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Unable to get into Masters program for Psych, what should i do next

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  • Jun 6th, 2019 9:54 pm
[OP]
Member
Apr 20, 2011
299 posts
35 upvotes
Toronto

Unable to get into Masters program for Psych, what should i do next

(I am writing this post on behalf of my wife)

She did undergrad from mac and then hons from york university. She completed her hons in 2014 and since then she has been working in psych related field. She has also done diploma in Clinical Psych from McMaster with A grades. For last 2 years she has been working as Clinical research coordinator at a hospital. She has tried applying at masters program in multiple universities from last 3 years. her references included director of [redacted] department in mcmaster children hospital. she also has reference from her current employer who is a doctor and a prof at UoT.

The masters program included clinical psych, master in psych and even public health. But she has been constantly being rejected from all of these universities. After 3 years she is heart broken and willing to change her career. But I thought it would be worth discussing it here.

So what are her options, what can she do. I am asking from options to increase her chances to get into masters OR changing her field OR anything.
19 replies
Deal Addict
Feb 4, 2010
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I'm assuming she has met the eligibility requirements? What are her grades like from her degrees? What info did she have to provide during application process (e.g. statement of interest)? What reasons is she given for the rejections? If she doesn't know, ask the department. Otherwise how is she ever going to know what to improve upon.

I'm also not clear why she has change careers just because she can't get into a masters program. What is her goal (e.g. certain job/title)?

Another option to consider is a master's program in a complementary field rather than getting more degrees/diplomas in the same field - being multi or inter-disciplinary is likely to give her more of a competitive edge.

I would also advise her to discuss this with one of her mentors (e.g. the people giving her references).
[OP]
Member
Apr 20, 2011
299 posts
35 upvotes
Toronto
hierophant wrote: I'm assuming she has met the eligibility requirements? What are her grades like from her degrees? What info did she have to provide during application process (e.g. statement of interest)? What reasons is she given for the rejections? If she doesn't know, ask the department. Otherwise how is she ever going to know what to improve upon.

I'm also not clear why she has change careers just because she can't get into a masters program. What is her goal (e.g. certain job/title)?

Another option to consider is a master's program in a complementary field rather than getting more degrees/diplomas in the same field - being multi or inter-disciplinary is likely to give her more of a competitive edge.

I would also advise her to discuss this with one of her mentors (e.g. the people giving her references).
She provided all the info which is required for admission, including statement of purpose. Her undergrad grades weren't that great. she had 3.0 CGPA. So she took Clinical Research Diploma at McMaster to increase her grades and she has 3.9 CGPA there.

I have asked her to email all universities to find what is the reason of rejection. Perhaps, it might give some insight.

What complimentary field are you referring here? She already thought about it and applied in Masters of Public Health and got rejected from there too.

She has discussed with mentors, most of them suggested her to move to US but it's not possible due to family responsibilities.
Deal Addict
Feb 4, 2010
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hyph3n wrote: She provided all the info which is required for admission, including statement of purpose. Her undergrad grades weren't that great. she had 3.0 CGPA. So she took Clinical Research Diploma at McMaster to increase her grades and she has 3.9 CGPA there.

I have asked her to email all universities to find what is the reason of rejection. Perhaps, it might give some insight.

What complimentary field are you referring here? She already thought about it and applied in Masters of Public Health and got rejected from there too.

She has discussed with mentors, most of them suggested her to move to US but it's not possible due to family responsibilities.
Academic programs base their admission primarily on grades so she may find it difficult getting in if she has no prior relationship with the dept or advisor. She should start contacting advisors she wants to work with or even the dept admin, program counsellor - they may be more willing to accept based on factors other than her grades (e.g. experience, passion).

I can't tell you what complementary fields - she needs to do that research, talk to people in the field, etc.
Deal Addict
Aug 18, 2018
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Bay Area
hyph3n wrote: She provided all the info which is required for admission, including statement of purpose. Her undergrad grades weren't that great. she had 3.0 CGPA. So she took Clinical Research Diploma at McMaster to increase her grades and she has 3.9 CGPA there.

I have asked her to email all universities to find what is the reason of rejection. Perhaps, it might give some insight.

What complimentary field are you referring here? She already thought about it and applied in Masters of Public Health and got rejected from there too.

She has discussed with mentors, most of them suggested her to move to US but it's not possible due to family responsibilities.
That's the most likely reason. Most grad schools set a certain GPA cutoff, and it's possible she was auto-rejected by the computer during the initial screen. Luckily grad school isn't like professional school, and as long as you get someone in the dept to vouch for you, that cutoff can be waived. Best course of actions is to ask her to contact a few profs she's interested in working for, explain the situation to them, and see how receptive they are. Maybe her mentors could also reach out to people they know?

FWIW I know someone who got into a PhD program at UofT (not psych) with <3.0 GPA because he had a few profs backing him.
Member
Dec 13, 2017
244 posts
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a few options is she is interested working in Healthcare IT/Admin:
eHealth Program at MAC
MHI at UFT
MBA at MAC (will require GMAT)
Deal Addict
Feb 4, 2010
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Her grades are decent so I don't think that's it. After thinking about this some more I really think she's not getting in because she has no prior connection/relationship with an advisor. This approach works for professional programs or programs where they match you up with an advisor but for academic programs especially in social sciences many programs require you get an advisor to agree to take you on as a stduent before you even apply. That's why I suggested she figure out what she wants to do (in terms of research thesis) and then find an advisor who specializes in that and then reach out. Another approach is to visit profiles of the faculty in the programs of choice and see which ones best match her interests and then reach out to them. If she's just submitting generic statement of interest that don't align with any faculty member she's not going to get anyone to take her.

Second, funding is limited for grad students so you have to have a stellar application for them to use their limited funding on a student...unless she's willing to fund herself or has secured funding then she's going to have a hard time.
[OP]
Member
Apr 20, 2011
299 posts
35 upvotes
Toronto
hierophant wrote: Her grades are decent so I don't think that's it. After thinking about this some more I really think she's not getting in because she has no prior connection/relationship with an advisor. This approach works for professional programs or programs where they match you up with an advisor but for academic programs especially in social sciences many programs require you get an advisor to agree to take you on as a stduent before you even apply. That's why I suggested she figure out what she wants to do (in terms of research thesis) and then find an advisor who specializes in that and then reach out. Another approach is to visit profiles of the faculty in the programs of choice and see which ones best match her interests and then reach out to them. If she's just submitting generic statement of interest that don't align with any faculty member she's not going to get anyone to take her.

Second, funding is limited for grad students so you have to have a stellar application for them to use their limited funding on a student...unless she's willing to fund herself or has secured funding then she's going to have a hard time.
this is helpful. funding isn't a concern since both of us have been saving up for last 3 years. We have enough funds to pay for her full masters fee upfront.
[OP]
Member
Apr 20, 2011
299 posts
35 upvotes
Toronto
DontCareyou wrote: a few options is she is interested working in Healthcare IT/Admin:
eHealth Program at MAC
MHI at UFT
MBA at MAC (will require GMAT)
thanks for pointers.
Newbie
Jun 3, 2019
1 posts
There's a few related programs if she's interested in the clinical (counselling) part of psychology. M.A or M.Ed in Counselling Psychology is offered at a few universities in Ontario, UofT included. Couple of online universities (Athabasca and Yorkville) offer this program as well, and may have more lenient admission standards.
Member
Mar 26, 2013
364 posts
23 upvotes
Calgary
MEd Counselling is offered at UNBC as well. Great program highly recommend.
Member
Feb 15, 2018
328 posts
396 upvotes
A 3.0 GPA is not decent for competitive grad programs. She is competing with A grade students. Keep in mind that a BA in Psych has very limited job options and that results in more grads pursuing grad school (increasing the pool of applicants compared to ones from a professional program like engineering where most go to work right after bachelors). Humanities are very cut throat in the academic world: from grad school admission to getting a faculty spot.

Also, the OP did not tell us if this program requires some standardized entry assessment like GRE. If so, what was his wife's score on that one. That might be another deciding factor.
[OP]
Member
Apr 20, 2011
299 posts
35 upvotes
Toronto
@hierophant : Previously i mentioned that she might not have tried reaching out to profs but she did. Some of them did agree to have her as their RA. But they said that it's only possible once university accepts her admission. so perhaps she couldn't have make through the first stage due to grades?

@JordanC64632 & @lovetolearn thanks for pointers.

@canuckstorm she has done GRE multiple times. She was able to score 6+ score in English (don't remember her score exactly) but for math she couldn't pass 251's mark. Even after multiple tries. That being said, her last year stats score is A, last year average is A and her first stat score also has A.
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Feb 4, 2010
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hyph3n wrote: @hierophant : Previously i mentioned that she might not have tried reaching out to profs but she did. Some of them did agree to have her as their RA. But they said that it's only possible once university accepts her admission. so perhaps she couldn't have make through the first stage due to grades?
Taking her on as a RA (research assistant) is different than taking her on as a student. When a student gets accepted to a grad program with funding attached to it, typically they have to "earn" their funding by either being a TA or RA - so them agreeing to take her on as a RA doesn't mean much unfortunately. They have to agree to take her on as a student and vouch for her during the selection process if her grades (or whatever other selection criteria they're looking at) isn't good enough. Most faculty are typically honest and upfront if they're willing/unwilling to take you on as a student because it's their time and reputation on the line too.
[OP]
Member
Apr 20, 2011
299 posts
35 upvotes
Toronto
so that's one of the factored we have narrowed it down. she is def going to try to reach out to more prof but i was wondering, what if she attaches her saving account details which has money to support her masters? would it make any difference?

just to let you know, we have been saving for masters for last 2-3 years and we have enough fund saved that we can pay for masters, in cash upfront, without using any LoC or any other loans.
Deal Addict
Feb 4, 2010
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She should definitely NOT attach saving account details!!! They don't care if you need a loan or you can pay cash (BTW you only pay one semester at a time) - you're not going to entice them with those details.

IMO she should not bother re-applying until she has found someone who will take her on as a student - she needs to start emailing and calling profs whose research interests align with hers. During these discussions she can tell them she doesn't require funding. Again, no prof is going to take on a student they don't really know or feel comfortable will succeed. She may want to look at a professional program where they pretty much take anyone because they're willing to pay $$$. Academic degrees, not so much. The bar is much higher.

SHe may also want to look at international and/or online programs. If she's already applied multiple times and has been rejected, that should be sign. Re-appying without changing anything isn't going to improve your situation - you're just wasting the $100 OCAS fee each time.
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Oct 13, 2007
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Grades are one thing. There is also the “Friends and Family Program”, I.e. knowing someone.

Is she sure of all her references, e.g. could somebody possibly be saying something not to her favour?

What are the admission rates for her program, I.e. number of applications to number of admissions?

She would probably have more luck at a smaller University. Has she tried that?
Member
Feb 15, 2018
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hyph3n wrote: so that's one of the factored we have narrowed it down. she is def going to try to reach out to more prof but i was wondering, what if she attaches her saving account details which has money to support her masters? would it make any difference?

just to let you know, we have been saving for masters for last 2-3 years and we have enough fund saved that we can pay for masters, in cash upfront, without using any LoC or any other loans.
We are talking about a masters here and not a PHD program. My understanding is that these universities already have a set number of spots and funding in place for MA programs. No need for a a candidate to bring in any funding. Faculties have admission committees that assess applications on a need blind basis. That is why an international student from some third world country can be admitted to an MA program on a full ride. What they are trying to measure are things like academic prowess to handle the workload. TA and Graduate Assistant positions are plentiful since most public universities are on a cost slashing drive where they are now giving graduate assistants and TA's work that would have been done by junior professors.

The only kind of money that somewhat guarantees you a spot is a major donation from your family. I am talking endowing a chair at the minimum or having a library named after you.

The bottom line is that your Mrs' application is not competitive compared to the current pool applying to those programs. She is competing with two kinds of people
1) Those with strong academic grades
2) Those who are eminent in their fields. By eminent I am not talking just work experience in a field. More like a known authority who has even published and presented at conferences in that field. Someone who has held a very senior management position with say a huge public body e.t.c.

Her best bet would be try other universities that might not be as competitive as the ones she is looking at e.g. Athabasca or even some American ones. Or she really needs to build a very impressive resume in her field. I am talking including things like sitting on prestigious relevant boards, publishing e.t.c.
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Aug 18, 2018
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hierophant wrote: Taking her on as a RA (research assistant) is different than taking her on as a student. When a student gets accepted to a grad program with funding attached to it, typically they have to "earn" their funding by either being a TA or RA - so them agreeing to take her on as a RA doesn't mean much unfortunately. They have to agree to take her on as a student and vouch for her during the selection process if her grades (or whatever other selection criteria they're looking at) isn't good enough. Most faculty are typically honest and upfront if they're willing/unwilling to take you on as a student because it's their time and reputation on the line too.
hierophant wrote: IMO she should not bother re-applying until she has found someone who will take her on as a student - she needs to start emailing and calling profs whose research interests align with hers. During these discussions she can tell them she doesn't require funding. Again, no prof is going to take on a student they don't really know or feel comfortable will succeed. She may want to look at a professional program where they pretty much take anyone because they're willing to pay $$$. Academic degrees, not so much. The bar is much higher.

SHe may also want to look at international and/or online programs. If she's already applied multiple times and has been rejected, that should be sign. Re-appying without changing anything isn't going to improve your situation - you're just wasting the $100 OCAS fee each time.
QFT

As I mentioned, I knew someone who got accepted into a Chemistry PhD at UofT with a ~3.0 GPA, but he had faculty vouching for him (and 2 papers published in undergrad no less) so he was admitted.
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Feb 4, 2010
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I'm not sure what basis you're speaking from but your post is full of inaccuracies.
canuckstorm wrote: We are talking about a masters here and not a PHD program. My understanding is that these universities already have a set number of spots and funding in place for MA programs. No need for a a candidate to bring in any funding.
Your understanding is wrong. Each university and more importantly each department/program handles admissions differently. Most faculty are required to apply for funding to fund their project. If they get that funding, that's how they typically decide how many grad students they can take on. The college/department may allocate budget for grad students as well - again all depends. If you go with a faculty who has funding for a project then yes you can get funding (often faculty seek out students). Some programs guarantee funding if you get accepted through TAship, others do not. However, if you're doing your own research and just need a supervisor (you're seeking out a supervisor) then you most definitely will be required to bring your own funding - they're not going to fund you to do your own research, you get funded to their research.
Faculties have admission committees that assess applications on a need blind basis. That is why an international student from some third world country can be admitted to an MA program on a full ride.
This is false. Again, it all depends on the program. Some programs you have to find a prof to agree to supervise you before applying. Some programs have a committee to do the initial screening but very rarely is it blind basis - most (good) advisor are almost always going to want to meet the students they agree to supervise, so no it's almost never blind basis. International student on a full ride...what are you even talkign about??? Scholarships are a whole other topic as is international students.
TA and Graduate Assistant positions are plentiful since most public universities are on a cost slashing drive where they are now giving graduate assistants and TA's work that would have been done by junior professors.
What's your source because this is just not true. You don't have a clue of how higher ed works. Please stop making up stuff.
The only kind of money that somewhat guarantees you a spot is a major donation from your family. I am talking endowing a chair at the minimum or having a library named after you.
OMG - again you clearly don't know what you're talking about here. No that kind of donation doesn't guarantee a family member an admission offer and having a building named after you is completely different than getting offered admission.
2) Those who are eminent in their fields. By eminent I am not talking just work experience in a field. More like a known authority who has even published and presented at conferences in that field. Someone who has held a very senior management position with say a huge public body e.t.c.
Ummm no - that's very rarely expected of a Master student. PhD yes...some not all. Many Master students are fresh out of undegrad.

Honestly, I don't understand why people like you who don't know the subject matter at hand feel the need to spread mis-information...please stop.

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