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Hey everyone,

I was just accepted to Wake Forest's psychology research masters program. It's a 2 year funded program that's designed for those who need more time to narrow down their research interests and gain research experience before applying to a PhD program. I applied to the program as a means of making myself a more competitive applicant for future PhD application cycles. I've heard things through word of mouth, and on some forums, that WFU has a good track record for placing students in quality clinical and non-clinical PhD programs. However, I feel like there's not a whole lot of threads on gradcafe talking about this program. I was wondering if this rumor is true-- that WFU's MA is known for getting students into good PhD programs, and if so, where I could get a sense of this placement data. I don't see any information anywhere regarding what kind of programs people go into after WFU's MA program-- whether that be the actual names of the PhD schools, the location, or the type of psychology PhD (social, cog, clinical, dev, etc.). I'm just curious about where people get this information on WFU's supposed track record. I also wanted to hear about what it's like to live in winston-salem and that area of North Carolina in general. I'm from the west coast and this would be a big change for me, should I end up going. I was wondering about people's experiences with the diversity (or lack of) in the area, the living costs (especially relative to the stipend they give), the campus culture, and just whether or not you enjoyed being there. So yeah! Any and all input about the program or the school is welcome. I just feel like there's almost no threads talking about the program or the school despite the all the good things it's supposedly known for.

Thanks in advance!

Edited by DippinDot
forgot to add clinical tags
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@Applicant4788 Hi! Yeah those are good places to get info. I actually spoke with a director previously to ask about where people go after the program and the answer they gave was kind of vague, while retaining that this MA is known as a top psych masters for those trying to get into PhD. They also didn't offer to send me any specific data on outcomes. I got the vibe that they just wanted to keep the answer vague so I didn't push it further. I think this question might be a little awkward to ask faculty/directors because I don't know how they might interpret me asking, although I feel like this a reasonable curiosity considering that people do this type of MA to get to a PhD.  As for the current students-- yes, I've been trying to get in contact. The director said they would refer me to students soon so I'll update on here if gather new insight about the living experience/campus culture. Maybe I'll ask them about how previous cohorts have done in terms of PhD offers as well. Thanks for the suggestion!

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Hi! I’m a current student at Wake Forest so I might be able to answer some of your questions. I’m not in the MA program so I can’t answer a ton about it, but I am a senior psychology major and I do research with a few of the grad students.

As far as the MA program itself, everyone I know enrolled in it has had very positive things to say. Seems to be a pretty good overview of a variety of psych classes (cognitive, bio, social, etc.) in addition to 2 psychometrics classes. Again because it’s not a “focused” degree it gives you an opportunity to experience a few different subsets of psychology you might not have gotten in your undergrad, and then decide what you want to specialize in if you are interested in pursuing a PhD.

I also do not have any data on outcomes for masters students so I can’t say for sure where most grads end up following the MA program. I can say I know a few that have gone into professional research roles, and some have gone into PhDs at Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, NYU, and UNC in general psych, cognitive psych, or clinical psych. Again these are just the people that I knew personally so I can’t say this is the case for everyone. But I do know that this program has a fairly good track record of being admitted into some prestigious PhD programs.

As far as the campus culture, it’s a bit hard to describe. I would say the campus typically falls about 50-50 in terms of liberal-conservative. A bit more conservative than you’d expect for a top 30 university, but less than you would expect for a school in the South. The MA program and the psych department itself tends to be pretty liberal. But overall the students in the program tend to be a pretty tight group of friends, and the psych professors here are great and genuinely take an interest in their research and working with their students.

I hope that answers some of your questions/concerns. Feel free to PM me if there’s anything else you’d like to know!

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Hey @tj1864! Thank you for the info, I really, really appreciate it!
The range of courses sound really balanced! And that's so cool that the people you know were able to get positions at such great schools. Yeah it seems like there's no publicly available information regarding placement, but I keep hearing about the good track record that you spoke of. I'm really curious as to where this comes from haha. I'm not doubtful though, I trust that people have gone off to great PhD programs from there. 
Thanks for telling me about the campus culture! :) yeah I imagine that the psych department/MA program tends to be liberal. Good to hear about the professors and students! It definitely reassures me that even if I'm not used to the conservative state of NC/the south, the area I'll be in might be a little closer to the sociopolitical climate of the west.
I'll be sure to PM you if I have any further questions, thanks again!!

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So I graduated from WFU a year ago and though I don’t know much about the outcomes either, I didn’t expect there to be as many “non-PhD” students. Though some cohort members did go on to get their PhDs, a surprising amount (to me) went on to just stop at the master’s level—especially since I really did think it was designed to be a pre-PhD sort of program. I do wish there was some sort of quantifiable data sheet though. The classes are challenging, but they are mostly time-consuming, especially when trying to complete TA/RA tasks. It’s not all completely unmanageable though but do be prepared to be very busy and consumed with work. I wish there was more of a focus on research though. My mentorship experience was good, but I have heard cases where it hasn’t been the best at all. Looking back on it, I could have probably just been an RA in a lab and been just as prepared for my PhD program.

As far as living in Winston-Salem, it is a small city with not a whole lot to do. I wish there would have been more of a night life or outdoorsy things without having to drive more than one/two hours. It did get boring very quickly for me, but it was good to get exposed to a different way of living. As far as diversity, there really isn’t much in my opinion. Our cohorts are too small to have much variety in that department, but as you look around you can see how southern the campus really is. The WFU websites are kind of misleading on diversity, because I would say the campus is about 85% White, not to mention everyone seems to be really rich. Everyone looks like a model, and they dress very similarly! As I was here, I was taken back by how much support there was for Trump. There was this one case where students rolled the quad (a tradition done for celebrating wins in sports) when Trump won the election to celebrate his win. I don’t know if I’m biased because I have attended, but I have been hearing about recent cases that have been happening on campus regarding race and crime. I don’t want to speak too much on the diversity aspect, because I feel like I would be giving you biased opinions, so I would just encourage you to look up Winston-Salem/WFU news to get a better idea and come to your own conclusions. As far as cost of living, you can get a one-bedroom apartment close to campus for about $800 a month plus utilities. I had to take out loans to help with my living expenses, but I wouldn’t recommend going too far away from campus to save money, because it can get dangerous. Again, just do your own research on safety. However, there have also been some safety concerns on campus and close to campus that I have heard about from the university sending out emails. I guess safety concerns come with all places though, but it was also something I didn’t expect from Wake. Some incidents that come to mind are those dealing with violence like a knife fight and some gun incidents. Again, just do your research, because I feel like this is all at the forefront of my mind due to recent national incidents. I just want to give you honest information, but I realized I have gone on a couple tangents.

I personally did not feel integrated to the campus culture, and I felt that more could be done to include graduate students; however, you are kept pretty busy, so I doesn’t really matter. My experience wasn’t bad, but I definitely wish I would have just saved my time/money and just have done more research prior to my PhD program and perhaps made/saved money instead of taking out loans to aid my living expenses. I also feel like I would have gotten more out of a different more exciting city, but I definitely got exposed to a different place, and I can’t complain about that! I didn’t mean to sound negative throughout the whole thing, because it was not a bad experience. These are just some of the things I wish someone could have told me before going. I hope I gave you some sort of insight. You can definitely PM if you’d like to chat more!

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Hey there! I graduated from the Wake Forest master's program last spring (2017), and all of the students that seriously applied (meaning more than one school) from my cohort (and previous cohorts) were accepted into their top choice schools (NYU, WVU, UHawaii, Michigan, Oregon, Iowa State, UNC, UVA, Illinois UC, Vanderbilt, UFlorida, Alabama, with offers from numerous other prestigious programs). I am sorry to hear that the previous poster did not have a good experience at Wake Forest, but I would be happy to provide you with my perspective after spending two years at Wake. To be honest, attrition in ALL graduate programs is quite high (people enter, and then decide a few years in that they are not cut out for the PhD life), and this program is not immune. It is true that not all students from this program decide that they want to continue with graduate school, but of those students that graduate from the program and decide that they would like to continue with a Doctorate degree, there is an excellent placement rate into PhD programs (and in some cases, MD and JD programs). 

For students that may not be ready for PhD level work right out of undergrad, WFU provides students with an excellent opportunity to build up their CVs, get some valuable research experience, and hone their knowledge in the field through intensive coursework and stats training. Courses included Social, Development, Cognitive, Neuro, Personality, a Univariate stats course (t-test; ANOVA; Chi-square...), Multivariate stats course (correlation; regression; mediation; moderation; logistic; factor analysis; path analysis), and they recently added a course introducing R programming, considering how valuable knowing that stats package can be. 

WFU will not bump your GRE scores or guarantee you admission into a PhD program, but it will strengthen your application by giving you top-notch experimental research experience under the advisement of a great mentor. I had a wonderful time at WFU, and I would encourage you to consider it if you are on the fence. The stipend is not huge, but the fact that they are able to offer free tuition and a stipend on top of it can be a huge selling point. The previous poster is right that single bedroom housing can be expensive ($700-1000/month), but I was able to find a two-bedroom apartment for $450/person per month including utiliites. You cannot live like a prince or princess on the money, but it is definitely possible to survive under reasonable budgeting, especially since you do not need to take out $50k loans to pay for the tuition. I equate it to being paid 60K per year, but knowing that the majority of the money does not go into your pocket--it goes to the university! I would be happy to provide you with more details about the program if you are interested. 

Good luck deciding and with the rest of your grad process!! :)

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