Many of our students decide to pursue a doctoral degree. Earning a Ph.D. opens up additional career opportunities including faculty positions at Four Year Universities and careers as a principle investigator in academia or industry. A Master’s degree is not required for application to a Ph.D. program, many students are accepted directly from their undergraduate program. Doctoral programs require a strong Bachelors and /or Masters GPA, a strong performance on the GRE exam, and research experience. Doctoral programs will differ on their target GPA and GRE scores, but all require substantial research experience. Typical Doctoral programs in the sciences will waive all tuition, provide a stipend (they pay you!), and take five to six years to complete. Your stipend can come from a number of sources. You may be required to work as a Teaching Assistant or you may receive pay as a Research Assistant. Research Assistant funding may come from an NIH training grant through your University, your research mentor may pay for your stipend through their grants, or you can apply for a fellowship yourself. A typical doctoral program begins with 1-2 years of coursework. During the first year you will also rotate through (spend 2-3 months working in) different laboratories. At the end of your rotations you will choose one laboratory to join to do your thesis research. The principle investigator (PI) of that lab will be your research mentor. The remaining years will be focused on generating new research published in peer reviewed journals. This will culminate in a written thesis and oral thesis defense. When choosing where to apply look for departments or programs that have many faculty whose research interests you so that you have many options for rotations. You can apply directly to a department or you can apply to an umbrella program that allows you to try out laboratories in many different departments before choosing a laboratory for your thesis research. If you can move outside of Connecticut cast a wide net and look at programs across the country. This will increase your likelihood of being accepted into a program that you love and of finding a great research mentor. While you may love the research you conducted at CCSU, be open to other research areas too. If you are invited for an interview, most schools will cover the cost of transportation, lodging, and provide meals. Cost should not limit your options.
Here are some links to help you start researching programs:
- Princeton Review Guide for choosing grad schools, at www.princetonreview.com/grad-school.
- GradSchools.com guide for choosing grad schools, at www.gradschools.com/search.html.
Prior to or during a doctoral program you may apply for a training fellowship. Here are links to some award opportunities:
- Training fellowships from the NIH: https://researchtraining.nih.gov/programs/fellowships
- Training fellowships from the NSF: http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=6201
- The Howard Hughes Medical Institute: http://www.hhmi.org/programs/science-education-research-training