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Gradschool for the Research Scientist

All these views are just mine, and they don't reflect anyone else's (so don't sue anybody, please).

So you've realized that your life will never be complete until you've earned an advanced degree. That's great news! The first step to achieving this goal of goals is to apply to the graduate schools of your choice.

Now, there are a lot of kinds of graduate school out there, but I can only speak to one and that's those of the persuasion I like to call "The Research Sciences"--and that pertains to Ph.D's like Chemistry, Genetics, Biology, and Biochemistry BUT NOT  things like medical school, nursing school, or any trade, design, or art school whatsoever. I have nothing against those guys, but there are major differences between what I'm talking about and that latter list, and one of the biggest is in the next section: Cost.

In the mean time, look at the basic steps to applying listed down below:
  1. The Application Form
  2. Statement of Goals and Qualifications
  3. Official Final Undergraduate Transcript (and probably a current one, too, if you're still in school.)
  4. Official GRE Score
  5. Letters of Recommendation from a few of your undergraduate professors (upwards of 2, but probably 3 or more)
  6. Finally, The Interview! (This is the best part).

How Much Does It Cost?

Some of you aren't going to believe this, but I guarantee it is the 100%, no fooling, cross my heart, gospel truth. You don't pay to go to graduate school in the Research Sciences, THEY PAY YOU! This isn't a trade school where they're providing you an expensive service; here, you're actually employed by these guys. You'll be in the lab doing research--original research--for your Ph.D., and the school gets grants and prestige based on research like yours, which you also get credit for doing! (Enjoy that before you start working for a company, you R&D hopefuls).

They way you get away with this is through things called fellowships and training grants. Now, you may get a research fellowship, where you get paid for working in the labs, or you may get a teaching fellowship, where you preside over low-level undergraduate courses (this you may even get if your in an academic field other than science!), but whatever kind of fellowship you get, that fellowship means that your tuition is fully paid for on top of about a $20,000 dollar a year stipend to live on. It's not much, but it's not debt! Laugh at your medical school buddies as they exit their program owning hundreds of thousands of dollars; touch young minds with your zeal for science and learning; learn to live slightly above the poverty line! Whatever your reasons, this can all be yours by applying to graduate school!

To me, free tuition plus a stipend is the best deal going when it comes to post-graduate degrees, but it's only the best deal going if it's what you wanted to do in the first place. You won't become a medical doctor at the end of a four-to-six-year biochemistry Ph.D. program, so consider that, too. What you will be, though, is a scientist who can discover great new things, deepen humanity's knowledge of the universe, and teach whole new generations of would-be undergrad and graduate students about the meaning of science!
 
Ph.D? Don't I have to get my Master's first?
Misconception Alert! Contrary to popular belief, in the research sciences, you do NOT have to get your masters degree at all before Ph.D.; you can, in fact, go straight from undergrad right into a Ph.D. program! That's what I'm doing and many, many others along with me this very instant. A master's degree is basically a Ph.D. program minus some original research and a dissertation (replaced by a master's thesis). So it doesn't really do most people a lot of good to get their Masters degree first.

Does That Mean There's No Merit to Getting a Masters Degree?

Don't say that! A lot of people decide to get their Masters first because they're not sure if they even want a terminal degree, and some careers only require a masters, so they don't need a Ph.D at all. It takes only two years to get a masters degree and upwards of five to get a Ph.D, so there's no need to waste your time getting a degree you don't need.


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StatusStepMy Advice!
 Application The Application(s) 
 Statement of Goals and Qualifications  Making a Statement 
 Letters of Recommendation (3 of 3) Some Recommendations 
 Send Transcript Transcription 
 Send GRE scores GRE. Score! 
 Interview Interview: great or greatest? 
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