From i3L To Harvard: Why And How To Get A PhD At Harvard?

Have you ever wondered what it takes to embark on a PhD journey at Harvard University? Madelaine Skolastika, an alumna of i3L in Biomedicine, cohort 2016, shares her compelling story of pursuing a PhD at Harvard. Her profound insights and first-hand experience shed light on the process of applying and getting accepted into one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

Madelaine’s deep-rooted passion for advancing scientific knowledge and human health led her to Harvard. In her words, the world-class faculty, extensive resources, and intellectually stimulating environment attracted her to join the community of dedicated scientists at Harvard. Her journey exemplifies the remarkable opportunities that await young scientists at Harvard.

“Pursuing my PhD at Harvard University stems from a deep desire to continue conducting research aimed at addressing longstanding questions in the field of cancer biology, with the ultimate goal of advancing scientific knowledge and human health. The wide array of world-leading faculties, myriad of resources and support available to students, and the challenging yet intellectually enriching environment at Harvard are all factors that will provide me with an unparalleled training as a young scientist. I feel incredibly fortunate to be joining a vibrant community of passionate scientists who are committed to be at the forefront of biomedical science and generate impactful research discoveries. I am excited for what lies ahead, and immensely grateful for the mentors who have been guiding and supporting me along the way.”

The Application Journey

Harvard’s PhD program in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) has a two-stepped admission process: the written application and interviews. Applicants are required to submit documents through the portal, including a statement of purpose, personal statement, CV, academic transcripts, and 3 recommendation letters.

Applications are evaluated holistically by a panel of faculty members serving on the admission committee. Shortlisted applicants receive an invitation to attend the interview, also known as the visitation weekend, held at the Harvard Medical School campus in Boston. The interview mainly aims to confirm mutual fit between the applicants and the program. During my visit, I got to meet faculties, engage with current students, attend social events, and gain a comprehensive understanding of the program. Offers are extended on a rolling basis following the interview, and all accepted candidates receive full funding for the entire duration of their PhD training.

i3L: A Stepping Stone Towards Academic Excellence 

The impact of Madelaine’s experience at i3L resonates through her academic journey. The institution’s focus on equipping students with theoretical knowledge, technical skills, and a global perspective has undoubtedly contributed to her remarkable success. The narrative highlights the pivotal role of internships, engagement in conferences, and the overall nurturing environment provided by i3L.

“The early exposure to laboratory work and academically rigorous courses in i3L, have prepared me well to thrive in a research environment, equipping me with highly relevant theoretical knowledge and technical skills. The strong emphasis on internships and encouragement to participate in conferences/competitions have been instrumental in shaping me into a curious, proactive, and resilient individual with a global perspective. Importantly, these experiences, alongside a solid academic foundation, have given me a competitive edge in securing job positions and pursuing further studies. I am indebted to the lecturers, friends, and staff who have created a nurturing environment that greatly fostered my learning and passions.”

Tips for Aspiring PhD Students

Madelaine offers valuable advice for those interested in pursuing a PhD or studying at Harvard:

1. Perfect Your Statement of Purpose: Ensure it conveys your deep enthusiasm and conviction for your chosen field of research. Avoid repeating details from your CV and instead, craft a compelling narrative of your research journey.

2. Highlight Research Experiences: Emphasize your previous research experiences and demonstrate the essential traits of a successful PhD student, including resilience and a constant eagerness to learn.

3. Stay Determined: The PhD application process can be daunting, but perseverance and determination are key. Give it your best shot and stay focused on your goals.

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