people say grad courses are easier?

Blinky
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Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:22 pm

people say grad courses are easier?

Postby Blinky » Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:39 pm

Hi.
I keep hearing that getting good grades in grad courses should be a piece of cake, compared to undergrad, but... I am studying at a Canadian university and I don't see how that could be the case! In fact, we've got quite a few courses that are offered to both grad and undergrad students, i.e. at the same time, same prof, same room. The difference is, if you're a grad student, you gotta answer extra (not fewer) questions on tests and do extra work on the assignments. I do not know how things are in purely graduate courses, but I took a 4th year undergrad/grad course once, and I was the only undergrad there, the final class average was around 70%.

So here's a question, if it actually IS easier to get a good grade in US for grad students than the undergrads, do the admission committies take that into account?

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midwestphysics
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Re: people say grad courses are easier?

Postby midwestphysics » Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:01 pm

That's how it works here in the US too, at least where I'm at when they cross-list some courses. They have to make the material more demanding for grads, but the final grading may not be the same, grads might get a better curve not to mention they should be better at it than undergrads. In any case though, the reason grading tends to be easier in grad school is because outside of preventing students from being booted for low grades, these grades don't mean jack. You're not applying to another level of school, your next job is based on research experience and connections, and I have never ever seen a postdoc or professor state their grad GPA because nobody cares about it. If you however are doing a masters then a phd, well then you need to 4 point, but they grade pretty much so masters students can do that.

To answer your question though, yeah, grad schools expect your grad grades to be higher because its pretty much assumed the scoring is not nearly as harsh. If you're in a grad program its expected that you belong there, there is no need for weeding like some undergrad programs do.

bfollinprm
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Re: people say grad courses are easier?

Postby bfollinprm » Thu Jun 02, 2011 6:57 am

Succinctly, grad classes are harder (more difficult coursework) with friendlier grading policies (curves, etc). You also have the big scary quals to take, so maybe the high GPA's are a function of maturity and the more pressing need to study/learn well.

Blinky
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Re: people say grad courses are easier?

Postby Blinky » Thu Jun 02, 2011 4:01 pm

midwestphysics wrote:You're not applying to another level of school, your next job is based on research experience and connections, and I have never ever seen a postdoc or professor state their grad GPA because nobody cares about it. If you however are doing a masters then a phd, well then you need to 4 point, but they grade pretty much so masters students can do that.

Yes well actually I am going the BSc-MSc-PhD route. I believe a lot of Canadian students do that. Currently I'm at the MSc stage, that's the reason I asked.

TheBeast
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Re: people say grad courses are easier?

Postby TheBeast » Thu Jun 02, 2011 9:06 pm

I've taken grad courses at a couple of different Canadian universities. My experience was that the difficulty of the course (and the easiness of the marking scheme) depended on the conventions of the particular school (e.g. could the prof give everyone A's without having to justify that to the department or university administration) and the attitudes of the professor teaching the course.

For instance, I've had courses where the problem sets, midterm and final are ridiculous and the average among the grad students is around a B and I've had others where there isn't a final and no one gets lower than an A-.

That being said, I have found that grad courses were easier as a grad student (compared to being an undergrad), if only for the simple reason of having more time. Most grad students are only taking 1-3 courses a given term compared to the 6-7 I was taking as an undergrad. Sure there's TA and research responsibilities as a grad student, but as a whole, I found that there was ample time to do the necessary reading, thinking and collaborating needed for the grad courses.

You do want to keep your MSc GPA as close to 4 as possible. Not only will it play a factor in your PhD applications, but it will also have an effect on any scholarship applications you make (sure Physics PhD's are pretty much funded in Canada and the US, but it's always nice to make some extra money through a fellowship or prize).

wavicle
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Re: people say grad courses are easier?

Postby wavicle » Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:47 pm

There was no easy grading overall where I earned my Masters (Engineering field). There may have been a few courses where it wasn't that "difficult" to earn a B or higher. But if the courses were PhD core curriculum, failing was a very real possibility. One of my classmates was just starting in a lab, and ended up failing one of the courses, or dropped I can't remember. Point is, he had a failing grade. He had to choose whether to excel at research or pass the course, because it was that demanding...every exam seemed to require Finals calibre studying.

I wish more people realized and didn't just make assumptions about grad school. Then we form opinions from word of mouth, which may or may not have basis in reality...Real scientific.

bfollinprm
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Re: people say grad courses are easier?

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:58 pm

The first year courses are some middle ground between undergraduate rigorous application of the bell curve and mythical graduate grade gifting. There is still a minimal amount of weeding to do, and they have to prepare you for the prelims, so they will and do give C's (essentially fails) to students who don't make a sincere effort to pass. The truth of the matter though, is motivation and commitment will earn you a B, and some aptitude puts you in line for an A, despite the fact that it feels like you're drowning. For most of us, that's not really any different than undergrad.

After the first year, I'm told the grading gets much easier.

Also: 6 classes? Holy crap! I don't feel like I have a load of time with 3 courses this quarter, so my hat off to you, sir.




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