How To Succeed In Graduate School


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This ppt by Dr. Sibrina Collins (formerly of UW, now at Wooster) discusses her journey through grad school and tips for (minority) grad students. Topics include: Masters vs. PhD, Graduate School Landscape, Common language, phrases, and acronyms, Who are the major players?, The Dating Game: Choosing a Research Mentor, Family Support: The Research Group, Unwritten Rules of Graduate School, Telling Your Story: Research Conferences. To contact Dr. Collins, visit the site.

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How To Succeed In Graduate School

  1. 1. How to Succeed In Graduate School: Understanding Graduate School Lingo! Sibrina N. Collins, Ph.D. University of Washington Seattle, WA [email_address]
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Masters vs. PhD </li></ul><ul><li>Graduate School Landscape </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Common language, phrases, and acronyms! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who are the major players? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Dating Game: Choosing a Research Mentor </li></ul><ul><li>Family Support: The Research Group </li></ul><ul><li>Unwritten Rules of Graduate School </li></ul><ul><li>Telling Your Story: Research Conferences </li></ul>
  3. 3. From the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest!! Wayne State U, 1994 Ohio State, 2000 Postdoc, LSU (2000-01) AAAS, 2001-02 Detour! Claflin University, 2003-06 Henry Ford High School, 19?? Detroit, MI Director, UW, 2006-
  4. 4. Our Legacy in Science and Engineering!
  5. 5. Masters vs. PhD <ul><li>Money </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Stipend support are typically offered for PhD programs; far fewer for Masters programs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>PhD programs prepare you to do research; Masters programs offer “hands-on” experience </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Masters, 1-3 years; PhD, 4-6 years </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Check out the Menu: Kinds of Masters Degrees </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In some PhD programs, you earn a Masters degree along the way </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coursework (non-thesis) MS; MS (thesis-option) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Earning potential increases!! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Salary for B.S. chemist is ~$35K; M.S., $45K; Ph.D., $72K </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Salary for B.S. physicists is ~$42K; M.S., $58K; Ph.D., $80K </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Salary for B.S. chemical engineer is ~$54K; M.S., $62K; Ph.D., $83K </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Graduate School Landscape: Language, Phrases, Acronyms! <ul><li>Degrees </li></ul><ul><ul><li>M.S. = Master of Science </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>M.A. = Master of Arts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ph.D. = Doctor of Philosophy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Examinations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cumulative exams (or “cumes”), placement exams, qualifying exams, Ph.D. candidacy exams </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Graduate School Status </li></ul><ul><ul><li>M.S. student, M.S. candidate, Ph.D. student, Ph.D. candidate (A.B.D. = All But Dissertation) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>TA (Teaching Associate) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RA (Research Associate) </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. What is the Difference Between a Thesis and a Dissertation? (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) <ul><li>In academia, a thesis or dissertation is a document that presents the author's research and findings and is submitted in support of candidature for a degree or professional qualification. </li></ul><ul><li>The thesis or dissertation is normally the culmination of a candidate's research; submission of the thesis represents the completion of the final requirement for the degree being sought. </li></ul><ul><li>Theses submitted as part of the requirements for a masters degree are usually much shorter than those submitted as part of a Ph.D. (or other research-oriented doctorate). </li></ul>
  8. 8. Graduate School Landscape! <ul><li>Who are the Major Players? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Deans, Department Chairs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Professors (Assistant, Associate, Full Profs, Research Professors) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Postdoctoral Researchers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Laboratory Technicians </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Graduate Students </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Science and Engineering Research Groups! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A typical research group will include a professor, postdoc, grad students, undergrads, and in some cases high school students. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. The Dating Game: Selecting a Research Mentor!!! <ul><li>Date (Shop) Around—Keep Your Options Open! </li></ul><ul><li>Get to know the family (institution)! </li></ul><ul><li>Why is dating (shopping) so important? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>~1-3 years, M.S.; ~4-6 years, Ph.D. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Will we ever break up? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You will always have a bond with your research mentor! </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Dating Criteria—What am I Looking For? <ul><li>Research Interests </li></ul><ul><li>Size of the research group </li></ul><ul><li>How the research mentor (PI) manages the group </li></ul><ul><li>Time-to-degree </li></ul><ul><li>Funding Support </li></ul><ul><li>Published research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Peer-reviewed articles </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. What’s my role in the research group? What about my funding support? <ul><li>Contribute to science and engineering </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Original research project </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Results presented at research conferences, grant proposals, peer-reviewed journals </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Spend ~40 to 80 hours/week </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Support/Network </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Funding Support </li></ul><ul><ul><li>TA = Teaching Associate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RA = Research Associate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fellowships (e.g. GEM, NSF, NIH) </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. What Can I Really Expect? <ul><li>1-2 years of coursework </li></ul><ul><li>Possible TA responsibilities </li></ul><ul><li>Join a research group </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research is a test in patience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tons of experiments—some will work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Committee (MS, PhD) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Candidacy examinations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Learn to Cope with Stress </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Adapt to changing demands </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Manage to stay productive </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Maintaining Balance between Professional and Personal Life <ul><li>Devote time for keeping or developing relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Get involved in at least one activity that is not department related (e.g. exercise class) </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage friends and family to visit </li></ul>
  14. 14. Telling Your Story: Attending Research Conferences <ul><li>Presenting Your Own Research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication Skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Network Opportunities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Conference Activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technical Presentations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Panel Discussions/Workshops/Short Courses </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Get Involved </li></ul><ul><ul><li>AISES, AIChE, ACS, NOBCChE, NSBE, SACNAS, NSBP, NSHP </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Unwritten Rules of Graduate School <ul><li>Work Hard!!! </li></ul><ul><li>Research vs. Coursework </li></ul><ul><li>Selective Reading of Scientific Literature is mandatory </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate with your research mentor </li></ul><ul><li>Attending Scientific Conferences </li></ul><ul><li>Establish a Supportive Network </li></ul><ul><li>Have Fun! </li></ul>
  16. 16. Career Options-Industry, Government, Academia! <ul><li>Research Scientist/Engineer </li></ul><ul><li>Forensic Scientist </li></ul><ul><li>Pharmaceutical Sales </li></ul><ul><li>Science Policy </li></ul><ul><li>Technical Writer </li></ul><ul><li>Journalist </li></ul><ul><li>Finance </li></ul><ul><li>Patent Law </li></ul>
  17. 17. Acknowledgments <ul><li>National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. (GEM) </li></ul><ul><li>University of Washington (UW), GO-MAP </li></ul><ul><li>Lori Miller, MPH, UW GenOM Project </li></ul><ul><li>Alveda Williams, Ph.D., Dow Chemical Company </li></ul><ul><li>Resources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bavor, C. “A Princeton CS Major’s Guide to Applying to Graduate School.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Porter, L.A., “Confessions of a Graduate School Survivor,” In Chemistry Magazine , November 2004, 10-11. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Collins, S.N; Ravnik, S.E. “Graduate School: Tricks, Tips, and Dirty Little Secrets,” In Chemistry Magazine , November 2004, 12-14. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stewart, C. “Unwritten Rules of Graduate School,” Minority Scientists Network, June 2002. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>El-Ghoroury, N.H.; Salvador, D.; Manning, R.; Williamson, T. “A Survival Guide for Ethnic Minority Graduate Students.” </li></ul></ul>