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1. What are my chances of getting into the Botany Department at UW-Madison?
Statistically, the question is easy to handle: We receive about 100 applications each year and accept about 5 to 9 new students. The problem with numbers, however, is that they do not deal with individual people, which we try very hard to do. In approximate order of importance (i.e., most important first), the factors that seem to influence admissions decisions the most are (1) the academic record and capabilities of the student, as assessed by courses taken, where taken, grades received, and comments by referees; (2) the ability of the student to articulate a specific area of research interest; (3) the availability of space in the section of the department appropriate to that interest; and (4) evidence of experience at or proclivity toward research. This department is committed to providing opportunities for qualified underrepresented students and will give every consideration to such applicants. We consider it very important for applicants to communicate with faculty members with whom they are interested in working. This is essential for determining whether this department and faculty will be a good match for you.
2. Do you require GRE scores?
GRE scores are not required. If you would like to submit yours, the institution code for UW–Madison is 1846.
3. What sorts of prior coursework do you require?
Recommended prior college-level coursework includes:
- Mathematics: up to and including one semester of calculus
- Statistics: at least one semester
- Biology: strong background in the biological sciences, typically including coursework in cell biology, ecology, evolution, genetics, molecular biology, and systematics
- Chemistry: general chemistry and organic chemistry
- Physics: at least one course that included electricity and light
- Foreign Language: two years at High School or two semesters at college
Incoming graduate students who have not taken the recommended prior coursework may be directed to make up deficiencies that are deemed sufficiently important to the student’s graduate program by the department’s Academic Advisory Committee and/or the student’s major professor and graduate committee.
4. What is a personal statement?
A personal statement tells us who you are, what skills you bring to the table, and what you are hoping to get out of graduate school. In particular, we like to have a clear sense of an applicant’s prior research experience and future research interests. It is helpful to know about your career plans and your level of engagement with education or outreach activities.
5. How long should a personal statement be?
There is no recommended length for the statement of purpose. This is YOUR statement of purpose for wanting to do your studies/research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, it takes however long it takes for you to communicate those thoughts/ideas.
6. What factors make it necessary to restrict your admissions to only 5-9 students per year?
Two main factors: Money and Space! Money, because we focus on admitting students whom we can support as teaching assistants, research assistants, project assistants, fellows, or trainees. If you do not need financial support, clearly indicate that on your application because it is a factor about which we need to be aware. Space, because graduate students require office and research space of which only finite amounts are available. Because space is essentially the “Property” of the various sections within the department, it becomes important to know where your interests lie.
7. Am I expected to specify an area of interest within Botany at the time I apply for admission?
Yes, if at all possible. Admissions decisions are to some extent linked to the available space within sections of the department. We also depend in part upon faculty members with areas of specified interests to evaluate prospective students. You will indicate areas within Botany that best approximate your research interests from the following list in the Supplemental Application: anatomy/morphology; cellular & molecular biology; developmental biology; ecology; ethnobotany; evolution; phycology/mycology; plant physiology; restoration ecology; structural plant biology; and systematics. You will also have an opportunity to elaborate on your specific interests. If you are genuinely unable to identify an area of interest, be honest about it, but it remains true that such applications are not as easy for us to evaluate.
8. Do you require incoming bachelor degree students to complete a master's degree before obtaining a PhD?
No. Certain professors may require an incoming student to obtain a master’s degree before going on to the PhD, but the department does not. Please do not check the MS box if your goal is a PhD in the department.
9. What about financial support?
Most of our graduate students receive financial support as teaching, research or project assistantships. Students may wish to indicate in their statement of purpose any preferences or interests concerning financial support (e.g., are you seeking a rotational research assistantship?). The Botany Department may also nominate applicants for Advanced Opportunity Fellowships. Nominations and appointments depend upon the student’s qualifications and positions that are available.
To receive information from the UW-Madison Office of Student Financial Services about loans, check the “loans/work study” box in the “application information” section of the online application.
10. When should I have my application in?
To be considered for departmental assistance, all on-line applications are due by December 1sthowever, applications may be reviewed until April 15th. Make sure that all supporting documentation, including GRE’s, reference letters and transcripts, are submitted by December 1st.
11. When can I expect to hear from you concerning my application?
Shortly after you submit your online application to the Graduate School, you will receive an email containing a unique URL and campus ID number to track the progress of your application, receipt of your application fee and test scores, and demographic information. Then you will probably hear nothing for a while. The Botany Department’s Graduate Program Committee will review all complete applications. Typically, assistantship offers are made in March, and all other admissions decisions are completed by mid-April.
12. Is there anything I can do to aid my cause?
Yes, several things in fact. Make sure your application is in early and that all supporting materials are sent promptly. In your personal statement, be as specific as you can in identifying your particular interests within botany. Reference to specific sections of the department or to specific staff members is especially helpful. Avoid long, rambling or florid prose that might sound lovely but says little; we are not running a writing competition. We just want to know as matter-of-factly as possible who you are, what your degree goals are, what you are interested in, and why, specifically, you want to pursue that interest in Madison. Make it clear that you understand the research orientation of an advanced degree and indicate any research experience you have had or any evidence that suggests such an inclination. Finally, direct contact with professors is probably the single most useful way of advancing your cause and will give you quick feedback as to admission possibilities in your areas of interest.
13. Is it worthwhile to actually visit Madison?
A personal visit is not necessary and does not influence admission decisions directly, but it is an excellent way to facilitate department assessment of your candidacy and at the same time it allows you an opportunity to look firsthand at the place where you are considering committing four or more years of your life. We will try to arrange for you to meet faculty and staff members from the appropriate section(s) of the department and to see that your questions are answered. Please contact us if you are interested in arranging a visit. During the application review period December-March our committee (faculty, staff & students have other obligations, so please understand if you do not receive a quick response.)
14. What sorts of jobs are your Ph.D.'s getting, and how does it look for the future?
Wisconsin Ph.D.’s have fared well in obtaining professional positions. However, tenure-track positions are becoming increasingly scarce and are likely to be even scarcer in the future due to decreasing undergraduate enrollments. On the other hand, industrial positions in the plant sciences, particularly in the areas of molecular biology and genetic engineering, are increasing in number. Prospective graduate students should be aware of these trends since they may affect prospects for employment, even for Wisconsin graduates.
15. What should I do if I still have questions about my application and/or admission to the UW Botany graduate program?
Get in touch with the Graduate Program Coordinator by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone (608) 262-0476 Monday – Friday from 9 AM – 4 PM CST or letter (Dept. of Botany, University of Wisconsin, 430 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1381). All inquiries will be answered as promptly as possible.
16. What is an official transcript?
What makes it official? If the transcript is in hard copy form, it is sent directly from the institution to The Graduate School at the University of Wisconsin-Madison sealed and either has a stamp or signature from the institution’s registrar. If it is an electronic version, it is sent directly from the institution to The Graduate School, email@example.com