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Do I have a chance of getting into a PHD program?


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Hey,

I am finishing my Junior year to get my B.A. in psychology (with another B.A. in English and a minor in American Sign Language), and I want to start my working towards my PHD in clinical psychology with a focus on children and health in the Fall of 2020. My GPA is currently a 3.969, and I will be graduating from my school's honor college. I will be taking my GREs this summer. I have been working in a Pediatric Health Psych lab and have been involved with many different health studies. However, I haven't done a poster or paper of my own, though I will be third author on a paper summer.  I want to eventually work with children with chronic illnesses. Additionally, I have training and am a leader for The Body Project, and volunteer with the National Eating Disorder Association in the city I go to school in. I am involved with PSI CHI, and I teach at a STEM camp for adolescents every summer since I was 16 (now 23). I worked with an autism unit in a middle school for 6 years, as a teenager, before college, as well as a social behavioral skills program and a life skills program at the same school. I continue to volunteer at the autism research center at my university.  It took me three extra years to graduate high school, due to my own life long chronic illness, and am anxious not to move straight into my PHD after graduation. There are some masters programs I am interested in as a fallback. Do ya'll think I have a chance at getting into a PHD program if I apply this Fall?

Thanks!

Edited by StormySkye
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If you haven't authored your own paper, I would consider presenting at an outside conference (not on campus or related to your home department) like a regional event for the APA and getting feedback on one of your top papers from your junior or senior year. If you can show coherence and a developing body of work or line of thought in your research it can help you immensely. I would also reach out to some programs you are interested in and email potential advisors or people you would like to work with. See if they are traveling to a conference you might be able to attend and meet them for coffee. My experience directly with psychology is limited to some coursework in evolutionary psychology and the like, but assuming the needs of social sciences are relatively similar your best bet is going to be able to tie your practical experience into your academic work. If you want to work specifically with individuals who are autistic/on the spectrum, then you have a good case to make that can speak to your potential.

If I read your post right, it sounds like an MA might be better for you, though. I originally wanted to go straight into a PhD from my BA and took my time earning my undergrad degree (10 years) because of #reasons... life happens, right? I would strongly encourage you to consider an MA, again seeing if you can tie it into your existing work. An MA is less commitment, gives you a solid sense of what grad school can be like, and you will still leave with a marketable skill set.

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Since you’re in Psi Chi, you should present a poster at the Midwestern Psychological Association’s annual meeting. Before I had my own study, the professor in the lab I’m in let me analyze some of the data they’d collected and present it on a poster. You might ask about doing something like this. Even if the work is done, presenting data that you helped collect is worthwhile. You can do the same thing if your school as a research conference for undergrad.

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You're definitely in good shape. I would echo what Fantasmapocalypse said in that you should try to get some posters/publications in before you apply. You didn't specify what type of psych program (clinical or purely experimental such as developmental based on your interests), but clinical is a bit more competitive. An MA is often good if you are unsure if you are ready for grad school and want to test the waters or if you have to make up for a poor undergrad GPA (which is not your case). If anything, you would best be suited by taking a position as a lab manager/research coordinator for a year or 2 between applications if it doesn't work out next application season (get paid instead of paying for courses that will most likely not transfer). Overall, if you can make a big push for a few research products ASAP before you apply then you should be in good shape. Just make sure that you look for programs with a good research fit, ask for strong letters of recommendation, write a solid statement of purpose (SOP), and try not to restrict yourself geographically as to not limit viable research match options. 

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Dang--you've got one impressive CV :) 

As my colleagues above have stated, I would increase the number of pubs you have as much as possible--this could be in the form of a poster presentation and published manuscripts. I've been doing poster presentations across the province (I'm Canadian haha) since 2nd year of my undergrad. Currently in my 4th and final year and have 6 poster presentations + 2 more coming up before I graduate! These and manuscripts (not 1st author haha I wish!), have greatly helped me chances I believe--it shows you are interested in knowledge translation and dissemination :) Good luck!

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I think you have great credentials, but getting more posters and papers should definitely be your focus before applying to graduate school. Considering your good credentials and GPA, I wouldn't consider a masters program as a fallback. I would apply to lab manager/study coordinator/research assistant positions that would give you opportunities to present at conferences and get on papers. Feel free to PM me if you want, I was a lab manager for two years before getting into a PhD program. I applied as a senior in college and didn't get in, likely because I was missing out on those papers and posters. Hope that helps! 

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If you were looking to do a research career, I'd recommend searching for a RA/lab manager/etc position in a reputable lab before applying to graduate school, regardless of your specific likelihood of getting into a graduate school this fall. The extra experience would get you into more reputable grad programs with better funding imo. But I have no idea what the priorities/opportunities in clinical psych are. Either way, I'd say your odds of getting into a program this fall are not bad at all.

Edited by paraent
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