International PhD applicants: country of origin matters?

Catria
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:14 pm

International PhD applicants: country of origin matters?

Postby Catria » Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:35 pm

My current PI (MSc level) told me that I should take the PGRE if I elect not to go on the "accelerated PhD track" (and, frankly, I'd rather not since I want to go away from home to earn a PhD). But, at the same time, I only started to study for the PGRE now and got, depending on the scale, 670-700 (raw score on my first PGRE practice test: 41)

My impression was that international admits' average PGRE scores was higher due to the glut of international applicants from Asian countries and that applicants from other countries were held to different standards. Is it true that some physics departments hold international applicants to variable PGRE (and likewise GRE general test) standards depending on their country of origin?

TakeruK
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: International PhD applicants: country of origin matters?

Postby TakeruK » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:56 am

I talked to some professors about this and learned two things.

1. Some profs have experience with getting students that have 900+ PGRE scores but turn out to not know as much Physics as they would have expected, since scoring well on the test doesn't necessarily mean you would be a good problem solver or even necessarily mean that you have good physical intuition. They said they found this happened more frequently from Asian countries but I don't know their actual numbers. However, they said that because of these experiences, overall they just don't put as much weight on the PGRE score for everyone, not just these applicants.

2. The standards for international students (from all countries) are generally higher because of the greatly increased cost of funding an international student at most schools. So, if a prof has a choice between two equally qualified candidates, then why not pick the domestic student for their lower cost. Thus, at schools where international students cost more (e.g. most public schools), the successful international applicants probably have higher PGRE scores and GPAs than domestic students.

Catria
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Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:14 pm

Re: International PhD applicants: country of origin matters?

Postby Catria » Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:55 pm

TakeruK wrote:I talked to some professors about this and learned two things.

1. Some profs have experience with getting students that have 900+ PGRE scores but turn out to not know as much Physics as they would have expected, since scoring well on the test doesn't necessarily mean you would be a good problem solver or even necessarily mean that you have good physical intuition. They said they found this happened more frequently from Asian countries but I don't know their actual numbers. However, they said that because of these experiences, overall they just don't put as much weight on the PGRE score for everyone, not just these applicants.


Practicing multiple sets of standards dependent on the applicants' origins was not unheard of: Vanderbilt, ca. 2009 (or when Rob Knop was still a Vanderbilt prof; now he is a professor at Quest) enforced three sets of standards, one for Americans, one for Chinese and one last set for everyone else.

http://www.sonic.net/~rknop/blog/?p=119 (scroll to comment #8 for more details)

Catria
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:14 pm

Re: International PhD applicants: country of origin matters?

Postby Catria » Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:05 pm

TakeruK wrote:2. The standards for international students (from all countries) are generally higher because of the greatly increased cost of funding an international student at most schools. So, if a prof has a choice between two equally qualified candidates, then why not pick the domestic student for their lower cost. Thus, at schools where international students cost more (e.g. most public schools), the successful international applicants probably have higher PGRE scores and GPAs than domestic students.


I always thought that public schools in the US charged tuition according to state residency, which meant that even domestic out-of-state students would cost more than in-state students (but internationals would then not cost any more than out-of-state domestics, because tuition waivers are responsible for that part of the cost gap). So how would internationals cost more than domestics at public schools, if not of tuition waivers?

IIRC UNC-Chapel Hill is obligated by law to have a student body that is, at most, 18% from out-of-state (domestics and internationals combined). Does that aspect of the law affect PhD admissions? Maybe I can replace one of Penn State, Ohio State or Minnesota by UNC-CH (Minnesota is most likely to be replaced) if it turns out that physics PhD admissions there are not affected by the the 18% law.

TakeruK
Posts: 812
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: International PhD applicants: country of origin matters?

Postby TakeruK » Sat Jun 28, 2014 2:17 am

Catria wrote:I always thought that public schools in the US charged tuition according to state residency, which meant that even domestic out-of-state students would cost more than in-state students (but internationals would then not cost any more than out-of-state domestics, because tuition waivers are responsible for that part of the cost gap). So how would internationals cost more than domestics at public schools, if not of tuition waivers?

IIRC UNC-Chapel Hill is obligated by law to have a student body that is, at most, 18% from out-of-state (domestics and internationals combined). Does that aspect of the law affect PhD admissions? Maybe I can replace one of Penn State, Ohio State or Minnesota by UNC-CH (Minnesota is most likely to be replaced) if it turns out that physics PhD admissions there are not affected by the the 18% law.


For public state schools, out-of-state domestic students do cost more than in-state students, however, American citizens are allowed to establish in-state residency after 1 year. I remember reading on the UC school sites that out-of-state PhD students are required to become California residents after the first year or they will have to pay the difference between in-state and out-of-state themselves (or at least the threat is there, not sure if they follow through). On the other hand, an international student will never be able to establish state residency.

Also, I think some state schools do have different rates for out-of-state and international students, but I can't remember for sure.




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