Jul 29, 2016
3
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Psychology Student
Hi guys,

Going through the PhD application process last year I was accepted to my top school, but as an MS student (solid GRE, GPA, LOR's and Clinical experience; what was consistently pointed out as my weakness was only having one publication). I very much want to attend rather than to pursue other routes both due to a dynamic for research potential between two professors as well as networking opportunities. However, aside from continuing onward to a PhD (which I plan to do but recognize is insanely competitive), I also recognize that an MS and a cup of coffee will perhaps get you a job as a statistician if you're lucky. I was wondering what everyone would consider to be an acceptable amount of student debt to go into for such a degree? I currently have undergraduate student loans around 20k, as well as an assistantship which will cover my tuition and most of my living costs the first year, but there's no guarantee the assistantship will continue for a second (and am also unsure as to how I'm going to survive that one summer in between school years). I feel as though, due to the competitiveness of PhDs, one should take out only enough loans to where they can have contingency plans in place if for some reason they are not able to take that next step. And, I would like to have a modest amount of disposable income at some point in my life (if nothing else to revisit places around the world I used to live).

Thanks for the help!
 

WisNeuro

Board Certified Neuropsychologist
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This is kind of a personal decision as to where everyone draws their cut points. I, personally, am very debt averse, so my threshold is very low. But, if I were advising people, I would say that your total debt when you are all said and done, should not exceed what you would reasonably expect to make in gross salary for one year.
 
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OP
M
Jul 29, 2016
3
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Psychology Student
That's the guideline I am trying to follow as well, but what would be a fair benchmark salary for an MS in Experimental Psych? It's much easier for me to figure out one with a PhD, but looking at worst case scenarios and being stuck with just an MS I'm not sure where to set the bar at.
 

WisNeuro

Board Certified Neuropsychologist
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Feb 15, 2009
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Psychologist
That's the guideline I am trying to follow as well, but what would be a fair benchmark salary for an MS in Experimental Psych? It's much easier for me to figure out one with a PhD, but looking at worst case scenarios and being stuck with just an MS I'm not sure where to set the bar at.
That's going to vary wildly. I wouldn't assume much above 50k, tops, off the top of my head
 

MamaPhD

Psychologist, Academic Medical Center
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One publication is more than many undergraduates have when they're accepted to Ph.D. programs, so I'm a little skeptical of the advice you've received that having "only" one pub is a real weak point. It could be that a master's addresses other issues that have affected your competitiveness, but just be honest with yourself before you make that commitment.
 
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Wendi22

2+ Year Member
Jan 17, 2016
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Psychology Student
That's the guideline I am trying to follow as well, but what would be a fair benchmark salary for an MS in Experimental Psych? It's much easier for me to figure out one with a PhD, but looking at worst case scenarios and being stuck with just an MS I'm not sure where to set the bar at.
I can quickly give you personal experience..........Graduated from an ms program with and experimental and clinical track. My experimental track peers are making between 27,000 (research assistants) a year and 50,000 (works for a company in a larger city as an IRB account manager). Also I'll say everyone making above 40k had to work a few years to earn the income. Personally though I'd keep it a good deal under 50k for a masters but it's a personal decision.


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OP
M
Jul 29, 2016
3
0
Status
Psychology Student
Ack, those numbers are worse than what I'd hope them to be as far as income (no different than the range of income I've had since I've gotten my bachelor's).

And I would've hoped one publication would be enough, but most of my friends who were accepted this year had multiple publications (they decided to work in labs post-grad, I decided to work abroad :/). I've tried doing the same where I am located, but no labs seem to have research interests that would be a good fit. I don't think I'm going to find a better dynamic than between these two professors, but like you guys said, that's where personal choices come into play.

After crunching the numbers, it looks like 35k is what I'm looking at if the assistantship is renewed for a second year. Looking at repayment plans in tandem with your guys' input, I think I'd be pretty concerned if it hit anything above 45k (which it will if the assistantship isn't renewed and I can't make a successful case for in-state tuition). I guess where I'm at right now is that it couldn't hurt to try it, and if the assistantship isn't renewed go from there.

Thank you everyone for all of your help!
 

Wendi22

2+ Year Member
Jan 17, 2016
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Psychology Student
You mentioned that there are no labs that are a good fit but are there any that are in the ballpark or could just be a good experience(professor be willing to be flexible, professor that produces a lot?) My previous research experience didn't necessarily align perfectly with my current advisor's but was close enough to be helpful during interviews. Just kind of throwing that out there.


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