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newpsyche

Getting a BA and PhD from the same university?

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Hi, friends!

Would it be a bad thing to get my PhD in Social Psychology from the same university from which I got my Bachelor's? It's a great university in rankings, but again--it would be the same one. What are your thoughts?

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"Academic Inbreeding" is kind of frowned upon but it's not all that uncommon. I would still apply to other places and see if you like some other schools better. Then, after you consider all your options, you can see if the school you did your BA at is really the one you want to go to.

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I've heard that it is a negative mark against you, but probably not so much as to outweigh the problems associated with doing a program that you are less interested in.

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there is definitely a negative stigma against it, but if you can show why that school is the best fit for you, then its not impossible. I would be interested in what kind of data people have on how less likely you are to get accepted if you went the same undergrad.

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These are the underlying concerns it raises. Not saying they're true in your case, but this is what people might think, in roughly descending order of importance/likelihood:

1. Academic cultures vary wildly by department. Because you've only been in one department you might not be able to flourish elsewhere.

2. You couldn't get in anywhere else so you were stuck.

3. You are too attached to family (or something) in your home city and aren't dedicated enough to your career to move wherever it takes you.

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What is the university? If it is a school like Harvard, University of Illinois-UC, Stanford, Penn, Northwestern, Cornell, etc., my guess is that those programs are competitive and well-respected enough to assuage any concerns. If it is a lower-tier, regional school, perhaps the K-Ph.D track will hurt you. Also, if you are still in undergrad, try to secure a summer internship at another program in which you are interested. This may be a good way to indicate that you are not opposed to variety and a decent chance at securing a LOR from a different PI with a different methodology.

I just scrolled up and saw your school. If you are already working under a wicked prof with interesting research, why not secure a spot? That does not mean that you cannot also apply to schools of a similar caliber and fit. I am not familiar with social psych programs. Is UNC a top social psych school? Good luck with whatever you decide!

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I just scrolled up and saw your school. If you are already working under a wicked prof with interesting research, why not secure a spot? That does not mean that you cannot also apply to schools of a similar caliber and fit. I am not familiar with social psych programs. Is UNC a top social psych school? Good luck with whatever you decide!

I don't know about the school as a whole, but Keith Payne is fricking awesome. If you are working with him, stay. (I'm kidding of course, decide for yourself.)

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@lewin00--hah! That made me smile. Dr. Payne has such a reputation around Davie Hall--he's passionate about what he teaches, that's for sure.

@lox26--UNC is around the 20th top social psych school. Not #3 like UCLA or #8 like UC Berkeley, but still a good position...

Thank you all for your helpful replies! I'll keep this in mind. Definitely applying to UNC, but we'll see what happens...

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All my professors (both undergrad and now in my doctoral program) said it's not a make or break. All else equal, the one that had a broader pedigree will probably win out, but there's nothing inherently wrong with academic inbreeding as long as your program is respected and there's good research being done there. UNC will be fine -- plus I know of a good amount of students doing work at Duke and NCSU (I did an REU in the Econ department there a few summers back), so being in the RTP is one of the academic havens in the US (some others being SF Bay Area [stanford, Berkeley], LA [CalTech, UCLA, USC], Chicago [Northwestern, Chicago], NYC [Columbia, NYU], and Boston [Harvard, MIT]).

At the end of admissions, if you're most comfortabble with UNC, I don't think anyone will hold that against you. Talk to your professors about it, too, if you still have qualms about it.

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@Behavioral--that is a fantastic response. Very truthful, very well-rounded. Thank you!

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See, this is why you shouldn't let political scientists view the ol' Psych board...

Fields vary, but I think the logic of how this kind of thing goes in political science should generalize to other fields. I write as a graduate student in political science at URochester. Rochester poli sci has a reputation (on the good end, call it a "brand name," and on the bad end, call it a "stigma") based on a particular type of work we do here. Consequently, our faculty often dissuade good undergraduates from doing their graduate work here, because if the student in question hits the job market with Rochester allthewaythrough, some search committee members might wrinkle their nose at the student's apparently love of Kool-Aid. A similar phenomenon takes place at other political science departments with similar brands (WashU, Caltech social sciences, NYU).

On the other hand, Harvard, Yale, and Stanford (which is to say, excellent, full-service, general-purpose poli sci departments) routinely recruit their own undergrads, who in turn go on to do wonderful things on many occasions.

My point is this: the answer to your question is a function of what kind of brand you think you'll be getting. If it will look like you're a taboo-seeker, it might reflect badly (though not TOO badly). Otherwise, for standard department with strengths like UNC's, the issue is likely immaterial.

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Yet another fantastic response! Thank you, @coachrjc--and I think the same ideas cross over between study areas, or have a good feeling that they do.

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My old roommate from undergrad is at UofR for formal modeling/poli sci. He always told me now niche the program is, but he was one of Slantchev's students at UCSD, so he was definitely taboo-seeking.

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My old roommate from undergrad is at UofR for formal modeling/poli sci. He always told me now niche the program is, but he was one of Slantchev's students at UCSD, so he was definitely taboo-seeking.

Oh yes. Talk about your modal Kool-Aid drinker ;-).

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Oh yes. Talk about your modal Kool-Aid drinker ;-).

Yup! And the only PoliSci people in Kellogg right now are both UofR grads (Diermeier and Feddersen), so they seem to be doing well for non-PoliSci placements relative to other schools because of the focus on game theory and analytical modeling.

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