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SpYEsther

Should I apply to PhD AND Master's?

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Hi everyone,

I'm planning to apply to PhD programs. I know it's super competitive, and so I wanted to have a back up plan in case I don't get in anywhere. Should I apply to some Masters' programs as well? I know some PhD programs have Masters' programs IN them, but I just want to have a plan. And maybe having a Masters' degree might help me more when I apply again? Not sure. 

Thanks in advance! 

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This probably depends on how many programs you are planning to apply to and how competitive you think you are for them. Also, if you don't yet have a clear idea of the type of research questions you want to ask, a Master's program might be a better fit. There are a number of PhD programs who downgrade applicants who aren't quite ready for the PhD to a Master's pool--without you having to actually apply for the Master's.

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It sort of depends on where your strengths and weaknesses are. If you are lacking strong letters, a writing sample, or more experience to clearly define your interests, this might be a good idea. If you need to make up for low UG scores, that might be another reason. But keep in mind that MAs are often not funded, so you may be taking on a lot of debt, and that's not necessarily worth it. You might also look into post-bacc programs, or working as a lab manager somewhere. 

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I personally applied to both Ph.D. and Master's programs because like you, I wanted a backup plan. I applied to MSW programs and Harvard's Masters Program thru the school of education (I have somewhat wide interests). 

Depending on your interests you could apply for MSW programs, Master's in psychology (the one in mind is the Teacher's College at Columbia - a girl in my lab went there before doing a Ph.D.), Public Health or even counseling. Outside of the MSW, I've heard of people having these Master's degrees and going on to Ph.D. Programs in psychology. However, a master's degree doesn't always you an extra leg up, but sometimes it does help. :) It just depends on what the POI is looking for tbh. 

But Like others people have stated above me, most Masters programs are unfunded. However, there are some funded! Just be sure to ask and be assertive about it. 

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I also know a fair share of people with a Master's who did not make it into the PhD. It really depends on so much more - such as what you did outside of class (projects, presentations, etc.)

The answer on your question really depends on how competitive you are as an applicant now already. 

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