Preparation for Graduate Study

PhD study and a career in research is both arduous and exhilarating! Prepare to start strong!

Learn about PhD applications and admissions:

  • Graduate School Application Overview (picking schools, writing personal statements and interviewing) Watch Video >>
  • What Admissions Directors Think About Getting into Graduate School: Watch Video >>

Ask Yourself:

  • Why do I want to go to graduate or medical school?
  • Where do I see myself in the future?
  • What training will I need to reach these goals?
  • Why am I interested in this field?
  • What experiences have stimulated this interest?
  • What skills or personal characteristics enhance my chances for success?
  • What sets me apart from other applicants?
  • What are my biggest accomplishments?
  • What are my career aspirations?
  • Have I overcome relevant obstacles in my life?
  • Are there any gaps or discrepancies in my academic record?
  • Why THIS school and program?

The answers should be in your personal statements 

Reflect on your interests and readiness:

  • Understand PhD career paths and expectations--interviewers are interested in your career goals
    • ScienceCareers.org - Find a job in science - searchable by location, field, and keyword.
    • PhD Jobs - Includes jobs in Biological Science, Engineering, Health & Medicine
  • Develop time and stress management skills
  • Reflect on your interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence
  • Research is largely done by groups working in teams
  • Maturity and willingness to sacrifice
  • Take appropriate classes as an undergraduate 
  • Your academic record is important, it tells us about your interests
  • Classes without solid research won’t be as useful for PhD
  • Practice your ability to comprehend research papers

Build Research skills

  • Consider a research capstone or undergraduate honors thesis
    • Work as a research technician after college
  • Be sure your boss supports your scientific and professional development
  • Consider working somewhere you might like to go to school
    • Do a research-oriented postbac after college
  • At the NIH (NIH POSTBAC IRTA PROGRAM)
  • At a University (NIGMS PREP Programs)