PhD Admissions: What Carries the Most Weight?

When it comes to applying for PhD programs, I would say that your research experience, CV, statement of purpose/personal statement, and letters of recommendation carry the most weight in the eyes of the admissions committee. What carries less weight is your GPA and GRE scores. The GPA and GRE are normally used to initially “weed out” applications, especially for programs that receive a large number. However, this can vary by field and program. Some programs may not even look at your application if your GPA/GRE are below a certain threshold, while others may be more lenient. You just have to do some digging to find out which is the case for programs that you are interested in applying to. For example, my application was relatively strong in all areas except for my GRE scores. Although they were well below the averages of admitted students, no one ever brought it up as a negative. When researching programs, be sure to look out for any info regarding how certain application materials are weighted. Here is an example from the Psychology Department at the University of Michigan:

In the next few blog posts, I will be diving deeper into each of these starting with one way that an applicant can gain research experience: REU programs!

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