Sep 19, 2017
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0
I'm in a rock and a hard place and I'm just now starting to reevaluate my options.
I graduated with a 2.9 GPA after double majoring in psychology and neuroscience and minoring in biology. I thought more was better and rushing out in 3 years instead of 4 would "look" even greater. I was wrong. I essentially over stressed myself, split my mind between 2 majors all while working 30 hours a week. Now that I realize that I shot myself in the foot, I need to figure out how to fix it.

My end goal is a PhD in clinical psych. I'm wondering if it would be worth it to retake 1-2 semesters worth of classes to boost my gpa or to go on and do a masters degree? Do grad schools view this unfavorably?

If I were to retake courses, my plan would be to apply directly for PhD programs afterwards, hoping I'll get accepted then. Is it even realistic to expect to get accepted to a PhD program right after undergrad?
The second option is to do a Masters, excel and then apply for the PhD.
 

DailyJoy

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Mar 28, 2017
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I was in a similar situation. I took a few classes over to bring my GPA to a 3.0 and then worked in research full time for 4 years. With that being said, my major GPA was very high. Even if you retake classes, it's highly improbable that you will be accepted to a funded PhD after graduating. A master's can certainly help, I went the working route because I couldn't afford one, but either way I would highly suggest retaking some courses because your undergraduate GPA will be looked at regardless of whether you do a master's or not.
 
Dec 4, 2014
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If you can financially swing a masters I would probably do that because it will also likely give you more opportunity at better research involvement during that time than taking psych classes would. In fact you should make sure of this when applying - that you will get some research experience. Plus the classes are graduate level so getting a high gpa in graduate level work will look more indicative of being able to be successful at, well, graduate level work.
 
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PsychPhDStudent

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Sep 5, 2009
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I'm in a rock and a hard place and I'm just now starting to reevaluate my options.
I graduated with a 2.9 GPA after double majoring in psychology and neuroscience and minoring in biology. I thought more was better and rushing out in 3 years instead of 4 would "look" even greater. I was wrong. I essentially over stressed myself, split my mind between 2 majors all while working 30 hours a week. Now that I realize that I shot myself in the foot, I need to figure out how to fix it.

My end goal is a PhD in clinical psych. I'm wondering if it would be worth it to retake 1-2 semesters worth of classes to boost my gpa or to go on and do a masters degree? Do grad schools view this unfavorably?

If I were to retake courses, my plan would be to apply directly for PhD programs afterwards, hoping I'll get accepted then. Is it even realistic to expect to get accepted to a PhD program right after undergrad?
The second option is to do a Masters, excel and then apply for the PhD.
Do you have any research experience? With a compressed undergrad timeline and working so much, I'm doubting it. If that's the case, I'd recommend trying to get into a reputable masters program with a solid research component. Probably an experimental psych Masters, not clinical, though depends on the program.
 
OP
W
Sep 19, 2017
5
0
Do you have any research experience? With a compressed undergrad timeline and working so much, I'm doubting it. If that's the case, I'd recommend trying to get into a reputable masters program with a solid research component. Probably an experimental psych Masters, not clinical, though depends on the program.
I do have very minimal research. I worked in a child psych lab focused on improving cognition. This required preparing a lit review, recruiting participants, running them through the experiment and collecting data. Afterwards we were required to present on the findings and it's implications. There's also the research methods class I took that required a similar project, as well as a senior thesis.
I'm currently working as a TMS Tech and am collecting some data on pretty cool findings in the way we're "tailoring" the treatment for the patients.
The jobs that I worked while in school were always mental health related as well, dealing with public policy or caring for those with developmental disabilities.

I fit in what I could, hoping that it wouldn't be overlooked.
 
OP
W
Sep 19, 2017
5
0
If you can financially swing a masters I would probably do that because it will also likely give you more opportunity at better research involvement during that time than taking psych classes would. In fact you should make sure of this when applying - that you will get some research experience. Plus the classes are graduate level so getting a high gpa in graduate level work will look more indicative of being able to be successful at, well, graduate level work.
I've heard so much about GPA inflation in graduate school that admissions for PhD's overlook the master's grade and still focus more on the undergraduate grade.
 

psych.meout

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Oct 5, 2015
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I've heard so much about GPA inflation in graduate school that admissions for PhD's overlook the master's grade and still focus more on the undergraduate grade.
But you can still flunk out of a master's program if you can't handle the material, which is why a 4.0 in one of those programs (especially if you get really good GRE scores) can help compensate for a poor undergrad GPA. More importantly, a master's program would allow you to get more research experience and allow you to get some research productivity to make you more competitive.
 

AbnormalPsych

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Dec 8, 2014
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That's tough. Whatever move you make I would go very slowly moving forward and not make the same mistake twice. Make your decision and throw everything you have into excelling at that one thing. Don't spread yourself too thin.

Personally, if possible, I'd take as as many undergrad courses as possible to get that GPA up. You definitely need it over 3.0. I'd say get as close to 3.5 as you can. Your psych major GPA will matter a lot in this situation too - if this is high you could have a much easier job selling the low grades in other areas. A lot of PhD programs have internal cut-offs for undergrad GPA or GPA plus GRE (they don't publicize it though). If you don't make that minimal cut-off, your application may not even make it to your potential mentor for review. After working on the undergrad GPA I'd focus on research opportunities for a year or two, whether in a formal masters program or as a research assistant somewhere. If you excel there, you could get some great letters of rec and have a narrative about your development as a professional and in the field.

I had to decide between a masters and research experience after undergrad. I went into unpaid research assistant work and it turned into a paid gig with the exact connections and letter of recs I needed to get into a great program.
 

Justanothergrad

Counseling Psychologist
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Mar 2, 2013
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I've heard so much about GPA inflation in graduate school that admissions for PhD's overlook the master's grade and still focus more on the undergraduate grade.
Its not an issue of graduate school 'grade inflation' as much as it is that anything below a B is failing. So, by virtue of the distribution you see, GPAs will be high (making half B's which is the lowest possible passing grade still gives you a 3.5). Add that to the fact that grades are not the best predictor of what you will be doing, folks don't look at the GPA nearly as much. However, they (I should speak for myself here) are looking at if you are able to perform and produce at a graduate level. If you are, your undergraduate matters less. Time between application and the low UG GPA will also help to convince folks there has been time to develop the skills/dedication/understanding of what it means to excel in school.
 
Sep 22, 2017
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I was in a similar situation - poor undergrad grades, but wanted to go on for a PhD. I enrolled in a master's program, nailed the grades and the GREs, did a LOT of research, and got offers for several grad programs.

Either way, you're going to have to explain that poor undergrad GPA. You can do that in an essay, and explaining what you were trying to do should help. Great GREs, excellent letters, and 4.0 in grad school should do it.
 

Sendtrees

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Mar 5, 2010
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I think your stated end goal needs to catch up with your handle, WannaBPsyD!

Research experience and a high GRE score will make up for your undergrad GPA more than a so-so MA program will, I think.
 
Dec 4, 2014
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I think your stated end goal needs to catch up with your handle, WannaBPsyD!

Research experience and a high GRE score will make up for your undergrad GPA more than a so-so MA program will, I think.
I'd lean that way if it was a GPA over about 3.2 due to the time and money expense of taking more classes, but a GPA under 3 seems at risk of getting thrown out on the first go-round for not meeting the minimum threshold at most decent programs, even if other factors are stellar (and OP, I'm sure you're bright, but you should realistically consider the chances you'll be 90+ percentile in all aspects of the GRE; statistically unlikely. But I dunno, maybe you will). Anyway, however you dice it, a 2.9 GPA is going to be a huge red flag, plus most people aren't going to be able to get a near-perfect GRE score no matter how hard they try. Just my perspective.
 

psych.meout

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I'd lean that way if it was a GPA over about 3.2 due to the time and money expense of taking more classes, but a GPA under 3 seems at risk of getting thrown out on the first go-round for not meeting the minimum threshold at most decent programs, even if other factors are stellar (and OP, I'm sure you're bright, but you should realistically consider the chances you'll be 90+ percentile in all aspects of the GRE; statistically unlikely. But I dunno, maybe you will). Anyway, however you dice it, a 2.9 GPA is going to be a huge red flag, plus most people aren't going to be able to get a near-perfect GRE score no matter how hard they try. Just my perspective.
Exactly. When your GPA is less than 3.0, it's no longer about your qualifications complimenting your overall picture as an applicant, now you have to overcompensate for a glaring weakness. Unless you have some very reasonable and salient explanation, like undergoing cancer treatment during undergrad, you have to be near-perfect in your other qualifications and that is just unlikely to occur.

That said, it's kind of risky trying to just explain away aberrant or concerning aspects of your qualifications without demonstrating aptitude and overcompensating in some other way, e.g. completing a master's program with a 4.0 GPA. Detailing adversity in your personal statement to explain your poor GPA runs the risk of looking like you're making excuses for yourself and seeming presumptuous that you deserve a spot in the program compared to other people that don't have these glaring flaws in their qualifications. Other people experience adversity as well, but without it impacting their functioning in such manners and without making excuses for themselves.

It's definitely a "show, don't tell" situation of demonstrating your capabilities through tangible evidence, not just telling admissions committees that you can achieve in their programs, especially in spite of poor GPAs and other evidence that you might not perform well.
 
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Apr 11, 2012
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I've heard so much about GPA inflation in graduate school that admissions for PhD's overlook the master's grade and still focus more on the undergraduate grade.
This is not true for my program. For fellowships, the masters grades will trump undergraduate grades every time. For myself, the whole function of a research focused masters is exactly these situations--someone maybe didn't have a stellar undergraduate career and needs to overcome those grades and get additional experience to be competitive for doctoral programs. If we just focused on the undergraduate degree, that wouldn't allow for growth and people getting their s**t together.
 
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