Professional School Options

By: Erin O’Malley, Francesca Romano, and Andrew Geragotelis

M.B.A. (Master's of Business Administration)

    There are many reasons for a STEM major to consider getting an M.B.A. after completing their undergraduate education.. First, an M.B.A. can give you more opportunity in the professional world because it increases the number of jobs for which you qualify.  With an undergraduate degree in science and an M.B.A. you now qualify for not only for the technical jobs in industry, but also the managerial jobs because of the leadership and management skills learned in the M.B.A. programs.  Obtaining an M.B.A. also increases the number of people with whom you can network and possibly work with later on in your career.  Another reason you might consider getting an M.B.A. would be as an investment in your future.  Did you know that you can make twice as much money with an M.B.A. as you can with just a bachelor's degree?  Not only that, but there is the advantage of job growth and security because of the diverse background in technology and management.  Finally, the job outlook for 2012 is even better with an M.B.A. as 74% of employers are planning to hire M.B.A's this year, which is a 16% increase from last year alone.

    A recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education shows that M.B.As studying in the United States make a more diverse student population than any other graduate program.  You may not be aware that some of the most notable people in the technology industry have M.B.As.  Examples include:

  • Bill Gates (Microsoft)
  • Steve Jobs (Apple)
  • Philip Condit (Boeing)
  • Paul Ottelini (Intel)
    The application requirements vary from program to program, but there are some general commonalities.  Most programs look for some type of work experience which can include: banking and auditing, non-profit, sales and consulting, or engineering and web design.  Here at Siena, it is possible to complete a semester internship in science during your Senior year, an option one might look into to fulfill credit hours for graduation and get some work experience.  There are also academic requirements that most M.B.A. programs look for including: technical skills, being multilingual, and experience with Calculus, Statistics, and Economics.  Finally, like most other graduate programs there is a graduate entrance exam requirement known as the GMAT.  The GMAT is similar to the GRE in that there are three components: verbal, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing.  It is good practice to take the GMAT during your senior year if you are considering attending an M.B.A. program in the future as the scores remain valid for five years.

    There are several different types of M.B.A. programs that you may apply for depending on your personal circumstance.
  • Full time - 1 to 2 academic years
  • Accelerated - 1+ full years (including summers)
  • Part time - 3+ years, mainly for working professionals
  • Executive - 2 years or less, for business executives working full time
  • Distance learning - online courses
  • Dual M.B.A. - combine with MS, MA or JD to save money

    The top ranked M.B.A. programs are listed below.

  1. Harvard University
  2. Stanford University
  3. University of Pennsylvania
  4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  5. Northwestern University
  6. University of Chicago
  7. University of California at Berkeley
  8. Columbia University
  9. Dartmouth College
  10. Yale University


Medical School

There are three steps for applying to medical school. 

1. Complete Application: The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) is a centralized application service which collects applicant information, MCAT scores, and transcripts and sends it to the selected schools.

2. Submit Supplemental Information: The medical school will contact you to ask for additional information. This may include letters of recommendation, a personal essay, other forms or fees. 

3. Interview: Once all of the information is submitted, the school will set up an interview either on or off campus. This is usually conducted by an admissions committee member.

Most medical schools look for applicants with a well rounded education, good academic performance, and solid scores on the MCATs. The prerequisite courses for medical school include: General and organic chemistry courses with labs, general physics with lab, biology with lab, calculus, biochemistry, genetics, psychology, and English. These are the standard requirements for most medical schools (be sure to check individual medical schools' requirements). An acceptable GPA is between 3.5 and 4.0. Most medical schools look for a total score on the MCATs of 30 with a P or Q on the written section. 

In addition to these academic requirements, most medical schools look for candidates that show an interest in medicine through internships, field work, volunteering in a hospital, and research experience. They also look for motivated and hard working candidates. This shows through letters of recommendation, academic performance, and activity involvement. Finally, most schools look for applicants with good communication skills and an interest in service. Many medical schools are looking to diversify their student body in terms of academic backgrounds. Any major, as long as they have a B.S. or B.A. degree, can apply to medical school.

Law School

            One professional school that undergraduate science students may be looking into is law school. Law schools want diverse classrooms, not classrooms full of political science majors and pre-law students. Science majors do risk having lower undergraduate GPAs but this is typically excused in the application process because the law program admissions offices are aware that science majors typically have difficult curriculums and additional lab hours. The only major reservation law schools may have about accepting science majors is that these students typically lack in their writing abilities compared to liberal arts majors. To avoid this problem, it is encouraged that science students try to take additional writing classes or write for the school newspaper. It also helps to have a professor or superior who can attest that the student’s writing abilities are up to par.

            Law schools particularly like accepting people who are not singularly minded. For this reason it is also encouraged that the applicants have hobbies that demonstrate their thinking skills, cultural interests, or passions. It was reported that approximately 60% of students at Berkeley Law held a challenging job or internship or pursued a graduate degree or creative endeavor for at least one year after graduating college. This can be an excellent demonstration to the admissions office that an applicant is not singularly minded.
            US News has recently posted an article on their website in which admissions officials from law programs throughout the country were asked questions regarding how to get into specific law programs. Most of the admissions officials gave consistent advice. The most notable thing to look out for is that a well-written, substantive personal statement is often the only way an applicant can indicate the factors that set him or her apart from everyone else. This personal statement, as well as the application essay, is an example of the type of “voice” that applicants will use to contribute to classroom dialog. Additionally, the admissions offices look for essays that demonstrate strong writing skills and attention to detail.

            The article also stated that the most common mistakes that applicants make are not reading the application directions carefully, applying just before the application deadline, and using a template personal statement. There were reported cases that applicants had referenced the wrong law school in their application, which is a problem that can easily be avoided. Also, students should apply for law school much before the application deadline since decisions are made on a rolling basis. So the sooner a student applies, the greater chance he or she will have or being accepted. Once again, the personal statements are particularly important in the application process and shouldn’t be generic sounding.

            The most common type of law that science majors go into is intellectual property, or IP, law. Intellectual property is defined as any intangible form of property. Intellectual property is the result of the creation of the brain, which is then interpreted in a physical form. This includes images, symbols, names, designs, industrial processes and business methods, inventions, artistic works, literary works, musical works, and software. The field of intellectual property law is both complicated and specialized. According to the American Bar Association, the four primary areas of intellectual property law are patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.

            A common way for someone to become involved in the area of patents is to take the patent bar exam, which allows someone with a strong technical background to practice in a law office as a patent agent without a law degree. However, most people seeking a career in this field work as patent examiners during the day while attending law school at night. The field for this type of law is expanding. Law professors say that they are seeing more students with strong science background switching to law. In 2006, 140 students signed up for an intellectual property course at Stanford, making it the largest class at the law school.

            Some schools are offering joint degrees in a science field with a law degree. Stanford Law offers a joint degree program in twenty subject areas for a JD/Master’s or JD/PhD. In the Computer Science JD/MS program, both schools are consistently ranked at the top of their fields and offer students cutting-edge research from both legal and technical perspectives. Alumni from these programs have worked with Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, Ebay, Yahoo, Oracle, and Google.


Berkeley Law:

US News:

US News:

HG- Global Legal Resources:

Law School Expert:

NY Times article:

Stanford Law:

Erin O'Malley,
Apr 29, 2012, 4:56 PM