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Confused about applying with master's programs and value

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Hi all,

Long story short I'm doing my masters and then trying to apply to apply to med. The two lab I'm debating between are like this:
 Lab 1 - Super prestigious (better reference letter) but longer projects (with more impact) medically oriented. Super low chance of getting first author, probably get 1 middle author paper. Two middle author papers if lucky. 

 Lab 2 - Solid lab, publishes a ton, not medically oriented but still biology (molec in animals). Students usually get at least 1-2 first author publications and have chances for other pubs. 

I'm planning on applying to UofT, Western and McMaster, Queens, Calgary

I asked UofT and they said that for the graduate route you basically need first author. However I noticed that the other medschools don't really have the option for a graduate stream. 

So essentially my question is, which lab would increases my chances of getting in? Do publications matter in the other places besides UofT's grad stream? 

Apologies if these are really dumb questions, I've been stressing uot abot this for 2 weeks =/ no idea where else to go. 


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Lab 1 sounds good if you were doing graduate studies to go into academics. A masters is a short time and you might not get your projects finished, which unfortunately doesn't count for much for most med applications (OMSAS wants published works, and yes they matter). At UofT you could elaborate on current projects in your CV. 

On the other hand, I'm hesitant on how much the grad stream helps your application at UofT. There was some debate here about what qualifies you as a grad student- enrollment in research program or publication. If you are considered in the grad stream, I think the only advantage is the lower GPA cutoff- will that be of help to you?

Topic-wise, medically-orientated or molecular biology are the same thing in terms of your application. Do something that interests you. 

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I want to reiterate what Eudaimonia said. Do something that interests you. This is two years of your life, so you want to make sure you won't hate the project by the end of it. However, in my opinion I would pick lab 2. First author publications are king. It doesn't matter how prestigious the the lab is if you don't end up on any publications. You need to be productive in grad school if you want it to help on your med applications (not just UofT). This means conferences, publications, and student committees are a must. Reviewers want to see that you didn't just half ass a graduate degree to bide your time before getting into med. 



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A general comment.  Undergrad GPA is still a primary factor at many schools.  A Masters will not really help if you don't have the GPA.  It does give you more time to mature, broaden your ECs, and add academic research to your CV which can assist your chances.  Don't expect it to correct for <3.8 undergrad GPA.   If you are trying to correct for a low GPA, doing further undergrad might be a better approach.

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