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Hi everyone,

So I've been admitted into three Masters programs for Experimental Psychology and I need help deciding.

A little background. I applied to a few programs last year while I was still in undergrad and was accepted into two programs. One was a sub-field that I ultimately decided not to go into, and another was an almost perfect offer (great school, nearby, involved faculty...) but with a 25k price tag for the education per year alone with no available funding which would have meant that I needed to take out a lot of loans. I decided not to enroll in either program and instead took a job as a research technician at a very prominent institution that promised me I would be able to continue being a researcher while I was here. I won't go into details, but this position hasn't been great, and I really need to leave. Luckily I have the problem of getting into three programs. I need to pick one before the universal April 15th deadline and I'm very nervous about the choice.

 

Program A

Pros:Very well known school and program, excellent faculty. It's in the same state that i live in, so less tuition cost

Cons: Located near a major city which means life cost may be larger. No word yet on tuition remissions or stipends. High tuition costs if no remission. Fairly high cost of living. No official word on who my PI would be, which is odd.

I was waitlisted at this program last year. There is a possibility for a stipend, but funding decisions have not been made known to me yet. Speaking from a strictly educational standpoint, this would be my first choice program. The faculty research is right up my alley and the program itself seems fantastic. I am going to the Admitted Students day this coming Saturday and will be inquiring about stipends and tuition remission when I go. If there aren't any form of stipend or tuition remission made available to me, I doubt that I will be able to afford this program as it would amount to being about the same cost as the program from the year before.

Program B

Pros: Seemingly perfect PI. Research interests align very well. Guaranteed stipend (small, but will cover housing at least)

Cons: Several states away. Lesser known school.  No tuition remission available, and out of state tuition would be applied.

I received a personal email from my potential PI, who seems just what i'm looking for in terms of personality and research fit, but they also warned me about a few things. They haven't taken on a new grad student in a while and the ultimate student outcome is a little hit or miss. The stipend that I would receive is a little more than 5k, and the PI is the only one doing this type of research in the program, so they fear I would be isolated from the rest of my cohort if I accepted. (Not actually a concern for me. I am no stranger to being the only one in my program doing different research. My undergrad PI was one of only two neuro researchers, everything else was very clinical oriented).

 

Program C

Pros:  Well matched research interests. Potential for TA/GA/RA with partial or full tuition remission and a small stipend of 4, 6, to 10k depending on which assistantship and if I can do two (20hr) instead of one (10hr). Nearby to where I am currently living.

Cons: Haven't really had any contact with the PI yet. Assistantship is not guarenteed.

The way I was informed of my acceptance is a little odd to me. I was emailed by a student (probably an office worker) notifying me of the acceptance and was given additional details about the program and GA/TA positions. I just received the official letter in the mail today and there is no additional information and only included the official letter and the acceptance/rejection notification form that I need to fill out and return to them.

 

I'm a little stuck here. If cost wasn't an issue for me, then I'd probably go to program A for the rigor and reputation of the program. Personally I like the PI at program B, but there's no tuition remission and I would be taking a considerable amount of loans out to pay for it. The PI at Program B has warned me that they don't consider paying for a masters degree a good option if the applicant has any other offers, which I tend to agree with. Program C has the potential for tuition remission and a stipend, but it's not guaranteed, and I haven't had contact with the PI. That last part can and will be fixed shortly. I am going to email the PI from program C, just to introduce myself and ask a few questions about their lab, but I am still at a crossroads either way.

Any comments or opposing viewpoints are welcome!

 

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