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kf0909

RA or Masters for pre-Clinical Pysch PhD experience?

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hi all!  I am currently a senior undergrad psych major!  I applied for clinical phds this round and unfortunately I didn't get any interviews so I'm coming to terms with the fact that its not gonna work out this year 😞

Fortunately, the lab that I work in has offered me a full-time RA position for next year!  This research is definitely what I want to pursue when I eventually try for PhDs again, and since I have been here for two years I am confident that they will give me responsibilities and experiences that will help me out. Unfortunately I was really hoping to move away from the town my undergrad institution is in, its a very small college town and I know that shouldn't be such a big deal but I'm really not looking forward to staying here another year

My dilemma is this: I got my official rejection from Boston University yesterday in which they encouraged me to apply for their masters program.  Furthermore, I know that two other schools I applied to and haven't heard from yet automatically consider rejected PhD applicants for their masters program.  So now I'm wondering what looks better on PhD applications for people who aren't coming straight out of undergrad: a masters degree or further research experience, like I would get as an RA?  My main concern, despite the fact that this lab is incredibly relevant to my interests, is that it wont look as good that I'll have 3 yrs research experience but its all in the same lab, like I didn't diversify myself enough.  I feel like a masters program would expose me to different and diverse things, but I also am not sure that it is necessary for me since I did psych in undergrad and I do already have 2 yrs of research experience. also I would feel terrible backing out on my lab from the position they offered me, I'm just not sure what is best for me 😕

More things about me: honors thesis, 2 yrs experience with research and 2 yrs working at crisis hotline for clinical experience, no pubs, 1 conference presentation and 2 more expected next year

any insight you have would be super appreciated!!

Edited by kf0909

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If you can continue to grow your experiences in your current lab, get paid instead of going into debt or spending money on a Master's and try to get another poster or two in - RA job 100%.

I think Master's can help people switching careers but I know a lot of people in Master's who still don't get in after the 2 years and have more debt. Plus you are competing with a ton of people looking for the same opportunities in the Master's while in your current lab YOU get to be the lab manager. Stick with it or apply to other RA jobs! It is hard to get a full-time RA position so congratulations!!

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I second what @ClinPsych591 said. Paid RA positions are great for experience and being a competitive applicant! I have seen people only suggest someone go the master's route as maybe opposed to an RA position in the following occasions: 1) they don't need a PhD for the career they want, 2) undergrad GPA is bad, or 3) they don't have a background in psychology in undergrad. 

Also, don't get discouraged! Plenty of people have to apply more than once to get into a clinical psych PhD. Best of luck with your next application round!! :)

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Exact same predicament last year - I took the job in my lab that I was in all through undergrad and my second application cycle has been much more successful. n=1 but still...I vote making money, not spending it :)

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