[BiO BB] Graduate Programs Advice

Steven Sotero ssotero at mail.com
Thu Apr 11 12:48:06 EDT 2002

Hello everyone,

You might remember me, I posted late last year in search of advice on grad programs. I'm happy to say that I have been accepted to two programs (KGI http://www.kgi.edu and ASU http://www.asu.edu/compbiosci) and waitlisted on one (Rutgers http://biomaps.rutgers.edu)

I now have a very difficult decision to make and I'm pressed for time. I have to respond to KGI on April 19th.

I was wondering if anyone could offer some advice on the following

1) Would it be okay to ask for more time to decide (since I'm still waiting on Rutgers) or is that frowned upon?

2) Masters vs. PhD.
I know this really comes down to a personal decision, but I was would like to hear other people's opinions on whether getting a terminal Master's (KGI or ASU) or a PhD (Rutgers) would be more advantageous?

I eventually want to work in industry, probably pharmaceuticals. I'm interested in sequence alignment, homology modeling, drug design and protein engineering. 

However, I have had no background in research and I am unsure if I would do well in it. Master's seems appealing because I could try it out and get an idea if I might want to do thesis work. However, I've read that doing a terminal Master's wouldn't shorten any time if I continued on to a PhD and I wouldn't want to be in school any longer than I'd have to.

However, is a PhD necessary in the field of bioinformatics? Idealy, I would like to become a project manager sometime in the future or at least be able to spearhead my own research/projects and not always be working for/under someone else. I imagine this would be possible with a Master's, but might take more time for me to prove myself?

3. KGI vs. ASU
The program at Keck has been around since 2000 and the school was specifically built with the focus of bioscience in mind. I was also awarded about half tuition scholarship. And it's about an hour away from LA. I'm from NYC and I'm used to living in a big city/urban environment.

ASU on the other hand has been around longer, the school itself. The program is new and this is the first official year. Many professors and students have warned me to be cautious of new programs like these. However, I believe there have been students who have been doing bioinformatics type work prior to the program becoming official. I've also been rewarded an Out of State tuition waiver, so basically I'd pay in state tuition which is really low. They are also possible considering me for an RAship. However, Tempe/Phoenix certainly doesn't compare to LA or NYC.

4) Finally, does anyone know of any websites, forums, or other lists that might be more appropriate for these sort of academic questions specifically relating to the field of bioinformatics?

So far, I've scoured the net and I've found a lot of PhD and general grad school sites, and I've even posted on USNews.com but I haven't really been able to find anyone else applying to bioinformatics programs for this year.

I apologize for the length of this email, but I really need advice. Thanks for your time and any help you can provide.



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