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Fall 2020 Clinical Psych right out of undergrad - should I give it a shot?


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Hey, I joined literally 5 minutes ago just to ask this question, so forgive me if I'm in the wrong place. About me: I'm a rising senior at Yale majoring in Psychology, with a cumulative 3.49 GPA (didn't have a great freshman year, decided pre-med isn't for me, and every semester since has been >3.7). I've worked in the same autism research lab since freshman year, have been first author on two posters and listed on three additional ones, might be on a paper before I graduate, and I was a TA for a statistics in psychology class last semester. 

My question is: am I a competitive enough candidate to apply to Clinical Psych PhD programs right out of undergrad? My top programs right now are Ohio State, University of Washington, UConn, and UNC Chapel Hill, with my list growing as I continue to do more research. (Cambridge is on the list as well, but that may TRULY be a pipe dream). I have other avenues I could pursue postgrad (most of them being a one-year master's at a UK/Irish university, possibly through a Fulbright, and I'm also looking at the postgrad fellowship at Emory's Marcus Autism Research Center).  Should I give it a shot and apply, or would it not be worth it? Thanks!

Edit: my GRE was 162V/159Q if that's relevant

Edited by everettcalverton
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~not an expert at all just a peer giving her experience and advice~

Neither your 3.5 gpa nor your relative lack of experience are dealbreakers, but taken together and considering the competitiveness of the schools you listed, chances are you will be up against other folks who would edge you out based on slightly higher stats or more experience. This isn't to say you aren't a good applicant or even that you aren't ready, it just becomes a numbers game when there are so many applicants to each program. I applied as a senior with similar research experience and a 3.8 and received a couple of interviews at R2 schools and no offers. One year later I applied with basically the same CV (except a couple more middle author posters and a degree that was finished rather than in-progress) and got 6 interviews and 3 offers.

With that said, never say never! Even at some of the most competitive programs I visited, I ran into a couple of current undergrads who were interviewing. It sounds like you're a solid applicant, so it would not be shocking at all if you got interviews and offers. Plus, I think the experience of applying my senior year was a really great practice run for my second application. The downsides are the money involved and the amount of stress that it will cause you. In retrospect, it was probably not worth the time, money, and tears to apply my senior year, but also knowing myself, I probably would have regretted it if I didn't give it a shot. There's probably no one clear answer to the question "Should I apply?" 

I went to undergrad and currently work at one of your schools (my username should make it obvious lol) and was interviewed at two of the others, one of which I'll be attending in the Fall. Feel free to PM if you want to talk more about any of the programs or my experience!

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I was able to get in straight from undergrad to an excellent clinical program. Partially the stars aligned right (a.k.a. prospective mentor and I strongly matched on interests and the needs of her lab),  but my stats were very similar to yours (better GPA, but state university). Your GRE scores will also be very important - a 320+ will be good to get you past the GRE hurdle with ease everywhere (it will balance a so-so GPA). 

 

If not on a Fulbright in your situation, masters aren’t worth it. You have the academics and research experience a Masters would give you. I would advise a RAship with the intent of getting at least 1 first or second author pub. Really push that pub you may be on this fall and get it at least submitted to a journal by the time you apply. 

 

Happy to discuss more over pm.  

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