The Decision Process

Selecting a Graduate Program

Deciding where to go to graduate school may be one of the most important and difficult decisions of your career. Not only does one have to take into account the quality of the research and training, but also the area where you will be living and associated costs, your income, healthcare benefits, the academic atmosphere, transportation, recreational activities, the types of careers for which you will be prepared.

Online resources are valuable in your search for information. These include places like GradSchools.com, ASHG Training Program Guide, and PhDs.org. The websites for individual academic programs are also great sources of information. There are several students in the program with an interest in basic science research, but for most Human Genetics students at Johns Hopkins, the major factor in their decision to select our program was the focus of the program on human disease-related research. A few reasons students picked our program:

    • “I liked the integration of the medical school classes. It made it truly unique. It’s the only Human Genetics program that teaches human biology.”
    • “I liked the way it emphasized “human” genetics and had a medical aspect (taking medical school classes, etc.)”
    • “Research, faculty, atmosphere, funding and name recognition. After I interviewed here, I cancelled the rest.”

Interviews - Evaluating Graduate Programs

Graduate school interviews are a critical part of making your decision. Remember that you should be gaining as much information about the program as the faculty are about you, and that the atmosphere during interviews is typically quite casual.

Before you come for your interview at Hopkins, confirm your arrival details with Sandy Muscelli (muscelli@jhmi.edu; Phone: 410-955-4260). If you’re flying into Baltimore-Washington International Airport, make your way to the Ground Transportation Desk on the lower level between Baggage Claims 3 and 4. At the SuperShuttle desk, ask for service to the Admiral Fell Inn (888 S. Broadway, Phone: 410-522-7377) in Fells Point. The fare should be around $11. At the Admiral Fell Inn, two prospective students typically share a double room.

Please note: save all shuttle and any dining receipts for reimbursement by Sandy Muscelli.

The night before your interview, a student host from the Human Genetics program will contact you with arrangements for dinner – typically comprised of a group of several applicants and several current students. This is a great time to ask your hosts all your questions about the program, life in Baltimore and any other concerns you might have.

Your interview day begins in the Broadway Research Building with a breakfast with Dave Valle, the director of the Human Genetics Program, and Sandy as well as the other applicants. They will take this time to explain the official details about the Human Genetics program. If you have any questions, they are ready and willing to answer them.

After breakfast you will start your actual interviews, which will be with preceptors of the program around campus. Don’t be concerned about getting lost; current students will lead you to each interview. Each professor usually gets about 45 minutes with you; you may see as many as five faculty members that day. The interview schedule is broken up by lunch with current students and usually a tour of the East Baltimore campus. According to our students, there are a few main things to remember during interviews:

    • “Try to stay relaxed; you wouldn’t be here if they weren’t already interested in you.”
    • “Relax and ask questions. The more they talk, the less you do. Although know your own research and be prepared to talk about it.”
    • “Get a feel for the types of research being done at the institution, and don’t go anyplace that doesn’t have several investigators you’d like to work with.”

Lastly, often the most important issue is: What should you wear? For men, a nice pair of pants and a shirt are appropriate (tie is optional, but worn by many). For women, trousers, skirts and dresses are all appropriate. Don’t feel you need to buy a suit for interviews! Remember to wear comfortable shoes, as you might be doing a lot of walking around the hospital campus. Remember to bring an umbrella in rain is in the forecast.