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Prospective Biology Graduate Students

Advice for pursuing a graduate degree in Biology

Biology is a broad discipline with many possibilities, so while you might be able to gain some insight from this page, I strongly encourage you to seek out your advisor and other mentors (i.e. professionals who work in your area of interest) early in your academic career.

Biology can prepare you for many fields, some which require graduate/professional school and some which do not. If you are going into a field that does not require an advanced degree, I would encourage you to speak with your advisor so that you can tailor your electives (e.g. math, computer science, lab courses) towards your professional interests. If graduate school is your goal, be sure you look at the admission requirements for your schools of choice before you finish your undergraduate career.

For the University of Georgia, a good place to start is The UGA Graduate School.

Generally, students interested in the sciences should have their graduate school applications in by Thanksgiving of their senior year. This would also mean that you would need to have already taken the GRE. I would encourage application to no less than three to five schools. 

There are many factors to consider when choosing a school, such as program (e.g. MS vs PhD), faculty mentors, size, location, etc. Please see your advisor and instructors for advice in this area. Once you have sent in your applications, you should hear back from most schools within a couple of months. The interview and negotiation process typically occurs in the spring.

Graduate school can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it is highly specialized and I strongly encourage everyone to speak with their advisors for more specific and directed advice.

Some general hints:

Don't worry much about the name of the school--you will mostly be judged by the quality of your work and the quality of the program.

Think big--this might be your chance to go to the opposite end of the U.S. or even another country.

Think broad--you don't actually have to be in a Marine Biology program (or insert your program of interest here) to do marine biology.

Talk to people who have been to grad school--there are common themes, but many varied experiences.

Don't sweat the bill--most large graduate programs worth their salt will provide a great deal of funding support in the form of teaching or research stipends.

The focus will be on research, not coursework. "If you are getting As in your courses you are spending too much time on them," was one of the first pieces of advice I received when I began graduate school.

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