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Am I ready to apply? (WAMC post)


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Long story short - I am on leave of absence from a CACREP masters in clinical mental health counseling program. The tuition/cost of living got too much for me.

I'm highly considering not finishing the masters program and just applying straightaway for PhD programs this fall, but I don't know if my application is enough to make me competitive... can anyone offer some advice? I'm 2 years out from finishing the masters, and while I don't have any qualms about doing that, my end goal has always been a PhD in Counseling Psychology, so I figured why take the long winding road when there's opportunities to take the shorter one...

Undergraduate GPA: 3.0 (double major Economics and Management)
Second bachelor's GPA: 4.0 (major in Psychology)
Master's GPA (thus far): 3.9 (damn you, A-minus!)
GRE scores: 164 V, 163 M, 6.0 AW, no psych GRE yet
Letters of rec: 3 from research supervisors, 1 from psychology professor
Statement of purpose: feedback has generally said that it's good
Research interest: college mental health, adjustment, coping skills, socioeconomic etiology of anxiety disorders (all very counseling psych oriented stuff)

Research experience:

  • 3 years, behavioral marketing at top tier research school
  • 1 year, health psychology at government agency
  • 1 year, counseling psychology at top tier research school
  • 6 months, social psychology at in-state school
  • will be starting another project next month at top tier research school


  • No publications, and also no hope of one before application
  • 2 posters at state psychology conferences
  • 2 roundtables at national conferences
  • 1 poster at APA
  • should be presenting another 2-3 posters this fall, waiting on responses from conferences but the outlook is good

Work experience:

  • All unrelated to psychology, as I previously worked in the business world
  • 1 year in management consulting
  • 1 year in public relations/marketing
  • several temporary/odd jobs in customer service and administrative assisting

Schools applying to (hoping to stay in state):

  • University of Houston, PhD Counseling (**dream school**, reach)
  • University of Texas Austin, PhD Counseling (reach)
  • Baylor, PsyD Clinical (huge reach)
  • University of North Texas, PhD Counseling (reach)
  • Texas Tech, PhD Counseling (target)
  • Texas A&M, PhD Counseling (target)
  • University of Houston-Clear Lake, PsyD (target, not APA accredited yet though!!)
  • UT Southwestern, PhD Clinical (reach, not a top choice)
  • Sam Houston State, PhD Clinical (target, not a top choice)

Let me know if there's any information missing!

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  • 2 weeks later...

The one fly in your ointment is your primary undergrad GPA, but otherwise you look like a competitive applicant to me!  Make sure you explain your underwhelming early academic performance in your SOP or have one of your letter writers address this.  Hopefully your GRE scores will convince admissions committees that you possess the intellectual wherewithal to succeed in grad school.

You'll also need to address why you left your Master's program prematurely.  Ideally, your Master's advisor would explain this in his/her letter.

Edited by St0chastic
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/1/2016 at 7:40 PM, St0chastic said:

Make sure you explain your underwhelming early academic performance in your SOP

I'm honestly not too sure how to do this. The harsh truth is that I switched majors one too many times and was frankly too unfocused to pay attention to my schoolwork, preferring to spend my time in the gym and playing video games. It's hard to spin that one positively, haha. Any tips?

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