polyploidy516

10+ Year Member
Jan 5, 2008
291
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Status
Hi all,

Long story short, I have a low gpa due to a variety of issues in my undergrad ( 3.4 sgpa and 3.43 overall gpa). I have a 40 on my mcat and roughly 2 years of research experience in addition to several other research activities. I also have A's in classes that I want to pursue my Phd in ( Biophysics, Biochem, Genetics, etc).

i have letters from a faculty member at a top 5 and 2 other strong lors.

i would like to know if MD/Phd is a viable option for me given my lower gpa ( my dreams are Columbia and Cornell's MSTP)? I am applying as a disadvantaged applicant ( experienced homeless and grew up in public housing) and have a strong interest in translational/precision medicine.

Will the 3.4ish gpas be lethal for MD/phd admissions? I see the lowest gpas for these schools are 3.3ish and fall in that category. however, I dont know if I am still taking a major risk.

Your thoughts and feedback would be truly appreciated.
 

Fencer

MSTP Director
10+ Year Member
Oct 10, 2007
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Absolutely no, it is not lethal, but you need to articulate how you were able to overcome your goals and clearly write your need to do research to fulfill them in your essays. You will need to apply a bit broader (10 dream, 5-10 match, 5 safety) but there are many programs that will take a shot at interviewing you. PM me. You are wanted, and more likely to persist into a MD/PhD career if this is what you want...
 

m2regen

2+ Year Member
Jan 16, 2016
28
3
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MD/PhD Student
Hi @Fencer, I am in a similar position actually, and am curious as to how to judge what is "safety" MD/PhD program? I am looking primarily at non-MSTP programs, but since they have fewer seats, and occasionally in-state preference, it seems very competitive as well. Do you recommend any particular criteria or schools?
 
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Fencer

MSTP Director
10+ Year Member
Oct 10, 2007
1,557
1,903
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Attending Physician
My recommendation is to examine the competitive non-MSTPs by three features:
1) Size - at least a class size of 5 students/year - there is a need for critical mass to get synergies.
2) Number of applicants per slot - see table B-8, you can re-plot all the data by how many slots and how many applicants per slot.
3) Quality of those programs - for example, check NIH reporter for F30 awards in current fiscal year, then divide # per MD/PhD census (see table B-12); alternatively, examine the T32 (training grants) for the areas of your interests. Both of these strategies will tell you that NIH study sections like the training occurring at that institution.

These are the programs that are on the cusp of becoming MSTP, a T32 grant from the NIGMS, which funds ~20-30% of the slots of those programs.

PM me if you want to discuss further.
 

Neuronix

Total nerd
Staff member
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Mar 14, 2002
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Long story short, I have a low gpa due to a variety of issues in my undergrad ( 3.4 sgpa and 3.43 overall gpa). I have a 40 on my mcat and roughly 2 years of research experience in addition to several other research activities.
The research experience here is also on the low side. Continuing to increase this may help you. I hope you have ongoing experience.

i would like to know if MD/Phd is a viable option for me given my lower gpa ( my dreams are Columbia and Cornell's MSTP)? I am applying as a disadvantaged applicant ( experienced homeless and grew up in public housing) and have a strong interest in translational/precision medicine.
Yes you have a reasonably good chance at a fully funded MD/PhD program. Your odds at landing at programs as competitive as Cornell or Columbia are small. Applicants with application blemishes tend to land at programs outside the top 20 or so of the usnews rankings and away from the big coastal cities.
 
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polyploidy516

10+ Year Member
Jan 5, 2008
291
5
Status
The research experience here is also on the low side. Continuing to increase this may help you. I hope you have ongoing experience.



Yes you have a reasonably good chance at a fully funded MD/PhD program. Your odds at landing at programs as competitive as Cornell or Columbia are small. Applicants with application blemishes tend to land at programs outside the top 20 or so of the usnews rankings and away from the big coastal cities.

I am grateful for your clarification. Each previous research experience was one year of continuous experience. I will also have another year of research experience before I apply.

In regards to my blemishes, they were primarily due to issues related to my disadvantaged status (worked 40 hours a week) and a health issue ( I was diagnosed with diabetes)--this illness is actually a primary reason why I want to do an md/phd as the treatment process made me feel more like a research subject.

Furthermore, I did a postbac after graduation and got a 3.7 with no grade lower than a B and A's in upper division sciences such as biophysics. Would this help assuage my lower overall GPA as my last 60 credits were a 3.7 particularly at competitive places like Cornell and Columbia?
 

Neuronix

Total nerd
Staff member
Administrator
15+ Year Member
Mar 14, 2002
13,109
2,445
the beach
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Attending Physician
I could reshuffle my tarot deck and pull out some more cards and predictions, but what I've told you so far is my best educated guess. My advice to you is to be sure to apply broadly in addition to your dream schools, e.g. if you're interested in the northeast be sure to include at least a half dozen less competitive places like the SUNYs, Buffalo, Rochester, Maryland, etc...
 

MYRIAD909

PhD Student
7+ Year Member
Apr 25, 2009
57
46
33
Cleveland, OH
Hi all,

Long story short, I have a low gpa due to a variety of issues in my undergrad ( 3.4 sgpa and 3.43 overall gpa). I have a 40 on my mcat and roughly 2 years of research experience in addition to several other research activities. I also have A's in classes that I want to pursue my Phd in ( Biophysics, Biochem, Genetics, etc).

i have letters from a faculty member at a top 5 and 2 other strong lors.

i would like to know if MD/Phd is a viable option for me given my lower gpa ( my dreams are Columbia and Cornell's MSTP)? I am applying as a disadvantaged applicant ( experienced homeless and grew up in public housing) and have a strong interest in translational/precision medicine.

Will the 3.4ish gpas be lethal for MD/phd admissions? I see the lowest gpas for these schools are 3.3ish and fall in that category. however, I dont know if I am still taking a major risk.

Your thoughts and feedback would be truly appreciated.
Keep your head up polyploidy516, I'd say you have a great shot (especially if you have publications). I'm in a much worse situation, but still think I have a decent shot this cycle.

As a follow-up, what do y'all think my chances are?
2.85 GPA (first 2 years of college = awful; last 2 years = 3.7)
MCAT September 10 (will be lucky if I hit 510)
22 original scientific publications (7 first-authored)
4 co-authored book chapters
Countless research-based awards in my field of study
5 awesome LORs (all successful physician scientists; 2 MSTP admissions committee members; 1 "Featured Alumnus" from CWRU)
First-year PhD student at CWRU (the only school I'm applying to)
 
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