Kristen Williams Selecting Grad Programs 1 12 2011
Selecting the Right Graduate Program
January 12, 7am – 8am (EST)
Kristin Williams, Ed.D.
Assistant Vice President for Graduate and Special Enrollment Management
George Washington University
Q: Hello everybody, I'm PhD student from Ukraine.
A: Hello - please submit your question in the chat
Q: I'm interested in some summer PhD program in USA with financial support
A: Most support for doctoral students is provided to those enrolled at the university. You would need to
contact specific faculty to determine whether any might have summer-only support for other students.
Q: Is it necessary to have a Master's degree in order to apply for a Doctorate one?
A: It depends on the program. Some do require a master's; others accept students directly from their
Q: Dear Kristin, thanks for the great presentation. I am an EducationUSA adviser in Brazil, and we advise
many international students. We know that contacting the institution is really important, but sometimes
they are afraid to contact professors for example. What is your suggestion to them?
A: I generally suggest contacting faculty only if an applicant has specific, academic questions. Questions
about admissions requirements and the process should be directed to the admissions office.
Q: Could you recommend resources to find information on financial aid for graduate studies?
A: I always recommend starting with the EducationUSA website and centers. Also, universities will have
information on their websites.
A: For financial aid, see our website as well: http://www.educationusa.info/pages/students/finance.php
Q: Once I've decided on a program or programs that I'm interested in, what is the best way to contact
the professors or admissions to get myself noticed?
A: The best way to get noticed is to submit a good application for admission -- one that includes a
thoughtful, well-written statement of purpose.
Q: Students have a hard time knowing if they are competitive - if their GRE test scores or past grades are
high enough for them to be considered. How can students find out from the university website or other
sources if they have a good chance to be accepted based on scores?
A: All admissions decisions are based on a holistic review of your application -- everything you submit
will be considered when making a decision, not simply scores. However, some programs may list the
average standardized test scores for successful applicants in the previous year.
Q: I have heard during the presentation that there are a lot of summer PhD programs that you can
continue doing online. Can you give examples, for instance in Math or Computer Science fields?
A: No Ph.D. program can be completed in a summer, so I assume you mean individual courses at a
university that might transfer back to your home institution. I'm sure there are schools who have
summer on-line courses in those fields, but I can't suggest any particular universities that do so.
Q: I am currently attending my last year as an undergraduate student. The academic calendar is a little
bit different in Brazil, so I'll be finishing my studies by the end of the year. When should I start applying
for a graduate program?
A: Most graduate programs start in the US fall (late August or early September), with some deadlines as
early as December or January. I recommend beginning the process at least one year before then
Q: What do you think about distance learning?
A: We have many excellent distance learning programs in the US, and they are an good alternative for
study in fields that work in a distance learning format and for students who aren't able to come to the
Q: Doesn't it increase one's chances at getting assistantships, research projects, and financial aid to get
in touch with faculty early on?
A: Not really. Until you have submitted your application for admission, faculty can't really review your
credentials. Also, the faculty you contact may not be part of the Admissions Committee for the
program, or they may not have funding.
Q: I want to apply a graduate program and I need to know how is the process?
A: Thanks for the question, Romina. The process of applying to different graduate schools can take
anywhere from 12-24 months of planning in advance of when you may hope to begin your studies.
Students should be applying ideally a little less than a year before planned entry.
Q: What do you think about distance learning as a step to a degree program?
A: As long as the distance education (DE) program is regionally accredited and provides the credential
necessary for the next degree, it should be fine.
Q: You mentioned that there are different types of graduate programs. If one decides to do a research
degree (as opposed to 'regular' MA programs) will the number of course credits be the same as in MA
programs? Sub question: are research degrees equal with regular MA degrees?
A: The total degree credits for thesis vs. non-thesis master's degrees are usually the same -- e.g., a 36-
credit hour master's with the option of doing 36 hours of coursework OR 30 hours of coursework and 6
hours of thesis.
Q: Does Math or Computer Science fields work in distance learning format?
A: Hello Patlatus. We will be having a session on January 31st at 11am eastern US time specifically on
the subject of online education. You are welcome to come back then to talk more on this subject.
Q: ok, and do I need job experience?
A: Programs often offer conditional admission to undergraduates finishing up their last semester. You
would, however, need to provide proof that you successfully completed your bachelor's degree program
Q: Is is possible to get full financial aid for a graduate program?
A: It may be possible through an Assistantship or Fellowship. Check to see what types of financial aid
awards are offered by each school before you apply to them.
Q: What is considered a strong personal statement for the admissions officer?
A: A strong personal statement is one that (1) follows the guidelines provided by the school; (2) is
articulate, clear, and thoughtful; and (3) illustrates that you would be a good candidate for the program.
Q: Hello, i am a student from Namibia and i would like to find out in what state i should concentrate on
to complete my masters in agriculture
A: Welcome, Irvin. To help you find a list of institutions that offer master's in agriculture, please consult
one of the search engines that focuses on graduate programs available on our EducationUSA site for
Q: If the programs do not have the average test scores listed, would it be alright that the applicants
contacts the department and ask this question directly?
A: Yes, in that case it would be best to contact the department directly and ask about such things.
Q: My quantitative score of GRE is very high however my verbal section is just above the requirements
only, is that affect my chance to study at US
A: It depends upon the program. GRE scores are only part of the application, and each section of the
GRE is considered separately. If you're applying to a more-quantitatively based program (Statistics,
Computer Science, Mathematics), your GRE verbal will be less important. But you will have to meet any
IELTS or TOEFL minimums set by the program.
Q: Hi, In your experience How much weight would a Statement of purpose carry in order to be admitted
into a Graduate program?
A: Statement of Purpose will be very important to your overall application. Admissions looks at many
factors (i.e. test scores, past academics, resume, etc) and the statement of purpose is a key tool in
helping them decide....
Q: In order to be awarded a TA position does this mean that the applicant should have held university
level courses or can someone be awarded a TA position even though they do not have any teaching
A: Many new TAs have no teaching experience, but will be required to complete an orientation or
training program when they first start at the university.
Q: Hello everyone. Thank you for the lecture by the way. My question is about being chosen for
asistantships. What kind of questions the interviewers ask me to understand if I am eligible for the
program or not? I am planning to apply for doctorate program on biotechnology.
A: Helo Buket. The kinds of questions asked in an interview will vary greatly depending on the
institution and even the department you might be applying to.
Q: So, can I transfer my credits earned by distance program to on-campus degree later?
A: Transfer credits are possible, but each school has limitations on how many and which courses might
transfer. I would contact the programs you're interested in to determine their transfer policies.
Q: What exactly is a Fellowship and an Assistantship?
A: These are financial aid options for graduate students. Assistantships will have the student teach and
do research for the department. Fellowship is research towards earning a degree. Both will offer
funding for tuition, living costs, etc.
Q: I don't speak English very well.. so if I speak English intermediate level is possible to be accepted for
A: You should probably look for universities that have intensive English language programs and would be
able to offer conditional admission, based on successful completion of additional English language
Q: Should students contact faculty in order to ask whether there is a TA or RA available before
submitting their application?
A: Good question, Svetlana. I think it is always a smart thing to find out in advance, if funding is going to
be a critical element in your decision where to attend, to inquire whether any funding is available within
a department you are interested in.
Q: Is getting your degree through an online program seen as just as good as going to classes in person?
A: Just as I would rather be chatting with all of you in person, being able to get a degree in a face-to-face
format is preferable. But DE programs may be the best (or only) options for many students.
Q: Does the transcript universities ask for need to be issued directly from the university? What happens
if the university does not have such a policy?
A: Universities do require official transcripts, but may accept a certified copy if your institution only
issues one official copy. You would have to bring the official version to the school for verification before
Q: Dear Kristin, thank you so much for the great presentation. I do have a question related to the
statement of purpose which is obviously very important for the admission officer. Is it really on the top
of importance in your opinion?
A: It can be very important -- but it will still be only part of the review process. Undergraduate records,
standardized test scores, recommendations, and relevant work experience are also important.
Q: How do i find out whether or not my degree is accepted by the university to be able to enroll for
A: The graduate admissions office at the institution will be able to tell you directly. You should contact
them about this before you apply....
Q: Sometimes the applicant will receive a letter by the university stating that they have been admitted
at the college they are applying to, but should now wait for the department they have selected to
confirm whether they will have admitted them or not. Students find this very confusing. Is there a
change that even though the college has accepted them that the department won't do the same?
A: Hello Svetlana. I agree that this situation can be confusing for students. Some schools may do this to
let students know that in case a student is not admitted to their first choice program, that there may be
other programs a student may qualify for, but you are right, in the end, there may be a chance the
department may not accept even though the larger Graduate School may have.
Q: Hello I am doing a Masters in Canada that I will finish this August, do you think I have the time for
applying for a PhD?
A: It depends on the program. Many doctoral programs have deadlines in early or mid-January. But
check with the school, as some may consider applicants after the deadline, if there is still space
available. However, applying early is important in being considered for financial support.
Q: What advice would you give to students applying to doctorate programs? Should they contact faculty
about research interests before they submit an application?
A: Unless the programs specifically says that students need to contact faculty before applying, I do not
Q: What is the difference between “in-house” deadlines and “postmark” deadlines.
A: ''in-house'' means the application should arrive at the institution by a certain date. ''Postmark''
means the application should be at the post office and mailed by a certain date.
Q: I'd like to know if the GRE is the same for all students (that is, it doesn't depend on the program that
you want to apply for). Or is it focused on your future area of study?
A: Whether or not the GRE is required, how important it is to the admissions process, and which
sections are more important all depends on the specific program to which you are applying.
Q: Do you think getting an online graduate certificate is a good 1st step to earn a MS degree on campus
A: It depends on the program and the university's transfer policies. I would suggest asking this question
to the master's programs to which you might want to transfer.
Q: hi....!! my name is ismael from Peru currently in Australia... I submitted my application for PhD in US...
what are my chances for admission as an international student with hispanic latino background?
A: Hello Ismael, thanks for the question. I think most graduate programs at the Phd level are looking for
the best candidates for admission that fit, enhance, and/or complement the existing makeup of the
department. Depending on your intended field of study, your heritage may add value to your
application, but certainly shouldn't be viewed as a hindrance.
Q: Have the amount of financial aid in the USA have increased, decreased or stayed the same in recent
A: This varies by university. Due to the current economic situation, some state universities have seen
reductions their graduate student support levels - either the number of awards or the size of the
awards. But many programs have maintained or increased their support.
Q: what is the best university to study MBA or master of Economics?
A: There are many great MBA programs in the US and the best one will fit your needs.
Q: Bachelor Ntl Univ San Marcos PERU, Master by coursework Monash AUS, PostGrad Diploma biotech
La Trobe AUS, GRE 1130, TOEFL 97, Two conference abstracts, around 2 years research experience, 3
recommendation letters from Scientists and professors... I am applying to Harvard, Duke and Mount
Sinai School of Medicine
A: There are many great MBA programs in the US and the best one will fit your needs. First decide what
is important to you and then use that criteria to search for the best schools.
Q: my dearest in this year december if i come to usa in immigret visa, before my competing citizenship
term i can take grants, or fafsa, and loan debts i can take from USA banks? I like i study in law politics……
A: Hello Hikmatullah. Thanks for your question. I'm not sure I understand it completely, but it you have
not yet received your green card or have become a permanent resident, you would not be eligible for
Federal financial aid available through the FAFSA. Some banks provide loans to international students,
but not many without a US citizen cosigner.
Q: Do the letters of recommendation play an important role in the application process? What important
points should the letters cover?
A: Letters of recommendation are certainly a part of the admissions decision, but not necessarily the
most important. Many programs will have a form for recommenders that ask them to evaluate you on
specific criteria; others many simply ask for a written letter. But they all want to know how the
recommender knows you and how the recommender feels you will do in the graduate program.
Q: What are professional science masters?
A: Hello Mdidonna. A wide variety of science subjects are offered as master's degree programs. Some
that are tied to medical, dental or other health fields can be considered professional programs.