Graduate Classes in Psychology

mickeymouse93

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Feb 14, 2014
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  1. Psychology Student
    At my school, undergrads have the option of taking up to four graduate courses. However, these cannot be applied to both the BA and MA. So, my question is, should I have them apply to my BA or MA? If I stay at this school and complete the MA in experimental psych, it would only take me a year after receiving my BA. However, if I have it count towards my BA, would that look good? I heard that having a masters can hurt while applying to clinical psych programs.
     

    modestmousktr

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    Jan 22, 2013
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      At my school, undergrads have the option of taking up to four graduate courses. However, these cannot be applied to both the BA and MA. So, my question is, should I have them apply to my BA or MA? If I stay at this school and complete the MA in experimental psych, it would only take me a year after receiving my BA. However, if I have it count towards my BA, would that look good? I heard that having a masters can hurt while applying to clinical psych programs.

      I don't think it could necessarily hurt you to have a master's, but I wouldn't plan on having one. Also, some people may disagree as there are quality universities with one-year master's programs (I can't speak to the quality OF the M.A. programs), but I don't think you should plan to finish a master's degree in one year unless you've already begun your thesis. About getting an M.A. degree- I don't think anyone would frown upon it, I don't think it would hurt your chances of admission, but I don't think it will shorten your time at the university, which is why it can be a negative thing for you. I know full well that the schools I'm applying to will not accept my master's thesis, and transfer 6 of my 50 units tops.

      The only reason I am getting a master's degree is because I did not get accepted into funded Ph.D. programs across the US, I had job offers to be a full-time clinical research coordinator but they were in other states and I was not ~ready~ to move (very family-oriented, had some growing up to do), and I wanted to at least do something in between my bachelor's and reapplying that would advance my knowledge of psychology. I ended up getting a research assistantship and grant funding, so my first year has been free plus a little cash, and I'm applying for a GTA position which will also provide tuition remission and a stipend- it's been free, so why not? I've certainly developed a lot as a professional, I get to see clients (I don't think Ph.D.s care about this one, but it has made me develop a level of professionalism that I didn't have as an undergrad), and I'm working at an advanced level with a great deal of trust from my thesis advisor.

      However, if you don't have to do a master's, don't plan on one- it's just tacking two years onto your length of time in school, essentially :p long-winded, but take-home message, I would apply them to your bachelor's if you are planning on taking them anyway. That way, you can use those four classes to graduate instead of taking four undergrad classes for units, and taking these four classes for your pleasure and adding them to a master's degree you may not get.
       

      mickeymouse93

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      Feb 14, 2014
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      1. Psychology Student
        I don't think it could necessarily hurt you to have a master's, but I wouldn't plan on having one. Also, some people may disagree as there are quality universities with one-year master's programs (I can't speak to the quality OF the M.A. programs), but I don't think you should plan to finish a master's degree in one year unless you've already begun your thesis. About getting an M.A. degree- I don't think anyone would frown upon it, I don't think it would hurt your chances of admission, but I don't think it will shorten your time at the university, which is why it can be a negative thing for you. I know full well that the schools I'm applying to will not accept my master's thesis, and transfer 6 of my 50 units tops.

        The only reason I am getting a master's degree is because I did not get accepted into funded Ph.D. programs across the US, I had job offers to be a full-time clinical research coordinator but they were in other states and I was not ~ready~ to move (very family-oriented, had some growing up to do), and I wanted to at least do something in between my bachelor's and reapplying that would advance my knowledge of psychology. I ended up getting a research assistantship and grant funding, so my first year has been free plus a little cash, and I'm applying for a GTA position which will also provide tuition remission and a stipend- it's been free, so why not? I've certainly developed a lot as a professional, I get to see clients (I don't think Ph.D.s care about this one, but it has made me develop a level of professionalism that I didn't have as an undergrad), and I'm working at an advanced level with a great deal of trust from my thesis advisor.

        However, if you don't have to do a master's, don't plan on one- it's just tacking two years onto your length of time in school, essentially :p long-winded, but take-home message, I would apply them to your bachelor's if you are planning on taking them anyway. That way, you can use those four classes to graduate instead of taking four undergrad classes for units, and taking these four classes for your pleasure and adding them to a master's degree you may not get.
        Thank you for replying. What are you receiving your masters in? Also, one of the main reasons I was going to do it was because Clinical Psych PhD programs are extremely competitive and I do not think I will get into quality places. If I have them count towards my bachelor's, would this make me more competitive? If not, I'm not going to waste my money on it.
         
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        modestmousktr

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          You're welcome! From one mouse to another :)

          I am getting my master's degree in clinical psychology. I have heard it is preferred to have a general master's degree, but I am doing the same activities (I supervise undergrads in a lab, am doing a thesis, and am applying for a teaching position this semester) as the students in the general program at my school, I just also have to set aside some time for my clinical practicum.

          If you don't think you are going to get into a clinical Ph.D., are you definitely applying to master's programs? And if so, does your school have a good reputation? You should ask the graduate school coordinator about Ph.D. acceptance rates before considering taking on a master's degree, as it is a great deal of work and adds a couple of years to your education. I made sure students from my school had been accepted to schools I wanted to go to before I applied.

          Master's can be beneficial, I'm in one, and I like it. I think it'll work out for me, we will see this time next year. But they certainly aren't a requirement, you could get hired as a research coordinator and do that for 1-2 years, gain experience and pubs, then reapply instead of a master's. There's several routes to Ph.D. acceptance, I think.

          If you take the four graduate classes, and count them towards a master's, would you need to take more undergraduate classes to get your bachelor's degree? If the answer is yes, I would count the classes toward the bachelor's so you don't end up taking the 4 classes, plus whatever you need for your bachelor's degree. If you do not need the units for your bachelor's degree, and are just taking them, you can count it either way. If you're definitely enrolling in your school's M.A. it'll benefit you, if not, it won't hurt you. Also, I think I wrote that first response funny, I'm sorry, what I mean to say is, taking the classes won't necessarily make you a more qualified candidate for a Ph.D. program, but once a school has already decided they like you enough to interview you, it could come down to something useful you've gained from those classes that another undergraduate hasn't that makes itself clear while you're speaking with the POI or whoever is interviewing you.
           

          member978

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            I would suggest considering what you feel you need to be a competitive applicant for a Ph.D. program, and try to determine if you will gain that additional experience by completing a master's. For many, the answer is additional focused and more advanced research experience, which is something you might get from a master's program, but you can also get in other ways. From what I can tell, simply having or not having a master's means very little in the admissions process compare to your experience and how you plan to apply that experience to your future research pursuits.
             

            HomeworkHelper

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            Nov 21, 2011
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              From what I have heard, a masters before a clinical program can be helpful if you need to show you can handle graduate level work (bc your GPA is lower than recommended) or because you need more classes to narrow the area of psychology you're interested in. If you mostly need more research experience, a masters may not always be helpful, and I would instead get an RA or research coordinator job.
               

              mickeymouse93

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              Feb 14, 2014
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              1. Psychology Student
                From what I have heard, a masters before a clinical program can be helpful if you need to show you can handle graduate level work (bc your GPA is lower than recommended) or because you need more classes to narrow the area of psychology you're interested in. If you mostly need more research experience, a masters may not always be helpful, and I would instead get an RA or research coordinator job.
                Everyone keeps saying that, but there is no job like that here. Since I'm graduating a year early, and the MA would only take a year to receive, I thought it would look good to have both completed within four years.
                 

                HomeworkHelper

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                Nov 21, 2011
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                  Everyone keeps saying that, but there is no job like that here. Since I'm graduating a year early, and the MA would only take a year to receive, I thought it would look good to have both completed within four years.

                  I think we had a conversation before about this, and it sounded like you couldn't move for an RA position. If you can't move and there's no RA positions available in your area, then by all means an MA would be fine. Any way to get involved in more research (volunteering in a lab or a couple labs) while getting the MA?
                   

                  AcronymAllergy

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                    I think we had a conversation before about this, and it sounded like you couldn't move for an RA position. If you can't move and there's no RA positions available in your area, then by all means an MA would be fine. Any way to get involved in more research (volunteering in a lab or a couple labs) while getting the MA?

                    My thoughts as well. The RA positions get plugged because they'll typically get folks the experience they need to be competitive for a doctoral program while also actually paying them (rather than the other way around). That being said, if those sorts of positions aren't available in your area, then a masters can also be a solid way to get research experience.
                     
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