JENNIFER A. JOY-GABA
There are numerous options for psychology majors when it comes to obtaining a post-baccalaureate degree. One can choose to pursue medical school, law school, or continue toward graduate training. Within graduate training, students may choose to remain in the field of psychology ot pursue another field entirely. The information here will focus on students who would like to pursue graduate work in the field of psychology.
There are three programs to consider: Master's programs (click here for more detailed information about programs who help fund students), Ph.D. programs, and Psy.D. programs. Generally speaking, Master's programs require about two years of time, while Psy.D. and Ph.D. programs take about five to six years. At this point there are three questions to ask yourself:
1) What is my career goal?
If your goal is to be a counselor you may not need a Ph.D. Some career paths require a Master's while others may prefer a Psy.D. Still, there will be others that require a terminal Ph.D. The Psy.D. typically involves less research commitment and focuses more on practice. Keep in mind that Master's and Psy.D. programs are usually programs that require the student to pay tuition while most Ph.D. programs provide tuition and a stipend for each admitted student.* As well, university faculty positions require a terminal Ph.D.
2) How committed am I to further learning?
Do you want a higher degree for money, prestige, or desire to learn? Accepting a position as a Ph.D. student requires a love of science and the research process as it will require five to six years commitment. Money and prestige are certainly possible, but should not be the main reasons you want to apply for higher learning. Did you like your undergraduate methods course? Do you have a specific area of psychology that you are passionate about? Your answers should provide a bit of clarity. Successful graduate students enjoy the scientific process and can specify an area in which they would like to pursue scientific questions.
3) What are my credentials?
Graduate school is becoming increasingly competitive. For example, many undergraduates who are accepted straight into a Ph.D. program have multiple years of experience in research labs, have completed an honor's/independent project, and have had research accepted either as a peer-reviewed article and/or poster at a national conference. Generally speaking, high grades and GRE scores only help you into the next round. Do you have the experience and three strong letters of recommendation to help you stand out among other applicants?
*amounts vary by school
GRADUATE SCHOOL INFORMATION