Post # 1
I’m in my third year of a BS in psychology, on track to graduate just before our wedding. I’m planning on applying to grad schools in our city – we have a lot – for programs in Clinical Psych, including the PsyD programs and regular PhDs in Clinical.
Does anyone have any advice? What did you do out of undergrad? Did you have a backup plan? So many people graduate with a psych degree and end up in non-Psychology jobs, and that thought scares me immensely! I’m doing an internship through my school this year, but besides that I don’t have much time for them since I work and go to school full-time.
Post # 3
I’m a doctoral student in cognitive psych, but have mentored undergrads going for clinical.
My advice would be (based on their experiences) is to get as much practical experience as you can, whether it be in a counseling environment or doing research somehow.
If you know you want to be a clinician, I would look at the phd programs and talk to their admissions people ASAP so you can apply out of undergrad.
Post # 4
I thought about going into clinical psychology, but ended up in clinical social work. If you really want to do counseling/therapy rather than testing, a master’s in social work is something to consider. I know people with PsyD’s that had tons of trouble getting a job. The loans for those programs are about equal to medical students, but you won’t make medical doctor money. However, if you are interested in research and testing, a PhD is probably the way to go.
As for experience, I would say volunteer somewhere. In Chicago, we have the Runway Switchboard, Rape Crisis Advocates, and other agencies that train you to do volunteer crisis counseling. You have to commit to working for them for so many hours, but the training is solid, and you get actual on the job experience.
Post # 5
I have a BA in Psychology, but my plans changed before I graduated. I think the internship was the career changing experience of my undergrad career because I was able to see first hand what kind of job I really wanted. I thought for sure I wanted to go the PhD route. After I started to work with a variety of health care professionals, I found a job I liked even better. I am now starting my Masters in Physician Assistant studies. There are so many different opportunities out there and a degree in Psychology can open many doors! I would really look at what you would LOVE to do and see where it takes you!
Post # 6
i have a BA in psych and government – i work for the government in a position that allows me also to use the psych degree.
it really depends on where you see yourself after you graduate – what is your end goal.
if you want to be a psychiatrist or psychologist, you have to go full monty to make money or have folks take you seriously.
however, psych is so versatile – you use the skills you learn in a psych degree in pretty much any job you have as long as you deal with people. it helps IMMENSELY.
Post # 7
I got my BA in Psychology and worked in a behavioral neuroscience lab at a major research university for three years after graduation. Research can definitely be a great way to boost your resume. It doesn’t pay a ton, but it usually comes with a salary and good benefits. There’s a lot of clinical research at universities too! It’s a great post-college job before you decide what kind of further education you want. I decided to become a doctor (perhaps a psychiatrist? undecided at this point) and applied to medical school after my 2nd post-college year.
Post # 8
I have a BA and MA in Psychology and during grad school, decided that I didn’t want to be a MFT! I love psychology and helping people, but I’m not using my degree in my current job. Although, it does help me to understand some of the wackiness of the biz! Even though I am not using my degree specifically what it is for, I love the organization I work for and believe 100% in our mission, so that makes up for it.
Feel free to ask me any questions you may have!
Post # 9
I was a psych major in college and got my Ed.M in psychological counseling. I’m currently working as a social worker in order to earn enough hours to take my licensing exam to become a licensed mental health counselor. I wanted to go more of the counseling/mental health route vs. the clinical/research route, so for me, I wasn’t 100% sure that a PhD/PsyD would be worth it. I definitely don’t want to stay in the social work field–it’s way too much case management for me–but it gets me my hours, which is what’s important right now!
Post # 10
More Psych people here than I thought! Thanks for all the advice.
I am talking to admissions counselors, etc. The program I actually most love is at my current university. However, it is very selective and being a current student doesn’t give me much pull. What I love about it is that it does match clinical practice with research – you get a PhD in Clinical Psych, but you do lots of work with PCIT and actual counseling. A very small number of students are accepted each year, though.
I do have to (or at least, would ideally) enroll right away. I have federal student loans, and can defer them if I go back to school right away. I’d ideally love to get into a program that gives TA/RA fellowships so I can dedicate all my time to school.
@hilsy85: Just curious, what is your M. Ed program like? I had never heard of that as an option. I don’t think Social Work is really my thing (my mom is a social worker, and essentially just manages cases.)
Post # 11
@lilyfaith: I totally agree, social work is not my thing–I miss actually utilizing the skills I learned in grad school (most of my clients are too low functioning to have much insight into their mental illnesses).
My program was a 2 year master’s program, with an emphasis on counseling techniques, mainly for individual counseling. I wouldn’t say it was very clinical it nature–it approached mental health from a very holistic POV. My particular program also had a huge emphasis on cultural competency and diversity. I really enjoyed it, although I do wish that I had gotten practical experience during my first year–we didn’t start internship/practicum til our second year. Here’s the program website: http://www.tc.edu/ccp/Counseling.asp
Post # 12
I have a BS in psychology and I am currently in a doctoral program for social psychology (but I work with a lot of clinical students). I would say that if you are going the phd route, try to get some research experience, even a little will help your application a lot! I came into grad school only doing a senior thesis and that is all, but it was extremely helpful with getting into phd programs! When I applied to grad schools, I applied to 10 phd programs and told myself if I didn’t hear anything back about interviews/acceptance by a certain date that I would quickly apply to some masters programs.
Post # 13
I’m not a psych major, but I minored in it and then got my masters in art therapy. Currently I’m unemployed for personal reasons, but I was working as a case manager/activities therapist for an impatient facility with adults with mental illnesses. It wasn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life, but it was good experience, and I loved the clients I worked with.
Post # 14
I have a BA in psych and in criminology. I decided to get a masters in criminology first because I really want to do forensic psychology and use both fields. Like others have said, PhD programs usually offer more funding and are the first to get jobs over PsyD’s. If you don’t know 100% what you want specifically or you want some back ups to getting into a Clinical PhD program, I’d suggest you apply to a few masters programs. There are schools that offer masters degrees in Clinical psych, I applied to one at the University of Tulsa. Good luck!
Post # 15
I got my BA in political science from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale with minors in Psych and History. After working in Springfield for a lobbying organization I realized that politics was not for me. I am now getting my Masters degree at DePaul University in school counseling. I really like the program but my workload can be really overwhelming.
Just something extra to consider, one of the things that I didn’t realize when I decided on DePaul is that many of the private universities in the Chicagoland area are not CACREP accredited. This may be something that you want to look into before applying to a specific school since it could impact your clinical licensing. I don’t see myself working in a clinical setting so I decided to stick with DePaul but when I first found out I was pretty upset.
Post # 16
I have a BA in Psych with a minor in Education. Right out of college I worked for an organization that helps adults with severe mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar, major depressive disorder) find and maintain employment. I had 18 clients that I worked with and in addition to helping them with their jobs I would counsel them as well. It was a very stressful yet very fulfilling job and I truly loved what I did. It just took a LOT out of me. I was working all the time, getting paid very little, and was constantly thinking about my clients. After a year I was burned out. I switched jobs to be a pharmaceutical rep to do something totally different and hated it. After 8 months I came to my current position – student advising for an online university. While this is not my end job its a good medium. I am still able to provide a small dose of counseling to some of my students while being removed and getting paid better.
In another year or two I plan to return to school to get my PsyD. I do not enjoy the research aspect of a PhD which is why I would prefer a PsyD- it is a counseling based program as opposed to a research-based program.
Good luck to you! You will figure it out…but take your time!