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CHOOSING A CAREER IN PSYCHOLOGY or RELATED FIELDS & PREPARING FOR & APPLYING TO GRADUATE SCHOOL
This presentation is one view. Speak to many people, and utilize many references in deciding your future. No single person or source can provide all the information you need!
Choosing a Career Area Finding a career that will be satisfying to you takes time and effort. Pay attention to Careers class speakers & read text to see what sounds interesting. Surf career & grad school web sites (posted on psychology department web site) Go through career & grad school books available in Psychology Advising Office (A 209) Check our department website
Interview people in careers of possible interest. Speakers in class might provide names of recent graduates. Get research experience in professors’ labs to see what is interesting (i. e. , Do DIS) Read books and scientific articles within areas of possible interest. Psych Lit is good source of articles as are your course text books that list references at the end of chapters. Career counselors can suggest professions you might not have considered. But only you can decide what career will work best for you.
Ask yourself questions (& answer them) that will help you pick the right career: • What is my theoretical orientation? (behavioral vs. cognitive; service vs. business) • What topics do I enjoy learning about? • Do I want to work with children, adults, elderly, or families? • How much does prestige matter to me? • How important is income and how much do I need?
• How important is flexibility in hours to me? • Am I capable of very long hours of work hard? • Can I sit at a desk for a long period? • Do I have hobbies I love that I can turn into a career? • Am I going to get depressed listening to problems of others?
When to Apply to Grad School When you apply depends on the kind of program to which you are applying--Ph. D vs Masters. In either case, you need to start considering schools & working on applications 2 -4 months before applications are due Ph. D. Programs For some highly competitive Ph. D. programs, such as Clinical Psychology, you need to apply almost 1 year (9 -10 months) prior to admission date. For example, if you want to start Fall, 2013, you probably need to submit applications in November or December 2012. Deadlines vary across individual schools.
Master’s Degree Programs For most Master’s Programs, deadlines are not as early. For example, some programs require that you submit applications in April or May prior to the Fall in which you start grad school. But some have deadlines as early as January or February. Deadlines vary across individual schools.
GRE Virtually all grad schools require general GRE (quant, verbal, analytic); some also require subject area (psych). Other professional schools require similar exams (MCAT, LSAT) Studying for GRE crucial!!! I recommend taking GRE 6 months prior to when application is due. This is to allow for possibility you need to take it 2 nd time to improve scores. Go to: www. gre. org For test preparation, go to: www. gre. org/pracmats. html#gentest
Points of Clarification re: Degrees 1. Practicing degree (PD): A. Degree that you need to work independently (i. e. , without requirement of supervision). B. May still need to pass a licensure exam after degree. 2. There is more than one route to specific kind of career. For example, a) if interested in providing counseling, could choose clinical psychology (Psy. D or Ph. D), counseling psychology, school psychology, clinical social work, mental health counseling, psychiatry, etc. b) If you want to work in business to improve employee performance, you can get degree in instructional design, industrial/organizational psych, performance management, MBA: human resources.
Examples of Professional Degrees (see also list of Psychology: Sample Careers/Jobs) • Masters in Social Work (MSW) (case work or clinical SW) MSW is practicing degree (PD) • Masters in School Psychology (PD) • Masters in Performance Management (PD) • Masters in Instructional Design (PD) • Masters in Industrial Organizational Psychology (generally need Ph. D. , but Masters can be enough) • Masters in “Experimental” Psychology (Specialties: Neuroscience, Social, Personality, Developmental, Child, Cognitive, etc. ) (generally not PD)
Examples of Professional Degrees (continued) Masters in Clinical Psychology (PD only in few states)* Masters in Counseling Psychology (PD only in a few states)* Masters in Mental Health Counseling (PD)* Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy (PD) Masters in Pastoral Counseling (PD) *Degrees from some programs will allow one to sit for licensure exam for LMHC Note: If you have PD in non-psychology field, cannot call oneself a “psychologist. ” And for psychologists, must advertise by type of degree.
Examples of Professional Degrees continued n. Ph. D. in Clinical Psychology (PD) (specialties: children/adolesc, adult, family, substance abuse, forensic, health psych, aging, depression, schizophrenia) n. Psy. D. in Clinical Psychology (PD) (w/specialties) n. Ph. D. in Counseling Psychology (PD) (w/specialties, but not severe pathology) n. M. D. n. Ph. D. w/residency in Psychiatry (PD) (w/specialties) in “Experimental” Psychology (neuroscience, cognitive, social, industrial-organizational, business, developmental, child, etc. ) PD for research position
Differences between clinical and counseling psych: 1. Types of problems you are trained for: Clinical: deals w/ entire range of problems. Counseling: deals w/ problems of every day living (e. g. , child non-compliance, marital, depression, anxiety). Does not deal with severe pathology. 2. Relative emphasis on research: Clinical: emphasis on conducting research & evaluating effectiveness of treatments along w/ learning assessment and treatment of problems (within psychology departments). Counseling: generally less emphasis on research & evaluation (w/in colleges of education) 3. Individual programs differ.
Difference between Psy. D. versus Ph. D. in Clinical 1. Psy. D. generally involves little if any research training either in terms of how to do research or how to be a critical consumer of research. 2. Psy. D. : generally within free-standing institution. Ph. D. : within regular university 3. Psy. D. generally more expensive—often VERY expensive—particularly free standing 4. Easiest to get into Psy. D. in free standing instit.
Recommendations regarding Psy. D. vs. Ph. D. : 1) Be sure programs in counseling or clinical are APA approved before you apply. 2) If apply to Psy. D. program, I recommend those within a university (e. g. , Rutgers, Colo. ) 3) Be aware that Psy. D. degrees are not as wellrecognized as Ph. D. Thus, may be less employable with Psy. D. in certain places. 4) Even if you don’t want to conduct research, you want to learn to be a consumer of research & to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments. This is advantage of Ph. D.
How to strengthen credentials for grad school 1. Get high GPA. Minimum for acceptance 3. 0. For competitive Ph. D. programs, usually 3. 5 or higher Some schools look mainly at 2 years prior to application. 2. Study for the GRE (or other entrance exams) **New GRE on different scale. Minimum: 500 verbal; 500 math. For competitive Ph. D. programs, minimum 1 l 50, & often 1250, unless your application exceptional.
3. Need 3 letters of recommendation, at least 2 of which should be very strong. Letters generally need to be from faculty, although some programs accept letters from people that supervised you in applied settings (e. g. , schools, crisis counseling, nursing homes, assisted living facilities). Some programs require some “applied” letters (e. g. , School Psych, Mental Health Counseling, Counseling Psych).
4. How to get experiences to earn strong letters & prepare you for graduate study Next few slides suggest ways to get relevant experiences
DIS (Directed Individual Study) PSY 4911 -4914 or (Research Topics) PSY 4920 [most projects 4920] 1. Work in professor’s lab doing research for course credit (pass/fail)— 3 credits = 7 -12 hours/wk. 2. Allows professor (&/or their grad students) to observe your work habits & quality of your work so they can write a strong letter of recommend. 3. 6 hours total can count toward major in psych; 12 hrs of 4911 -14 and 18 hrs. of 4920 count toward graduation 4. Depending on career goals, may want to do 2 or more semesters with 2 or more faculty 5. Some students get into grad school w/out DIS, but GREATLY improve chances with DIS.
How to Seek out a DIS (4920) 1. Find a faculty member whose research is interesting: -See psychology web site for people actively recruiting students. www. psy. fsu. edu (Undergraduate; Research opportunities; DIS opportunities) Read faculty member’s research interest (click People; Faculty; specific area). Neurosc don’t advertise 2. Contact faculty member (or grad stud) for interview. -Don’t approach them by saying “I need to do DIS. ” 3. Some DIS/4920 involve working with grad student. This is just as good as long as professor will co-sign letter of recommendation & you like the grad student. 5. Be sure to clarify expectations on both sides. 6. Start looking before registration for next semester. 7. Most (not all) require at least 3. 0 GPA.
• • • Other Ways to Strengthen Your Credentials Write an honors thesis, if you qualify (3. 2 overall; 3. 5 Psych) Strongly recommend Honor’s if want to apply to research-oriented program. Some honors thesis hours count toward major. Generally do DIS first. If you’re interested in applied work, volunteer or work with population of interest or potential interest. See list of volunteer activities: Vary in type of commitment. Except for 211 Big Bend, hard to get real “clinical” experience. Some professors’ letters are necessary so don’t count on volunteer supervisors for all letters.
Checking out Potential Grad School • Start looking for info early so you have time to carefully consider various programs. • Different schools within same specialty area may provide different training so read materials on program carefully. • The best programs for you are the ones that best fit your interests, philosophy, & career goals.
Check out web sites and books listed on web. Look at books in Advising Office A 209 PDB (e. g. , APA listing of ALL psych grad schools in US) If you have questions not answered by web or written materials, contact graduate secretary of that department or head of specific program to which you are applying—not head of psych dept.
When deciding which grad schools to apply to, consider: 1. type of training (e. g. , evidence-based vs. eclectic) 2. type of jobs they say you are likely to get (contact them about jobs if not clear) 3. financial assistance 4. cost of living in that location 5. admission requirements: be realistic, but optimistic 6. geographical location of school (less important if do out of state internship and/or want academic position) 7. deadlines, application requirements 8. your “fit” with interests of faculty in program 9. ask DIS/4920 supervisor(s) for opinions w/in their area of expertise.
Contact professors of interest at potential grad schools to: 1. Find out if accepting students (generally for Ph. D programs with “apprenticeship” models. ) 2. Let them know you are interested in their research. Can help you get accepted, but be respectful of their time.
How Many Schools Should You Apply To? • Depends on how competitive your credentials are. • Depends on how competitive the schools are. • In general, I’d say 10 or more for competitive Ph. D. Programs, unless your credentials truly exceptional. • Project 1000 for Hispanics and some other disadvantaged minorities might help with application costs
Filling out application materials • Avoid spelling or grammar errors in all materials & communications with department & faculty • Avoid leaving spaces blank • Avoid mistakes that show you didn’t follow instructions!!!!!! • Don’t procrastinate out of anxiety or laziness
Statement of Purpose It is IMPORTANT Proof many times and use spell-check, but never rely on spell-check Have several people read for clarity, content, grammar, spelling Can ask DIS supervisor for general advice Can ask DIS supervisor to read, but … only if it’s in good shape, & you followed their early advice Highlight your individuality, but do NOT make it a self-disclosure of personal problems.
Basically: 1. Describe professional goals. 2. Explain how you got interested in the field. 3. Describe in detail what you did to prepare yourself. (OK to repeat what’s in resume) BE HONEST!! 1. Don’t say you love research just because that is what you think they want to hear 2. Highlight your great experiences without misrepresenting what you did.
Interviewing • Many programs (particularly applied ones) encourage top applicants to come interview. • Dress professionally (goal is to look/act professional—not to be trendy or sexy) • Give thought to what you’ll say when asked likely questions: 1. Why you want a particular career. 2. Why you think you would be good at this career. 3. Why you applied to this particular school & how high you rank this school. 4. What you did to prepare yourself.
Interviewing (Continued) Come prepared with questions to ask them about nature of program: 1. Jobs that recent graduates have gotten 2. Collaboration & camaraderie among faculty 3. Collaboration & camaraderie among students 4. Typical time it takes to graduate 5. Nature of courses (can usually get from materials) 6. Types of internships, if relevant. 7. If not arranged, ask to interview with current grads and perhaps get names of those who recently completed program. 8. Some questions addressed in program materials, but may still want clarification. But don’t ask something that is clear in materials
If Accepted to More than One Program 1. Celebrate!! 2. Use criteria discussed earlier to choose program