PhD in Human Genetics : Applied 6 and Rejected 6

Raghuram Sukumar Study in USA 14 Comments

This is not a question but just a feeling that I want to share.

I had applied to 6 univs for PhD in Human Genetics in the US for fall-2012.

Could you please help me understand the reason for my rejection from one and all?

Here is a brief look at my profile

  • Bsc (Hons) Human Genetics- 66% (First division)
  • Msc Biomedical genetics- 8.91/10 cgpa
  • GRE- 305/340
  • TOEFL- 99/120
  • Worked at Mayo Clinic in 2011 as a research assistant for 4 months
  • Worked in a research lab for 1 and a half years during masters.
  • Publications- National AJMS and International BMB Cancer
  • Summer training- IVF centre for 15 days and Neonatal hospital for 2 days (observer ship)

I am shattered . I don’t know what to do.

I cannot waste another year and apply for fall-2013, and constantly fearing my rejection again.

Where did I lag behind?

Following were the univs which I had applied to

  1. MIT
  2. UCLA
  3. Mayo Clinic
  4. Univ of colorado, denver
  5. Johns Hopkins
  6. Vanderbilt University

I know all of them are “A-grade” but to my irony, PhD in Human Genetics is only offered in top schools across the US.

PhD Application Process

Can you explain your application process to all the 6 universities.

  • How did you select  universities
  • What was your SOP contents
  • Any other information you like to add

Next :  15 Questions to Ask Before Doing PhD


  1. The safest way would be applying for masters in the same universities. Make good rapport with the professors and get on to Phd. The main reason for not accepting to the phd ( personal observation) is their bad experience with previous students ( for not having good communication skills) and good English when you really need to write some technical information. They have to belief that you are a good fit. It took one yr for me to create confidence and now my prof supports me for the little things at lab.

  2. hi Ribu, you poor thing!. What I muse all above comments are very authentic and useful. I would like to add only two things, next when you will apply tend to talk with professor and atleast apply in two safe universities. My best wishes for your next attempt.

  3. Hello everyone,
    My GRE Score is 1300, TOEFL- 96 (little low),
    12th grade -81%
    have one year teaching experience
    12 research paper,
    12 international conferences(AIIMS, IIT-D, JNU, BHU etc)
    10 Seminars,
    1 industrial training, 1 workshop,
    3 Pharmacy association memberships

    Applied for MS (Pharmacology) got rejection from Univ. of montana.
    So you cant predict what can happen to you.

    But got offer from Idaho State Univ. and now i dont know what type of univ is this.
    My aim is to go for PhD.

    Keep on trying.
    always remember “You always loose when you stop trying”

    Suggestion of PhD lovers. Publications (High impact), prior research experience and professor’s link is a key for PhD.

    Good luck.

    1. Gaurav!!! after stepping in to US, you can happily move into the universities with good funding opportunities. Ranks does not really matter. Remember research always starts in a place which is unknown and then the researcher makes it popular. Be rational. your publications in India and the international conferences you have attended doesnot bag a lot unless and until that is the best work happened till date. But you are correct. You have to try till you succeed. That is what a researcher does in the lab.

  4. Why you stick to USA?
    UK has also top ranked universities.
    Still you have time for October 2012 admission application in UK.
    Apply via sending your research proposal and searching
    Submit your application as soon as possible to UK univ. and keep emailing your research proposal to professors. Visit to university fair and meet representatives, they help you in procedural issues.
    Best Wishes.

  5. Hi Ribu,
    You have a pretty decent profile. The best part of your profile is that you have amazing research experience. I am definitely no authority on this, but given my experience of applying to US universities twice, I can help you see where you might have gone wrong. Followings pointers may help:
    1. First of all your TOEFL and GRE scores are average and not good enough for MIT, UCLA and JHU. A score of 320 and above is a must to get into top-tier universities.
    Solution: You should reappear for GRE and obtain a good score in order to have a shot at admissions next year.
    2. Unlike masters programs there are fewer seats for PHD applicants. Probably just 5 or 10 at the max. Like some of the other commentors added, it is extremely important to contact the professor or advisor under which you want to do research. Get in touch with them at least 2-3 months before applying. Make sure your research interests match with theirs and communicate this to them effectively. Ask them if they have any research positions available or if they will be taking any PHD students this year to know whether or not you should apply to that university. Only if they say they will be taking new students, should you apply.

    I am actually suprised why didn’t universities like Vanderbilt and University of Colorado, Denver, accept you. Probably you didn’t establish a good relation with the concerned professors or maybe you didn’t communicate your goals effectively in the SOP.

    3. Since you have no admits this year, unfortunately, you WILL have to reapply. Please do not lose hope. I was in a similar position last year. Not that I didnt get admitted; I actually got admitted into a very reputable university but due to delay in visa issuance I couldn’t go last year. I was heartbroken just like you. But, I was very determined to study at the very best in order to gain the best education I could. I improved my profile, retook GRE, obtained a diploma, applied again to the top most universities with extra preparation, and now I’ll be going to my dream school. I got admitted into an Ivy league.
    Therefore, I can tell you that this not the time to be upset, gather yourself and work even harder than before and go after your dreams. I can see that you have it in you to make it in the US.
    4. Do not just apply to Human Genetics programs. This year when you reapply, look at all the best biological schools and look at what PHD programs they offer. Sometimes the same program is offered in a different name. Like cancer biology and tumour biology are the same, but due to different names they might not show up in your search results when you look for cancer biology. Since you are interested in Human Genetics, you can also look for courses in Genetics and Developmental Biology or Human Biology. They might have a similar curriculum, but a different name. You get the idea right.
    5. Final piece of advice: Apply to at least one safe school, where you know for sure you will get admitted with your profile.

    Do not waste your time brooding. Start improving your profile if you want to see yourself studying human genetics at your favourite university next year. Good luck 🙂

    1. Hi,

      I do agree with the GRE and TOEFL score are not enough for these TOP schools. Your scores should be okay for Master Degree instead of PHD. If you wish to apply again next year for PHD, i would suggest you re-take GRE and TOEFL, and apply also Master Degree as backup if there have such courses.

      Good luck

  6. Your profile seems to be good enough to get admission. However, there are many reasons for denial of admission especially for PhD. Firstly, I hope you were been in contact with professors whose research interests match with yours. If not, that might be one of the reasons, because unlike for MS, student intake for PhD mainly depends on the professor rather than university. Thus its highly advisable to contact professors before applying. Secondly, its good to apply well before the deadline to make sure that funding for an international student is available with them. Domestic students with similar profile are given preference if there is deficit in funds available. Thirdly, your performance in the phone interview (if at all there is one) and SOP play a crucial role because they depict your passion for PhD.
    If you are really passionate to do a PhD, again in US, I would suggest you not to give up. Apply again and before applying, make sure that you contact potential professors and take their suggestions. Build your SOP in a way to reflect your passion. Contact the graduate students of the program you are interested in, their experiences may help you. If needed, write subject GRE and make your profile look more better. Wishing you good luck!!

  7. @Ribu

    Did u contacted the Professor before you are applying to the university? Phd admission depends upon the Professor, who is interested to take you in his research work.

    1. Nope I didn’t. I was never aware of this fact that like Canada, one has to contact the professors in the concerned department before applying to US universities. Its a news to me.

      1. Thats the exact reason why I posted your question in the blog. For PhD you cannot just apply like Masters and *HOPE* you will get admission (especially in top schools).

        1. Thank you for this kind gesture. I appreciate your help this way (making my personal query a public one). It has rather helped me in a way that I never expected. I will be really careful about posting my questions from now on. You showed me my exact position blogger.

          1. That’s how I typically tend to answer the questions in the blog.

            If you don’t want your post to be shared be specific about it.

  8. Hi Ribu,

    Personally I think you applied in one of the top university in USA (MIT and UCLA). In my opinion your TOEFL score should be more than 105 because you are applying for PHD, which is a big deal. I am a business major and I dont have a good understanding on your GRE score, so I won’t be able to comment on that at all. I am sure you will have to look into your SOP as HSB mentioned in its comment and take some professional help in understanding the causes and reason behind the whole decline of the applications. I think TOEFL is one of the biggest factor in this because in program like PHD and top universities like that, they would surely expect more surely expect more than 105. So look into it and take some professional help. I am sorry, but don’t lose hope at all. First identify the reasons and then if you feel you should start working again on them and apply for spring 2013 or fall 2013. This is purely my opinion with whatever knowledge I have, so please correct me if I am wrong at any point.



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