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Which of these paths will point me in the best direction?
November 25, 2012 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Please help me pick the most relevant program for my career/education goals.

I asked this question in early October and received a lot of helpful replies and a lot to think about. I ended up getting an internship at a survey research center on campus to explore that area a little more, and I absolutely LOVE everything I am doing there. Getting a look at how they design the surveys, how questions are ordered, entering survey results into SPSS and Excel, cleaning and analyzing it, finding correlations and making meaning out of all of it, etc. I believe have found a career option that I am passionate about and fits my interests wonderfully. I am eyeballing several programs for graduate school already that sound amazing and right up my alley, but I am unsure as to the best path to take NOW to set myself up for the best chances of entry into these programs and ultimately a survey research career.

Programs of interest: 1, 2, 3

They seem to have rather vague requirements, just requiring a BS or BA, some background in a social science, and some statistical background.

Speaking with the employees and grad students at my internship, I've found that nearly everyone there has a background in social psychology and is strongly urging me to look into social psychology for graduate school and perhaps to even look into going back to psychology as an undergraduate. It sounds like perhaps doing one of the above-mentioned Masters programs and then a social psychology PhD may be a good option to look into.

On the other hand, in my current program (economics), professors I've spoken with seem to be encouraging me to stick with economics because of the more quantitative background it will provide. I do find the things I've learned about in economics interesting, but I'm not too sure how relevant they are to the area I'm trying to get into and the things I'd like to work with.

*I also feel like people tend to have strange, almost hesitant reactions when I tell them I am majoring in econ and wanting to work in survey research. Most people at the survey center have said something like, "Oh, you're in economics? ...what brought you to work here?" While many other people I've spoken with have said, "Economics? So you want to work in banking/finance/government/....?" which are not areas I see myself working in, but seem to be the types of things that many in economics end up pursuing.

I do feel that the more quantitative background of economics as compared to psychology would give me a better leg up overall, but the psychology program seems to be more focused on giving students research experience and more hands-on learning experiences in social science, which I feel would be very beneficial as well.

TL;DR which of these options will give me the best background and experience to get into the graduate programs or careers I am interested in? I would be able to finish either option in the same amount of time, if that means anything.

1. BS in Economics, minor in Statistics.
2. Dual BA in Economics and Psychology, minor in Statistics.
3. Something else entirely?

The BS in Economics seems to be more business-focused and just requires about 21 more credits of general business classes than the BA, while the BA claims to have more of a social science focus and requires 4 semesters of a foreign language. The level of math required under each is the same.

One big concern of mine is what would happen if I don't end up getting into a graduate school program, which is one of the reasons I switched out of psychology in the first place as it didn't strike me as a very employable degree at the Bachelor's level. I'm kind of leaning towards the dual psych/econ degree but am a little unsure of the differences in how a BS vs BA in economics would be perceived in terms of future employability, grad school admissions, etc.

I have also seen this question and found a lot of relevant and useful comments, but wanted to post my own question as to how economics plays into all of this.

Thank you for any help/advice you might have!
posted by Malleable to Education (5 answers total)
 
It sounds like perhaps doing one of the above-mentioned Masters programs and then a social psychology PhD may be a good option to look into.

If you plan on getting a PhD, then there is no point in delaying 1-2 years getting a Master's degree in another field.

[I] am a little unsure of the differences in how a BS vs BA in economics would be perceived in terms of future employability, grad school admissions, etc.

The answer is "not at all," particularly since the number of "business classes" you take is essentially irrelevant for graduate school admissions.
posted by deanc at 2:02 PM on November 25, 2012


Thank you for your answer, deanc. Your point about the business classes being irrelevant is kind of what I was thinking, but wanted some clarification on.

As for "delaying 1-2 years getting a Master's degree," it seems that many of the PhD programs I have been looking at actually recommend and/or require that applicants have a Master's degree when applying.
posted by Malleable at 2:11 PM on November 25, 2012


I think you have to ask a professor in your department how the BA vs BS would be perceived when applying to grad school. If one or the other is preferable, it's almost certainly going to come down to the details of what particular courses you'd take (or whether useless-for-grad-school required courses would get in the way of taking classes that'd be useful), which is specific to your university. Of course, their answer will likely be specific to graduate school in economics.
posted by hoyland at 2:15 PM on November 25, 2012


Psychometrics! It pays really really well, and it's easy to find a job, and it encompasses a lot of your stated interests!
posted by whalebreath at 6:47 PM on November 25, 2012


it seems that many of the PhD programs I have been looking at actually recommend and/or require that applicants have a Master's degree when applying.

Then you should avoid those Ph.D. programs. It's one thing if the nature of the program is MS/PhD where you have to pick up an MS degree as part of the program path towards a Ph.D. It's another thing if they expect you to waste your own time and money in a different program before they will deign to consider your Ph.D. application.
posted by deanc at 8:57 AM on November 26, 2012


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