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Masters vs PhD vs Other? Please Help!

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Hi everyone,

I am finishing up my 4th year of undergrad in Ontario and am in a dilemma as to how I can make my application more competitive. I have applied to a few 2-year research-based Master's programs and was planning to apply to Med after those 2 years but am now unsure if my application will be competitive enough even at that point (given my low GPA).

I am considering starting a Master's and then switching into the PhD route, which would take about 4-5 years to complete in this particular program. My rationale for this is that I would find this time well-spent (I like research and am interested in the program/particular research project/supervisor I applied to) and that perhaps, during this time, I could publish more papers/build a better portfolio that could make my application more competitive. 

I have heard of others doing a 5th year or second undergrad - to be honest, I am hoping to not take this route... Nevertheless, all responses and pieces of advice are very appreciated!

My stats:

Estimated OMSAS cGPA:  3.7. 

Estimated Best 2 years GPA: 3rd year: 3.78, 4th year: currently 3.9 - I think it should be more or less the same when I finish.

MCAT: Average - I will be re-doing this at some point and am confident that I could get a competitive score.

EC's: Pretty ok - lots of research (no pubs though), leadership roles, hospital volunteering/clinical roles, arts/sports etc.

Thanks!!!

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Pending your MCAT score you could be competitive for Western, Queens and McMaster. Do you qualify for weighting at UofT? If you do, your GPA may be high enough for UofT as well. 

I think a research based masters in something you like isn't a bad idea. Taking a gap year isn't a bad idea as well as long as you do something productive with it.  

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Hi Edict, thanks for your response. I do qualify for weighting at UofT - unfortunately, I think the wGPA would still only be ~3.85.

My fear is that if I apply during my second year of the MSc, that first year of research won't be enough to show true research productivity and therefore, won't give me any edge. But then again, would the extra years in the PhD even benefit my application/help me be a more competitive applicant despite my GPA?

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I would do a PhD (which I actually did),

See, most research-based master's programs say the duration is 2 years, but realistically, the vast majority of students finish in about 3 years, if you just add 2 extra years you will have a PhD,

Beside being a higher degree with will grant you more score on the applications, the PhD will allow you to publish better, get involved in more academic and non-academic activities, and have invaluable life experiences you can use all over your application and interview, also Med school value the PhD very very much, U of T in specific, and particularly if you got your PhD from U of T itself, 

The Master's is good too, but not as rare or valuable among the applicants pool,

Also keep in mind that you are not sure to get accepted in the Med school after the grad school, so PhD would be a good plan B, and anyway.... on the long run, PhD is gonna really help you if you plan to be a clinical scientist or work in academia even if you get into med school.

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Hi @Scinapse, I may not be as experienced as other individuals to make a judgement as to how competitive someone may be, but I would definitely think your application is competitive as a grad student! Your publications/presentations/awards show research productivity, you have a good GPA, and coupled with some strong essays about your hobbies/Master’s/other and a good MCAT, I would think you have a great shot!

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