Getting admission and funding in USA universities from Medical background- Part 2
In my previous part I wrote about Public Health track. Now I am writing about Biological Science or Biomedical Science graduate program. The difference between Bio Science and Biomed is that Biological Science or Biology is a broad science that covers from Microbiology, Neuroscience, Botany to Marine Biology. Surely you will knock a Professor who is working on Microbiology or Neuroscience, not the Professor working on Marine Biology. On the other hand Biomed is more related to human health, disease and pathology. Then you can think that Biomed is the perfect fit for you. Exactly, Biomedical Science graduate program is the perfect fit for you. Those programs are usually under school/college of medicine and interdisciplinary program. You can choose your final lab after one year of rotation to different labs. Stipends are pretty attractive and even you don’t have to contact any professor prior to the application. Usually admission of Biomed graduate program are decided centrally. So much flexibility here but the problem is Biomed Masters program rarely provide funding. And Biomed PhD program is so much competitive. Without a Masters or MPhil its little bit hard (hard but not impossible) for us to get admission. But you can try that. You can apply in 4-5 Biological Science graduate program and 2-3 Biomed program (medium to lower ranked university).
Now I want to share my thoughts on Biological Science or Biology graduate progeam. You will be glad to know that funding scenerio in these graduate program are pretty good. I have given skype interviews with six professors in the last year. Interestingly what I have learnt from talking with them is that some Professors of Biological science or Biology are trying to involve themselves in translational research. In simple words, they are afraid that they will not get grants in future by just doing basic research on animal (because fund are going shallow in this area). So, they want to involve human in some degree in their research like collecting human samples and extracting data from these samples. So, this is a great opportunity for medical doctors. A medical doctor will be a great asset in this kind of lab, as he/she has clinical knowledge and knowledge of human body. But without lab or research experience your CV and SOP will not be appealing to the admission committee and Professors.
So, the Million Dollar question is how can you get the research experience? As its not mandatory in our MBBS curriculum you have to involve yourself voluntarily. If you are 3rd or 4th year medical students then its high time to get involved in research. There are some enthusiastic Professors in almost all medical colleges specially in basic science departments (also in the clinical departments), who are passionate about research. Communicate with them, most probably they will happily give you the opportunity to work with them. If you don’t find this kind of Professors in your medical college then search for the MPhil, MD, MS students who are doing course at your colleges, as they all have to submit a thesis paper before their graduation they can also help you in this regard. Alternatively you can communicate with the Professors (from dept. of Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Pharmacy) of public universities which are located in your city. If someone can’t help you, most probably he/she will give you some valuable suggestions or refer you to someone who can help you.
Getting admission and funding in USA universities from Medical background- Part 1
Doctors or students who are currently living in Dhaka, they have more opportunity to involve in this kind of research. Many research group are working at BSMMU, DMC, BIRDEM, DU. Find them and express your authentic interest. Most of these research group will be happy if they get a volunteer. Involve yourself in any kind of medical research. You can say that you have a plan to do your PhD in Microbiology so why should you get involved in Diabetic or other research? The answer is you don’t have enough options actually and so, something is better than nothing. If you are already in USA with spouse visa or green card then getting world class research experience is lot easier for you. Knock the professors (from Biological Science dept) of your spouse’s university or university that is located in your city. Make an appointment, meet the Professor personally and express your interest to work with him.
Your ultimate goal is to conduct some quality research and put your name on scholarly article as a co-author so that you can strenghten your CV and SOP.
Now, you have pretty good research experience, CGPA(WES), GRE and TOEFL scores in your hand. So, what is the next step? Try to complete all of these steps within October if you want to apply for next fall. Now the most important part is to write emails to Professors of different universities. If your CGPA is good (3.6-4.00), GRE score is pretty high (320+) you can directly apply to different Masters and PhD programs without contacting any Professors. But if you have a mediocre profile like me emailing is the best option for you. Although you have pretty good profile emailing professors before applying is the safer option.
Where will you get the information of your desired Professors? https://www.usnews.com/…/top-s…/biological-sciences-rankings Here you can get an overall idea of Biological Science University ranking. First select a university that match with your profile. Then go to university website and then find out their Biological science or Biology graduate programs page. If you meet their requirements then just go to the faculty pages and select professors based on your research interest. Then customize your email with the research interest of that particular professor. Finally send the email to the particular professor with your CV. Usually I sent 5-6 emails everyday. I know this is the most boring and exhausting part of whole application process. But do it regularly for 5-7 days. Believe me, you will start to enjoy it specially when you will get positive or slightly positive reply from professors. Send email to as many professors you can. That will increase your probability of getting positive reply.
What should you write in your email to professor? You will get plenty of sample emails in this group. I am sharing you some basic ideas about emailing to professors. Just think from a Professor’s viewpoint. What does a Professor want from a graduate student? The student is passionate about his research, sincere, has good academic history and ultimately will be useful in his lab. So, before asking for any kind of Research Assistanship opportunity first express your genuine interest on his research and show him how can you be a valuable asset in his lab. Offer something before asking for something.
So, that’s it. You will get the overall idea of academic CV, SOP and other application related information from the file section of this group. If you need any other info that I have missed here, feel free to knock me. Best of luck!
NB: Those who are working on Nutrition related projects (like Malnutrition, vitamin supplements) at icddr’b or other NGO’s , Food and Nutrition graduate programs can be an attractive option for you. Minhaz Pias vi is going to start his Masters program in Food and Nutrition at University of Nevada, Reno from this August with Graduate Teaching Assistantship.
Md Jahirul Islam
Department of Biology
University of Louisiana at Lafayette