When to consider MA before PhD?

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Full Member
Mar 9, 2023
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Hello all, I'm back with a few questions. I'll try to make this a straightforward thread.
First of all, at what GPA/lack of experience does one consider pursuing a masters on the road to getting a PhD rather than just taking gap years to focus on research?
Next, do grad schools pay more attention to your major GPA or overall? My major GPA will probably be better than my overall, lol (former premed).
Finally, if one were to pursue a masters, what is the best field to get the masters in? Probably just a psychology degree, right? Or are there other degree routes that may help get into PhD programs while also getting enough research?

I am just wondering these things as I have been dealing with some family health issues and it's making an impact on my grades. I'm worried that as this progresses, I may fall short of the perfect GPA I'm aiming for, which was probably unrealistic to begin with. Thanks for any insight once again. :)

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There's no one size fits all answer but some people do an MA in lieu of research gap years because they want the structure of an academic program versus RA type gigs.

Some people do an MS because they want to keep the doors open for a clinical MS license if they don't go further with their education (although some MS programs won't have much research).

If you have way(s) to gain research independently and don't think you'll want a licensable MS degree AND your GPA is fine (maybe like 3.5 or more in the psych major and 3.3+ overall), then a grad degree probably isn't necessary.

If you're below those stats, you'll can still be OK at many programs if you have a compelling CV but it's hard to say with certainty since every program is different.