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Guide to BME: Graduate School

Guides to BME List

Why go to graduate school?
Graduate school is an environment that is conducive to development of skill sets that interest you.
Though there are clear milestones, they are few (pass qualifiers, prelims, publish publish publish, defend thesis) and allow you to pursue aspects of science that interest you. Furthermore, in the low-risk environment, risk can be taken more freely than in an environment where there are expected
deliverables. Really graduate school is the ultimate “you get out what you put in” development
environment.

What is the application process for graduate school? What’s the GRE, and how to prepare for it?
For UW's program, make sure you get score in the 75% percentile in Math. This is the score the admissions board will look at for you.

What are the steps in the application process?
Professors, professors, professors. I cannot stress how much the advisor will guide the
graduate school experience. Understanding which professors have the subject matter
and advising style that match your needs is absolutely critical to a productive and fun
graduate school experience

What are Recruitment weekends?
Fun! A good chance to gauge the program from level of talent (professors) to how much
fun they will be (other grad students) to how well you will fit in to prospective labs (see
above comment about the importance of professors)

Where should you apply to graduate school?
Where there are programs and professors that are doing research you are interested in. Doing your homework on what research is done where and by what professors will be a great indicator of where you should apply.

How important is undergraduate research in applying to graduate school, and how can you get
involved in a lab?

Undergraduate research will be critical to 1) identify whether or not you even like research, 2)
what kind of research you are interested in and 3) get letters of rec in place and connections
that are likely the most important part of graduate school. Think about it from the professors’
standpoint: would they want someone who has good grades or someone who can jump in
and have an immediate impact on their research projects that will ultimately get them more
funding? Getting involved in a lab is easy. Contact professors and graduate students of labs
doing research that you find cool and be prepared to work!

What is the difference between a Ph. D and M.S. degree (structure, what usually happens
each year, length, outcomes, etc.)?

PhD’s get paid whereas MS usually do not. PhD is a 5-6 year program, MS is generally capped at
2. What you can do depends on what you want to do with the degree, PhDs generally will have
more fully developed project management skills but both degrees will provide the advanced
training in a specific field that will be good in industry.

What sort of career opportunities can you expect to have by going beyond an undergraduate
degree?

Graduate school helps develop the thought process for identifying an idea, evaluating a focused
set of goals to approach the idea, and execute those goals. As such, PhDs generally will be
employed to lead projects.

How do you get funding for graduate school?
Will depend on the lab, but generally professors are funded for specific projects where they
have written that they will fund graduate students. Do background research into the projects
of a lab (try to figure out which one is the hot research topic) and demonstrate to the professor
how you will fit right into the project. This will likely help fit into existing funding. Otherwise
there are various grants that can be applied for.

Grad school is tough, but it is also what you make of it. Have an idea of what you want out of
graduate school, and be prepared to work hard. Again, remember that professors will have the
upmost influence on your graduate school experience, so do your homework on their projects
and labs!

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