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options for those without a psych background


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I have an undergraduate degree in the humanities and trying to find my way into academic psychology. I did fairly well in my undergrad years (3.6 total 3.8 major GPA) and am confident in my standardized testing skills when it comes time to take the GRE. My objective is to study in cognitive psych, specificially interested in decision making, will, and motivation.  However, I didn't take any psychology or natural sciences course in my first degree. I'm aware that I'll have to catch up some basic coursework no matter what path I take but I'm not sure what the most efficient way to this coupled with the quality of my catch-up sources as perceived by an admissions team.

The most economical option is to enroll in courses at a community college. I'm concerned that an admissions committee might look down on this or might not accept it as adequate preparation. Does anyone have any experience with this? Would it be better received if I were to enroll in non-credit courses at a university?

I'm also considering a second bachelors degree at a traditional university. This option costs a great deal more money and time. I'm willing to do it if that's what has to be done but looking down the barrel of another round of student loans and two more years of my life just doesn't seem like the smartest option.

Many graduate programs offer conditional acceptance for catching up to prerequisites or taking necessary coursework. I haven't come across any psych program that offer this so far. Does anyone knows of programs that offer options such as this?

Thank you!



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If your goal is graduate study in Psychology, with an end goal of doing research you'd be banking on being admitted with an entire bachelor's degree worth of "deficiencies". Usually the deficiencies allowable are minor and something that can be dealt with in a short amount of time. 

There are a few options as I see it:

1. Community college for core science courses (physics, biology, chemistry, math/statistics), university for 2nd bachelors (psych core courses)

2. University for second bachelors

3. Master's in psych through a professional/online program. This isn't the BEST option but it is more of a forward direction for you.

4. Go the Educational Psychology Route... they will be more likely to admit you with these deficiencies and give you Master's Terminal options. In fact it isn't that odd to have Master's students in educational psychology coming in with zero stats and a humanities or education background (i.e. no psychology at all). And you might be plesantly surprised here because motivation theory, mindset, and decision making are fairly robust areas of study in the education field.

All of these are going to cost you a decent chunk of money

The problem you will face when you come down to grad-school applications is that you will be approaching with no background and no research experience. If you look at the most important things in what will decide a committee it is not just match, but demonstrating that you know what you are getting yourself into. Where you are now, you are miles and miles behind your fellow applicants.

Sorry to be such a downer for you, but it is a really difficult field to get into as a graduate student with a full background and very high marks across the board. Everything is going to be stacked against you as you stand now.  :-/


BIG NOTE NOT TO BE IGNORED: If you want to do research, I am assuming that you do, you will need to be getting research experience. You need to get in with a lab ASAP. If you can find/email your local university professors and ask them if they could use a volunteer in their lab (explain your situation and your desire to get some experience doing research). You may have to be somewhat tenacious to get into one, but your chances of getting into a research track grad program with no research experience is pretty poor.

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