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Hi. So I got a really nice surprise yesterday; I mean that both literally and sarcastically. I got accepted to a very competitive Masters program, which is awesome. What isn't awesome is that I literally have a week to decide if I want to go there (because there is probably a waitlist for other applicants) or to a different program I have already been accepted to. I'm very overwhelmed right now as you can probably imagine. I have applied to four programs, and have been accepted to three of them so far. I will know this Monday if I get accepted to the fourth. One of the ones I got into was a safety that doesn't really have the resources for what I want to specialize in, so I'm not considering it any further. However, I still have three to choose from, and I thought I would have time to visit all of them once I got accepted, but that's not the case now. I know that no one on here or in my life can make this decision for me. I'm not really looking for that necessarily, but for takes on some of my personal pros and cons with each program. I'm mainly concerned about the experience of graduate school when bringing up these points, particularly in pursuing a Masters degree, so if you have one of those and can speak to the experience, I would really appreciate any input you can give me. (And, if you happened to study behavior analysis, that's what I'm planning to study.) So here are the programs: 1. UNT - This is the program I got accepted to yesterday. Very established, tight-knit department, tons of research and clinical opportunities. I can personally say after meeting the faculty in the department, they really are dedicated to the field and investing in the next generation of behavior analysts. They really encourage you "finding your fit" in the field of behavior analysis, and so many students jump around labs to see what they like and don't like. Located in a smaller college town, which I really enjoyed the vibe of when I went there for my interview. Speaking of interviews, of the applications they received, they only invited around 30 people to interview, and only accepted around 15 for the program; in other words, this program is super competitive and I got in first wave, and that probably speaks to the quality of the program. Also located in close proximity to Dallas and Fort Worth, two major cities. Denton is also near a ton of horse farms, and horseback riding is a favorite pastime for me when I can do it. Downsides: The program is three years long. Their rationale for the third year is to allow you to have that first year to adjust to grad school and figure out what area you want to concentrate in; this gives you the next two years to start working on your thesis. As I can get easily stressed and really want to do things to my fullest ability, having the extra year appeals to me; however, I am a little unsure of how I feel graduating with a Masters at 25, because I want to do a PhD as well. Another thing is that they expect you to get Texas residency by your second year in the program. They have offered me a scholarship to give me in-state tuition for the first year, but only for that year. I'm not really partial to where I have residency, but graduate assistantships do not count towards fulfilling the employment requirement (although they can act as a source of income); therefore, I would have to work an extra job, about 20 hours a week probably. I'm just not sure how I could balance that out with classes 4 days a week and a practicum. 2. UMBC - Got accepted off application alone. Located in Baltimore, and the practicum is through the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI), which is arguably the best place in the country for neurodevelopmental disability research and treatment. In particular, KKI acts as a very strong practicum for severe problem behavior, which is what I'm interested in. Very close proximity to DC. Option to get tuition reimbursement through full-time employment with KKI, but that isn't a concern for me. My mentor raves about this program being one of the best. Downsides: The two biggest ones for me are that it is an MA program (clinical degree, no thesis) and what is involved in working full-time for KKI (8:30-5pm five days a week, and although they are understanding of classes, any time you miss working there has to be made up. Also, would only be partial tuition reimbursement.). Even though it's an MA, I could do a thesis, but it doesn't seem like something there is already an infrastructure for. I also have the option of not working at KKI and just doing my practicum there. KKI is also located in a dangerous part of the city. (I don't know much about the culture or rigor of the program outside of what I've been told, but I will be visiting this week.) Another downside is that classes are held mostly at KKI, so while it's a UMBC program, I get the impression that it's a UMBC program at KKI. Not sure how I feel about being at the same building all the time for two years. Maybe that's a little stuck-up of me to think, but I know myself well enough that I would probably get sick of it really quick. Also, I hate Maryland. I have been there several times and my sister goes to school there. It's really not my kind of place. Some love it, some hate it, and I fall in the latter category. 3. USC - Have not been accepted there yet, but I will know on Monday, so I want to prepare for the possibility. The SoCal area has perhaps the largest concentration of behavior analysis services in the entire country. USC is a great school from what I'm told. The program is 2 years and there is an option to do a thesis or a capstone project at the end; I was told in my first interview that they encourage students to do the latter. The capstone project is an "independent project, consisting of practical treatment, evaluation, program development, or literature review." The thesis is there if you are interested in a PhD later down the road, so I would probably go for that. Practicum is considered a paid job with wherever I work, but must be pre-approved by the department. I interviewed with the director of the program over Skype and he seemed very knowledgeable and interested in my goals for myself in a Masters program. Also, although I'm not a city person, I do like the beach. Downsides: USC is the only program I applied to that is not ABAI accredited. What that is for those who don't know, is an accreditation that basically says that your program is stellar and exceeds the expectations of the certification board (BACB). Knowing that the thesis isn't something that many of the students there do is a little concerning to me. Also, I've never been to California, but friends who grew up in SoCal tell me that the area around USC is not very safe, which means I would have to live a little ways away and drive there. I hear the traffic is super congested, and public transit is unreliable...that might pose a problem. Not really looking to live in a big city again (did my undergrad in one), but I will if I have to. So, that's all folks. I will be meeting with my mentor next week (hopefully) to also discuss how these programs are received in the professional community, but I know he can only give me one perspective. I would really appreciate any feedback on my concerns, if they're reasonable or not considering the culture or structure of grad school, or if there are other things I should look into thinking about for myself moving forward. Thanks everyone in advance!
Hello, I have received admits from: Syracuse MS CS UMBC MS CS Washington State Uni I am confused between these 3 on following points: batch size (200 vs 45 vs 40) internship opportunities (east coast vs east coast vs west coast) college reputation (well known vs decently known vs not well known) location (east coast vs east coast vs closer to west coast) Any inputs comments will be highly appreciated. I would like to pursue thesis as I wish to go for PhD in near future (3-4 years after ms) Thanks, Aditya