Although my program Molecular Techniques in Life Science was established just for two years, KTH has put enormous resources in supporting us —- we have one student blogger to post 2 blogs per week on KTH official website (that is me) and one student ambassador, Javier Lanillos, who is responsible for replying to inquiries from prospective students all over the world.
As it is the peak season of application, we both decided that it would be a good idea to share the most representative questions that Javi received with all of you! Of course all the questions are accompanied with very informative answers from Javi.
The questions are characterized into 4 main domains:
A. Application procedures
B. Admission requirements
C. Details about our program
D. Opportunities of scholarships and jobs
A. Application procedures
A1. I am not sure if i should mail hard copies to KTH. Is it sufficient to only upload documents online to complete the application?
Tianlin: I would like to ask where you study your bachelor program, because KTH and other universities in Sweden require students from a few countries to submit their documents by mail. You have to check these regulations by yourself (click here). (while in most of the situations the application is done online via uploading soft copies.) For example, after I clicked Hong Kong in the list and checked the regulations, I found that I should only submit my application online by uploading soft copies.
B. Admission requirements
B1. Talking about admissions, I was wondering what do you think is the most important thing to focus on? Is it good recommendation, CV or just good grades?
Javi: Of course, grades matter because the selection for new master students are done under certain scoring mechanisms. However, for example, my average grade in my bachelor degree was 7.1 over 10, of which I feel very proud but I have seen some other classmates have very excellent grades. CV matters too and I am sure you can highlight your strengths and show how valid you are. It is a fact that they are looking for international students with different backgrounds (engineering, biochemistry, biotech, computational biology, chemistry, biology, genetics…very wide): we are 19 students with more than 10 different nationalities! Thus, think that you could be a great candidate, for sure!
Regarding recommendation letters. Make sure you get some recommendation letters from professors or researchers that really know how you work. I had a discussion with old friends about the importance to get recommendations from resarchers with the highest impact factors or scientific achievements. Well, I guess that would be important, but I think you probably have in mind great professors and even close professors (or researchers too) that you would like to ask them for the recommendation letters. In my case, I asked to three different professors and I think I was only asked to send two of them at the end.
What I would like to remark is the cover letter. I am going to attach here the link of a post at Karolinska Institutet blog that one of my colleagues, Christie, from Biomedicine program (we share Frontiers in Translational Medicine subject ith them this semester), made regarding this topic. I found it very good piece of advice and she made great summary and explanation of important points to take into account: https://studentblogski.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/tips-and-tricks-for-a-good-cover-letter/
+Tianlin: Good news to students: if you are applying for our Master Programme of Molecular Techniques in Life Science, you don’t have to write any cover letter! Check immediately the summary sheet: https://www.kth.se/polopoly_fs/1.678344!/BIO-TMTLM_summary%20sheet.HT17.pdf
B2. I have taken courses in biochemistry, cell biology, microbiology and virology. If I accumulate the total ECTS for those is 8 ECTS, while the requirement cited up to 20 ECTS. Do I eligible for this program? Do I have a chance to enter this program?
Javi: I am sorry that as student ambassador I am not able to determine who is eligible or not. Please always refer to the admission requirements of our program at https://www.kth.se/en/studies/master/molecular-techniques-life-science/entry-requirements-1.501288
B3. I have completed my Masters and Bachelor in pharmacy. Do you have any fellow student in your year or others with pharmacy background? I want to know this because I want to make this program as my first priority. So, please help me to sought out the query that my background is fit for this program or not.
Javi: Don’t worry! I already put you in contact with one of my classmates who also studied pharmacy in his undergraduate.
+Tianlin: Indeed, our classmates come from diverse academic background. Below is the statistics of our class this year:
If you would like to talk with any of my classmates who shares similar background with you, feel free to click contact me so that I can make a connection for you!
B4. I would like to seek some advice regarding writing of the motivational statement; which aspect of the programme have you found the most exciting, and useful to your intended future research pathway?
Tianlin: I also feeling that it is such an important part for writing a motivational letter resume. Nevertheless, there is in fact no “standard answer” to this question; it varies from person to person. For example, I am fascinated with this program because I would convert from a biology student a professional bioinformatician after two-year study; while some of my classmates find its link to Karolinska Institutet a strong adjuvant for phD study. It depends on YOU a lot!
I know that above the answer might seem ambiguous; therefore, here are a few hints worth considering when you are composing your resume:
1. Link your personal background (academic, of course) to the study program, which justifies your motivation (think about the overlapping or even the difference)
2. Show the panel that you did a thorough research about the program, as it presents your attitude (for this part, I think you did a good job: reading the student blogs and contact the program director is an impressive start!)
You may also have a look at my own motivational letter for this program in my blog An example: my motivation letter. I definitively believe you can write a much better one!
C. Details about the program
C1. I am currently a biochemistry student in my final year. I wanted to ask you how you feel about the program, what do you find most interesting?
Javi: It has been surprising how this program is shared by the three main universities in Stockholm (KTH, KI and SU). I am studying during this semester at KI and receiving great classes about translational medicine (divided into four main blocks: lab techniques, immunology, neuro and cancer). I wanted to talk about this subject because every module is very well prepared. We had the chance to listen to many different researchers and one of the main things I enjoyed most is how well organized each lesson is, trying not to overlap any topic but at the same time make them complementary to our knowledge more and more. There are some workshops, journal clubs, extra seminars that help a lot to know more about what is going on in all labs here…I have the feeling that I am studying and working a lot but at the same time everything is useful for our career and overwhelmingly impressive. We have had another subject to get the same background of Genetics; it has been really inspiring too!
Another example. Last week, we have 5 full days about rhethorics, that is, learning many tools for our future presentations. Well, the professor (Peter Lind) is an expert on communication and he gave us the best lectures I have ever had about communication for presentations.
It is important to bear in mind what is the main focus of this master and check it out with your ideas or personal likings that you would like to get from your future master. This program is pretty young (two courses) and was born to satisfy the need for bioinformatics support that biology, medicine and research do need. Of course, in Stockholm you are going to find the way to personalize your studies and career because these universities are plenty of different opportunities and very open to build projects. So, this is not an issue and even more, every professor and coordinator is very enganged with this master to grow and grow. Furthermore, this program gives us the chance to focus on what we like most, that is, if we are interested in technology, biomedicine, bioinformatics…
C2. I am bachelor of molecular biology and genetics. I want to work both laboratory- and computer-based. I studied system biology and bioinformatics when I was undergraduate student, hence, I really want to work in bioinformatics analysis, for instance , I analyzed microarray databases by converting different formats. At the same time, I am talented of laboratory techniques. I love being at the laboratory. Therefore, can this programme help to combine the computer skills and the laboratory skills at molecular biology?
Javi: After reading you question I feel that you will be in the right place: in our program you will find plenty of opportunities in bioinformatics and wet-lab!
D. Opportunities of scholarships and jobs
D1. I heared there are scholarship but how competitive it is?
Javi: I would like you to provide with two examples where you can find information about scholarships. Most probably you will have had a look to them, but KTH has some offers that could fit to you very well: https://www.kth.se/en/studies/master/fees-funding/fees-and-funding-1.65872 and http://www.csn.se/en/2.1034/2.1036
I have had no personal experience about asking for a scholarship here in Sweden. However, once you have sent me this question, other mates kindly helped me to confirm the high difficulty/competitiveness many people ask for scholarships. In addition, my advice is to check as many choices as you could find and never hesitate you can try to get one scholarship if you accomplish the specific requirements as everyone has the same chances and it depends on specific requirements.
D2. Does the college have any industry connection? How easy it is to get job in sweden after finishing my studies.
Javi: Regarding job opportunities, it is a good point if you can check the LinkedIn profiles of the alumni. And about industry contacts, there are numerous occasions to get in touch with industry within your academic environment thanks to the career fairs, lunch lectures with companies and projects with companies.
There is an important word for getting a job, both in Sweden and all over the world: networking. There is a huge amount of possibilities to increase your network in Stockholm and Sweden, that is, meet different people from different countries sharing their ideas and offers. Even more in a joint program such as Molecular Techniques in Life Sciences, because you will have the chance to be part of KTH together with Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University.
Something I had a look to was the website of the Science for Life Laboratory. Let me attach the link here just for your information: https://www.scilifelab.se/vacancies/
+Tianlin: I find a blog posted by my classmate Carolina (She is a digital ambassador for our program at KI) very helpful. It is about the yearly career fair at KTH and Karolinska Institute: https://studentblogski.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/the-perks-of-also-studying-at-kth-ths-armada/
Have your own questions? You may either contact me or talk to Javi by inboxing in his site: kth.se/en/studies/master/molecular-