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miffle

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  1. miffle

    Comp Sci --> Cog Sci

    Not uncommon in my opinion. I honestly don't think that's a limitation and it can instead be a pretty big asset. I would go ahead and apply to PhD programs with PIs that can fuse your cog sci and comp sci interests. If you're really concerned, you can throw a few MA/MS applications in there as a back-up. In your case, even if I didn't get into PhD programs, I wouldn't do another masters and instead just spend the year working in someone else's lab before re-applying to PhD programs (you'd probably even get paid given your Comp Sci MS). In terms of letters, you should still ask for them from the people that you worked with most and can speak to your research/lab abilities. I'm not sure if being a professor in the comp sci department would make the letter "weaker" in the eyes of admissions, but I think that would be your best shot. Did you do any comp sci research/projects that intersected with any of the psych topics you listed as interests? If you did, and if a comp sci professor oversaw it, I think that should be sufficient in terms of a "relevant" rec letter. Finally, if you do consider a psych masters, I can attest that there are a good number of people in funded/thesis based psych masters that came from outside disciplines. Many of them are there because they had a BA/BS in something outside of psych, but I'll occasionally see people that already have a masters in something else. It usually works out for them in the sense that they end up getting into good PhD programs and feel more ready for a psych PhD. However, it's your call whether or not you want to spend another 2 years doing a masters. My opinion is that if it's not funded, I wouldn't go for it.
  2. miffle

    Fulbright vs Grad school

    I'm late to the party here, but I also wanted to add that if your GPA is your main weakness on your application, I don't think you have too much to worry about. Of course, this depends on what kinds of programs you're applying to, but I don't think graduate schools would turn you away just for having a 3.5. If we're talking about PhD programs in the social sciences at least, 3.5 is often enough for passing the initial round of admissions. GPA and GRE are usually reviewed in terms of a threshold (i.e. having them be good enough, which might mean a GPA of at least 3.5 - 3.7)-- beyond that, what's most important is your research experience, SOP, and LORs.
  3. miffle

    Am I competitive?

    I'm not familiar with Middle Eastern studies in particular, but I feel like a specific answer to your question of "safe", "middle", and "reach" schools would be hard to give. Do these masters programs give any type of "admissions statistics & outcomes" information on their website? Just from a standpoint of stats (GPA/GRE), you can gauge how much you deviate from students who have historically been accepted and use that as a fast metric for how "feasible" it is for you to get in. Of course, the other pieces like SOP/LOR/experience are usually more important in terms of the final word on whether or not you get into a program. I would just be aware that many graduate programs still practice a "cut-off" of sorts in terms of GPA and GRE to quickly filter out students initially, which is why I would start with admissions statistics. Hope that helps!
  4. miffle

    Any other researchers in this boat?

    Do you have any graduate degrees, or are you someone that just came out of undergrad? If you don't have any graduate degrees, there's a good amount of labs that actively look for people with only a BA/BS to join their lab during summers. Yes, a lot of them also look for workers that can commit at least 1-2 years, usually as some kind of lab manager or coordinator. However, I also see labs actively recruit summer research assistants. The issue is that summer research assistants aren't always paid... but I usually see some sort of summer stipend in universities or labs with more funding. I'm not sure if this answers your question, as what you have already been doing (emailing PIs/labs directly) is still the best way to go about this even after I give you this information... Sorry about that! Also, this is based on my experience in Psychology research specifically, so YMMV
  5. miffle

    Advice on Pre-PhD Masters (Psychology)?

    I agree with @Noegenesis. Another important thing to consider, especially if your end goal is a PhD program, is funding. The advice I got while looking into "pre-doctoral" masters program is to limit the amount of debt that I would potentially go into. I have no idea about the typical funding situation for statistics/data analysis programs, but I do know that for research-oriented or thesis-based psychology programs, there's usually some sort of funding available to students (albeit often merit-based). There's a thread or two on gradcafe talking about psychology masters programs that have historically offered tuition remission and stipends to their students, so I would definitely use that to inform your list of schools. Another thing to consider is what kind of PhD you plan on applying to, and what you want to do afterwards. After rereading your post, I get the sense that you might be interested in having a quant focus along with your preferred content area (dev/soc/cog/etc). If this is the case, then I can see an additional purpose to applying for statistics masters programs as you can use them as a stepping stone into a quant-heavy PhD or even a career in statistics. However, if your consideration of statistics masters is just to learn data analysis techniques for your content area research (and you plan on applying for a content area psychology PhD), I think the courses you get in a psychology masters program (and online resources) should be sufficient.
  6. miffle

    How to interpret university rankings?

    @PsyDGrad90 I see, that makes sense. Thank you for the input!
  7. Hello everyone, I've made a few posts on gradcafe that were unsuccessful, probably due to how wordy and niche the questions were.. Hopefully this question is more straightforward/understandable. I was wondering if there's any guideline for getting a sense of a PhD program's strength given that there's often 2 "types" of rankings-- overall ranking and the PhD/field's ranking. Specifically, a school may be well known in a general sense (i.e. Rice or Dartmouth), but are ranked below top 50 for the specific PhD program of interest (i.e. psychology). The reverse can also happen, where a school that isn't well known generally ranks top 10 in a field of choice. Which measure should you rely on, or how do you mediate differences between these rankings? Of course, rankings aren't the most important factor to consider. But I ask this because rankings can be one piece of information when deciding between programs, and because I hear academic employers take ranking of your PhD into account. Thank you!
  8. I have several questions about getting more research experience in the summer, and whether it's strategic or not strategic to try and work at the labs you plan on applying to for PhD. I am in a social science masters program at the moment, and want to stay as productive as possible during the summer before PhD application season. Along with working on my masters/thesis projects, I was thinking it might be a good idea to do some research in another lab to increase research experience, as well as do some networking. However, I have a few issues that I'm not sure about: I might want to do summer research in labs I'm potentially interested in applying to for PhD. However, my masters gpa is not so hot right now (I'm planning on fixing it this semester). Would it be a bad idea to get in touch with these labs, given that they will want my CV and gpa looks weak right now? Is it possible for me to ask to do research remotely for summer if I apply to be a temporary RA in someone's lab? Or would this come off weird? I usually assume I won't get paid to help with research, so I'm not sure how feasible it would be for me to travel to the lab. The easy answer to this is to just only apply to labs that I can physically get to, but (1) I'm not sure yet where I will be during summer (I may go home or stay where my masters program is), and (2) the labs I'm interested in aren't always physically near me Hopefully this is a useful question to other people. All input or suggestions related to summer research are deeply appreciated!
  9. Hello everyone! I have a few questions about how PhD admissions may differ for those applying with a MA under their belt. I am a first year student in a funded psychology masters program and just finished my first semester. Unfortunately, I didn't do very well in terms of my gpa (<3.5) and didn't make as much progress on my research as I would have liked (i.e. I don't have enough ready for a poster at the moment). I struggled this past semester due to several things (time management/adjusting to grad school, imposter syndrome, moving far from home), but one very salient thing is that I am completely switching research focus from what I did previously in undergrad. This change took up a lot of my time as I had to get "up to speed" on the literature/research, so I'm not getting through my research as fast as I hoped. All of this has taken a toll on my self-perception, but I feel determined to bounce back and do better from here on. I will work hard to raise my gpa up to a 3.5 this semester and get my research in a good place, hopefully to present at conferences soon. Given that I only have 1 semester left to turn things around for the next application season, I began wondering about issues specific to applicants with a MA in social sciences: I assume that the "bar" might be set higher for applicants with an MA compared to someone applying straight from their BA. How important are publications for students applying to PhDs with a MA? Similarly, how many posters/presentations would I be expected to have? If my performance in my MA program isn't very competitive by the time I finish (i.e. <3.5 gpa, none or very few items in my CV outside of completing my MA thesis), would I be able to take a "gap year" doing work/research to boost my application for future seasons? Or would a weak MA be a "permanent scar" on my applications, causing admissions look at me unfavorably regardless? I have heard that MA gpas are judged more critically as there tends to be grade inflation in graduate school. While I don't feel that my MA program has a severe grade inflation issue, this makes me concerned that the usual 3.5 gpa "cut off" in PhD admissions might not be applicable for graduate gpas. Does anyone have any insight on this? For reference, my undergraduate gpa is fairly strong (3.7), so I'm not concerned about the UGPA portion of my application. Also, if anyone has any advice on how to improve myself outside of these factors, please let me know! Thank you all for your time. P.S. Sorry if this post is misplaced! I wanted to place this in the admissions/applications section, but some details of this situation may not neatly apply for applicants outside of the social sciences, so I thought this might be a better fit.
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