Ph.D. in Biology for IP

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Ph.D. in Biology for IP

Postby theone1080 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:07 am

I need input on a career decision I am making. Background, I got my Bachelor of Science in Biology (did research while I was there), completed it in three years, went on to law school and just took the NY/NJ bar exam, pending results. I am currently pursuing my LL.M in IP. I want to practice patent prosecution and some litigation on the side, if possible. I am also currently preparing for the patent bar exam.

My question is, I am currently interviewing at patent firms in NYC and am considering whether or not to apply to Ph.D. programs (or Masters programs) in Biology prior to the start of a patent prosecution career. I know Ph.D programs are quite competitive, but how will an admission board look upon my return to the science field after law school? Is it a pro or con on my application? I suppose I am considered a non-traditional applicant. I should note that I am very interested/excited in returning to the sciences, as I have already had a genuine interest. Should I keep the fact that I am interested in patent prosecution quiet during any interview? From what I read it is required in this field, so, if they do, why would the admission board look down upon that interest? As for the GRE, I will be taking it soon and practice indicates that I will score well. Should I consider MS programs?

I am still young and do have the 5 years to devote to a Ph.D. Thoughts?


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Re: Ph.D. in Biology for IP

Postby collegebum1989 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:06 pm

I've never heard of someone whose attempted a PhD after law school...especially in the sciences. Your admissions chances will probably be decreased for PhD applications with a JD for these primary reasons:

-PhD programs care only about research for admissions. While the GRE is required, its merely a qualification and a filter for applications that are actually reviewed by faculty members. Admissions decisions are heavily based on your reference letters (which describe your potential as a researcher) and any publications and/or conference proceedings you may have. A professional degree is pretty much useless in the evaluation process, external research funding is more important.

-Any graduate program who gets an applicant with a JD already, will see the applicant as someone who lacked focus or has an eye for IP, which will lead to an auto-reject. Why? Because graduate programs are ranked based on research publications and funding. Graduate schools are looking for people interested in a career in academia to further the specific field of interest (in this case biology). It's like being hired to conduct research for the department. They don't care for degrees unless it specifically helps in research. Having a JD does not benefit your biology research credentials. Furthermore, if the school understands you will use the PhD to go into IP, it won't help the reputation of the school in the long run, so they have no incentive to admit you.

-You will be competing against people who live and breathe science in your PhD applications. These students have more substantial research experiences, more relevant interests and focused career goals, not to mention more research-oriented contacts who can vouch for their research skills in their applications.

-Graduate schools (especially in the hard sciences) look down upon professional degrees because the graduate training is very different from professional training. Since you spent the last three years in law school, graduate schools will assume that you have lost your critical research skills from undergrad and before law school since you spent time studying the legal system in law school.

All in all, its not worth it. Going into a PhD without the intent of doing research (especially in biology) is suicide. If you have debt from law school, its an even worse decision to do it, since most stipends are like $17,500 - $19,000. Conversely, firms will be less inclined to hire you after since your legal training was about five years ago and like the graduate schools may be worried that you've lost your legal expertise. Finally, a PhD is AT LEAST five years. To actually finish it in that time frame depends on your individual motivation, your research mentor and a wide variety of factors which doesn't warrant the decision to pursue it (in my opinion).

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