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Posted: Wed Jul 28, 2021 3:34 pm
by gaugeinvariance
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Re: (international) My chances of getting into top Astrophysics programs?

Posted: Fri Jul 30, 2021 11:55 am
by occamsshaver12
Your last paragraph is not the whole truth but I guess you will see it when you start your PhD. But anyways
Good phd student+ good school> good student + decent school > decent student+ good school> decent student + decent school. Now you want to be in the first group, which makes sense, who doesn't want to have some certainty when it comes to future.

Undergrad GPA: okay at best, will probably hurt your application. Obviously, some schools are harsher when it comes to grading, but if the admission committee doesn't know your school, your undergrad GPA is the biggest weakness you have. BAD

Master GPA: OKAY. As someone who applied with a Master, this is mostly irrelevant. Getting great GPA during master's is expected, having a mediocre MGPA will hurt your application a lot. Your Master's research is much more important. FYI Most of the US unis, especially "top" ones will throw your Master's courses and will make you take them again.

Research: Based on number of years and the paper output (you haven't mentioned if your research is in the field you are applying to, is it the kind of research which profs in US are doing etc etc) GREAT

Pubs: GREAT! Biggest plus you have. If any prof you are applying to is working on the same problem you worked on, you have a high chance.

Awards: Anything from okay to great. No idea what you mean by these awards but if you can explain in your SOP or CV how competitive these awards were (if they were) then you are good.

Research interest: Theory + Astro is hard to get into, but the heart wants what it wants.

Take the GRE and score well. Maybe you can offset your undergrad GPA. Don't worry whether the schools will take your GRE right now.

Master's degree is not a minus but it is not a big plus if there are only grades to show for. Research during masters makes it a plus.

Applying twice doesn't have any effect on your chances as far as I know.

The B in computational course doesn't look good.

Your chances - mediocre. If you had a higher undergrad GPA with your pubs, you would have been in a good spot.

You should take GRE, improve your SOP and CV, start emailing prospective profs and establish some interest in you. Publish those paper ASAP.

Re: (international) My chances of getting into top Astrophysics programs?

Posted: Sun Aug 01, 2021 1:50 pm
by HubbleBubble
gaugeinvariance wrote:
Wed Jul 28, 2021 3:34 pm
How are my chances to be admitted to these top programs? If it is low, how can I improve my odds?
You have a strong profile but numerical astrophysics is competitive. You have a good chance to get into some top school, but if you want to be 100% certain that you will get accepted somewhere I do recommend you apply to a wider range of schools.

To improve your odds, the best thing you can do is publish the third first author paper (or at least submit it before you apply).
occamsshaver12 wrote:
Fri Jul 30, 2021 11:55 am
Your chances - mediocre.
I disagree - 3 first author works before your PhD is an incredible accomplishment you should feel proud of. Many people reading would/should be envious of your position. Some astrophysicists finish their entire PhDs with that many total. Your 'scientific ability' to make new discoveries and share them in papers/talks will determine your success in academia. Other factors can sink you in admissions, especially at top schools; you want high grades to show their courses won’t trouble you, proof you can effectively communicate in English, and to fit the needs/openings they have. But with 3 papers you will be seriously considered at every program.

Granted, astro schools like Caltech and Princeton hire 2-4 students from well over 200 applicants. So the odds are against you, especially as an international. But if you apply to enough schools you have a good chance of getting into some good one, and it is worth applying to any you want to attend, even if it is a reach.
gaugeinvariance wrote:
Wed Jul 28, 2021 3:34 pm
I do know that people usually would come up and say ranking is not important in school selection
Most people don't say exactly that, the point is that more informative data is available about professional outcome. If the past PhD students of the professor you want to work for became professors themselves, or rich data scientists, that is a far better predictor of how you will do working with that adviser, rather than just the university/department's ranking as a whole. But the best professors are generally at the best schools, so if for some reason things change and you can't/don't want to work with who you applied to work with, you'd be better off at a highly ranked school. Ranking definitely matters, both in and outside of academia. But if you are applying for a second time you know that this process is hard so finding the easiest school to get into with the best adviser in your field is a reasonable application strategy. And, of course, you would already understand that applying to only top schools carries the risk of total rejection. That’s the point of adding safer options, because you’d rather go somewhere than nowhere.
gaugeinvariance wrote:
Wed Jul 28, 2021 3:34 pm
Although the GRE is now accessible by most students, some schools (such as CALTECH) still would not accept any GRE scores. Without the GRE scores, is my profile competitive enough? If not, how could I increase my odds to be admitted to top schools?
I have applied to most of the schools in the last cycle. Would there be a penalty score for students who applies for the school twice?
Is it true that schools prefer not to admit students with Master's degrees, even if it is not a MSc?
These are all things which are hard to gauge and you have no control over. If applying twice and having a masters carry some negative affect, it is small. Plenty of internationals with high PGRE scores get rejected from every top school, and I just met an international with a relatively low score who got in to a top program due to a stellar publication record -- it is possible this move just shifts the focus onto your excellent publication record ;)

TLDR: Get off this forum and start writing papers. The same advice I should be following! Good luck.