Program Basics

Frequently Asked Questions

1. The application says I can choose which semester I want to enroll – fall, spring, or summer – is this true?

No, not really. All the grad programs on campus use the same application, and some are much more flexible when allowing students to begin. Our program is not.

Our curriculums are relatively sequential and we like our students to begin in the fall, otherwise it throws them out of synch. In addition, when it comes to receiving assistantship money it is not in a student’s interest to begin in the spring or summer, as assistantships are only handed out for a year term beginning in the fall.

Finally, we offer no graduate student orientation in the spring or summer, which is particularly useful for international students.

With that all said, we may enroll a student into the program in the spring or summer. Students must get permission from the Graduate Program Chair to do so, and must have all the undergraduate prerequisites.

2. The application says to choose a non-thesis or thesis tract. What does that mean? Do I have to make that choice right now? Does my admittance to the program depend on what I choose? 

While there are differences in curriculum in the two tracts, you do not have to make that decision right now, in fact, we really don't want you to. Unless you are absolutely sure you want to do a thesis, select the “non-thesis” tract as this will facilitate curriculum planning. If you want to switch to a thesis tract at a later time, it is relatively easy to do so. Acceptance into the program has nothing to do with thesis vs. non-thesis.

3. The application has room for a personal statement, but this does not appear to be required for ESS students. Should it do it anyway?

If you think it will help, yes. More than one page will hurt.

4. Should I send in a resume?

Yes. If applying for an assistantship it is required. If not applying for an assistantship it is not required, but it is strongly encouraged. If you decide to send in a resume as part of your admissions application please send it to the address listed on the Graduate Admissions Office webpages. If you are also applying for an assistantship you must send a separate copy of your resume to the ESS Graduate Program as part of the assistantship application. See below for more details on the assistantship application.

5. Where is the application for an assistantship?

The assistantship application has two components. First, on the regular online application for admission is a question asking if you are applying for an assistantship. Please answer "yes" to this question. Second, complete the assistantship application that is on the ESS Grad Program website. This application will require you to send a resume and an additional letter of recommendation that speaks to your work habits and skills. Please see the link on the left for "Graduate Assistantships" to get instructions on the assistantship application procedures.

6. Most of the jobs listed for assistantships I have no clue about and am a little worried that I couldn't do it. Should I apply anyway?

Yes. Some assistantships require very specific job skills, like athletic training (must be NATA certified) and coaching (must have high level playing experience). For most others, however, if you have the prequisites to get into the program we know you have some level of experience and we will train you for what we need you to do.

7. Can I get a copy of the application first so that I can prepare my answers before I get online?

Yes. Please contact the Graduate Admissions Office.

8. I don't have all the prerequisite coursework. What should I do?

You'll have to make it up, either before coming to Ithaca or while here. First, though, consider that some of the courses you have already taken may not fall neatly into our prerequisite list, but fulfill our needs anyway. For example, undergraduate nutrition science majors may not have the "right" anatomy and physiology courses, but they may have covered sufficient topics in their biochemistry and metabolism courses to suit our needs.

The best thing to do is contact the graduate chair for advice.

9. I want to make up prerequiste coursework by taking a course at one of the online universities. Will that transfer in?

There is a good chance it will not. With few exceptions, these courses (and schools) do not meet the same standards as courses at traditional brick and mortar schools. No, we're not being snobs, but just consider "hands-on" learning and lab courses. How many of these online courses get your hands gunky with animal guts? How many of them have you hook up an electrocardiograph and a metabolic cart and conduct a maximal exercise test? Underwater weighing and other anthropometric measurements? Electromyography? What about 3-dimensional video analyses with super high-speed cameras and motion analysis software? How many have you do face to face role playing? Get the point?

10. I can't get all my application materials in by the March 1 "priority" deadline. What does "priority" mean? Is it such a big deal if I miss the deadline, after all, I'm only missing my GREs (or letters of recommendation)?

Sorry to say, but it is a big deal, especially for awarding assistantships. Students with strong qualifications who miss the March 1 deadline still have a chance of being admitted to the program, but we also become more stringent on qualifications. Beginning March 1, we begin awarding assistantship money, and if we do not have your application, we cannot put you up for consideration. The assistantship process takes a long time as we match students to positions, so there still is a chance that a late applicant can be awarded money.

And yes, we need your GREs, unless you have petitioned us to waive them. Waiving the GREs is very rare, unless you have taken similar tests (e.g., MCATs) or have a very high GPA.

11. Can I really finish in one year?

The answer is yes, if you do the non-thesis tract. We have set our curriculum up so that this can be done, but you need to think about if you really want to. If you decide on the non-thesis route, you can take 12 credits in the fall, 12 in the spring, and 12 over the summer.  Pass the comprehensive exams at the end of the summer and you have done it. We routinely have students finish in one year, but perhaps even more decide to extend it a semester or two in order to do independent study projects, internships, or other projects they may have. Yes, they actually WANT to be here and take more time to absorb the experience. If you opt for the thesis tract you should expect to be here for 1.5 -2 years (2 is more likely).

12. What GPA and GRE scores are you looking for? Should I take my GREs again?

Higher the better. What we look for is highly motivated students who have a drive to succeed and have demonstrated their committment by high grades, a high level of extracurricular activities such as research projects, and leadership roles. The average GPA of those students attending Ithaca College is about 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. That does not mean that those students with GPAs lower than that should not apply. Remember, we look for other signs of achievement and motivation. And yes, we are aware that not all schools and programs are the same.

We have no minimum score for the GRE. However, if you are above the 50th percentile you should consider that your scores are solid. If you are below the 40th percentile your scores are looked at with more scrutiny. We value high scores in the verbal, math, and analytical. Scoring super high in one and super low in another does not help your chances.

You should take the GREs a second time if you feel you did not do as well as you could have.