master’s degree in collaboration with Fordham’s award-winning radio station WFUV, with the cooperation of WNET, New York’s public media network, designed to advance a new generation of multi-platform communication professionals. Students can choose between two tracks:
Multi-platform journalism, including audio, video, and interactive web content
Strategic communication for the nonprofit sector, including social media marketing, public relations, corporate under-writing, and development.
What makes this program so exciting for students interested in this field?
The MA in Public Media was created to help prepare students to tell stories through a variety of different media platforms. It is more than public broadcasting; this program engages students within the realms of journalism and strategic communication to tell stories for the public good. Public Media is focused on impact through social change and civic engagement. That impact correlates with what happens after a story is shared –centered around follow up and engagement with the audience.
In a crazy, fast-paced world, students can take a year off to study, contemplate, and disseminate what their role is in media in the 21st century. It is not about being the first to get to the story, but being the best at covering a story responsibly, morally, and ethically.
What will the program curriculum look like?
The MA in Public Media’s curriculum combines theory and practice – students will have the tools to understand and contextualize the profession as well as the practical tools to enact core principles. Courses will be taught by a balance of scholars and practitioners from Fordham’s Communication and Media Studies Department, WFUV and WNET.
The curriculum is divided into six parts:
Two practical multimedia 10-day intensive courses
Two core courses on public media and strategic communication
Two required fundamentals courses, taken in the fall semester
Two specialized, practical courses in either the journalism concentration or the strategic communication concentration (spring semester)
Two elective courses or internships, one per fall and one per spring semester
A special master’s project
What types of career opportunities will students be exposed to in the program?
Students in both specialization tracks will have the opportunity to work closely with WFUV, WNET and other civic organizations to gain hands-on experience inside and outside the classroom. Whether pursuing careers in established media operations, social entrepreneurial start-ups, or in outreach, marketing, and development, the MA in Public Media is designed to produce a new type of professional who is ethically educated, and both creatively and practically equipped to advance their missions. Also to further assist in preparing students, every student will be assigned a Fordham Career Services counselor to help identify and achieve professional goals throughout the year.
What does the path to application look like, and what are some of the program requirements?
The GRE exam is required for those wanting to be considered for financial aid
The successful candidate for admission should have a 3.0 GPA or better
Written personal statement
Official college transcript
Three letters of recommendation (either academic, professional, or a mix of both)
Non-native English speaking applications will be required to submit TOEFEL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) results, issued within the past two years. We will expect our most competitive applicants to have scores above 100 on the TOEFL and 7.5 or above on the IELTS
A maximum of three work samples may be submitted electronically. These may take the form of written work (either analytical or journalistic), the articulation of internship experience(s), or some type of digital production (e.g., a website, short film, or video, piece of multimedia journalism, audio piece or podcast, a data visualization or motion graphic)
Highly qualified applicants may qualify for partial scholarships of $10,000 and paid internships at WFUV. All applicants are automatically considered for this funding and will be notified if they have been awarded merit funding.
Fordham’s new Public Media master’s program will welcome its first cohort in Fall 2016.
Not long ago we sat down on google chat with future grad student Kevin Murphy. After college, Kevin did a 2 year hitch with Teach for America. With one masters degree under his belt already, he’s beginning to think about another. Kevin has a long-standing interest in #urban planning and looks like he is starting to scratch his #graduate#school itch. You’ll find it very interesting to see how he’s thinking this through. Every data point we collect tells us that Kevin’s experience is more typical than not.
TJ Murphy: Hi Kevin. Thanks for sitting down with us. Let’s clear up one thing first: You and I share the same last name, are we related to each other?
Kevin Murphy: We are related to one another. I am your nephew. Your third oldest nephew.
TJ Murphy: Yes, of course. I thought your name sounded familiar. Just curious, who’s your favorite uncle?
Kevin Murphy: Well you of course. But I try not to make it obvious that I play favorites.
TJ Murphy: Same here. Truth is you are easily one of my all time favorite nephews. So, tell us a little bit about your undergraduate background. School? Degree?
Kevin Murphy: I went to Saint Louis #University where I studied Urban Affairs and Anthropology.
TJ Murphy: And you already have one graduate degree, correct?
Kevin Murphy: I do. Just last month I received my Masters in Education from the University of Missouri – St. Louis. My concentration was in middle school education.
TJ Murphy: You worked for Teach for America right after college. Was that Master’s a requirement they had for you?
Kevin Murphy: Not a requirement but it was something most people in the program did. Whether I completed the Masters program or not I still would of taken some classes to become a certified teacher. So taking some more classes and getting a Masters seemed like a good idea. Plus, Teach for America really streamlines the process for its corps members.
TJ Murphy: What was Teach for America like? How has that experience informed where you’d like to go next with your career?
Kevin Murphy: Teach for America was hard. No way to sugar coat it really. Long days, long nights, short weekends, etc. That being said I am glad I did it and I am glad I have a Masters in Education because I can go back into the classroom in the future if I so choose. There have always been other things I am really passionate about that I wanted to explore while I was still young. In all honesty, I could have stayed in the classroom for another 40 years and been very happy. Which is part of the reason I knew I needed to pull myself away…I could always go back.
TJ Murphy: I think you make a very good point there. There comes a time early in our careers where we feel if we don’t pull the trigger now to follow a passion…it may be harder to do later. So what is that passion for you, now?
Kevin Murphy: Well I am realizing that just because I left one passion (teaching) my others are not immediately crystallizing. Haha. I am passionate about all types of urban issues, specifically the ones in my hometown of St. Louis, but I am essentially figuring out in what capacity I see myself working and whatnot. So I am definitely going to spend this year (and maybe more time) trying to figure that out.
TJ Murphy: I think St. Louis is a very interesting place when it comes to urban issues, and I’m not talking just about Ferguson.
Kevin Murphy: Absolutely. Ferguson definitely has shined a bright spotlight nationally on some of our regional issues but most media outlets only scratched the surface. St. Louis is a fantastic place but sometimes its greatest assets are its biggest weaknesses.
TJ Murphy: I want to know more about the iconic St Louis flag-depicting the fleur-de-lis and the convergence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers-I don’t know of any other city in the US that flies its flag so proudly and I wonder why that is?
Kevin Murphy: It’s a great flag. The fleur-de-lis recognizes our french heritage. Like you said, the rivers represent where the Missouri and Mississippi rivers meet north of the city. Then there are different colors that all represent different things, too. Yeah, I really don’t know why more cities don’t do it. I love the fact that we do it. However, in St. Louis, being from the actual city or county is a big deal. So locally, the flag is a marker of “I am from the city”. Which is good and bad. Good because people from the city need to be prideful especially in the face of so much bad press. Bad because some people in the region see it as divisive. No one from the county flies the flag for the most part. If you ever have time check out this Ted talk on city flags. Basically, this guy says that most cities don’t fly their flag because most city flags are ugly.
TJ Murphy: It is pretty, I surely agree. So, how long have you felt you’d do some kind of graduate degree in urban affairs? And what are you looking for now?
Kevin Murphy: As soon as I discovered the field of urban affairs/urban planning I knew I wanted to keep learning about it. Plus, if you work in the field you most likely have a graduate level degree. Now, I am looking for a program outside of St. Louis that can teach me things that I can one day bring back to St. Louis and hopefully apply for the better.
TJ Murphy: How are you going about exploring programs elsewhere? What sort of criteria seem to be important to you at this stage of exploration?
Kevin Murphy: Exploring programs really consists of talking to people who have gone through urban planning school before and getting their thoughts. Plus, researching individuals schools and looking at the classes they offer, what the professors are working on, etc. At this point, the most important thing is answering the question “How will this program prepare me to come back to St. Louis?” For example, if I go to a school in NYC and it only focuses on dealing with issues of gentrification that will not really help me because St. Louis has not had too many issues with that, yet. So just finding the right balance between progressive ideas and relevant issues.
TJ Murphy: That’s a pretty interesting answer. First, you have specific questions that only a conversation with an expert can help you with. It is about fulfilling personal needs. What I also hear is you’re someone who has a clear vision of what they want to accomplish in their career, and that looking for a grad school that can best prepare them for that objective is not at all a simple process. Master’s or Doctoral programs? Or do you not know yet?
Kevin Murphy: Yeah, I definitely agree that is where I am at. One of the only other big questions I have is when I want to start on this journey. And I would be more than happy doing a Masters or Doctoral program. I really love going to school for this –or at least I did in undergrad– so a Doctoral program is not out of the realm of possibility.
TJ Murphy: Have you visited yet with any program directors? Is that helping you clarify your options? Or are you getting that candy store counter feeling?
Kevin Murphy: Both. I’d say it totally depends on the program. I have reached out to some program directors who have been incredibly welcoming and receptive. Others…not so much.
TJ Murphy: Maybe you caught that last one on a bad day….
Kevin Murphy: Very true. I think some programs want you to apply first, too. However, that costs money so I know I’ll prefer to have a strong sense of a program before I apply.
TJ Murphy: You’ve been on Gradschoolmatch ever since I forced you to sign up early in our beta phase. What do you think of it now?
Kevin Murphy: I really like it. Honest. It actually showed me a few programs that I hadn’t really considered for school yet.
Kevin Murphy: Yeah! A school actually messaged me already. Just kind of an introductory message but it was really nice to see.
TJ Murphy: Awesome! We actually hear that reaction a lot, too. It proves our machine actually works! Have you discovered the workpage yet? Kind of like a spreadsheet to tally up your target list, type in notes like, “great stipend” or “really nice director” or deadline dates, etc.
Kevin Murphy: I noticed it on the side bar but hadn’t explored it yet! I am definitely a rookie on the site. However, I will say it is super easy to use. So it’s just me dilly dallying
TJ Murphy: Of course. We hear that a lot, too. So, although you earned your bachelors a few years ago, it sounds like you are in no hurry to get started with your next graduate program. That you’re taking some time to do a lot of research. I guess when this discovery process is over, you’ll have a strong idea of what you want?
Kevin Murphy: Exactly. When I know exactly what I want, too, I can actually reach out better and ask how I’d fit at certain schools. I just had a conversation yesterday with two urban planners and for me the final piece is figuring out what I want to do in urban planning. Do I want to be part of the design process, more socially focused, policy driven, etc. It is a pretty broad field and I know I want to be a part of it and why I do but not sure in what capacity.
TJ Murphy: That’s really great. It makes no sense to rush into something that you’re uncertain about. Whatever decision you make will change your career trajectory. That’s just a given. Anyway, the big lesson for me is that you’re a lurker prospect, and probably very typical. You’re on your way to graduate school, but you’ll only apply after fully researching what you want to do. That kind of specialization is what forces people to find the right graduate school fit.
Hey, anyway, I’ve stolen enough of your time, thanks for the chat. Good luck with everything, and we’ll see you Thanksgiving if not before.
Kevin Murphy: Sounds good! See you Thanksgiving, too, and tell your fam I said hey!
With four distinct graduate programs, as well as two certificate options, graduate students at the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture are exposed to some of the most pressing, relevant issues in today’s urban landscape. Coupled with professional development and research opportunities, UVA’s yearly Vortex project is one of the nation’s most unique forums for addressing architectural challenges and presenting revolutionary solutions.
Learn more about the UVA School of Architecture’s Masters programs from Kristine Nelson, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid.
GSM: Briefly describe your role with UVA and some of your main objectives.
Kristine: My role as Director of Admissions and Financial Aid for the School of Architecture at UVA is to oversee the graduate enrollment process through application, acceptance, scholarship offers and matriculation. Additionally, we are expanding our reach to target current undergraduate students, as well as graduates who have been working but who have not considered one of our Master’s programs as an option for their continued learning. Drawing from Thomas Jefferson’s revolutionary link between education and the space, the School of the Architecture is one of the most forward-looking design and planning schools in the world, engaging its students through an interdisciplinary culture, full-use fabrication facilities, and dedicated teaching faculty.
GSM: Briefly describe the 4 graduate programs you have listed on Gradschoolmatch and anything unique that prospective students might like to know.
Kristine: The Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) is a two-to-three-year long program rooted in theoretical conception and practical application. The program attracts a diverse range of students with undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science, and engineering as well as pre-architecture and architecture. It is our goal to prepare the next generation of leaders to engage the complex design challenges of the future.
The Master of Landscape Architecture (M.L.A.) is two-to-three-year program seeking to foster the next generation of design leaders in practice and academia who will envision a more just and sustainable world. We challenge students to envision landscapes that simultaneously contribute to public life and embody an ethic toward the bio-physical world. Our projects confront the most pressing environmental and social issues of our day – social justice for marginalized communities, livable green infrastructural cities and their waterways, renewal strategies for shrinking post-industrial cities, and urban adaptation to global climate change.
The Master of Architectural History (M.Ar.H.) is the oldest and largest architectural history program in the United States. This two year degree allows students to explore the history of architecture, landscape and urban form by analyzing the sources and forms of architectural expression while considering architecture a critical feature in a broader social and cultural context. With its roots in the study of American architectural history, the department’s areas of study also include Mediterranean, European , and Asian architecture, cities and landscapes
The two-year Master of Urban and Environmental Planning (M.U.E.P) prepares students to make significant contributions as professionals in a variety of public, private, and non-profit settings. The MUEP program emphasizes the linkages between the urban environment and policy, drawing connections between housing and equity, land use and economy, and development and sustainable communities.
GSM: What do you typically look for in potential applicants in terms of background, interests, and work experience?
Kristine: All four of our Master’s programs have students from a wide variety of academic backgrounds. Our design programs (Architecture and Landscape Architecture) offer three year programs that embrace a diverse range of disciplines while the two-year program is for applicants with a bachelor’s degree in architecture or landscape architecture. Our 2015 incoming class from all four of our Master’s programs has students whose majors include: Aerospace Engineering, African American Studies, Art History, Economics, Psychology, Philosophy, Computer Science, and Portuguese.
The UVA School of Architecture does not require any prior work experience. However, all practical experience as listed on a CV/resume is taken into consideration as part of the entire application package.
GSM: How useful is Gradschoolmatch to you and your programs as a recruiting tool, and how does it differ from other recruiting methods you employ?
Kristine: The biggest benefit of Gradschoolmatch is that it allows our office and Program Directors to be in touch with students who might not immediately consider architecture, landscape architecture, architectural history or urban and environmental planning for their graduate studies. Many people assume that an undergraduate degree in one area limits their future academic and career options, but in fact is beneficial to diversifying and enriching the career fields that are fed by our graduate programs. Gradschoolmatch is the only way to communicate with students who have not previously expressed an interest in our programs and allows us to more fully represent our niche education options.
Additionally, Gradschoolmatch is an easy way for potential students to contact our faculty and program directors, which is essential to finding a mutual fit for graduate studies.
GSM: You offer 2 certificate programs through the School of Architecture. What do those look like, and how do they supplement your degree programs?
Kristine: The Historic Preservation Certificate is available to Master’s degree candidates in all four disciplines. This interdisciplinary program offers students the opportunity to expand their professional studies through specialized training in the practice and ethics of historic preservation and the stewardship of cultural landscapes. Students graduating with Historic Preservation Certificates have gone on to do important preservation work with private firms, public agencies, national and international non-profit and non-governmental-organizations, and leading preservation advocacy organizations.
The Urban Design Certificate program is also open to graduate students in all four disciplines. The certificate is structured to synthesize concepts, methods and strengths across disciplines into new approaches to the design and planning of cities and settlements. Students graduating with the Urban Design Certificate will acquire the skills which will better position them to secure employment with private firms or public agencies that specialize in the complexities of contemporary urban design.
Each program consists of 21 credit-hours. There is substantial overlap with degree curriculum, therefore students can expect to complete their degrees on time even if they pursue these valuable certificate options.
GSM: What do research and professional development opportunities look like for students?
Kristine: The School of Architecture has substantial funding available for students to travel for on-site research for their thesis or other proposed projects. Additionally, graduate students have opportunities to assist faculty in their research, often with grant funding.
We have a variety of student groups that are chapters of professional organizations in each field, allowing for vital networking and professional development opportunities. Additionally, students are encouraged to participate in design competitions as well as submit papers for national conferences. Finally, our career services offerings begin with short-term internship opportunities over our January term and continue by assisting with summer and full-time employment professional job fairs.
GSM: What is your relationship with UVA School of Architecture alumni, and how do they impact student recruitment?
Kristine: We have a renewed interest from our alumni to participate in recruiting on all levels. This means they are often available for questions via email or in person at an open house event as well as being highly motivated to meet and talk with applicants who have been offered admission in the spring. Our graduates welcome getting involved in the recruitment process and are excited to share what their UVa education has meant for their chosen profession.
GSM: What is something unique to UVA School of Architecture that you want prospective students to know about?
Kristine: Probably the most unique part of the UVA School of Architecture experience is our emphasis on interdisciplinary involvement, especially during our yearly Vortex. Vortex is a week-long, school-wide event in which professors and students from all departments come together to create solutions to address important issues facing the Charlottesville and UVA communities. Student and faculty groups combine the knowledge they’ve learned in their own disciplines to produce projects that culminate in an exhibition to city and university leaders.
With a broad, interdepartmental approach, Emory University’s Graduate Division of Biomedical Sciences (GDBBS) provides students the opportunity to explore many different facets of the biological sciences.
In addition to relationships with renowned public health institutions like Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the greatest differentiators of the GDBBS is its commitment to student development and robust research opportunities.
Learn more about Emory’s GDBBS from long-tenured Director of Recruitment and Admissions, Kathy Smith.
GSM: What does your role at Emory encompass?
Kathy: One of my main objectives is to provide the highest level of customer service that I can. To students interested in one of the eight PhD programs in the Graduate Division, that means providing timely and complete information when they need it, whether it be via email or phone, or through an easy to use website.
The Graduate Division strives to enroll an incoming class of students who are the best fit for the programs and who we feel will succeed. This means there is no “one size fits all” formula. The admissions committees review the entire application when making their decisions, and that means we enroll students who have a wide range of credentials, especially in terms of GRE scores and GPAs.
GSM: What are some of the unique strengths of your programs at Emory?
Kathy: All of our graduate programs are interdepartmental. Applicants apply to and are accepted by a specific program that fits their broad interests. Students work with faculty from many different departments, providing a truly interdisciplinary training experience.
The GDBBS provides great flexibility by allowing students to change programs after the first year, or work with GDBBS faculty members in a different program. This provides the flexibility of an umbrella program, while giving the student the individualized mentoring of program-based admissions. The students enter into a manageable-sized community of faculty who are all invested in the success of each individual student. Many students who interview remark on how surprised they were that so many faculty knew who they were when they first arrived on campus. These students also mention how impressed they are with the programs, and especially by the strong relationships between the students and faculty. Funding is guaranteed as long as you are making satisfactory progress toward your degree.
One of our greatest strengths is our students. They are not only engaged in their research, but also in the community at large. They participate in community service events, serve on numerous committees at both the program and university level, and participate in a broad range of recruitment events, including organizing events and assisting in the interview visits, sitting on panel discussions with visiting student groups, and attending graduate school fairs. They are also highly successful. Emory is tied for #1 in the nation in the number of individual NIH F31 fellowships, and is #2 in the nation in total F31 funding.
GSM: Emory is in close proximity to the CDC. How do local organizations impact GDBBS students, and what types of opportunities are available to get involved in research and projects?
Kathy: The CDC is literally across the street from the Emory campus. Faculty at the CDC can apply to be adjunct members of GDBBS programs, and several GDBBS students are working with advisors at the CDC for their PhD dissertation. Students can also elect to do one of their three research rotations with faculty members from the CDC.
Students also have the unique opportunity to work with faculty members at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the American Cancer Society.
GSM: What are some typical career paths for students following graduation, and what types of professional development resources are available to prepare them for those roles?
Kathy: Our graduates enjoy careers in a wide variety of different fields. They hold faculty positions at both research and liberal arts universities, government positions at the CDC, USDA, NIH, NSA, EPA, FDA, NASA, FBI and the US Patent and Trademark Office, pharmaceutical and industry positions, as well positions as editors, writers, patent attorneys, law partners and CEOs.
The Laney Graduate School and the GDBBS provide many career development resources for students. Two NIH-funded programs include BEST (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training) and IMSD (Initiative for Maximizing Student Development). The BEST program focuses on preparing predoctoral and postdoctoral scientists for the breadth of possible career choices in biomedical research and helping them establish a network, share, evaluate and disseminate best practices. The IMSD program is a reflection of our commitment to increase the diversity of the scientific workforce, and it focuses on multi-level mentoring, research integrity, and career preparation and planning. Our commitment to diversity is reflected in our top 10 ranking for graduating African American PhDs by Diverse Education’s Top 100 Degree Producers. Since 2010, the GDBBS has ranked 4th, 9th, 2nd, 7th and 4th nationally.
The GDBBS also hosts a career seminar series and provides access to MentorNet and the BioCareer Center. The Laney Graduate School hosts Mentors on Call, where alumni provide guidance on preparing for the workforce, and links alumni with students for informal mentoring and professional guidance. Pathways Beyond the Professoriate brings alumni back to Emory to network with our students and help them identify positions they may not have considered. Our goal is to graduate students who are well-rounded and competitive candidates in a wide variety of fields.
GSM: What is some advice you would give to prospective GDBBS students?
Kathy: Do your research and don’t just rely on rankings. Students are individuals and they will have unique fits with any university; it is definitely not a one size fits all process. Factors include the research fit at the university, the stipend as well as the cost of living in the area, and how well the university prepares their graduates for future careers.
The most important consideration should be whether or not you think you will be happy and successful at the university. One of the best ways to do that is to talk to current graduate students in the program, and see how the faculty and students interact with each other during interview visits. If the majority of the current students are happy and well-mentored, chances are you will be too.
GSM: What does the path to application look like for prospective students? Where is the best place for them to get more information?
Kathy: Today, universities try to put as much information as possible on their websites, so that is a great place to start. In my opinion, if a student has questions they should never hesitate to contact a program directly, either by phone or email. A school and program that cares about its students will also take the time to make sure that prospective students have the resources they need to make informed decisions.
In terms of our application process, we have tried to make it as user-friendly as possible. The process is entirely paper-less; as part of the application process applicants upload their statement of purpose and resume, and upload their official transcripts as PDFs. The recommendation letters are handled online as well, so the applicant does not have to send any material in the mail during the application process.
With a seasoned group of world-renowned faculty, diverse professional development opportunities for students, and robust research facilities, UT Southwestern has one of the most prestigious biomedical sciences programs in the nation.
Learn more about Ph.D. programs available in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Southwestern from Assistant Dean Lisa Gardner, Ph.D.
GSM: What are some of your main objectives in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences?
As an Assistant Dean, my main role is overseeing and directing domestic applicant recruitment, review, and admission to the Division of Basic Science, which is the umbrella program for 10 biomedical Ph.D. programs. Being an academic medical center makes it challenging for us to recruit undergraduates. Very few undergraduates have ever heard of UT Southwestern, and so one of my main objectives is always to increase our exposure to top notch science majors across the country and introduce them to the caliber of research and education we have here across all biomedical disciplines. The bottom line for me is to always bring the best and brightest students to UT Southwestern.
GSM: About 5 years ago, UT Southwestern revamped their website presence as a university, and recruiting for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences starting moving heavily in a digital direction. How has technology affected how you and your team recruit?
We made a conscious decision to significantly decrease our nationwide travel to undergraduate institutions as technology advanced. The new website in 2011 enabled us to use more photographs and videos to capture the personality of UTSW online. We are fortunate to have a marketing department with web service experts who understand the strength of the research enterprise here, and in the past two years, they built and launched an entire website that houses pages for each lab on campus. From this page, a prospective student can search by term or by faculty member to find labs of interest.
GSM: How useful is Gradschoolmatch to you and your programs as a recruiting tool?
The majority of interactions I have had with students on Gradschoolmatch have been very promising. The dialogues are comparable to or better than any conversations I have had in person with students on their home campuses when I traveled extensively. With the ability to reach many more campuses and highly qualified students from my office, I can be much more effective at a fraction of the cost.
I particularly love when a student uses the “What makes me unique” section to highlight his or her research experience. Research experience is one of the biggest factors in our admissions decisions, and being able to identify the candidates with really strong basic science research experience saves me time up front that I can use to have more meaningful conversations with those students during the application process. Additionally, I can continue to help the students by email as they decide where to apply and complete the applications.
GSM: What do professional development opportunities look like for students?
We introduce scientific writing during the first semester as part of the course in Responsible Conduct of Research, where they also learn about other modes of science communication and technology transfer. As part of their regular program requirements, faculty train students in critical reading of scientific papers and critical thinking during journal clubs and lab meetings, and provide guidance in oral presentation skills at works-in-progress seminars.
Our newly created Office of Graduate Career Development provides programs and seminars, internships, and resources that help students develop skills and gain experience needed to become successful scientific citizens of the world. Some of the seminars and workshops we offer include advice on creating resumes and CVs, job search strategies for biomedical scientists, interview preparation, interpersonal communication, project management, and negotiation strategies.
Additionally, graduate students have the opportunity for teaching partnerships with the Honors College at the University of Texas at Dallas and part-time internships at the UT Southwestern Office of Technology Development. The office also maintains strong links with BioNorthTX, a regional nonprofit life science trade association in bioscience research.
GSM: What are some typical career paths for graduates that aren’t just academia related?
The majority of our students complete postdoctoral lab training. Following their time as postdocs, our graduates have found success in many different fields, including biopharmaceutical industry research and business, science media and communication, consulting, tech transfer/intellectual property/patent law, science non-profit organizations, and science foundations. We have a number of student-organizations focused on careers, including a Consulting Club and a Science Policy, Education and Communication Club.
GSM: The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Southwestern is considered an umbrella program. Walk us through the application process for students, and how they can select their academic path once accepted.
Our umbrella program is called the Division of Basic Science (DBS). The best way to start the process is to visit our website and have a idea of the top three programs of interest. On the website, there are degree plans and course descriptions, as well as student profiles for each program.
The online instructions and application for the DBS can be found on the Admissions page, by following the “Ph.D. in the Basic Sciences” link. Each applicant completes one common application for all 10 Ph.D. programs in the DBS. Within the online application, the student must check between 1 and 3 programs they feel they would be most likely to join if accepted. This allows us to set up the best interview and visit to UTSW if the applicant is chosen for an interview. Our interview weekend introduces applicants to the institution in terms of meeting the program chairs, seeing the core facilities available, and talking with faculty and students in programs of interest.
When a student begins on campus as a full time graduate student, they are part of an “umbrella” class of approximately 60 students. Some students enter umbrella programs with a clear focus on what they want to research, and others enter with a broad range of interests. The majority of the class will take one eight-week core course covering the foundation of knowledge needed for the biomedical sciences. In those same eight weeks, to help them isolate their particular interests, they attend a graduate program fair and poster session that includes all ten programs, talk with faculty members, and rotate in labs of interest. Official declaration of their Ph.D. program is required by the end of the first year, typically while finishing up all of the required courses.
GSM: What makes UT Southwestern such a prestigious research institution, and what types of research opportunities are available to students in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences?
UT Southwestern has a number of distinguished faculty. We rank second in the world, among stand-alone medical institutions, in number of Nobel Laureates with six faculty members and one alumnus. Twenty-two faculty members have been inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and seventeen members into the National Academy of Medicine. Our faculty includes sixteen members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and thirteen Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators.But what makes it truly amazing is the overwhelmingly supportive attitude of every faculty member. Whether they happen to be a Nobel Laureate, a department chair, or an assistant professor, their door is always open.
In terms of research opportunities, our 10 Ph.D. programs are:
Cell and Molecular Biology
Genetics, Development, and Disease
With 10 interdepartmental graduate programs and more than 250 labs/mentors to choose from, there are no boundaries that limit the type of research a student can pursue. Our umbrella program teaches all students the basic foundational knowledge and skill to follow their project and its science wherever it leads.
To learn more about UT Southwestern and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, visit us at Gradschoolmatch.com.