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Accepted to 2 master's programs - which is better for Clinical PhD?


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I have been accepted to 2 master's programs – one in clinical psychology and one in a different field. Since my goal is use the masters as a stepping stone to a clinical PhD program, I am wondering which program will be viewed as more desirable by admission committees.

A little background about me:

- non-traditional student (early 30's), grew up in foster care

 - Just got my bachelor's in Human Development/Psychology from an up and coming but still relatively unknown state university

- 2.8 overall, 3.6 last 60, 16 credits of F's on a transcript from over 10 years ago.

- 2 years RA in a developmental psych lab, undergraduate thesis, 5 posters (4 regional, 1 national, 1 first-author), 1 manuscript in prep

- Good GRE scores

- 2 years clinical work experience

School #1 (Clinical Psych): Mid-level state university, not classified as a research institution. Interviewed and enjoyed the people. Research fit is good but not ideal; however, I really like my POI and we get along well. She has loads of untouched data that I can use for my thesis and to publish as first author. The coursework is super applied and specific to clinical psych, but I am worried that some doctoral programs will see that as a negative. There is no funding and it's on the east coast, so I would go into a significant amount of debt.

School #2 (Human Development and Social Policy): Flagship state university, R1. Interdisciplinary program which combines elements of psychology, public health, sociology, and economics, and graduates go on to get doctoral degrees in a wide variety of social science fields, including psych. POI is a developmental psychologist. I would take a couple of graduate psych courses as part of my degree. This is also my dream school for a clinical PhD degree, so am hoping to be able to volunteer in a clinical psych lab if I attend. They offered a 50% assistantship and I would take out very little in loans. I would love to attend here, but I am nervous about getting a master's outside the psych field.

If anyone has any input on which school would be more/less helpful for clinical PhD admissions or thoughts, I would appreciate it!

Edited by kayaker85
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I’m curious if you are referring to TU and POI BB? The information you provided sounds like it might be. She would be great to work with if that’s whom you are speaking of, but I think going into a lot of debt to do it wouldn’t make a lot of sense, especially if you will be continuing on to a doctorate, which would mean lean years ahead. 

The second school is offering money, which I personally would feel less inclined to turn down, especially if you like the school, POI, etc   


Good luck with whatever you decide! 

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While I agree you don't want to go into debt for any graduate program, I think publications will be more meaningful than having a master's degree.  If you're able to publish several first author publications with the first school, I'm not sure why a doctoral program would see that as a negative.  Would you be able to publish at the second school?  If you can, this may be a better choice than going into debt for a masters, even if the research is in a slightly less related field.  However, you also mention that school two is your dream school for clinical psych.  I know this varies from school to school, but I was told by several POIs that they do not accept volunteers from their lab, and they're highly discouraged to accept students with a degree from their university.  

Are you dead set on attending one of these two programs?  Have you considered applying for research coordinator positions where you could get solid letters of recommendation and a few publications from that study?  Just a thought. 

Good luck, and congratulations on your acceptances!!

Edited by kitcassidance
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