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BrianM

Applying to a Ph.D program with a Masters

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Hi all,

I, like many, am freaking out about the coming application process. I am confident in my past record but believe that the only thing holding me back would be the GREs.

I took the exam 2 years ago and got an 840 total. I have been studying since April and took a practice test last week. I got a 970 total, although I forgot to do the last 3 math problems and just pressed finish. D'oh!

So I was wondering if getting around a 1000 or 1100 would be enough for most schools to at least look at my apps.

I have been doing everything right as far as applications are concerned. I have been emailing professors and asking if they are taking students. I have been doing research, undergrad for one year and grad for over a year(which will be presented at a conference and am a co-author on). I am also starting my own research in which I will be a co-author.

My letters of rec will be strong, I am getting them from two professors who know me well and another who is helping me on research that will have known me for about seven months when he writes the letter. The other two were professors, one being the person I helped out with research and am a co-author on her study.

I was a teachers assistant for a semester in undergrad so I have that experience.

My GPA was also a 3.59 for grad school.

Does having a masters help low GRE scores? I would imagine it proves that I have the ability to perform well at the graduate level.

Is it really the be all end all? I hear different things from different people and know that for all schools its different.

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Well I really only know about Clinical Psych programs, but I applied with a masters just like you. I would say that having a masters definitely helped me during the application process; however, it will not save you from the trash pile if your GRE scores aren't above the cutoff. GRE's don't tell you how well you perform at a graduate level...they tell you how good you are at the GREs lol It gives them an objective measure they can use to cut down the large numbers of applicants. Low GRE's and GPA's are the first criteria many schools use to initially narrow down the applicant pool. If your GRE's aren't high enough, they might not even look at your resume/CV to know that you have your masters. You should want to get a score of 1300 or higher on your GREs, 1200 at the very minimum. I know someone who is BRILLIANT who has a perfect graduate GPA, is first author on several publications in big journals, and is honestly just impressive in every way...only thing was that they scored 1160 on the GRE's...unfortunately, they had to do several rounds of applications, and ultimately, they weren't able to even get an interview invite till they raised their GREs to 1200...I honestly could not believe how unfair it was...but that's how it is. I'm not telling you this to scare you. I'm telling you so that you can seize the opportunity to study as hard as you can while you still have a few months till app deadlines! Personally, I know exactly what you're going through - I'm usually not a good standardized test taker...BUT I studied like my life depended on it for 4 months straight, all summer, everyday, and I was able to get respectable scores my first try - so there IS hope!!!! You can do it - you've gotten this far!!! The final hurdle!

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Well I really only know about Clinical Psych programs, but I applied with a masters just like you. I would say that having a masters definitely helped me during the application process; however, it will not save you from the trash pile if your GRE scores aren't above the cutoff. GRE's don't tell you how well you perform at a graduate level...they tell you how good you are at the GREs lol It gives them an objective measure they can use to cut down the large numbers of applicants. Low GRE's and GPA's are the first criteria many schools use to initially narrow down the applicant pool. If your GRE's aren't high enough, they might not even look at your resume/CV to know that you have your masters. You should want to get a score of 1300 or higher on your GREs, 1200 at the very minimum. I know someone who is BRILLIANT who has a perfect graduate GPA, is first author on several publications in big journals, and is honestly just impressive in every way...only thing was that they scored 1160 on the GRE's...unfortunately, they had to do several rounds of applications, and ultimately, they weren't able to even get an interview invite till they raised their GREs to 1200...I honestly could not believe how unfair it was...but that's how it is. I'm not telling you this to scare you. I'm telling you so that you can seize the opportunity to study as hard as you can while you still have a few months till app deadlines! Personally, I know exactly what you're going through - I'm usually not a good standardized test taker...BUT I studied like my life depended on it for 4 months straight, all summer, everyday, and I was able to get respectable scores my first try - so there IS hope!!!! You can do it - you've gotten this far!!! The final hurdle!

Thanks for the reply!

Most schools I am applying to say they have either no cut off or some around 1100 or 1200, but that they look at the whole application.

Hopefully emailing the professors like I have, and will again, will remind them to pull mine out of the pile.

I have been studying for 3 months now and still see only a little improvement. I am not good at these tests, but I won't go into my rant about them.

Also I am applying to 20+ schools and most are not really competitive. So I am confident, even with a 1000 on the GREs that I will get at least one interview!

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I will repeat what the other poster said: you will need above 1200 minimum to be seriously considered for a PhD program. Do not underestimate the depth of competition. Programs may not have an official cutoff for GREs and they may look at the overall application, but many applicants will have comparable or better applications plus much better GRE scores.

In my subfield, a lot of programs saw as many as twice the average numberof applications this past cycle. I have a master's with a 3.957 GPA, 1450 (V:720, Q:730, W: 5.0) GRE, 760 Psych GRE score. I applied to 12 PhD programs this past cycle and squeaked by with an acceptance off a waitlist at a total of one school.

Again, this is not the time to be idealistic. Do whatever it takes, within ethical considerations, to get your GRE score above 1200 at least. Do whatever it takes to get more research experience.

Edited by Engali

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I will repeat what the other poster said: you will need above 1200 minimum to be seriously considered for a PhD program. Do not underestimate the depth of competition. Programs may not have an official cutoff for GREs and they may look at the overall application, but many applicants will have comparable or better applications plus much better GRE scores.

In my subfield, a lot of programs saw as many as twice the average numberof applications this past cycle. I have a master's with a 3.957 GPA, 1450 (V:720, Q:730, W: 5.0) GRE, 760 Psych GRE score. I applied to 12 PhD programs this past cycle and squeaked by with an acceptance off a waitlist at a total of one school.

Again, this is not the time to be idealistic. Do whatever it takes, within ethical considerations, to get your GRE score above 1200 at least. Do whatever it takes to get more research experience.

*heart attack* your stats are crazy... I have no more faith in the system if you had trouble.

Edited by randompsychologist

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I will repeat what the other poster said: you will need above 1200 minimum to be seriously considered for a PhD program. Do not underestimate the depth of competition. Programs may not have an official cutoff for GREs and they may look at the overall application, but many applicants will have comparable or better applications plus much better GRE scores.

In my subfield, a lot of programs saw as many as twice the average numberof applications this past cycle. I have a master's with a 3.957 GPA, 1450 (V:720, Q:730, W: 5.0) GRE, 760 Psych GRE score. I applied to 12 PhD programs this past cycle and squeaked by with an acceptance off a waitlist at a total of one school.

Again, this is not the time to be idealistic. Do whatever it takes, within ethical considerations, to get your GRE score above 1200 at least. Do whatever it takes to get more research experience.

I am in a course, and have about 10 books, and have been studying since late March. I still have trouble, some people are good test takers and others aren't. All the gre does is ruin people's lives. I will not retake it again if I score about a 1000-1100, its incredibly unfair and hopefully some professors know that.

Well I won't be applying to "competitive" schools, but I guess in this economy all schools are competitive.

Also, I will be applying to about 23 schools so maybe that will help, and I have also emailed the professors I am interested in so hopefully the will truely look at my app.

And I hear that fit is more important that a meaningless GRE score. Hopefuly I will land a position with a professor who does not put too much weight into that worthless test.

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Well I won't be applying to "competitive" schools, but I guess in this economy all schools are competitive.

They are all competitive. There are no "safety" schools because of the sheer number and quality of applications.

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