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Everything posted by juilletmercredi

  1. I'm not sure I'm totally understanding your situation, but from what I do understand - yes, this is normal in psychology. In a psychology department, it's pretty normal for a student's funding to be tied to a combination of research and teaching. Even if you are not 'technically' on a research assistantship for a given term or semester, it's pretty common (and expected) for a student to be assisting their PI with research in the lab. This is how you learn to do research, and also how you get the data you need to present papers at conferences and ultimately write papers. It is rare for psychology PhD students to do independent research outside of their PI's lab. Usually your work, up to and including your dissertation research, is done under the auspices of the lab you belong to. In return, though, you usually coauthor papers with your PI and eventually work up to the point where you are first author on some papers.
  2. In private for-profit industry, you can certainly conduct research with an MA in sociology. Most researchers in the social sciences in industry hold master's degrees, actually. Companies vary a lot in their preference. Many top companies will prefer PhDs if they can get them, and they do tend to - but that doesn't mean they won't take an MA, especially one with experience. My team is made up of mostly PhDs (mostly in psychology and neuroscience) but we do have some folks with just an MA and even one or two with a BA only, albeit these people have many years of experience and are truly excellent at their jobs. You could also definitely conduct or assist with research in a hospital. You'll want to look at research coordinator positions - lots of researchers conducting clinical trials hire MA holders to do research tasks for them, especially research administration tasks. Sometimes the hospital has a whole research wing and the administration of such, as well as lower-level and intermediate research tasks, are done by MA (or MPH) holders. Often these positions are also called research associate, so I'd look that up. As someone else mentioned, you could also get research associate positions with think tanks like RTI or Mathematica. Research consultancies are another place to look; one place that comes to mind is Advisory Board, which hires master's holders as research associates.
  3. The caveat I would add, though, is to make sure you really can't learn that skill set in an industry position as you go along. If you know you want to go into industry, often you have time - or it's baked into your position - to learn skill sets that you don't already have, usually with the company's time and money. You'll be making way more money and gaining useful experience while learning that skill set. Sometimes a postdoc is the ideal way to do this, but sometimes you can do it on the job, so consider whether the skill you want to learn is something you really need a postdoc for.
  4. It's good that you are considering these things. Whether you can get financially secure depends on what that means to you and how much your partner makes. In a counseling psychology PhD program, you can probably expect to earn between $25K and $35K as a stipend. In most cities and college towns, that's enough to get by but not enough to set the world on fire in terms of investing, buying a home, saving for retirement, etc. You can travel in a doctoral program, too, but how much and to where depends a lot on your financial priorities and your partner's salary. You probably won't be taking twice-yearly trips to Europe - both in terms of time away from the program and your personal finances. As to whether you'll have free time to enjoy with your boyfriend - you will if you make time for it. You have to be very intentional about creating space for your personal life when you're in a doctoral program, as the doctoral program's work will expand to fill the space you allow it to fill. That may involve creating schedules and hard boundaries for yourself (like I ended my dissertation writing at around 6 pm each evening, no matter how much progress I'd made that day). I know one couple who was able to set themselves up well financially while one half was in a doctoral program, and had a child; but the other half was a software developer at a very large tech company known for high salaries. One goal for you to is to examine why you've been 'dreaming' of obtaining a PhD since undergrad. Why? What does that dream mean to you? Lots of people want PhDs for a variety of different reasons, but really the purpose of it is to get you to some career that requires or greatly benefits from having one. Do you want to be a counseling psychologist who sees clients and does therapy? Or do you want to be a psychology professor, and/or a researcher that uses psychology and psychological principles/methods? How important is it to you to have one of those jobs rather than another career that will make you happy and also give you more time, money, and energy to travel and achieve your financial goals? Really dig into yourself and think realistically about other careers you think you might also enjoy, and decide for yourself whether the PhD is more important to you than the other goals you have - or whether you're okay with delaying those other goals for the PhD program. For a personal anecdote: I did my PhD between ages 22 and 28, and after a postdoc for a year, I started my first full-time shortly after I turned 29. I've been here for a little over 3 years. On the one hand, I really love my job, and I wouldn't have gotten it without a PhD (I'm a researcher in the technology industry). I also did some things in graduate school that I likely wouldn't have easily done had I not gotten a PhD, including 7 years living in New York. On the other hand, I often reflect that I could've gotten a master's in another field I enjoyed - statistics; quantitative methods in the social sciences; even an MBA - and potentially spent those 6 years in my 20s making money, buying a house, having a wedding with the budget I wanted (rather than what I could afford since we were both in school), saving for retirement, traveling, and getting more financially secure. Those things were all delayed to my 30s, and now I'm in the position where I would like to have children soon but I don't feel like I've done most of the things I would've liked to have done before I had children (mostly saving, traveling, and buying a house). But back on the same first hand, I make a lot more money now with my PhD than I probably would've made with any master's I was likely to have gotten (and even if I had gotten an MBA, I would've had to contend with far more debt). I can't decide whether I feel like the sacrifice was worth it, probably because I don't know what I would've actually done had I not gotten a PhD. I had a long-term partner when I started my program and we got married at the beginning of my fourth year. The first couple years of the doctoral program were rough, both because I had less control over my time and because I hadn't yet put the structures in place to maintain a healthy relationship. My husband described it as me walking around in a "PhD fog" all the time; even when we were alone together, it always seemed like at least half my brain was occupied by the PhD. (I can confirm: that is true.) It got better once I got closer to my dissertation; my time was more flexible and I made the conscious decision that I was going to structure it to give myself more time for personal pursuits and hobbies. I made more time for me and my husband; more time for my friends; I started running and doing yoga and knitting and taught myself how to bake. I will say that I did not feel like a full human being until about year four in my program when I made time to do those things. I wish I had known to do that earlier. Beware that a lot of programs don't allow you to defer enrollment unless you have a medical or military reason to do so. If you don't want to attend graduate school in fall 2019, don't apply this year - just wait until next fall to apply for 2020.
  5. To be clear, a program being a 'cash cow' doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad or useless program. Cash cow, IMO, just means that the program is a significant source of income to the university. For example, Columbia's MBA program could be considered a cash cow program - they don't really award scholarships for it and it costs a whole lot of money. However, a Columbia MBA is pretty valuable and is quite likely to result in a high-paying salary after graduation. There may also be some academic/non-professional programs that are cash cows but also have good career prospects for students. Full funding for academic MA programs in many fields is pretty uncommon or even rare, and those programs may well be cash cows, but that doesn't mean they're entirely useless. So it may be with your program. It's possible that the program is a cash cow, meaning it generates a lot of revenue for Columbia. But what you should worry about primarily is the cost-benefit analysis to you. You're getting funding to attend, which offsets the cost; the next step is doing what you are doing - finding out post-graduation outcomes for students. Follow up with the coordinator and ask about job placement. You can tell him your career aspirations and see what their response is. Also, I'm not trying to be pedantic but anecdotes are, indeed, data. They're just data that you have to consider within context, since there are lots of factors that could influence a person's eventual career journey. My point is that you don't need to disregard anecdotes or individual people's outcomes; you do need to seek out a variety, though, so you can learn what's out there.
  6. Yes, there's no way that most programs would know that you are applying to PsyD programs as well as PhD programs, and you don't have to tell them.
  7. Agreed with the above advice from l3ob, although I'd go so far as to say if you have no research experience now, you may want to take 2-3 years to get it to be competitive for a PhD program. Remember if you only take a year, you'd be applying in December when you only have like 4-6 months of experience; if you take 2-3 years, you'd have more to show for it and a strong recommendation letter from that experience. This is also one of the few times I recommend an MA in psychology. Going as a non-degree student or for a post-baccalaureate certificate is also not a bad idea. I think the run-around you're getting at UF is actually quite normal. Professors and others involved in the graduate program admissions are not going to want to give you a pre-admissions evaluation or give you any advice about getting into the program if they don't already know you - they have no incentive to do so, and they don't want to give you the impression that you will be admitted if you do X and Y things. You'd be better off talking to your own former professors in your undergraduate psychology department. Start with a professor in whose class you received an A. (The reference to career services was bizarre, since not only do they only deal with current students but they're not really set up to do graduate school advising.) That doesn't mean that the department won't be helpful when you are a graduate student there; it's just that (putting it frankly) they really have no reason to help you individually get admitted to their program.
  8. Have you searched PubMed, the public database of peer-reviewed scientific journals in health and medicine? Try that. There is a lot of research in this area, and a search there will yield many, many articles on the relationship between housing and health - especially depending on what you mean by "housing" (do you mean the actual building in which people live, or the location of that building, or the neighborhood?) I would wager that given the length of the average new story, you might want to narrow this down and focus on something more specific. There are many books written on this topic - it could fill several volumes. One book that may be of interest is Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, by Eric Klinenberg. It is about the week-long heat wave in Chicago during the summer of 1995 and the effects it had on residents, particularly low-income and elderly residents living in poor neighborhoods and public housing projects. Another seminal case in this area is the Kennedy Krieger Institute's study of how different levels of lead paint abatement affected children's development in housing projects in Baltimore. The problem is that KKI didn't give complete, understandable warning to the families moving into these housing projects that there was some level of risk from the lead paint, and some children suffered permanent damage due to being exposed to this common household contaminant. There's a NYT story from 2001 (here: https://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/24/us/us-investigating-johns-hopkins-study-of-lead-paint-hazard.html) and more recent stories in FiveThirtyEight (here: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/baltimores-toxic-legacy-of-lead-paint/) and ABC (here: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/baltimores-kennedy-krieger-institute-sued-lead-paint-study/story?id=14536695 ). You can probably fine more if you dig a bit. The classic public health/epidemiology story is also a case of how where you live can affect your health: John Snow, commonly known as the "father of epidemiology," discovered that families that lived in certain areas of London were more susceptible to cholera than others. He determined it was based on where they got their water from: the Thames River was absolutely disgusting and had pathogens in it that led to cholera, whereas families who lived a further distance and got their water elsewhere were doing better.
  9. You don't need a second master's in math. Even if it's difficult, is it possible? You really need undergraduate courses in math. I'm not in economics but I've heard other econ folks say that three semesters of calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, 1-2 semesters in probability and statistics, and potentially real analysis are good classes to take. (Check out this article from the American Economics Association: https://www.aeaweb.org/resources/students/grad-prep/recommended-math) How much of that do you have already? All of those courses are offered at the undergraduate level, so you don't need special admission to some gated graduate classes; you just need to be able to take the standard undergrad courses along with all the other math and quant science majors. If you haven't even started any of these, then I would imagine in a three-semester program you could at least get through 1-2 semesters of the calculus sequence. (You probably won't be able to take any graduate-level courses in economics, since it seems like those are all highly quantitative, but that's okay because what you really need now is the math.) You can then go to work for a few years after you finish your MAPSS and take the rest of the high-level math classes you need as a non-degree student at a nearby university. With your MAPSS degree, you should be able to find work as a research associate at a think tank or government agency or somewhere else that you can continue to get research experience to build your resume. Or, can you extend your time in the MAPSS program - maybe by going part-time - and take some more math classes? This will cost you more money, but will probably get you further ahead in the sequence. A lot of those higher-level math classes may be difficult to take in the evenings and/or weekends when you are working. An alternative is to concentrate on PhD programs in public policy, then acquire some of the requisite knowledge in the PhD programs. PhD programs are usually more flexible than master's programs; you usually have access to pretty much any class you want to take; and as long as you have funding, you can extend your time to degree to acquire the knowledge you need (to a point). When I was in my PhD program, I took some math courses in the undergrad math department. There are also usually economists working in public policy schools/PhD programs. With your background, you'd probably be competitive for some top public policy PhD programs once you get some more research experience, and then you can sort of laterally gain as much economics knowledge as possible to do some work in that field. However, the caveat for this is that it likely won't scratch the itch for economics fully and if you want to teach and do research in an economics department, you'll find that nearly impossible with a PhD in public policy. If you know you specifically want to be a professor of economics, you need to take the long road of taking the math classes you need. But if you just want to do research in the area and related fields are OK, then the second option may be easier and faster for you.
  10. I would imagine those schools are trying to get a more diverse pool of applicants. For a variety of reasons, applicants from underrepresented backgrounds often score lower on the GRE. Applicants from more traditionally represented backgrounds also may perform below their potential, too, depending on the circumstances around their test day. I don't know what the current science is around GRE scores and success in graduate school, but my guess is that GRE scores aren't highly correlated with who finishes a PhD program or who achieves success (like papers, posters, fellowships, etc.) within the program - because the GRE doesn't really test domains that contribute to that success, not directly anyway. There are a couple of more recent articles that address this, like one in Science Mag (https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2017/06/gres-dont-predict-grad-school-success-what-does), and this journalistic one in The Atlantic (https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/03/the-problem-with-the-gre/471633/). I don't think the GRE has ever been very important to admissions to doctoral programs. The old wisdom was that GRE scores can keep you out, but they can't get you in - in other words, usually once you cross some threshold (usually unsaid, although some programs will recommend a general minimum to shoot for) they don't do any additional work to boost your admissions, but scoring below that threshold can be damaging to your application. But even that can be bent - if an otherwise really outstanding applicant has mediocre GRE scores, that can be overlooked. Given the lack of predictive power in all the axes that doctoral admissions committees actually care about, I guess some professors/program are like why force good potential candidates to spend a couple hundred dollars, several months of studying, and a few hours of stressful high-stakes testing on something that's not really going to help them evaluate the candidate at all?
  11. Yeah, probably not. Even if you really wanted a job in finance, you'd probably be better off getting a graduate certificate in finance or trying to find a job in the field.
  12. This isn't really a graduate school question. It's also a little difficult to understand your problem. The basic outline seems that you've been studying at McGill and you only have one class left, but now you had to move to Oregon with your family and are trying to complete the last class in Oregon. The issue seems to come in with finding an equivalent class for an upper-level statistics course you need. Is the study away advisor the necessary person you need to sign off on this? Go back to your math or psychology department chair or advisor and ask them for advice in navigating around this. Is there someone higher-level that you could communicate with, like an academic dean for the school within McGill that you're enrolled in? I'd escalate there. I'd also send an email back to the McGill advisers who denied your request/application saying exactly what you said here - that you don't understand the denial of Oregon State on the grounds that it's on a quarter system since many of the other American universities on the pre-approved list are also on the quarter system. Mention that this will hamstring your attempts to finish the degree at all, since most West Coast American universities are on the quarter system. Ask them what parameters the university you choose to complete this course at need to adhere to, so you can successfully select a university in your new area that will allow you to complete your degree. Call them if they don't respond to emails. What is the class? Do you have any trusted advisors at McGill? Are there academic advisors? I would talk to one of the, via phone (since it seems like they take a while to answer emails) and ask for advice.
  13. I don't think you should limit yourself geographically or focus on a specific area. Especially since you have a specific area of research interest (as you should), the best schools for you might be elsewhere. For example, I think the University of Virginia has a great sociology and law program, IIRC. Do you have any sociology research experience, either from undergrad or from the ensuing years? Did you do any legal research in law school outside of taking classes?
  14. @Slappo - I think the advice that the person and not the proposal is what gets funded is apt - and yet, reviewers are still going to want to see evidence that you're able to execute the work that you propose. I remember in my proposal (long time ago - 2009 - but still) I spent two short paragraphs talking about the institution I attended and at which I planned to do the work and the researchers/PIs I was planning to do the work with and their qualifications for guiding me as I completed it. I deleted my ratings sheets a long time, and of course the link to log in and check them no longer works, (lol) but I do have an email thanking one of my PIs in which I mentioned that my raters specifically mentioned "the extent to which my project was related to [their] fields of research" as a positive factor in my application. If you look at recent successful proposals, people vary a lot in whether they do this at all and, if they do, how much space they spend on it. The bottom line is that you need to convince the reviewers that you are capable of carrying out this project (see Alex Lang's excellent advice!) and there are lots of different ways to do that. Not mentioning a specific mentor won't necessarily count against you if you can make clear in your proposal in other ways that you are capable of carrying out the project.
  15. That's not what I was doing and that's not what I said. I presented my identity as a PhD graduate from an underrepresented background as a means to say that although I am not a member of the OP's specific URM group, I do understand being concerned about a program being welcoming to a student from a diverse background. My intention was to reach out a friendly face - hey, I'm not in your group, but I'm a person of color who's been to graduate school and has tread some of the same road. I mentioned it to signal that I wasn't simply being dismissive of diversity issues in general or the importance of feeling accepted and not being ostracized in a program. Nowhere in my comment did I compare my background to theirs. I also didn't say or imply that El Salvadorans aren't discriminated against or face hatred or stereotyping. I don't disagree with his perception because I'm a black woman; I disagree with their perception because it doesn't cohere with my personal experiences and my interpretation of their comment...just like anyone else who would respond to them on this forum. I am not trying to separate their life history and their educational path. I realize that people of color and undocumented immigrants face significant challenges; the fact that OP completed a bachelor's degree and and works at a tech company and was able to publish and present some research is remarkable. Those accomplishments, especially in the face of an education system that is not built for them and sometimes actively opposes their efforts, should be celebrated! But what I was responding to was this: From my perspective, and in my experience, there are many doctoral programs that would take into account mitigating factors - an applicant's undocumented background, an applicant's later realization of their career goals, family difficulties, illness, early struggles, etc. - when deciding whether or not to admit them to a PhD program. Some of those may even be valued as experiences that make an applicant diverse and bring a different perspective to the department. But I still think that having no research experience would be a hard sell to even a department that greatly valued diversity, because at the end of the day a PhD is a research degree. The OP asked how they could best use their resources (time and money) and I provided some suggestions, most of which revolved around 1) getting more research experience, and 2) proving that they can succeed as a graduate student.
  16. I actually don't think that's the salient question here. I think the real questions are"What do you want to do with your life? When you think about what kind of career you want to have, what do you see yourself doing?" As Hk328 says - it's great that you've identified your scholarly interests, but at the end of the day, what kind of work do you want to do? Graduate study is a means to an end. You get a PhD because you want some kind of career doing research, scholarship, and/or teaching. Sure, hopefully you enjoy the journey somewhat, but it doesn't make very much sense these days to get a PhD just because without any sort of focus on the end result. Similarly, you'd get an MLIS because you want to be a librarian, or some other job that requires or benefits from an MLIS. In your post, you've talked a lot about what you want to study and your desire to get a graduate degree in general, but you've also mentioned that you don't like the duties that come along with the main career path that a doctoral degree in history prepares you for. Lots of people like books, but liking books alone isn't a good reason to become a librarian. I have a friend who is an academic librarian and has also worked at public libraries, and there's a lot of dealing with the public; librarians (especially academic ones) also teach classes and do private consultations with students and other people conducting research. Have you ever volunteered in a library or maybe done an informational interview with a librarian? As you say, you could probably get into an MLIS program, and probably even a PhD program. Your GRE scores are very high; you have research experience and good recommendations from past professors. The non-completion of the undergrad thesis doesn't have to be a blocking factor, if you have a good supplemental essay explaining the circumstances and perhaps a strong supporting letter from a professor familiar with your history. If you have a good polished early chapter from that thesis, that could be a good writing sample. Your employment history will be meaningless to graduate programs. But that's not the real question; you shouldn't attend a PhD program just because you can get in. Getting a master's is not "selling yourself short," particularly if a master's is the actual required degree for the job you want to do. In fact, it doesn't make sense to spend the time getting a PhD if the job/career that you want requires a master's and doesn't much care if you have a PhD. Also...I can't resist, but getting an MBA doesn't make you a sellout or a bootlicker. After getting a PhD in public health and doing HIV research with low-income populations, I currently work in private, for-profit corporate industry. It looks like the definition of Selling Out from the outside (and have been rudely asked by multiple people if I made the switch because of the money). But I do research on increasing the diversity and accessibility of our products and services - I want to help make our games and services accessible and fun for everyone, not the narrow group of people that we once served. There's a lot of good to be done in business and private industry, if one is interested in that sort of thing.
  17. As a PhD holder from an underrepresented background (I'm African American, queer, and a woman), I don't think this is so much an issue of diversity. When graduate programs talk about diversity of experiences, they are talking about about people who come from different backgrounds but not people who they may perceive as lacking the requisite experience to succeed in their PhD programs. Many programs would welcome an immigrant who came to research later in their academic career. I suspect that what most programs would have a problem with would not be those factors, but would instead be your lack of research experience and your lowish GPA. I don't know what your struggles were in college. But by your own admission, you don't have a borderline application because the 'academic system wasn't built for you'; you have one because you were focused on other goals when you were in college. That's perfectly okay - but when you switch gears that often means you have to spend a little more time building the background to be competitive for the new field you're interested in. Generally speaking, doctoral programs want students who have research experience because 1) it's one of the few ways to ensure that students know what they are getting themselves into and are at least reasonably sure that they enjoy research, thus perhaps being less likely to drop out of the program; and 2) students with experience are more useful in the lab as research assistants to principal investigators trying to churn out grants and papers. Without much formal research experience, you are less competitive for PhD programs, especially with a 3.25 undergraduate GPA (which is not bad or disqualifying in and of itself, but doesn't look great combined with the lack of research experience). That doesn't mean that you can never get a PhD, but it may mean that you have to spend a little more time before applying to competitive programs preparing - doing more research, perhaps presenting your results at more conferences (particularly the kind that academic faculty tend to attend), maybe getting an MA in statistics if you don't already have one, or taking some graduate classes as a non-degree student.
  18. I'm sure this depends on the field. In my fields (psychology and public health) the quality of an MS program is important, but the prestige or reputation of a program isn't necessarily in preparing students for applying for PhD programs. You'd want to attend a program that offered a good quality education and offered the kinds of classes and experiences that would prepare someone for a doctoral degree, versus a program that was primarily for professional preparation. But you wouldn't have to attend a prestigious MS program to go to a prestigious PhD program later. Plenty of people go from regional public universities for their master's to top programs for a PhD. I am not sure about CS. One thing to consider is how many people from that program have gotten outcomes that are appealing to you? For example, how many people from CSU-DH go to doctoral programs in CS, and where do they end up getting in? What kinds of jobs do they go onto? Ask your program's departmental secretary and/or career center for statistics like this, or ask your professors and advisors. They should at least have high-level answers to those questions.
  19. What field? It depends on the field. In my field - psychology - reaching out to potential advisors before applying is important for making students competitive but not strictly necessary.
  20. I got my PhD in a joint program in social psychology and public health. Not only will you not have time to work full-time during your doctoral program (at least the first 2-3 years), some programs also forbid or heavily discourage you from doing so. It's not just classes, although that is a major factor. At most social psychology PhD programs, you will be taking 2-3 classes a semester, and those classes are typically scheduled during normal business hours (between 8 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday), making it very difficult to work any full-time job with normal daytime hours. You will also likely be required to work as a teaching assistant even if you don't want to, and those classes are also M-F 8-5. (If you don't have funding from the department, you may not be required to TA, but some programs are considering this part of the education and not just a job for funding.) But in addition to the classes, you will also be required to do "20 hours" a week of research assisting a professor in your department. "20 hours" is kind of a myth, as I know few PhD students in the field who actually did only 20 hours a week - the real figure is probably somewhere around 30-60, depending on the student, their program, and their PI/advisor. Since a PhD is a research degree and you're there to gain training as a researcher, an RAship isn't really negotiable - even if you technically are not required to RA because you have no funding, if you have an advisor, you will probably be required to provide research assistance to gain research training in practice. And you want to be, because that's the only way you'll learn what you're there to learn. The research is far more important than the classes. Some research requires you to physically be in the lab, and even if you don't need to be there many PIs expect you to put in face time anyway. Some of that time may be spent supervising undergraduate RAs and attending lab meetings. Even once you complete your coursework, you don't have more time in your later years - you just have more unscheduled time. Depending on your program, years 3-4ish will be filled with completing your comprehensive/qualifying exams, for which you will need to study. Years 4-5ish will be filled with completing your dissertation, for which you need to conduct the research and actually write. And those are just the official requirements of the degree. That's not including the professionalization activities you need to complete, such as presenting at conferences and publishing papers, networking with faculty and researchers in your field, attending talks and brown bags and colloquia, etc. I don't think you working on your own would be more beneficial to you overall. If you intend to be a researcher with your PhD (which I assume you do, given that it's a research degree), the best work you can do is research work. This is true even if you want to go into industry. The only way that working outside of the department would be better for you is if a) the job you have "on your own" is a full-time research job supervised by doctoral degree-holding researchers, and b) they are offering you enough flexibility to take your classes and do the work you need to do in the department. While it is technically possible to work full-time during these years, studies show that students who do have often completed fewer of the kinds of activities they need to be competitive for jobs. My personal opinion is that you should not do an unfunded/self-funded PhD. Most good PhD programs in social psychology will offer to fully fund every student that they accept, and conversely will not accept an unfunded student who is paying their own way. There is thus no option to not "request" funding; mentioning that you are willing to attend without funding will not help you gain admission. But even if you found a middling PhD program that would allow you to do this, it is a bad idea, as it's unlikely to help you achieve your career goals.
  21. Graduate admissions committees don't care whether or not you've taken some classes outside of your major. Every professor knows that undergraduate curricula require you to take more than just the classes in your major. They don't expect you to be a robot with no interests outside of biology, either. As long as you have the background you actually need in biology, what other courses you decide to take are irrelevant. You don't have to 'provide reasoning' either. Just go ahead and take the history course, and enjoy it!
  22. Do you have any research experience? How well-reputed your universities are is almost irrelevant; students go to graduate school from all kinds of undergraduate institutions. What's more important is what you did there. You said that your studies weren't quant-heavy. Most economics PhD programs want to see students with a lot of quantitiative experience - 2-3 semesters of calculus, linear algebra, statistics and probability, maybe even differential equations and real analysis. (Berkeley's website has a list of recommendations for their students.) What does "not quant-heavy" mean for you? Have you taken any of these classes? If you don't have a relatively strong quantitative background and no research experience, your odds of getting accepted to economics PhD programs aren't very good. Why not take a few years to get some research experience and take the math courses you need to be competitive? Reaching out to professors in your departments of interest can only help you if you have the kind of profile they look for in graduate students. Lots of students send e-mails to professors ahead of submitting an application. Since they haven't worked with you yet, really the only thing they have to go on is your application packet.
  23. No, why would you give up? Although it's increasingly common for PhD students to have published in undergrad, it's by no means universal. In other words, you can get into a PhD program without having published a paper.
  24. My dissertation was conducted with primarily Black and Latino gay and bisexual men. I went to graduate school in New York, so I spent a lot of time 'in the field' recruiting. We posted flyers at gyms, coffee shops, gay bars, LGBTQ centers, university campuses, and the like. We had a booth at Pride where we signed people up; I visited gay bars with my research lab and passed out palm cards; when there were other parades or social events in the city we stood on street corners and passed out cards. We also posted ads in gay periodicals and on both general-interest websites and LGBTQ+ websites. So basically, we pounded the pavement! We also established connections with an LGBTQ+ center and clinic to recruit participants that way. The caveat, though, is that my dissertation was a sub-project/related project to the larger grant-funded project my PI was doing, so I had the infrastructure of the entire lab to rely on to get the recruitment done - since we were recruiting for the larger project all up and my dissertation was an analysis of a chunk of that data for a specific purpose. (I also wouldn't say that we had no connections with our desired samples, because I'm black and queer and so was a significant portion of my lab, including my PI. So we kind of knew where to go.) If you're doing organizational research, you may want to think about how your research findings could potentially benefit the organization and pitch it that way. Could you release the results and/or write up a summary for the organization after you're done? Could you provide recommendations or insights for them?
  25. 1) Not very common, in my experience. I do qualitative interviewing, and I wouldn't provide my participants with questions ahead of time - I'd be worried about them being too prepared with their responses and not capturing some of the natural/spontaneous reactions I'd be looking for in certain areas. Often you can give a brief, high-level summary of what they can expect to talk about. 2) My answer is colored by the fact that I work in industry, where often the answer is that sometimes you bend the rules of research as long as you understand the impact that will have on your outcomes and can temper your interpretation and recommendations on that basis. So I have done focus groups with 3-4 people before when I've had to, due to the difficulty of scheduling or recruiting participants. However, I wouldn't recommend it, particularly for an academic project (that you may hope to publish someday). Given my experience, I wouldn't recommend doing a focus group that was smaller than four people - at that point, you may as well just do individual interviews. Depending on the project, you may decide to do individual interviews AND a focus group. However, do be careful, because focus groups and individual interviews don't provide you with the same things. So consider your research question and what kind of tool it requires.
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