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MA Clinical Psych - Columbia or Montclair State?


lah89

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My ultimate goal is to earn a PhD in Clinical Psychology. After earning a BS in Psychology, I chose to take a year off (babysat for multiple families as I greatly enjoy working with children) but unfortunately was not accepted to any of the 12 Clinical Psych PhD programs that I applied to. Given my high GPA, above average GRE scores (high math/average verbal), and one year of experience working/volunteering in two labs (performing pretty basic RA duties), I have been told that the best way to beef up my resume would be to continue gaining research experience. After these rejections and failed attempts at gaining a paid full-time job as an RA in the NJ/NY area, I applied to two MA Psych programs to at least continue with my psychology education. Therefore, I am now looking for advice in making my final decision between these two programs:

MA Psychology in Edu: Personality & Psychopathology program at Columbia U Teachers College

&

MA Clinical Psychology: Concentration in Child/Adolescent Clinical Psych at Montclair State University

The major draw to Columbia is obviously its prestige and amazing connections within the NYC area, but I would come out with tons of debt (also commuting from NJ) and I am not guaranteed an RA position. At Montclair, I did receive a Graduate Assistantship to conduct research which covers tuition and provides a stipend. Given that research is the factor that is most important to me in gaining entrance to a PhD program, Montclair obviously makes more sense but it’s just tough to turn down an acceptance from Columbia! There is definitely a chance that I’d be able to conduct volunteer research at Columbia (although much more competitive than at Montclair), I just won’t know until I hear back from professors probably around the time school starts.

Does anyone know how important the name of the school you attend for your Masters is to PhD programs in Clinical Psych?

Also, does anyone have any experience at Teachers College looking for a research position?

Considering I am making this last minute decision for this upcoming fall semester (I have already registered for classes at both schools due to my indecisiveness), I would really appreciate any advice you have to give!!! Thanks so much :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was in the same boat as you but with the I/O program at Montclair and Organizational Psychology at Teacher's College, and decided on Montclair due to the assistantship offered. There's no way I could commute to either school and am not comfortable going into the amount of debt required to relocate and attend TC's program, especially when research is not guaranteed. Furthermore, the earning potential at TC was not extraordinarily more than other programs (it was even the same in many cases), which killed some of the appeal. Columbia's name alone will not get you into a PhD program, though it can get you in more doors for interviews should you stop at the MA level.

Good luck with your decision.

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I was at Teachers College in the same program that you got accepted to. Its not difficult to get research experience once you are in that program. I worked with four professors in their research labs at TC while I was there and I also got the chance to work as a research assistant at New York State Psychiatric Institute. The reason I went for an MA in clinical psychology was the same - i didn't have background in psychology so I wanted to get research experience so I could apply for a PhD eventually - thats what I am currently doing.

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  • 10 months later...

I was at Teachers College in the same program that you got accepted to. Its not difficult to get research experience once you are in that program. I worked with four professors in their research labs at TC while I was there and I also got the chance to work as a research assistant at New York State Psychiatric Institute. The reason I went for an MA in clinical psychology was the same - i didn't have background in psychology so I wanted to get research experience so I could apply for a PhD eventually - thats what I am currently doing.

I was accepted by the same program as you were, and I am also considering and weighing my offers. Do you mind if I ask some questions regarding the program? May I contact you in private manners? Thank you so much! 

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  • 2 weeks later...

My bf did a PhD in clinical psych and I have heard many times from my bf and the lab members that a degree in clinical psych in much more marketable than a degree in experimental psych or counselling. For me, Montclair's clinical program would win hands down. You could always apply for a PhD in clinical psych at Columbia later on and accumulate debt at the PhD level when it would make the most sense to put in such a huge financial investment.

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