Jump to content

To apply or not to apply


Recommended Posts

Hello,

I am afraid this is going to be one of those “what are my chances” threads.

It might seem a bit early to ask that question, considering that I will finish my undergrad in 2014, but I am European and have to – somehow – squeeze in the GREs at some point. Since I am German but study in the UK, that takes some planning and has to fit somewhere between internships etc.

Right now, I am just not sure if it is worth the stress and money to take the GRE and apply to universities in the States/Canada. I guess I could get into some PhD programme but I really need funding, and that is hard to get. Moreover, I want to go into cognitive neuropsychology, which seems to be quite popular at the moment.

I would really appreciate if I could get some advice on that question. A postgrad without funding in some way (RA/TA would be perfectly fine) would be no option. Needless to say that I fell in love with a Canadian programme that doesn’t seem to attract much funding.

On my “What I’ve already done”-list is:

  • one 12-week internship in the neurology department of a hospital (MRI interpretation, short EEG intro, cognitive testing/therapy, occupational and speech therapy, etc.)
  • one psycholinguistic undergrad RA (1 semester)
  • one social cognitive undergrad RA
  • been a class rep, not sure if that matters though

    The “What I expect to happen”-list:

    • I expect to graduate with a 1st class UK degree (~3.7 GPA)
    • Right now, I learn how to process + analyse fMRI data + I was promised some hands on experience with it
    • One first author publication in process (prior to my final year project)
    • I am trying to find some time and finally get a literature review published
    • As it seems right now, I will probably get a 10-week internship at a well-known research institute in my preferred area of research (which is a tiny niche)
    • I will keep going with my social cognitive RA, which would add up to 1 year at the time of my application

    ---

    So, what do you think? Anyone fancy crushing my dreams?

    Thanks,

    EarlyBird

Link to post
Share on other sites

...are you planning to get a PhD or a terminal masters? In the US and Canada you apply straight to a PhD program and sort of just get the masters along the way, and most psych PhDs are fully funded in the US and Canada (tuition remission + stipend), meaning that every accepted student is covered including internationals. Especially in your particular subfield, you don't find many programs that have fMRI but don't have grad student funding...are there particular schools you are wondering about?

Since most undergrads don't get hands on EEG/fMRI training that will be very much to your advantage.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for your replies.

I'm not in your field so I can't really speak to your chances, but (most) Canadian schools don't require the GRE, if that's helpful.

All Canadian schools I’ve looked at require GREs - because it is so much more fun with just a pinch of bureaucracy.

...are you planning to get a PhD or a terminal masters? In the US and Canada you apply straight to a PhD program and sort of just get the masters along the way, and most psych PhDs are fully funded in the US and Canada (tuition remission + stipend), meaning that every accepted student is covered including internationals. Especially in your particular subfield, you don't find many programs that have fMRI but don't have grad student funding...are there particular schools you are wondering about?

Since most undergrads don't get hands on EEG/fMRI training that will be very much to your advantage.

Definitely a PhD. Although, I know that most programmes require the students to acquire a Master degree as part of the PhD programme. However, that most psychology PhDs receive full funding is surprising to me. When I clicked my way through the profiles of PhD students, it seemed as if only a small minority is fully funded. Especially if there are on the social side of cognitive neuropsychology, and as I would be. Sorry, I should probably have mentioned that.

Regarding the schools I have in mind: I am not worried about my favorite as it offers funding to all PhD students “in good standing” and seems to be not too difficult to get accepted to. Otherwise, I have found researchers that could be a good fit at Toronto and McGill, both seem to have rather good funding.

With the US things are a bit different. So far none of the programmes/POIs I looked up seemed like a great fit. Except one POI at Stanford and two at Princeton but that would be a long shot. I keep my eyes open, though.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/1/2012 at 7:08 AM, EarlyBird said:

Thank you for your replies.

All Canadian schools I’ve looked at require GREs - because it is so much more fun with just a pinch of bureaucracy.

Definitely a PhD. Although, I know that most programmes require the students to acquire a Master degree as part of the PhD programme. However, that most psychology PhDs receive full funding is surprising to me. When I clicked my way through the profiles of PhD students, it seemed as if only a small minority is fully funded. Especially if there are on the social side of cognitive neuropsychology, and as I would be. Sorry, I should probably have mentioned that.

Regarding the schools I have in mind: I am not worried about my favorite as it offers funding to all PhD students “in good standing” and seems to be not too difficult to get accepted to. Otherwise, I have found researchers that could be a good fit at Toronto and McGill, both seem to have rather good funding.

With the US things are a bit different. So far none of the programmes/POIs I looked up seemed like a great fit. Except one POI at Stanford and two at Princeton but that would be a long shot. I keep my eyes open, though.

Hmm, well my area is social neuroscience, and everyone I know in the area is fully funded! So hopefully that's good news for you. I know that Stanford and Princeton are definitely fully funded. You may want to look at social psychology PhDs that do social neuroscience, which seems to be what you are interested in. I'd suggest looking at WashU and NYU as they have great faculty working on these issues and are also fully funded. If you have a particular type of research you're interested in I can probably give better guidance (e.g., neuroscience of prejudice, emotion, decision-making, etc)

Link to post
Share on other sites

As a Canadian who have tried out the process, here's my advice. First of all, most Canadian schools require GRE for graduate studies.

Second of all, I hate to be a downer, but Canadian schools are EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE. This applies all across the programs in pretty much all of the subfields in psychology. This is because there are only about a dozen major universities that provide these programs and people interested in psychology grows in number rapidly. This is really unfortunate because most of the time, there really aren't that much variance in the accepted students credentials. Most Canadian schools employ a cutoff and do not utilize a holistic review of the applications. This means if you don't meet the cutoff GPA or GRE scores, don't even bother applying because your application is out the window and your fabulous research experiences and interests won't even be viewed.

While this seems too selective, because the incoming cohorts are usually small, Canadian schools practically guarantee funding and extremely close interactions with the supervisors. Bare in mind that most programs get 300+ applicants and rarely accept more than 5. As a trickle down effect, even the Masters program is SUPER COMPETITIVE because theres just too much demand but not enough supply. Many Masters programs in Canada are also funded.

As an example of this, consider my colleague who applied to a variety of interest matching psychology PhD programs across the nation. One of his recommenders knew the POI closely and did research together and he was able to get an interview for this reason (only 3 were invited to the interview btw out of 300+ applicants). We were pretty sure he would get selected given the background and connection, but no. In fact, he was not accepted to any of the programs (he had 2 publications and some presentations under his belt, ~3 year research experience).

Now this goes on to show you one example. There may be cases where this isn't true but I can't speak for those cases. Please know that I am giving you this advice from what I have experienced. I, after witnessing this, decided to apply to only a couple PhD programs as a tryout and applied to a host of Masters programs in Canada and the States. I am now going to a Masters program in the States and gaining more experience to apply to a PhD program.

From the way you described your credentials so far, I can't say that it really specifically lays out what can be considered your strengths, but in addition to having a great interest match, you need to have a product that can vouch for this, such as publications or presentations. You can say all you want and write all you want about how great of a match you can be, but at the end of the day, schools are more likely to choose a person who has an endproduct of such an interest in research.

So if you are really committed to applying and think you have what it takes, apply to a good mix of schools in both US and Canada as well as schools in UK.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.