What are some topics or questions that undergraduates or post-baccalaureates would have when they are considering applying to graduate school, particularly in the fields of biology, ecology, natural resources, or related fields in the US or Canada? Are there any publications, websites, blogs, or other resources that provide valuable discussions of such topics or at least a list of possible considerations? I have encountered many examples of resources for individual, specific considerations (e.g., how to apply for a particular fellowship), but I am looking for a more comprehensive inventory of topics, or better yet a general how-to guide.

  • This question is radically different from the original, which was not, IMO, a shopping question.
    – Buffy
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 13:30
  • @Buffy is it more of a shopping question now? I read about shopping questions but also couldn't figure out how the previous one was a shopping question. I tried to reword it to make it clearer (from how I understood it) but did not mean to make it into a new question.
    – selene
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 13:37
  • @selene, look at the difference with the first version. It is now asking for lists of external resources, not suggestions for a workshop. Clearly shopping now. I note that you weren't the first to alter it, of course. But you emphasized the shopping aspect.
    – Buffy
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 13:42
  • @Buffy I see now where I can see the original one...I only saw this after the first set of edits. Thanks for clarifying!
    – selene
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 13:46
  • 1
    Sorry for any confusion this question and the editing has caused. This was my first attempt writing a question for Stack Exchange and I've been unsure how to handle the possible shopping issue my original post had or if the subsequent edits have been helping or hurting. I appreciate any help trying to sort this out, though I also understand if this question is still better left closed.
    – AudreyL
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 19:50

1 Answer 1


Note that this answer was given for an earlier version of the question that asked for topics to cover in a workshop for undergraduates. The question is now very different. It wasn't originally a shopping question.

I have a few suggestions, but not a comprehensive answer. And it is broader than biology.

First, see the answer for the US to this canonical question about doctoral admissions. Note that it doesn't work the same for masters degrees.

In addition to the admissions process, make sure students know they maximize their chances of admission if they cast a broad net, in particular, not focusing only on a small set of "top" schools.

Second, if you want to include Canada, make sure you understand that there are differences and what they are.

Spend some time on explaining, not just the application issues, but the main requirements of obtaining a degree such as (in US) the early advanced coursework, preliminary/comprehensive exams, when to choose a professor and a topic and what to expect to have to do for successful research.

In the above, talk about the funding possibilities such as TA and RA and the time and effort that is required for that.

In the modern age you might have to talk about the progression from doctoral study to a suitable position, including postdocs and such. It isn't trivial.

You might even want to bring up the possibility of such things as burnout and how to find help for that if/when it happens.

  • And if you do thoroughly understand the Canadian system, please consider adding an answer for Canada to that canonical question.
    – Buffy
    Commented Apr 21, 2022 at 18:21
  • Thank you for your suggestions! As to your point about US vs. Canada systems, I collaborate with several Canadian researchers from two Canadian universities and I applied to multiple Canadian graduate programs while looking for a grad position. While I do not have as in-depth an understanding of their system as the US, I feel I can at least speak to some of their similarities and differences to the level of a more introductory workshop and particularly for US-based students (that would be my audience) looking to apply to Canadian schools.
    – AudreyL
    Commented Apr 23, 2022 at 14:40

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