Thursday, 10 May 2018 09:56

The Experience Needed for Graduate School

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Published in Careers

Last year at ASM Microbe 2017, the Microbe Academy for Professional Development (MAPD) covered several topics pertaining to graduate school. In this article, we focus on one particular talk that was presented by Dr. Zakiya Wilson-Kennedy from Louisiana State University (LSU) on tips for improving your graduate school application.

Get Research Experience Before Applying

Admissions committees heavily weigh whether you’ve had at least one or two research experiences and whether a poster, presentation, or paper came from your research so try to get experience while in undergrad or during the summers.

Do Well in Your Major Subject Courses

While reviewing your transcripts, admissions committees look at what classes you took and the grades you received. In particular, they want to know whether you avoided challenging subjects like physical chemistry or calculus and what grades you received in the major subject courses. Oftentimes, you may be asked to submit a GPA for your science and math courses.

Score High on Your GRE Exam

It’s a good idea to check with programs before applying to know if GRE scores are important for admission into graduate school because some schools block GRE scores from the admissions committee, while others keep them. However, when it comes to fellowships at your university or with outside agencies, GRE scores matter.

Pick the Right People for Recommendation Letters

Recommendation letters can often make or break whether you get an interview for graduate school, so they are really important. Faculty will write letters that reflect what they know about you so pick faculty that can adequately write about your scientific skills and any challenges that you’ve faced.

Include Enthusiasm, Interests, and Discovery in Your Personal Statement

With every graduate school application, you will be required to write a “personal statement or letter of interest.” In this document explain why you are interested in graduate school and showcase your enthusiasm for science and the process of discovery. They also want to see whether you can clearly explain your research - the problem/gap, what you did, and the impact.        

By the end of the workshop, you could feel the excitement in the room about ASM Microbe.

Do you want to join the fun this year at ASM Microbe 2018? Register (scroll down on page) for the Microbe Academy for Professional Development on Wednesday, June 6 – Thursday, June 7, 2018 in Atlanta, GA. The academy is for community college, undergraduate, post baccalaureate and graduate students. This year’s topics cover expectations of graduate school, finding the right postdoctoral experience, mentor-mentee relationships, and time management.


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2018 10:37
Shilpa Gadwal

Shilpa Gadwal has been with ASM since March 2015 in her role as a Career Advancement Fellow. She took her passion of career development in trainees and created an online  hub for ASM’s career resources and articles. She received her B.S in the Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.