Jan 25, 2010
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Psychology Student
Hi everyone,

I'm in need of advice concerning my decision about which offer to accept. I am currently debating between two schools:

School A
- M.Sc./Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
- Located in a Canadian city of about 400,000 people
- Very good university
- Funding: $25K minimum per year, guaranteed for 6 years
- Potential supervisor is very nice, has lots of grant money, publishes a fair amount especially considering that she's only starting her career
- Research interest fit is about 70%...mood disorder risk/emotion/genetics: at the moment she studies kids, but I'm a lot more interested in studying adults...can I switch (or at least do both) later in my career?

School B
- Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
- Midwestern state school located in a town of about 30,000 people
- Funding: $12.5K per year, guaranteed for 3 years
- I'm Canadian so I would need to legally import my car (and pay associated taxes on it), re-take my theory and road test to get a state driver's license, pay crazy insurance premiums, live without any credit cards, etc...basically a lot of hassles and a much lower standard of living than I'm used to
- Potential supervisor is like my academic soulmate, research interest fit is 100%, got along really well with people in the lab at interview day

So my question is...do I choose the school where I'll never have to worry about money but where the research fit is only so-so, or do I choose the school where the research fit is the only thing going for it? I'm afraid that I'll feel like a sellout if I choose school A, but at the same time, if I'm worried about money the whole time I'm at school B, won't that ruin the experience anyway? Also I'm finishing up my undergrad at the moment so if anyone thinks I'm better off just reapplying next year I'm open to the idea.

Any advice/insight/personal experience would be greatly appreciated!
 

Featheredwyngs

7+ Year Member
Jan 12, 2010
91
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171
USA
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Psychology Student
Have you actually compared cost of living? How far does 25k go in first location vs. 12.5k in the second? Are there extra forms of funding in the second?

Other Important Questions:

Also does school B grant you a masters along the way to the PhD? That can be important for some people (even if they don't plan for a terminal masters).

Does the professor at school A plan to be there for another 5 or 6 years seeing as she's starting out in her career? And why does program A gaurantee funding for 6 years...is it because people don't go on internship until their 7th or 8th year?

And more importantly, can you do the research *you* want to do at School A? I ask this because my area of research interest is very specific and few professor out there actively research it as their main area - thus most of my programs are 70-90% research matches. I've made sure to clarify with each professor really what is the degree I can pursue my interests.

And as to whether you can get experience with adults and what kind of experience (which will determine how easily you can "switch" in your future career, both in research and practice)... that's a question to ask the program directly.
 

August2008

10+ Year Member
Apr 3, 2007
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I would tell you to go with the school that you think you'd be happiest in terms of research fit. Doing research that gets you excited, that you truly love & have a strong interest in, is what's going to motivate you and bring you success. I am speaking from my own personal experience- two years ago I accepted an offer at a very good school with very good funding, but not the best research fit. I have been quite unhappy with my lab's research-- it simply does not excite me. As I am finishing up my MA, I have now had to apply to other labs/schools for my PhD specifically as a result of the lack of research fit in my current program. So, I would certainly tell you to avoid this mistake, research fit is KEY. Best of luck with your decision!