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Hey everyone,

I have a couple of questions to ask you all. I was wondering, how important are GRE scores in an application for counseling psychology? I have had mixed reviews, but it would be really really helpful if someone can give me their own experience on GRE and applying for PhD programs in counseling psychology (clinical psychology too, since I am planning to apply to some in the future). 

My next question is: How important is it to attend an MA program right before applying for the PhD? I don't have enough independent research experiences and close working relationships with faculty within labs, and my GPA is not competitive enough, so I decided to apply to MA programs in general psychology within my state (CA).

Last question: How important is publications when applying to a PhD program in psychology? Thank you and congrats to the people that got accepted in programs!

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1. Gre scores are fairly important in clinical and counseling programs. A good reference is the book "Insiders Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology"- it gives cutoff scores for all accredited programs.

2. In your situation, I would suggest going to a MA program, I was in the same situation. It makes you a bit more competitive especially if you do a thesis for graduation. It also gives you a chance to get a better gpa. 

3. In my opinion, publications are very important. I've applied for a lot of cycles and I finally got into programs this time and the major difference is the number of publications I have now (3 publications, 2 presentations). MA programs are a good way to get more publications and presentations under your belt. 


Hope that helps! 

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I was rejected to Counseling Psychology programs this round, so I can tell you that a lower GRE score can be a deciding factor. Counseling Psych programs seem to value applicants with a Master's degree, especially one with clinical and research experience. 

Publications aren't necesssary if you just have a Bachelor's, but would make you more competitive and might be expected if you have a Master's.

If you choose a Master's program, definitely retake the GRE until you get your desired score.

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This is my understanding, and anyone can correct me if I am mistaken. For both GPA and GRE scores, neither of them on their own will get you into a program. There are many students with perfect GPAs and stellar GRE scores so instead they're used as more of a cut-off. Many programs have minimum cut-offs (e.g. requiring a minimum 3.0 undergrad GPA) and your application may not even get past the first round if those requirements aren't met.

To answer your question, your GRE scores are definitely important...especially for meeting those cut-offs. You should look at the average GREs of accepted students at programs and try to aim for those marks. 

As for the MA before PhD, it's a complicated question/answer. I've heard that a lot of schools prefer taking students out of undergrad, whereas some prefer students with a MA. A MA is certainly not necessary to be admitted into a doctoral program. The most important thing if you do pursue a MA, is what you do within that time. If you lack a great deal of research experience, you could pursue a MA that has an experimental thesis requirement and really focus on your specific research interests. I strongly advise you "plan out" your MA program before enrolling. I went for the MA because I was in a similar situation in terms of a non-stellar GPA, and lacking research experience. When I applied to schools, I had a good idea of which professors I wanted to work with and I communicated with them when I started the program. 

Publications...I'm not actually sure. I would certainly say for a lot of programs they are not a requirement, as I've known several people who've gotten in without publications. They will definitely help your chances and also look very impressive. From my understanding, it's also far from the norm for applications to have publications (especially out of undergrad). They're definitely something to strive for, but make sure you get posters and conference presentations on the way because those are great too.

From what it sounds like, a MA will be a good option for you. Best of luck!

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@juhidee119 Yes, I will most likely go to a MA program within my state if I get accepted. I already have the book you're talking about, and some of the GRE score requirements are higher than the scores I have received. Thank you!


@abnumber5 I definitely will retake the GRE because my verbal score wasn't in the average. Thank you!


@Sherrinford Thank you so much for your response! Most masters programs that I am applying to require me to do a thesis and work with different professors within the department :)

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