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I didn't get into a PhD Clinical program. I am reapplying, but I need a backup plan if I get rejected again!


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Hi everyone, I need some help developing a strategic back up plan!

Last year, my senior year in undergrad, I applied to 14 clinical psychology PhD programs, got 2 interviews, and was ultimately rejected. After graduation in April, I've spent my time retaking the GRE, continuing to work on my research teams (I have done research since my sophomore year in college), working on an independent research project, and getting clinical experience as a Psychiatric Technician in a Mental Health Facility. Now that it's time to reapply, I need to build some back-up master's degree programs into my plan that **ultimately** are advantageous to getting me to my goal of becoming a Clinical Psychologist. I figured experimental programs would be good, but I don't really know where to begin. Basically, should I not get into a program again, I want to take the master's then PhD route. Here are my questions:

1. If you were in a scenario like me, how did you handle reapplying?

2. What master's programs look best to PhD clinical programs in terms of rigor and research training? (e.g., experimental) Do any programs in particular come to mind?

3. Any other advice??

 

Thank you, and good luck to you all!

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Saw this on the recent posts, so pardon if my advice isn't the best (different background and all). 

Why did you apply to so many schools the first time around? How do these schools match not just your ultimate career plans, but also your intended research interests? The first time I applied, I didn't apply to many schools, but I also didn't articulate well how my research interests connected to the programs and professors. In short, the connections just weren't that strong and I wasn't accepted. This time around, I'm applying to programs where my research interests match up very well with faculty work. Last year I applied to 5 programs and this year I'm applying to 7. Still not a ton, but I've made sure my fit at these programs is spot on and have spent quite a bit of time articulating that fit in my SoPs. 

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For clinical psychology, 14 applications is perfectly reasonable. The competition is fierce in this area!

Counseling Psychology programs are more likely to take applicants with masters degrees than Clinical. There are exceptions. You would need to look at admissions stats for each program which can be found on their websites.

I wound up doing a research focused masters degree and a clinical one to make my profile more attractive. I got into my number one program last fall.

What I really focused on this last time around was being strategic about the POIs and programs to which I applied, contacting POIs sometimes a year before applying (I was able to exchange emails, have phone calls, Skype calls, and in-person meetings with many), obtaining bullet-proof recommendations from professors that know me well and can speak to my strengths at length, and crafting the best SOP/PS that accurately reflected my interests and career aspirations. Basically, I have devoted myself to being the best candidate I can be and recognizing that the rest is totally up to chance.

Last thing is I opened myself up to Counseling Psychology programs as well. The degree leads to the same licensure. 

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One backup plan that I feel is underutilized is applying for research assistant/coordinator positions in Clinical labs. The thing about clinical is that it really helps if you know someone prior to applications. One way to swing this is to apply to work in a lab as a coordinator for someone who has a good rep in the field. That way you can use them as a letter writer and maybe even apply to them after a year. The pay for these positions isn't great, but it would be cheaper than a master's degree.

On the flip side, a master's degree is also helpful. One suggestion I would make is applying for Masters programs at universities that do not have Ph.D. programs. I've found that Masters students are treated as more valuable when there aren't Ph.D. students around. By taking this route, I actually had a stipend in a terminal Masters programs and got way more research experience because of it.

 

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On 10/11/2017 at 4:22 PM, K@tie said:

Hi everyone, I need some help developing a strategic back up plan!

Last year, my senior year in undergrad, I applied to 14 clinical psychology PhD programs, got 2 interviews, and was ultimately rejected. After graduation in April, I've spent my time retaking the GRE, continuing to work on my research teams (I have done research since my sophomore year in college), working on an independent research project, and getting clinical experience as a Psychiatric Technician in a Mental Health Facility. Now that it's time to reapply, I need to build some back-up master's degree programs into my plan that **ultimately** are advantageous to getting me to my goal of becoming a Clinical Psychologist. I figured experimental programs would be good, but I don't really know where to begin. Basically, should I not get into a program again, I want to take the master's then PhD route. Here are my questions:

1. If you were in a scenario like me, how did you handle reapplying?

2. What master's programs look best to PhD clinical programs in terms of rigor and research training? (e.g., experimental) Do any programs in particular come to mind?

3. Any other advice??

 

Thank you, and good luck to you all!

To be candid, getting two interviews in your first application round is impressive and signals that advisors see you as a competitive applicant. If it were me in this situation, I would avoid applying to Master's programa and focus on ways in which I could improve my chances this next round, including tightening up any application material, learning more interpersonal interview skills, etc. The reason I say this is, it sounds as though you're on the right track as far as research experience and what you have done has already gotten you this far. Additionally, in the event that you do not get in this next round, imagine what another year of experience will do for your application? That's probably not the advice you want to hear and I hope that is not the case, but in terms of time and resources going straight into a Ph.D. program will usually save you both. 

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