Jan 6, 2010
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  1. Psychology Student
Hello everyone! I'm definitely a member of the waitlist blues club, and am starting to get a little anxious about my plans for the next year (after all this, I'm waitlisted at two schools and that's it) and was hoping for some advice:

If I don't get accepted at either of these clinical PhD programs where I'm waitlisted, I have the option of starting a Master's program at one of the programs. I LOVE this school and feel that I'd much rather be working towards something instead of working for another 6 months at my same job and starting the application process all over again. I've been at my job as a research coordinator for almost 3 years and know that there is no more room for growth here, and the chances of me finding a good research job in the area is slim; plus, what difference will it make since applications are due in December?

I was really surprised at how many people had Master's degrees when I was interviewing, and I am starting to see the benefit, since you (usually) get your name on publications, get a chance to present at conferences, get the chance to improve your GPA in graduate coursework, etc. I had always been told by my professors that it's a waste of time to do a Master's first, but I know that 99% of my coursework will rollover into the PhD program if I stay at the same school, so I'm really considering it.

Any advice from you SDNers would be greatly appreciated! And of course, I haven't totally given up hope on getting accepted to the PhD track!
Mar 18, 2010
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  1. Psychology Student
I went the route of the masters and it was a significant factor in getting accepted into A program I desired. If you feel there is nothing left to gain from your current employment- then you really have nothing to lose!

Hopefully- the waitlist will come through and all this masters business will be history!!
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Aug 14, 2004
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I agree with the advice you have gotten thus far, which is consistent with my experience. Given that you are applying to Ph.D. programs, I would suggest going after a research focused master's degree if you are not doing that already. If your master's program is in clinical or counseling, you will likely benefit from making research your top priority. When applying to Ph.D. programs, I found that programs valued the research experience I gained from my master's program. And, to my recollection, none of them asked me about the clinical experience I had.
Sep 5, 2009
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  1. Pre-Psychology
I have a similar dilemma and was wondering if anyone has advice.

I've been accepted to a few PhD programs straight out of undergrad (without having written a thesis- so there is hope, to people that are worried about that!:) ). I've also been accepted to several MA programs.

My initial intention was for the MA programs to be back-up options, but lately I've been reconsidering my choices. Despite the debt, I think I'd feel more comfortable with the 2-year commitment of a MA program. I'd also be an hour away from my family and boyfriend, verses 14 hours away. Additionally, although I enjoy research, I think I enjoy clinical work more. I found volunteering at a Crisis Center to be more fulfilling than serving as a Research Assistant. Finally, I am not very good at statistics. It's the only course I received a B in, and it's very boring to me.

Would it be foolish of me to turn down the PhD offers and get my MA first due to my uncertainty? I know I could always go back and reapply to PhD programs, but I might not get in on the second round :-/


As others have echoed, going to a masters program gives you the opportunity to network, conduct research, present, and publish... all of which will significantly improve your chances. The actual pursuit of the Masters degree means little on its own (unless you are looking to redeem yourself after a poor undergraduate performance or overcome lackluster GRE scores.) The other factors though are absolute game winners when it comes to gaining entrance to competitive programs. Show that you're a productive and serious researcher with the ability to take a leadership role in a lab and you'll be in a great position to get into a program assuming everything else looks strong.

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