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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 do you have to take into account the quality of the program’s research and training but also the area and associated costs of where you will be living, your income, health care benefits, the academic atmosphere, transportation, recreational activities and 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, American Society of Human Genetics and PhDs.org. The websites for individual academic programs are also great sources of information.

There are several students in our program with an interest in basic science research, but the major factor for most human genetics students at Johns Hopkins was the program’s focus 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 learning as much about the program as the faculty is learning about you and that the atmosphere during interviews is typically quite casual.

Our application deadline is December 15; applications are reviewed early January and invitations for interviews are sent out by mid-January.  Our interviews are typically held the first two weeks of February. Sandy Muscelli works with you to set up flights, hotel arrangements and interviews. She is available at all times to answer your questions.  

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 Miller Research Building with a breakfast with Dr. David Valle, the Director of the Human Genetics Program, Dr. Andy McCallion, Assistant Director, Sandy Muscelli, Program Administrator, two current students as well as the other applicants. They will take this time to explain the official details about the program. If you have any questions, they are ready and willing to answer them.

After breakfast you will start your interviews, which will be with preceptors of the program around campus. Current students will lead you to each interview. Each professor usually gets about 30 minutes with you, and you may see as many as five faculty members that day. The interview schedule is broken up by lunch with current students and a tour of the East Baltimore campus. According to our students, there are a few 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, what should you wear? For men, a nice pair of pants and a shirt are appropriate (a 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 if rain is in the forecast.