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Funded or unfunded?


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Here's where I'm at:

I've been offered a position by my dream PhD program- purely because research interests were such a clear match, as my POI was not planning on taking another grad student. Unfortunately, this offer is unfunded (meaning out of state tuition the first year. Yikes!)

Additionally, I've been offered acceptance to two unfunded, but in state, masters programs where research fit is a bit of a stretch, and waitlisted at a great, but certainly not top choice PhD program.

Finally, I've been offered a place in the 2012 Teach for America corps (two year teaching commitment in San Francisco.)

I don't know what to do...please help!

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I am growing to be more of a pessimist as the economy continues to lag behind...but I would not attend a unfunded program unless you were passionately crazy about the field and had already tried applying multiple times (and improving your application each time).

Do you have school loans currently? If so, i'd consider the TFA much more... although you will not get rich from it, some school loans will be paid back, and you will earn a teaching certificate (if i remember right) in the state, no? You've now opened yourself up to another possible career market, as well as, can apply back into IO Programs and hope the economy has improved and attain funding.

Likewise, you can talk to POI and discuss if you can be put on hold since you were accepted for TFA...many schools allow that I believe.

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It's a decision you have to make for yourself, but personally I wouldn't attend an unfunded program. I accumulated enough debt in undergrad and didn't want to add to it, so I deliberately refrained from applying to any program that wasn't funded 100%. I rather like that my undergrad debt will be paid off by the time I get my PhD.... it feels much better than having 10 years of debt ahead of me post-PhD.

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In research-based psychology PhD programs, funding equals a program's commitment to your training, imo. And that means tuition and a stipend. It says that they are willing to invest precious resources towards ensuring that you are successful and complete the program and they are invested in you. Personally, I would not attend a PhD if it were not funded. And do you want to have the worry of finances on top of your coursework. And PhDs in psychology are not like doctors or lawyers - the income you make will not offset the cost to attend. I turned down a non-funded position at a school with an excellent rep for a funded position at a lesser rep school - and have never looked back.

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I can't thank you enough for your opinions and perspective! Fortunately, my POI called with an excellent funding offer she managed to pull together for me.

I hope all of you have had similar luck!

Congrats!!!

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