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Advice on Applying to Graduate School

We asked Duke students, faculty and professors for the tips and tricks they have picked up throughout their academic careers.

Gamble"An Excel document keeping track of all the documents required for each school can be very helpful."

Dionna Gamble

Ph.D Graduate
Genetics and Genomics


McInnis"Reviewers are far more interested in your ability to think creatively and solve complex problems than what moves you."

Jarvis c. Mcinnis, ph.d.   

Assistant Professor


Hargrove"Research is tough and often fails - what challenges, however small, have you overcome that could show how you overcome setbacks and failures?"

amanda e. hargrove, ph.d. 

Assistant Professor
Chemistry and Biochemistry 


Silva"Your PhD in sciences will be less about becoming an expert in a field and more about learning how to think science, how to do science, and how to broadly thrive in this field."

gustavo m. silva, ph.d. 

Assistant Professor 


Minto"Once you have vetted the program content wise, you want to also want to make sure that it is somewhere you can feel safe, build a community, and have fun!"

Melyssa minto

Ph.D. Student 
Computational Biology and Bioinformatics


Gessell"Don't connect your self-worth to your admissions results—there are more important things in your life than getting into the graduate program you think you love."

Bryce Gessell 

Ph.D. Graduate


Witelski"Campus visits are great for forming impressions of quality of life issues, some things that might be intangible and don’t translate directly into email questions or web searches."

Thomas P. Witelski, Ph.D.

Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science


Kuppers"The most important questions in your campus visits are the ones you ask yourself: whom can you imagine working with?"

Sinja K Küppers 

Ph.D. Student
Classical Studies


Bobadilla"Metrics might be a worthwhile consideration, but students should also look beyond numbers (such as rankings)."

Eladio Bobadilla

Ph.D. Graduate


Springer"In the end, which university you attend is not as important as the person you work with."

Roxanne Springer



Mamet"Graduate school is difficult in a variety of ways, both expected and unexpected, and you want to live in a place that gives you joy amid these challenges."

Elliot Mamet

Ph.D. Student
Political Science