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How important is your undergrad college for a PhD?

katenskatens 22 replies18 threads Junior Member
Hi, this post was inspired by a recent one questioning the importance of a prestigious undergrad school, but since I'm in in psychology route it's a bit different, so I thought I'd ask.

To give some background, I currently want to double major in psychology and asian studies. After my undergrad, I plan to teach english in Japan for a few years and then come back, get my masters and hopefully my phD if I have enough money. Depending on where I am in life I want to go into counseling, research or possibly teaching at a university.

So how big of an impact will my undergraduate college matter? I feel that with counseling, it matters more what schools you go to because it will attract people and make them to trust you more. I know it's probably acceptable to go to a state school for my undergrad or even for grad, but I'm worried that it will limit me to stay within my state/area and people won't know what it is or how reputable it is.

Sorry, this is long again, but thanks for reading and I appreciate any input.
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Replies to: How important is your undergrad college for a PhD?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 81039 replies727 threads Senior Member
    It may matter depending on if the psychology department you apply to for PhD has strong opinions about how well your undergraduate psychology department prepares students for PhD study. Whether or not this is common in psychology is something others more familiar with the field may be able to say.
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  • tk21769tk21769 10709 replies27 threads Senior Member
    edited February 5
    One of my kids followed something like the college-to-career path the OP describes. He graduated from a LAC that is not super prestigious or very well known. After working for a few years he completed a doctorate at a prestigious private university. Now he is a professor at a highly respected school.

    IMO what counts most is some combination of passion, commitment, and effort. The OP is describing a long path that will take persistence.
    I wouldn't say your choice of college does not matter but *many* of them have excellent faculty and staff who can help get you where you want to go.

    By the way, most good PhD programs are fully funded. So if you can get out of college without too much debt, then get accepted to one of those programs, money need not be a big obstacle. Make no mistake, though, the job market for new PhDs can be very tight in some fields.
    edited February 5
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13058 replies29 threads Senior Member
    IMO, it has to be a certain level. However, virtually all public flagships (and in the bigger states, several/many of the non-flagship publics) meet that level. For counseling, there are aspects people will tend to care about more than where you went for undergrad.
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  • CorinthianCorinthian 1807 replies62 threads Senior Member
    Purely anecdotal of course, but a HS friend of my D15 with a BS in psychology from Northern Arizona University went directly into a funded PhD program at USC. I've seen her CV and she was clearly a standout student at NAU and it paid off.
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  • yauponreduxyauponredux 782 replies27 threads Member
    For psychology PhD programs, assuming your GPA and GRE are acceptable, it’s research experience and publication along with fit that make the biggest difference. Professors who know you and can write a strong rec are important, too.

    Go somewhere for undergrad where you can get that experience, coauthor publications with faculty, and expect that you may need to spend a couple years after undergrad working as a research assistant before applying to grad school.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 27386 replies187 threads Senior Member
    For psychology PhD programs, assuming your GPA and GRE are acceptable, it’s research experience and publication along with fit that make the biggest difference. Professors who know you and can write a strong rec are important, too.

    Exactly, and taking 2-3 years off (of the Psych track) to teach English is probably not very helpful.

    Being bilingual will probably be a small plus factor for Clinical programs, but Psych is brutally competitive and Research reigns supreme.

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