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Application FAQs

Professional science writing (and editing and producing, too) is a wonderfully satisfying field but also a challenging one. The right graduate training can make you a much better journalist and give you some big advantages in the job market, but you should investigate your options thoroughly before committing to any grad program. (As you consider the possibilities, you may find this blog post and this Nature article to be useful; they include contributions from faculty and alumni of SHERP and other science journalism programs. This Q & A with a SHERP adjunct professor also includes some good advice for aspiring science journalists.)

If you have a record of achievement in and out of the classroom, a passion for science and a flair for storytelling, we want to hear from you! Just keep in mind that we're unable to offer admission to many deserving applicants because there are only 12-14 spots in a typical SHERP class, and almost all of the students we admit choose to enroll. Therefore, the application process is important and you should take it seriously.

What kind of student does SHERP look for?

Many kinds! SHERP students have diverse backgrounds; there is no single formula for admission and subsequent professional success. Most accepted applicants have science degrees at the undergraduate or graduate level; many have research experience. On the other hand, some of SHERP’s most accomplished graduates came to the program with little formal scientific training, so don't regard yourself as automatically disqualified if you discovered your fervor for science and storytelling only recently. Experience in journalism, including published clips, is an asset for admission but definitely not a necessity.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for all applicants, including those with graduate degrees. Successful candidates tend to have GRE verbal scores above the 80th percentile and grade point averages above 3.3. Again, however, there have been notable exceptions. The essay section of the application is weighed heavily in admissions. Letters of recommendation and writing samples are very important, too.

Our general advice: If you believe SHERP may be the right program for you, don't disqualify yourself without trying! There's only one way to find out whether you and SHERP are a good match and that is to apply.

How can I learn more about SHERP?

You've already found the best place to begin. The interlinked SHERP web pages contain all sorts of useful information about our program, everything from faculty biographies and class descriptions to profiles of current students, an alumni directory, a list of recent student internships and a gallery of newly published stories by students and graduates. So take your time and explore all of these pages carefully.

You don't need to restrict your research to web surfing, however. While we don't require an interview, we do encourage serious applicants to visit during the fall or spring semesters to sit in on classes and meet faculty and students. Email SHERP to arrange a visit. You're at no disadvantage in the admissions process if you're unable to come. We encourage visits solely for your benefit; they're the best way to see what we do, so you can make an informed judgment about whether our program is right for you.

You should also feel free to reach out to our graduates; they are SHERP's best ambassadors. You can email them directly via the addresses listed on the alumni page, or you can contact us and we'll gladly put you in touch with alumni and current students who share your background, interests and aspirations. We ask only that you not send out mass queries because our graduates and students are busy people.

Please contact us if you have additional questions that are not answered here or on the other SHERP web pages.

What if I'm not from the United States?

SHERP has a long and proud history of welcoming students from all over the world. However, because SHERP is a professional writing program, all applicants must demonstrate true fluency in written and spoken English. In addition to the GRE, non-native speakers must take the Internet-based (IBT) Test of English as a Foreign Language. (The TOEFL requirement is waived if you received an undergraduate or graduate degree from an institution at which the language of instruction is English.) To be considered for admission, you'll need a score of at least 100 on the Internet-based TOEFL, and successful applicants tend to score higher.

Like American students, international students are eligible for NYU-provided scholarships and other financial aid. However, foreign students in most cases are not eligible for grants or loans from the U.S. government. We encourage international applicants to seek outside funding from their governments or from foundations and other private sources.

 How much will it cost?

Tuition is assessed on a per-point basis by the NYU Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS). The 16-month SHERP sequence is 44 points, or credits, for the M.A. in Journalism plus an Advanced Certificate in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting. The tuition rate for the 2014-15 academic year is $1,554 per point; a new rate will apply in September 2015 for the final semester. If next year's increase is typical, tuition for the entire 16-month, 44-point SHERP sequence will total approximately $69,000, not counting any financial aid awards. Registration fees are additional: an average of $461 for the first point each semester and $65 for each additional point. See the financial aid pages of the GSAS site for up-to-date information on aid, tuition and fees.

New York City is an amazing place to live but also an expensive one. SHERP students typically pay anywhere from $550 to $1,300 per month for housing, depending on the neighborhood and the number of roommates. There is a limited amount of NYU housing available to graduate students; university rents are similar to the private market.

 Is there financial aid?

Yes. Most students receive some aid from SHERP, typically in the form of tuition remission scholarships. However, our aid budget is limited and all SHERP students are expected to cover a significant share of their tuition and other expenses by tapping other sources, including work-study opportunities and government loans administered through the NYU Office of Financial Aid, as well as outside scholarships from foundations and other private sources. (NYU will match qualifying outside aid under the Tuition Incentive Program.) We do not offer teaching assistantships.

Students seeking SHERP-administered scholarships should apply by January 4, and should indicate on their applications that they are seeking aid.

May I enroll part-time or defer admission?

We are unable to accept part-time students. All SHERP students start in September and are expected to complete the program by December of the following year. Please also note that we are unable to grant deferments to accepted students except under extraordinary circumstances; you should apply the year in which you hope to enroll.

When is the application deadline?

The formal application deadline is January 4 for students seeking to enroll the following September. Please bear in mind that it can take a month or longer for GRE and TOEFL scores to reach us, so plan accordingly.

Will you accept late applications?

Yes. We begin issuing admission offers on a rolling basis in February, so it's in your interest to get your application in as early as possible even if you're still waiting for a test score report or an official transcript, which you can add later.

Where can I get an application?

Applications are available from the GSAS application resource center starting in mid-September.

Note: All application materials (including test score reports) should be sent directly to GSAS, not to the Carter Journalism Institute or SHERP. Please visit the application resource center for further instructions.

What if I have additional questions?

Just ask! Before you do, though, please take a careful look at the all of the interlinked SHERP web pages, which contain a lot of useful information, including curriculum, faculty, student profiles, internships and jobs, publishing, alumni and the story gallery.

NOTE: there is a federally manated disclosure statement for SHERP, though you can find more complete information on costs, aid, and job placement elsewhere on the SHERP site.