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GEMS Graduate Program Preparation

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So you want to go to graduate school? It is never too early to start thinking about your future. If you are thinking of pursuing either a master’s (M.S.) or doctoral (Ph.D.) degree, here is some helpful advice. 

  1. Throughout fall semester of your junior year, you should begin looking for and applying to internships. These internships should take place during the summer before your senior year. If you’re ambitious, try to secure one following your sophomore year.
  2. Over the course of your junior year, begin thinking about what field of study you want to pursue. It’s a big question, but what do you want to do for the rest of your life? 
  3. At the end of your junior year, begin studying for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). Plan to take the test before starting your senior year
  4. Also, begin to identify graduate schools that have the research area you’re interested in. Identify potential professors that you would want to work with, read their published research, and make early connections with these faculty – they may become your advocates during the admissions process!
    • Aim to visit Universities of interest in the late summer or early fall as most graduate programs have a December or January application deadline.
    • While on campus, it’s important to talk to the present graduate students for insights into the program and the faculty.

Imani Guest stands on volcanic rock.

“I’m where I am now because of the great education, research and field experiences I had at Rider. That early research I did had a domino effect, leading to more research opportunities at Rider and in Hawaii and helping me get into one of the nation’s top-ranked programs” 

- Imani Guest ’18
Geosciences | Read her story


Requirements for graduate school are not rigid, but here are some general things you should have to strengthen your application: 

  • A cumulative GPA above 3.2
  • Research experience: Although not a requirement, completing a research project through an internship, with a GEMS faculty member, or though an REU would be very helpful.
  • Co-curricular activities: Are you a part of a team, club or organization? If not, join one! These factors improve your chances of being accepted into your program of choice.
  • Multiple undergraduate math and chemistry courses: The more math and chemistry you have, the better! Most schools like to see at least one level of calculus – multiple statistics courses also look good. 
  • Competitive GRE scores

Ultimately, you want to tailor your application to showcase why you’re the best fit. The more you have to offer (e.g., research experience, internships, double major/minor, etc.), the higher your chances of impressing the admissions committee. 

The Office of Career Development and Success is also available to help with your graduate school search and GRE preparation. Best of luck with your search!