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Hi All,

I am curious about recommendation letters, would be great to hear from folks admitted to programs already or those that are familiar with the doctorate application review process (PhD or PsyD).

Did you use an academic reference? I completed my Masters in Clinical Psych in 2016 and then worked in my field for about four years before going to a graduate business program. I have two supervisors that can write to my clinical abilities, but I have lost touch with many faculty from my graduate level psychology program. However, I have one professor from business school that I took a couple of classes with that might be willing to attest to my academic abilities.

Should I choose the academic business school reference as my third letter writer in order to have a purely academic reference, albeit outside of psychology? Or someone who supervised me and worked with me in a research capacity in my old department. At the time she was a research fellow, but has since completed her fellowship and become licensed.

I'm not sure if it is critical to have an academic reference in the mix, and not sure if I should be concerned if they aren't in the field of psychology.

 

Thank you!

Edited by cafec0nleche
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I would say that at least 2 of your 3 letter writers need to be academic, and specifically the ones who can speak to your ability to do scientific research if you want to do a PhD. I don't know that I would choose the business prof as a letter writer unless he/she is your third one, after two academics in the field. A clinical supervisor could be a good third letter writer, if you are applying to programs that are at least equally split if not heavily leaning more to practice than research, but I really don't think you can avoid having two strong letters from the profs you had as a Masters student. 

If you are doing a PsyD, though, it might work, but I would defer to someone who is actually in a PsyD who can better inform you of the realities of their application process.

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46 minutes ago, SocDevMum said:

I would say that at least 2 of your 3 letter writers need to be academic, and specifically the ones who can speak to your ability to do scientific research if you want to do a PhD. I don't know that I would choose the business prof as a letter writer unless he/she is your third one, after two academics in the field. A clinical supervisor could be a good third letter writer, if you are applying to programs that are at least equally split if not heavily leaning more to practice than research, but I really don't think you can avoid having two strong letters from the profs you had as a Masters student. 

If you are doing a PsyD, though, it might work, but I would defer to someone who is actually in a PsyD who can better inform you of the realities of their application process.

I agree with this advice. Also, any of the good PsyDs will have a very similar to nearly identical application process to balanced PhD programs. I'm in my 4th year of a PsyD, and I followed this pattern--2 academic letter writers from my psych masters and 1 clinical supervisor from my post-master's job. Most of those who were admitted to my program were similar. 

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45 minutes ago, PsyDuck90 said:

I agree with this advice. Also, any of the good PsyDs will have a very similar to nearly identical application process to balanced PhD programs. I'm in my 4th year of a PsyD, and I followed this pattern--2 academic letter writers from my psych masters and 1 clinical supervisor from my post-master's job. Most of those who were admitted to my program were similar. 

It's been 6-7 years since I've talked to anyyyy professors from my MS program. I didn't have any professors even twice during my program. My two clinical supervisors can also speak to my post- MS degree research abilities. Should I not be concerned that I only took a class with any of those professors and it's been seven years? Wouldn't it be odd to email them at this point?

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1 hour ago, SocDevMum said:

I would say that at least 2 of your 3 letter writers need to be academic, and specifically the ones who can speak to your ability to do scientific research if you want to do a PhD. I don't know that I would choose the business prof as a letter writer unless he/she is your third one, after two academics in the field. A clinical supervisor could be a good third letter writer, if you are applying to programs that are at least equally split if not heavily leaning more to practice than research, but I really don't think you can avoid having two strong letters from the profs you had as a Masters student. 

If you are doing a PsyD, though, it might work, but I would defer to someone who is actually in a PsyD who can better inform you of the realities of their application process.

It's been 6-7 years since I've talked to anyyyy professors from my MS program. I didn't have any professors even twice during my program. My two clinical supervisors can also speak to my post- MS degree research abilities. Should I not be concerned that I only took a class with any of those professors and it's been seven years? Wouldn't it be odd to email them at this point?

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9 minutes ago, cafec0nleche said:

My two clinical supervisors can also speak to my post- MS degree research abilities

 Have you published with your two clinical supervisors, run a study, done presentations with them, etc? I think, regardless, you would still for sure want a third strong LOR from the prof that was your supervisor for your Masters thesis, as that person can speak the most directly to the skills that a PhD program is looking for. And if you haven't been actively involved in doing, presenting and publishing research with the other two, the clinical supers won't be as great of LOR as you would want them to be.

Did you not do other things besides classes and a thesis for your Masters? Side projects, review papers, conferences? It may just be time to polish up your CV and start contacting prior profs. Professors, especially those who advise grad students, know that there is often a gap between programs, and can absolutely still write letters for you, but you will likely have to give them the information to run with. I have profs I have either studied under or worked with who have gotten letter requests years after a student has graduated on - if you give them the right materials, AND if you had a functioning relationship at the time, they could well still be able to help you. 

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12 hours ago, SocDevMum said:

 Have you published with your two clinical supervisors, run a study, done presentations with them, etc? I think, regardless, you would still for sure want a third strong LOR from the prof that was your supervisor for your Masters thesis, as that person can speak the most directly to the skills that a PhD program is looking for. And if you haven't been actively involved in doing, presenting and publishing research with the other two, the clinical supers won't be as great of LOR as you would want them to be.

Did you not do other things besides classes and a thesis for your Masters? Side projects, review papers, conferences? It may just be time to polish up your CV and start contacting prior profs. Professors, especially those who advise grad students, know that there is often a gap between programs, and can absolutely still write letters for you, but you will likely have to give them the information to run with. I have profs I have either studied under or worked with who have gotten letter requests years after a student has graduated on - if you give them the right materials, AND if you had a functioning relationship at the time, they could well still be able to help you. 

I did not do a thesis during my MS program. The other two supervisors from my job post- MS can speak to research abilities, one in particular I worked with for quite some time on his projects. 

That's what makes my third a tricky choice. One individual I did work with on 2 research projects, but again, was a fellow in my department at the time, but I kept in contact with them. Or, most recently, I did take two practicums with a professor from my graduate business program who can speak to purely academic and client interactions versus a professor I once took 7 years ago that I haven't kept in touch with. I really need strong letter writers, since personal circumstance affected my undergraduate GPA to only a 3.5.

Edited by cafec0nleche
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28 minutes ago, cafec0nleche said:

One individual I did work with on 2 research projects, but again, was a fellow in my department at the time, but I kept in contact with them. Or, most recently, I did take two practicums with a professor from my graduate business program who can speak to purely academic and client interactions versus a professor I once took 7 years ago that I haven't kept in touch with

Is this Fellow in academia now? If yes, then that is who I would choose as your third. If you have completed a Masters, grad schools often don't even look at undergrad GPA anymore, they are only interested in what you accomplished in post-grad. You don't need another letter writer that can talk about client interaction, especially one that isn't even in the field, your clinical supers would be addressing that. What you need the most of, really out of all three LORS, is people who can speak to your ability to do scientific research, think critically, and work as part of a lab team.

The clinical PhD application process is crazy competitive, literally more competitive than law or med school. The clinical students I see coming in to our department all have multiple pubs and presentations already under their belt, either from a Masters thesis program or from working in very prolific labs as undergrads, in addition to hours spent either professionally or as a volunteer in clinical settings. 

You can address things like a lower GPA or gap years in education in your personal statement, if you feel it needs to be mentioned, your LORs have to be able to focus on your research skills and predicted ability to successfully create output for the university.

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