Apr 4, 2012
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So I have a question about getting into PhD programs...

My background is that I want to do clinical psych, research-ready (not in a psych discipline), have 4 basic classes under my belt (this definitely hurt me during the app cycle this year) and no pubs/presentations (ouch). I volunteer in a psych lab.

I got a 170 (1600) on GREs, 800 on psych GREs, A average from a top 10 school.

Other facts: I would be able to move, and career matters to me more than pretty much anything right now. My background is not wealthy; however, I am a saver and not a spender .... while it is important to me to try living within my means, I could afford a 1 year MA program if it would pay back eventually in term of letting me get into psych. I am actually more wary about spending 2 years of doing a full funded masters and losing more precious earning years.

Given how hard it is, I have totally thought about pursuing other helping-people type careers: Speech language pathology, masters in public health, and occupational therapy, as well as med school, among them. But I keep circling back to psych because in the end, I think it's one of those careers that it is possible to go deeper into research in, and never really get bored (but still never not be able to pay the bills).

Give this... My question is:

What would be the best shot for me....

1) Applying to one of the excellent funded masters programs out there (2 years)

2) Applying for the clinical/counselling masters at my school and getting tuition remission?/Doing school while working?

3) Getting a psych RA job and taking more pickup (undergrad) classes, and doing more research?
This one I favor because what I seem to be lacking is the prereq undergrad classes, which the masters would still not be able to remedy.

Any advice and perspectives would be appreciated...

I think I'm almost there, but really need more a solid research background and do not seem to have the minimum number of classes for certain programs (e.g. a lot of those in the Boston area seem to want 6).
 
Nov 18, 2010
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So I have a question about getting into PhD programs...

My background is that I want to do clinical psych, research-ready (not in a psych discipline), have 4 basic classes under my belt (this definitely hurt me during the app cycle this year) and no pubs/presentations (ouch). I volunteer in a psych lab.

I got a 170 (1600) on GREs, 800 on psych GREs, A average from a top 10 school.

Other facts: I would be able to move, and career matters to me more than pretty much anything right now. My background is not wealthy; however, I am a saver and not a spender .... while it is important to me to try living within my means, I could afford a 1 year MA program if it would pay back eventually in term of letting me get into psych. I am actually more wary about spending 2 years of doing a full funded masters and losing more precious earning years.

Given how hard it is, I have totally thought about pursuing other helping-people type careers: Speech language pathology, masters in public health, and occupational therapy, as well as med school, among them. But I keep circling back to psych because in the end, I think it's one of those careers that it is possible to go deeper into research in, and never really get bored (but still never not be able to pay the bills).

Give this... My question is:

What would be the best shot for me....

1) Applying to one of the excellent funded masters programs out there (2 years)

2) Applying for the clinical/counselling masters at my school and getting tuition remission?/Doing school while working?

3) Getting a psych RA job and taking more pickup (undergrad) classes, and doing more research?
This one I favor because what I seem to be lacking is the prereq undergrad classes, which the masters would still not be able to remedy.

Any advice and perspectives would be appreciated...

I think I'm almost there, but really need more a solid research background and do not seem to have the minimum number of classes for certain programs (e.g. a lot of those in the Boston area seem to want 6).
I would say that you need at least a minor in psychology in order to get into a clinical psychology program. While your GPA/GRE are right on, what you really need is to have more research experience and classwork in psychology. 3) might be the best option, would you be able to perhaps get a second bachelor's or second major in psychology while working? I just wonder if you can even get into the programs you listed in 1) and 2) with only having 4 psychology courses, although that could depend on what your major was.
 

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Odds are if you've only taken 4 psych classes, as you've mentioned, you won't meet the pre-reqs for most programs (which can vary from school to school). I would say #3 would be your best bet, as it would A) strengthen your resume research-wise and B) allow you to get the classes you need to be eligible to apply in the first place. Just be sure to look up the programs to which you're considering applying and seeing what the actual pre-reqs are. My guess would be that you could probably knock them out in 2-3 semesters, depending on how many you take at a time.

You certainly don't need to major in psych to get into programs, although if you didn't, then taking the Psych GRE is your best bet (which you've already done). Just get the pre-reqs out of the way, boost your research experience, and take it from there. Your numbers otherwise are very competitive.
 
Jan 4, 2013
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0
Status
So I have a question about getting into PhD programs...

My background is that I want to do clinical psych, research-ready (not in a psych discipline), have 4 basic classes under my belt (this definitely hurt me during the app cycle this year) and no pubs/presentations (ouch). I volunteer in a psych lab.

I got a 170 (1600) on GREs, 800 on psych GREs, A average from a top 10 school.

Other facts: I would be able to move, and career matters to me more than pretty much anything right now. My background is not wealthy; however, I am a saver and not a spender .... while it is important to me to try living within my means, I could afford a 1 year MA program if it would pay back eventually in term of letting me get into psych. I am actually more wary about spending 2 years of doing a full funded masters and losing more precious earning years.

Given how hard it is, I have totally thought about pursuing other helping-people type careers: Speech language pathology, masters in public health, and occupational therapy, as well as med school, among them. But I keep circling back to psych because in the end, I think it's one of those careers that it is possible to go deeper into research in, and never really get bored (but still never not be able to pay the bills).

Give this... My question is:

What would be the best shot for me....

1) Applying to one of the excellent funded masters programs out there (2 years)

2) Applying for the clinical/counselling masters at my school and getting tuition remission?/Doing school while working?

3) Getting a psych RA job and taking more pickup (undergrad) classes, and doing more research?
This one I favor because what I seem to be lacking is the prereq undergrad classes, which the masters would still not be able to remedy.

Any advice and perspectives would be appreciated...

I think I'm almost there, but really need more a solid research background and do not seem to have the minimum number of classes for certain programs (e.g. a lot of those in the Boston area seem to want 6).
In my opinion, you're in a much better situation than you may think. Your grades and scores couldn't be any better (and that is arguably at least 25% of the application, if not more). Even though you weren't a psych major, you got a 800 on the psych GRE, so that shows you have the psych background.

I would also suggest going with #3, especially if you want to go for a PhD. #1 is pretty expensive and not necessary unless you REALLY can't find meaningful research experience as a paid or volunteer intern. #2 is way too clinically oriented for a PhD program. The only clinical experience I have is from hotline and some other volunteer, and I still got interviews even to balanced programs. #3 is the best option, except finding a paid RA position, especially with no experience is going to be very very difficult. You could try starting out as a volunteer and maybe move your way into a full-time position if that's possible (that's exactly what happened to me and it's working out very well).

As far as your classes, the strictest criteria I've seen ask for a number of specific courses (i.e. psych 101, stats, quant methods, abnormal psych, social psych, etc.) and/or at least some number of psych credits. 4 classes = 12 credits, and the schools that do have a requirement only asked for around 20. I would really recommend getting the book "Guide to Graduate School in Counseling/Clinical Psychology"; in addition to a lot of other useful info, it also lists the pre-req requirements for schools. This is what I did when I first decided to go into Clin Psych and didn't have a Psych major. I realized I was missing some fundamental courses and took them at a local University. Most of the schools I applied to (they were research-heavy) didn't even have pre-reqs. Many say on their website that you don't have to major in psych in order to apply. In fact, one school specifically said that if you don't have all the courses they want, they won't even look at your application and I got an interview anyways. So I honestly wouldn't worry too much about classes. If you're a stellar candidate (and based on your numbers, you almost are) and have great research experience, they won't not take you or even interview you just because you're missing one or two courses. Also, a lot of schools "require" or prefer courses in other areas, so well-roundedness is probably more important to programs than to have someone who can spit out psych history.

Overall, I think that you are focusing on the pessimistic side of your application instead of looking at the bright side. How many can boast the same numbers you have? Even if you do have to take 4 or 5 more classes, I'm sure you can ace them. I had a full-time job, and took courses at night during the summer. For the past 2 summers, my days consisted of >12 hour days due to a full time job and taking psych courses. It's annoying but it's doable, especially if this is what you want to do. Good luck!