The following are a few questions and answers that many students have asked after being invited to the JHU BME PhD interviews:
What are my chances of getting accepted if I am invited to interviews?
There is no easy answer for this. It depends on many factors, especially on the interactions between students and professors during interviews. Some years have had very high acceptance rates, while others have had much lower rates. There is never a set number or percentage, although professors do make their decisions based on how much funding is available to host several or just a couple of new PhD students. Considering the cost, time, and energy that goes into your visits, the program hopes to offer as many acceptances as possible. Considering many other highly ranked schools have also invited you to their interviews, the hope is that you find a good fit and match with our faculty and students here.
Is the Johns Hopkins BME program cut-throat in terms of competition among students?
No, this is thankfully absolutely false. Exceptions always exist, but the vast majority of graduate students love the atmosphere and the strong level of collaboration. If anything, you compete with yourself and your colleagues will be at your side ready to help you along the way. As scientists, we all build off of the ideas and work of others. Isaac Newton once expressed, “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” In the same way, we all work hard because we are passionate about our research, but the general spirit here is collaboration, standing on the shoulders of other great researchers. You will find that in most cases, faculty here work together with the faculty of many other great schools.
I have been looking at the interviewing faculty webpages for their laboratories. The information has not been updated in some time, and some professors have very little. How do I get more information to choose the right professors to interview with?
Unfortunately, some professors are terrible at maintaining their own websites. This is not to say that their research is poor. On the contrary, faculty with minimal website information have amazing world-renowned research and publications. A flashy website means very little and has no correlation to funding or success. Your choice of interviewing faculty should come down to how well you fit and match with them and their research. One way to find out what a professor has been up to is to use PubMed and Google Scholar to find their most recent publications. Very often you can search through YouTube to find talks given by the professors about their recent work. If you can’t seem to find very much information, email our faculty to ask them more about what they do.
Will there be ‘tough’ interview questions when we interview with JHU BME Faculty?
Yes, some faculty LOVE to ask problem solving questions. If you are interviewing with our Neurosciences or Computational Biology faculty, they are known to ask easy, moderate, or impossibly difficult questions during your interview with them. Our interviewing faculty will be trying to gauge your problem solving skills and how well you can communicate your train of thought. It is one thing to answer a very complex question; it is quite another to explain how you got that answer to someone else. Most other research area faculty tend to ask questions centered on your experience and interests. There will still be challenging questions regarding what your research was and why it was experimentally designed a certain way. You should be prepared to discuss the nuances of a research project you have previously been a part of, and should definitely know all of the details of a publication with your name on it. Most times an interviewing professor will ask what your role was, and then proceed to ask why your research was designed a particular way. Know these reasons, and come in with a strong knowledge of projects you have listed on your resume. Lastly, we strongly encourage you to prepare your own questions to ask our interviewing faculty and current students – you are also interviewing us to better understand what at a career at Hopkins will look like for you.
Are students accepted directly into a lab, or do they do rotations?
The short answer is both. If you are offered admission to the Biomedical Engineering PhD Program at Johns Hopkins, you will either be admitted as a rotation student or a direct match student. The differences between these two offers are outlined below; however, it is extremely important to note that one is not better than the other. No decision will be made until all interviews are done. Do not listen to rumors of otherwise. Please do your best to speak to as many professors and students, and explore all options to increase your chance of getting accepted.
Rotation : Rotation students have the opportunity to rotate through various labs during the first year. It is suggested that each rotation be at least two months, however it is not required that you do more than one rotation. The decision to do multiple rotations varies from person to person. This first-year funding is provided by the BME PhD program, not a particular faculty member.
Direct Match: Those who are admitted as direct match students will immediately join a lab upon entry into the program because a particular faculty member has already committed to providing your funding. Usually, only one faculty member will make an offer; however, there are times when multiple offers may be made.
To summarize, the only two differences between these two offers are source of funding and the opportunity to rotate. Other than that, all additional opportunities, expectations, and requirements are the same. Each offer type has its pros and cons and one type of offer is not better than the other. Following the first year, there is no difference.
Please feel free to ask our current students about their experience as either a rotation student or a direct match.