Applying with a PhD in the hard sciences

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laxbrah420
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Re: Applying with a PhD in the hard sciences

Postby laxbrah420 » Fri May 24, 2013 11:19 am

Pretty sure law schools are the only schools not to factor in rigor. The only other grad schools I followed my friend's admissions for have been med and Econ PhD and both instances, their coursework was quite important.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Applying with a PhD in the hard sciences

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri May 24, 2013 11:27 am

laxbrah420 wrote:Pretty sure law schools are the only schools not to factor in rigor. The only other grad schools I followed my friend's admissions for have been med and Econ PhD and both instances, their coursework was quite important.

Yeah, I think this is true. The thing about other grad schools is that the content of your courses (and where you do them) is relevant to what you study in grad school (it would likely be a very bad move to try to do an Econ Ph.D. if you majored in music and minored in French). Also, a grad program in Econ is going to know what good econ schools are and what kinds of courses an econ major should have had and how well they should have done in those courses. Since there are no prereqs for studying law and it doesn't matter what your major is, law schools are stuck flying (somewhat) blind.

(I do think a plus of this system is that the person who gets a 4.0 from West Podunk State has pretty much as good a shot as the 4.0 from Chicago - this is a plus because the West Podunk person may have gone there for reasons that have nothing to do with ability and is just as capable as the Stanford person. Whereas a 4.0 from West Podunk trying to get into Econ Ph.D. programs will probably suffer compared to the 4.0 from Chicago, since econ programs can more legitimately take school reputation into account. There's an argument that diversity of background has decreased in Ph.D. programs over the last decade or so because admissions are getting tougher and tougher and programs are less likely to "gamble" on someone who doesn't have the "right" academic pedigree.)

Do MBA programs care about your coursework, or is it more what work experience you have?

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pacifica
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Re: Applying with a PhD in the hard sciences

Postby pacifica » Fri May 24, 2013 4:48 pm

OP, very similar background to you. See profile. These threads pop up every month or so, so forgive me for not reading through all the responses; I haven't been active on TLS.

My experience is that your LSAT/uGPA largely decides the in-or-out decision, and then outstanding softs, which a PhD with publications in the hard sciences definitely is, puts you either to the top of the in-pile or nudges you into the in-pile if you're on the fence. For example, for me personally, at my reach schools where my stats were median, I was amongst the first to be accepted (case of moving to the top of the pile), and at schools where I should have been YPed, I was still accepted (case of nudging into the in-pile). A PhD is a fantastic soft, but that's all it will be during admissions; however, it will pay mad dividends, at least from what I hear, during job interviews.

Grad school GPA, unfortunately, does not matter at all. My grad school GPA was actually quite sub-par (~3.7), and it didn't seem to have had any impact on my cycle.

Nail the LSAT, and with a 3.0, you can probably get into 7 down, maybe with money. Individualized Why X essays discussing a program's science-law interface, including course work, seminars, and projects/centers go a long way too.

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pacifica
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Re: Applying with a PhD in the hard sciences

Postby pacifica » Sat May 25, 2013 10:26 am

Sorry, I posted my last comment without reading the whole thread, but since I got some PM comments/questions by others, thought I'd go back and actually read so I can comment on it more intelligently. OP, you seem pretty level-headed, so I'll be blunt with you: please don't think like this statement below, because you might end up conveying an unintentional whiny tone in your app, and come across as disingenuous:

mx23250 wrote:I went to a private school with a very difficult science program and ended up with ~3.0 GPA but when I got into my PhD program I ended up getting the top score (setting the curve) in just about every exam (class size of ~40-50 students) whereas many of the people who failed out had undergrad GPAs of 3.8+ from "easier" undergrad programs. For them, the PhD program exams were the most difficult of their life and for me they were relatively easy given I was use to having to study my butt off.


That statement may be personally true to you, but to everyone else in the life sciences field, it sounds misinformed at best and very disingenuous at worst. In the life sciences, the widely regarded top 5 PhD programs are MIT, Harvard, Berk, Stanford, and UCSF. At each of those schools, I personally know scores of PhD candidates with 3.8+ uGPA from top-notch private undergrad institutions, who do extremely well in their graduate studies as well and accomplish all that you've accomplished (near-perfect grad school grades, fellowships, papers, presentations, teaching awards, etc.). Hell, Harvard even has an award for "best departmental PhD candidate" each year that such students can explicitly write on the CV to demonstrate their excellence. In fact, at least as of 2008 when I was applying, I believe the median for these programs' doctoral students was a 3.6 uGPA, and the overwhelming majority of them are from elite undergrad institutions. As you rightfully pointed out, the job market for a life sci PhD is bad right now, so many of these students are thinking about law school as well (I know about half a dozen or so personally).

While adcoms won't know the details of everything I just said, if they see an app similar to yours, but with vastly superior numbers, any tone you convey which sounds like you're trying to say "please overlook my my uGPA b/c of my grad performance" may look terrible if they have a direct juxtaposition of another biology PhD without such an issue.

I'm sure when you nail the LSAT, you'd be a highly sought after splitter. And I do believe you can get 7 down, likely with some money too. But in your GPA addendum, just go with the narrative that you like to challenge yourself in your studies and spent a lot of hours in lab as an undergrad, instead of saying how uniquely difficult your experience was (like you seem to be conveying on this thread), because, with all due respect, it wasn't.

Sorry to sound harsh, but there's only a few life sci PhDs on these boards, so it's best if I were blunt because others are unlikely to know the exact contexts of our backgrounds.

P.S. This is going to sound extremely elitist, but top schools for life sci PhD do not have "many...people who failed out" -- if any -- so law schools being prestige whores that they are, may not think as highly of your doctoral program as you may think. Sorry, even reading that myself made me sound like an a$$hole, but I'm just trying to paint a realistic picture for you.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Applying with a PhD in the hard sciences

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat May 25, 2013 11:12 am

pacifica wrote:Sorry, I posted my last comment without reading the whole thread, but since I got some PM comments/questions by others, thought I'd go back and actually read so I can comment on it more intelligently. OP, you seem pretty level-headed, so I'll be blunt with you: please don't think like this statement below, because you might end up conveying an unintentional whiny tone in your app, and come across as disingenuous:

mx23250 wrote:I went to a private school with a very difficult science program and ended up with ~3.0 GPA but when I got into my PhD program I ended up getting the top score (setting the curve) in just about every exam (class size of ~40-50 students) whereas many of the people who failed out had undergrad GPAs of 3.8+ from "easier" undergrad programs. For them, the PhD program exams were the most difficult of their life and for me they were relatively easy given I was use to having to study my butt off.


That statement may be personally true to you, but to everyone else in the life sciences field, it sounds misinformed at best and very disingenuous at worst. In the life sciences, the widely regarded top 5 PhD programs are MIT, Harvard, Berk, Stanford, and UCSF. At each of those schools, I personally know scores of PhD candidates with 3.8+ uGPA from top-notch private undergrad institutions, who do extremely well in their graduate studies as well and accomplish all that you've accomplished (near-perfect grad school grades, fellowships, papers, presentations, teaching awards, etc.). Hell, Harvard even has an award for "best departmental PhD candidate" each year that such students can explicitly write on the CV to demonstrate their excellence. In fact, at least as of 2008 when I was applying, I believe the median for these programs' doctoral students was a 3.6 uGPA, and the overwhelming majority of them are from elite undergrad institutions. As you rightfully pointed out, the job market for a life sci PhD is bad right now, so many of these students are thinking about law school as well (I know about half a dozen or so personally).

While adcoms won't know the details of everything I just said, if they see an app similar to yours, but with vastly superior numbers, any tone you convey which sounds like you're trying to say "please overlook my my uGPA b/c of my grad performance" may look terrible if they have a direct juxtaposition of another biology PhD without such an issue.

I'm sure when you nail the LSAT, you'd be a highly sought after splitter. And I do believe you can get 7 down, likely with some money too. But in your GPA addendum, just go with the narrative that you like to challenge yourself in your studies and spent a lot of hours in lab as an undergrad, instead of saying how uniquely difficult your experience was (like you seem to be conveying on this thread), because, with all due respect, it wasn't.

Sorry to sound harsh, but there's only a few life sci PhDs on these boards, so it's best if I were blunt because others are unlikely to know the exact contexts of our backgrounds.

P.S. This is going to sound extremely elitist, but top schools for life sci PhD do not have "many...people who failed out" -- if any -- so law schools being prestige whores that they are, may not think as highly of your doctoral program as you may think. Sorry, even reading that myself made me sound like an a$$hole, but I'm just trying to paint a realistic picture for you.

Not in the life sciences, but even talking about PhDs generally, I completely agree with this.

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Bronte
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Re: Applying with a PhD in the hard sciences

Postby Bronte » Mon May 27, 2013 4:47 pm

LexLeon wrote:Why would (the best, don't forget we're speaking about the best) schools care about scores, but not intelligence and ability and motivation to do the work in law school? (Pause for a moment and recognize the absurdity of that proposition.)

The scores purport to predict intelligence and ability and motivation to do the work; that is their only value; and that is why schools care about scores. It is not the other way around, despite what you happen to believe without justification, and contrary to what the representatives of those schools repeatedly affirm.

Some people here might believe that schools care about scores alone because those schools care about their rankings over and above the quality of applicant they admit. However, as I mentioned earlier, the datum used to calculate ranking is median score. If a 3.0 falls far below the median, as it would at any of the best schools, those schools would have no reason to reject the OP, or a few others like him, in order to protect their rankings.

Either you:

Agree with me, without yet realizing it;

Disagree with the proposition that admitting a few 3.0s and 155s would have no effect on ranking; or

Believe there is another reason to reject people with low numbers, other than doubts about intelligence and ability and motivation to do the work in law school.

It would be amusing to see you take up either of the latter two options.


I get the sense that this is a well-crafted flame. In any event, it's wrong on a number of levels.

Law schools primarily care about your LSAT score and your LSAC GPA. One would expect that this is what they care about by looking at their incentives: those two figures are the primary drivers of rankings (that are relevant in this context). This expectation is confirmed empirically by the overwhelming evidence available here: http://lawschoolnumbers.com/ and elsewhere.

Lastly, allow me to disabuse you of your misconceptions concerning medians. Consider the following list:

174
173
172
172
172
170
170

The median is 172. If you add an applicant with a 155, the median is still 172. But--and here's the part you're missing--the median is now one below-median applicant closer to being 170. Thus, there are a finite number of spaces that the admissions committee can distribute to below-median applicants without shifting their reported medians. Those spaces are mostly reserved for underrepresented minorities.

charlesriver
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Re: Applying with a PhD in the hard sciences

Postby charlesriver » Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:02 am

mx23250 wrote:In and of itself, a PhD degree on the resume will have little effect on helping law school admissions. What I'm hoping, however, is the context wherein my PhD lies. I've received a very large number of awards and recognitions, many at the national/international level, including a highly competitive fellowship with the department of defense for my innovative research project. Several awards are due to my writing and oral presentations as well, which I think I could certainly market in my application as being important for a lawyer to have. What I'm hoping to do is convey myself as being "at the top of my doctoral class". Obviously just graduating with a PhD shouldn't say much about how "good" you really are or how well you would perform in law school and beyond, but what I'm hoping to convey with my PhD and accomplishments achieved during that education is that I am at the "top of my field" (of fresh PhDs). I certainly won't do it in a conceited way at all though. I would like to note, I don't expect this to make much more of an effect than "nudging" the admissions reps into giving me an acceptance if they are already on the fence given my UGPA/LSAT scores.


Just out of curiosity, how do you prove that you are at the top of the field? Especially in your field. Have you published on nature, science or cell? Even so, is it your idea or your advisors?

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jordan15
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Re: Applying with a PhD in the hard sciences

Postby jordan15 » Thu Oct 17, 2013 4:36 am

High GPAs (even 4.0s) are really common in grad programs which is why you won't stand out against other people with MAs/PhDs because they likely have a similar transcript, and which is probably why LSAC doesn't include them in your GPA.

That said, the degree itself will be a good soft and will be an excellent advantage for jobs.

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iamgeorgebush
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Re: Applying with a PhD in the hard sciences

Postby iamgeorgebush » Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:12 pm

Get a 171+, go to GW (which has an excellent IP program), do really well in your 1L, score job as patent attorney, you win.

http://www.hourumd.com/?school=George%2 ... at=170-180




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