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Shot at a PhD Program?


New Member
Apr 25, 2012
Hello all,

I am thinking about going for a PhD in Genetics and want to get a feel as to whether or not I really have a chance at gaining admission into a program. Not really concerned with tier, rankings etc.

College: Virginia Tech
Major: Biology with a concentration in Microbiology/Immunology
Minor: Chem
Cumulative GPA: 2.81
In Major GPA: 3.09
GRE: V 720, Q 700

Primary factor in the low GPA was the fact that I was in an active band during my sophomore/junior years and traveled for practice or gigs almost every weekend. Grades sucked during that time period. I would have regretted not doing it, but I also regret it's impact on my grades. Is this something that I would want to include in my SOP?

Since graduation I have worked for the past two years at a pharmaceutical manufacturing company - for one year as a Microbiologist and then was promoted to the FDA Compliance branch. I will also be obtaining my NRCM certification (National Registry of Certified Microbiologists) for pharma/medical device this year - would this help my application?

I will be able to get strong recommendations from my previous lab supervisor and my current supervisor, but unfortunately I do not have any real academic references or undergraduate research to call on.

I will probably also be applying to several Master's programs as a backup. I am just trying to get a general feel for what my chances are, and any advice on steps I should take before applying or how I should approach schools, etc would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for the help!


Full Member
10+ Year Member
May 10, 2011
  1. Attending Physician
I'd suggest you consider doing a research-based master's first.

First of all, with your GPA, getting a 4.0 in a master's program would go a long way to showing you can handle the work in a PhD program.

Second, without any track record of doing hypothesis-driven research (not just lab work) you are going to have a very hard time getting into a PhD program. Also, without that experience how do you even know you will like the kind of research you would be doing in grad school (which is very different from what is done in industry).

Not really concerned with tier, rankings etc.

You should be concerned with these factors. Especially with the current job market for biological science PhD's, going to a strong grad program and working with a well-known PI is extremely helpful for getting a good postdoc, which in turn helps set you up to compete for faculty positions or other jobs.
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