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Harvard v. UCSD

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by crickster, Apr 25, 2004.

  1. crickster

    crickster Junior Member
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    hey all,

    so my deal is i got into UCSD MSTP and absolutely love the program and the students and the weather there. However I got into my dream school at Harvard NP.
    I am from the midwest so family and friends really arent playing a role, just where i will be for the next 4-8 years. So as i see it:

    UCSD: pros-great research, great MSTP program, very happy MSTP students, great weather, 0 debt and 2 degrees


    Harvard: great program, the most interesting students i've met, and Boston is a great town to live in, also a more interesting hospital population, however with a bit of debt

    I'm 90% sure i want to do academic research, and am wondering what people's opinions are on going to Harvard and then a post-doc or Harvard and take a year mid-cycle for research.
    Thanks!
     
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  3. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
    Administrator Physician PhD Faculty SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    People swing both ways on this one. Personally, I don't think it's worth $200k just for that Harvard name when you have good MD/PhD options, but if you want it that badly, than go for it...
     
  4. Gfunk6

    Gfunk6 And to think . . . I hesitated
    Physician PhD Faculty Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    Man, what a choice! Your blessed if you do and blessed if you don't. I would also throw in my lot with Harvard but you really can't go wrong with a decision like this.
     
  5. ImmunoANT

    ImmunoANT Senior Member
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    not sure if I heard it right, but people told me that Harvard really helps out a lot on student's financial situation; taking out family contribution and standard Stafford loan, they'll subsidize the rest.

    Anyone knows if this is true?
     
  6. IlianaSedai

    IlianaSedai Senior Member
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    One thing you might wish to consider is where you want to live in the long run. If you really, really, really want to do your residency and/or get a post-residency job and buy a house in California (thus, I mean in the long run) UCSD would offer you a foothold with which to meet people and get your foot in the door, years ahead of Harvard.

    This is not to say that you wouldn't be able to land in California after Harvard -- you might -- but I think your chances of staying in California for residency might be better from UCSD. It all depends on how much you care about where you live when you get your degree.
     
  7. ATLien1224

    ATLien1224 Member
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    I say go with UCSD.

    If you want to do research, New Pathways at Harvard is definitely not the way to go (my opinion would be somewhat different if you were considering HST). My impression from when I interviewed there is that it is a wishy-washy program that plays on the Harvard name to stay on top. It is totally oriented toward clinical medicine...when my interviewers found out I wanted to do research with my career, they basically threw me out. You will get better training at UCSD in all likelihood, and definitely if you want to stick with science. The Harvard name is not worth all the debt you're going to accrue in the end...this con will easily outweigh the pro of the Hahvahd name if you really want to do basic science research in the long run.
     
  8. fresca

    fresca New Member

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    I was actually in the same position you were, with offers at UCLA and UCSD MSTPs. I visited Harvard recently, and I absolutely loved it. I disagree with the comments about NP being "wishy-washy". I didn't get the impression at all. People that come out of there do exceptionally well. People are quick to criticize because the program is very different from that of other places. Yeah, NP isn't going to force you to do a thesis like HST, but that doesn't mean you can't do research, or that they don't encourage it. I meant many NP students who during their first block, worked in a lab. There is so much free time in your first year of NP, that they encourage you to step outside the classroom, that's the great thing about the program. Unlike UCSD, they're not going to force you to spend 8-5 in a classroom. The tutorials are great because you're learning from the best and brightest in the country. You're presented cases just like you would see them as a doctor. Yeah it's different, but at least from what I heard, they encourage you to do whatever you want. If you want to do basic science research with the best in the world, they will hook you up. The clinical and basic science opportunities at Harvard cannot be matched by UCSD, which is not to say that it isn't a good school. Most people who apply to second cycle fundning get it. There are so many other fellowships you can apply to as well. The opportunities are endless. People who hate on NP don't know much about it in my opinion. Go visit for yourself and see, and then, go with your gut. Don't let money be the deciding factor, because I'm not. You can PM me if you want to talk more. :)
     
  9. nothingman

    nothingman We're getting there.
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    Just a few comments... First of all, the money is nice for when you're in med school (you're getting stipended and not racking up huge debts while your MD colleagues are living off loan checks) but in the end, it will probably work out to be the same as I'm sure people have told you (start work sooner, repay sooner, etc.).

    It seems like there are a few factors to consider here. 1) How much do you yourself like the individual places for what they are, the name if that's an important thing for you, but also research opportunities, program organization (something that Harvard has been previously quite weak on, surprisingly so to me), medical school curriculum/student life, how long you really want to be a student.

    I don't know much about the UCSD program, but from its reputation, I would say that you should have the same choice of residencies as a UCSD MD/PhD graduate as a Harvard NP grad would, since MD/PhDs tend to do better in the match. So I would not let that be a huge concern if it is - but check the matchlists to be sure.

    Clearly the research options at Harvard are difficult to beat, and if you are looking for a wide breadth of choices and are not sure about one particular lab, then that's a plus for Harvard. However, if you see a friendly lab at UCSD and there are enough backups there, then that can be a solid option as well.

    The curriculum is clearly a matter of personal preference. Just be informed; whatever best suits your learning style is what's best for you. I don't know how UCSD does it, but if you absolutely hate lecture, then NP may be a plus. However, I have heard from their students that come board time, there's a bit of a scramble to fill in the gaps from PBL.

    Again, I'm not too familiar with UCSD, but I do know that at least as of last year, there were some organizational weaknesses with the Harvard program. For example, the MD/PhD office cannot force individual grad programs to accept combined degree applicants, so even if one is accepted to the MD/PhD program, there is a second application cycle after 1st year for grad programs. If you want to do run-of-the-mill biology/cell bio/genetics research, acceptance is virtually guaranteed, but not so if you're looking at more competitive departments such as biophysics, various engineering options, etc. GRE may or may not be required. Anyway, that seems like a potential hurdle.

    Lastly, how risk-averse are you? It's true that people get funding second cycle, but that's not guaranteed. Just another factor to weigh.

    In any case, though, you won't go wrong with your options. Gather as much info as you can, ask hard questions, and after you decide, don't look back. Good luck!
     
  10. pjr28

    pjr28 Member
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    First of all, congratulations on your excellent choices. You really can't go wrong with either one. However, during the Alliance revisit weekend last weekend for HMS, there was a panel discussions about combined degree programs. Someone asked about applying to the PhD after your first year at HMS, and they basically said that as long as you can adequately convince them as to why you want to go into the MD PhD program, everyone gets in. Plus, many students take a year off to do research and, once again the research opportunities at HMS are endless.
     
  11. Habari

    Habari Senior Member
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    this is true, but misleading insofar as one does not recieve funding for any of the med part if one goes this route. you are still responsible for the med school tuition for all four years without stipend. grad school is obvioiusly covered.

    the structure for internal applicants to the mstp at harvard is different from most schools. there does not seem to be a way to get funding for the first 2 years of med school - you must apply during your grad school thesis years [this implies that you must have already committed to the process, without prior knowledge of the funding decision for your last 2 years of med school] and it certainly isn't guaranteed.

    simply applying to phd programs from med school at any school isn't particularly difficult for most applicants. the mstp funding is the issue.

    i agree with ATLien's assessment. they are not equivelent options; it would be misleading to posit them as such. it's up to you to decide which is best for your aims.
     
  12. Eugenie98

    Eugenie98 Member
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    I would definitely go to Harvard

    I always hear "your med school's prestige matters most if one plans on doing research and being published"
     
  13. mellantro

    mellantro Senior Member
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    But wouldn't an MD/PhD program, at an up and coming school like UCSD (affiliated with the Salk institute i think), have a similar, if not stronger match list than straight Harvard NP MDs? I mean the MD/PhD goes a long way.....
     
  14. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    If you are interested in a basic research career, I would say that UCSD MSTP would be your best bet.

    If you are not sure about research, then Harvard's program would be the choice.

    The prestige of the Harvard name really does not outweigh the additional prestige you would have in a Ph.D. and the associated thesis work and publications you would gain by the latter route.

    UCSD has excellent research overall, and is especially strong in particular areas like neuroscience and immunology. I am sure there are abundant opportunities there that you have already looked into.
     

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