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I'm a 2009 grad with a major in psychology, and minors in biology and writing

3.2 (kinda low...i know)

Did conduct my own research study during my jr and sr year with the aid of a psych dept advisor. Presented. Did not publish.

Have spent the last two years working as a case manager at a mental health center for adult with severe mental illness.

Just started as a research assistant in April. We are part a hospital, though we have our own building. We do studies mainly on weight loss. I am/will be working on 4 different studies. None of which I will be named on...as I am only a research assistant.

When I was interviewed they asked me to stay for at least two years, which initially I was fine with.

While I'm grateful for my new job it is also mind numbingly boring. I have spent my days thus far, quality checking packets for missed answers....bubbling for when we scan....and scanning. It's really basic. Especially when you've run your own study in the past.

Volunteer wise, I've just begun volunteering for the Red Cross, right now as a Disaster Responder, and will begin taking their trainings and being more involved.

I plan to go to grad school for epidemiology.

Here's my questions:

I'm am unsure of my chances of getting into a PhD program, which I would really like to do, and skip the MPH. I'm not sure if my work experience can help off balance my somewhat low GPA.

If I apply for the next round between Dec 2012-Feb 2013 for most schools I'm looking at, I would have only been doing the whole research assistant thing for a little over a half year when I apply. I'm guessing being there longer would look better. As would the recommendation I could get if I honored my "2 year" verbal contract. (I wouldn't ask for one if I applyed Dec2012-feb2013)

What would you do? Apply or wait?

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  • 1 month later...

Which PhD programs are you considering? Many, if not most, will want an MPH first. While I'm not one to normally fuss about GPA, a 3.2 might be a little low for PhD programs, especially without an MPH. Why would you want to skip the Masters? A two-year introduction to public health could be very useful to you, it seems. Even if a school allowed it, jumping into a 4-8 year commitment to public health with limited work experience in a related field sounds a little risky to me. How do you know you'll connect with it enough?

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I think you should consider applying to both MPH and PhD programs and see what happens. I agree with ZeroFlux that an MPH will be useful to you. A Masters will help you gauge your enthusiasm (or lack thereof) for research and you will be more prepared for doing a PhD when the time comes. An MPH will also, most likely, help your GPA.

Edited by -slu-
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  • 5 months later...
I'm a 2009 grad with a major in psychology, and minors in biology and writing

3.2 (kinda low...i know)

Did conduct my own research study during my jr and sr year with the aid of a psych dept advisor. Presented. Did not publish.

Have spent the last two years working as a case manager at a mental health center for adult with severe mental illness.

Just started as a research assistant in April. We are part a hospital, though we have our own building. We do studies mainly on weight loss. I am/will be working on 4 different studies. None of which I will be named on...as I am only a research assistant.

When I was interviewed they asked me to stay for at least two years, which initially I was fine with.

While I'm grateful for my new job it is also mind numbingly boring. I have spent my days thus far, quality checking packets for missed answers....bubbling for when we scan....and scanning. It's really basic. Especially when you've run your own study in the past.

Volunteer wise, I've just begun volunteering for the Red Cross, right now as a Disaster Responder, and will begin taking their trainings and being more involved.

I plan to go to grad school for epidemiology.

Here's my questions:

I'm am unsure of my chances of getting into a PhD program, which I would really like to do, and skip the MPH. I'm not sure if my work experience can help off balance my somewhat low GPA.

If I apply for the next round between Dec 2012-Feb 2013 for most schools I'm looking at, I would have only been doing the whole research assistant thing for a little over a half year when I apply. I'm guessing being there longer would look better. As would the recommendation I could get if I honored my "2 year" verbal contract. (I wouldn't ask for one if I applyed Dec2012-feb2013)

What would you do? Apply or wait?

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  • 4 weeks later...

I agree with the advice that has been given.  Have you had any introduction to the field of epidemiology?  Taken any EPI or statistics classes?  

 

I know quite a few EPI PhD students and they all got an MPH first…I think they had to.  I also noticed while getting my MPH that people decided to switch concentrations A LOT.  Someone would go into EPI and switch to Environmental/Occupational health and vice versa.  The MPH is an interesting degree...  The concentrations are pretty specific and despite what my Profs said, there's not much overlap.  I would say you need to really make sure you like/love epidemiology.  A PhD is a pretty massive time commitment.  

 

Also, the MPH will definitely help you bring up that GPA.  For a PhD in EPI, I would bet most schools would want at least a 3.5 GPA and a strong quantitative score on the GRE. 

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This was my other username, I guess I had two? Anyway...

 

To answer some questions. Yes, I have had an introduction to Epi. I took a graduate course titled "Epidemiology and Biostatistics" which I received an A in the spring 2010. I went into psychology because I was fascinated by the diseases, which I realized is not really at the heart of a degree in psychology, which is why I minored in Bio 

 

Workwise, things have gotten better. I will be named on two papers which is a plus, and will hopefully bump-up my CV. I am also doing more work-wise, in terms of the studies I work on. I was also told by one of the researchers I work with, that I can use the data from our previous year of the research study I work on to work on my own paper or poster, which i will do this year. 

 

I basically would like to move straight into a Ph.D programs for several reasons. I ultimately want a Ph.D, since I feel that it will get me further career wise. And also, most Ph.D programs are funded better than MS or MPH.

 

In terms of programs I am looking into, I live in RI and would like to stay local if possible. Two options are Brown and BU. The research center I work with  is connected to Brown, and two researchers I work for are assistant professors there. So I'm hoping a recommendation from one of them will help my chances.

 

Next week I start taking a math class. I am hoping that the addition of some more advanced math classes will also help me. In epi or a biostatistics program which I am also considering, though it would mean pushing back applying  another year (2014) because of needing to take some more advanced math classes that are required. 

 

Ultimately I think it will come down to how I do in this years worth of math classes, and also how well I can cope with mentally pushing applying back to 2014, which is hard since I really want to go get started. I love diseases and know I will do fine in an epi program. I just worry about getting a degree in it, and not being able to find a job. I am considering biostatistics because the job market seems better, and it is still connected to public health. 

 

*edited to add last part*

Edited by Immy
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