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Undergrad thesis for clinical psychology


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I'm an undergrad student thinking of applying to clinical psychology programs when I graduate. I have clinical experience and research experience, but the research is problematic. Due to finances/location, I attend a university that has very few clinical faculty. Only one clinical professor takes undergrad students and I'm really not interested in her research at all. Her lab is full anyway. Would it be bad to do my honours thesis in an unrelated area of psychology?

Most of my research experience has been in behavioural neuroscience because my department is fairly heavy in neuroscientists, but I could do my thesis in developmental psychology, cognition, perception or behavioural neuroscience. I don't have the option of doing clinical and I know that it will hurt my application, but is it a huge problem?

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Is it possible to do a project in some of the fields and domains you suggested, but have a clinical twist? My undergraduate thesis, for example, was in cognitive neuroscience. I looked at a memory training paradigm for older adults, which would have translated to patients with MCI later down the road if we had continued. I don't think your project has to be 100% clinical per se, but it should preferably follow through with what you hope to study in graduate school. I'll be starting a clinical neuropsychology program this September, so my thesis in cognitive neuroscience was very much on task with what I will be pursuing.


Alternatively, if your school allows it, see if you can find an off-campus supervisor for your honours thesis! Best of both worlds.


Good luck!

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  • 3 months later...
On 11/30/2015 at 4:13 PM, Heavensmaiden said:

I have heard from clinical faculty that it does not matter where you get your research experience but you have it and that it is quality experience. 

I second this, I emailed a professor at Washington University in St. Louis (a few years back), and she replied with something along the lines of "expertise in my specific field is not necessary, what matters is that one has had quality research experience at the point of application".  

Of course, implied is "quality research experience in psychology, using tool X" where tool X is also used within the clinical program. But what exactly you do your research on, say you wanted to do fMRI work on depressed populations, then having done fMRI work on more general topics such as vision, emotion, or language for your thesis puts you in a very good position. 


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