(Closed) Calling all Bees with PhD’s…

posted 7 years ago in College
Post # 4
Member
3220 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

I’m going on to get my PhD in English, but I’m not sure how the experience will overlap with what you’ll be doing. I chose my schools based on the professors/colleagues I will have, funding/teaching opportunities, and location. (Location is a priority, but not a big one– funding and advisors are much more important to me!) I’m still in the application process and won’t find out where I’m going until February or March.

I plan on taking 2-3 years of courses, then teaching while I write my dissertation. While I’m doing the dissertation we might have children, preferably towards the end of my program or right after graduation (but before I get a full-time job teaching somewhere). We’re thinking of getting married next summer, as I’m graduating from my MA program this May– I want to be married at least a few years before I have children and I also don’t want to have children while I’m taking classes.

Post # 6
Member
185 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

I don’t have graduate degrees in psych, but I have a husband with a PhD in physics, and I have 2 masters and am working on my doctorate in nursing practice…. so there’s lots of school in my life.  I would say begin with finding your focus– you’re still not sure if you want psych or neuroscience.  So begin there.  Then, decide if you’re willing to go anywhere in the country, or you want to be in a specific region/state/city.  After you’ve decided on those, just start looking at the universities and see what the requirements are.  Some, if not all, will require the GRE exam (a standardized test for graduate school).  I’m not sure if there’s a psych-specific exam, so do some research there too. Do they require a masters prior to entering a PhD program or is a bachelor’s the minimum requirement?  What is the terminal degree in your field– a PhD or a MS– and then you’ll know if you do a masters program now will be the end or just the first step.

So now you’ve decided on a general route: neuro vs psych, you’ve decided on a region (or the entire country), you’ve figured out what exams you’ll need to take, and now it’s time to start focusing in even more.  Do you want to be a clinical psychologist who does counseling or do you want to be psych researcher?  Do you want to be a neuroscientist who works in a lab?  What sorts of diseases/issues fascinate you?  So now you can choose which universities you want to apply to based on a few different approaches: who is there (whose research/work you want to be a part of and/or emulate); the specialization of their program (pediatric clinical psychology, alzheimers research); or simply location/name recognition.  Not every “prestigious” university is prestigious for your specialty, so I would not choose simply based on prestige.  But choosing an accredited school in your specific city of choice is still going to get you the same degree and allow you to take the licensing exams (if needed).  You can check out US World News and Report for rankings for your field.  You can look at the different accrediting bodies to make sure the school you’re thinking about is accredited (otherwise you’re in a bad situation).  Talk to people in the field– almost every profession has a society/association.  There’s usually a “student/new scholar” link that can help answer general questions and they might be able to put you in touch with folks who are in the field.  I would say that the more focused/the clearer your plan is, the easier it’ll be to make some of these decisions. 

It’s a long road, and one that many people curse their decision along the way.  So you have to love it and be committed to it.  Having kids while working on PhD is often done– just as it’s done by working 5 part time jobs to pay the bills.  It’s done because it’s what you and your husband want.  So unless you want to stay home with your kids, it’s just the career path that you’ve chosen; but if your dream is to be a stay at home mom, maybe the PhD isn’t worth it.  Maybe.  That’s your call.  I don’t know you, your life plan, etc, but you sound like you’re still toying with a few options.  So continuing to do research might help clarify those things.  And, if worse comes to worse, you can have a slew of letters at the end of your name to come up with as many different words as you can by jumbling up the letters.

Post # 7
Member
3220 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

You can definitely wait a few years before getting your PhD– a lot of people wait for reasons like yours, or to find work and build their resumes. I’m choosing to go straight into a program (as long as I’m accepted, fingers crossed!) because my ultimate goal is to teach university-level courses, and I would rather get all of my schooling out of the way right now. I’m motivated and young and I don’t have any roots in any particular place– aside from SO, but he is coming along for the ride.

In the US you can go straight into your PhD from undergrad– it’s usually called a “direct admission PhD” and it is basically a combined MA and PhD at one school, more streamlined than doing programs at two different places. (It’s also highly competitive, at least for English.) When you apply, you tell the school your research interests and you really have to have a clear sense of direction and plan for yourself.

I wasn’t totally sure of my research plans– and didn’t have a stellar resume– when I graduated undergrad so I chose to do a free-standing MA program to boost my GPA, build my resume, and make myself marketable for PhD programs. In my program I’ve gotten a better idea of what I want to study, what dissertation I want to write, and where I fit in my field. Most doctoral programs will allow me to transfer in some of my MA credits to their program, meaning my PhD won’t be the 5-8 years like a direct-admission program. (Instead, I’m doing 2 years for an MA and then 4-5 somewhere else. It evens out to basically the same amount of time, though I think direct-admission is the quicker way to do things.)

Already having an MA, English PhD programs are still very competitive. I’ve spend the last year and a half working my butt off going to conferences, getting publications, and networking. In my discipline, you basically want to meet and talk to as many professors as you can to try to find a perfect fit somewhere– a school or professor that has a program that matches your interests and is willing to take you on as a student.

Post # 8
Member
1177 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

Okay, can we be best friends? I’m planning to go into neuropsychology. I’ll be following this thread.

 

I have no advice, though. I just have similar questions πŸ™‚

 

edit// I do have advice, actually. If you’re not sure which one you’d prefer, U of Utah has a Cognitive Neuroscience PhD program that I’m looking into myself πŸ™‚

Post # 9
Member
3220 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

I want to second everything @longdistanceco_ca said, especially regarding choosing a school.  It’s really important to know what you love– you’re going to spend a huge portion of your life doing this work, and will most likely continue the same research after you get the degree.  You want to find what you love and then find a professor or program who can support your field. For what I do, I’d pick certain state schools over Harvard or Yale (no offense Ivy-leaguers!).

Post # 10
Member
2559 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

i just applied to neuroscience/cog neuro psychology programs πŸ™‚ I’ll be working in neurobio of pain.

As far as requirements, you just have to have your undergraduate degree, take the GRE, and find programs you like. It is definitely possible to get married, and there are a couple people in the program here who had children while students (but it isn’t something I’m interested in since it obviously adds time to your studies).

I’ve found through the process and from my mentors that it’s less about the university you want to go to and more about the specific researchers you wish to be mentored by. I also kind of disagree that you have to choose neuro or psych, because so many programs are translational and are just in different departments (and therefore named different things). I read a lot of papers, found people whose research I respected and whose methods I was interested in, and then emailed them asking if they’d be accepting and funding students for my desired term. Some answered yes, some answered maybe, and I applied there. Some answered no and I crossed em off the list cause I am not working for free :). I also briefly asked them about the directions they’re taking in the lab and gave them a little info about me to remember when they see my name on an application… kind of a foot in the door move.

And now I just wait for interviews and hopefully an acceptance or two πŸ™‚

ETA: I took two years between undergrad and grad school to take a postbac position, gain more research experience with a clinical population, and gain a research direction before I jumped into PhD work. I think it was the best move I ever made, but I was also not exactly sure of my passion before I took this job. Ironically, I work in anxiety and not pain right now, but it gave me a fantastic basis for methodology and allowed me the freedom to develop my own interests.
 

Post # 12
Member
2559 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

@NehaPrasad92: Also, here typically psych and neuroscience PhDs have no terminal masters program, meaning that you’re accepted for the PhD and then you just earn your masters along the way. So if you wanted to earn a masters here, that would be feasible if you were accepted to the PhD program. Then they fund you along the whole way.

Funny, psychophysiology of phobias and other anxieties is what I do now πŸ™‚

Post # 14
Member
2559 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

@NehaPrasad92: All of the programs I’ve looked at are like that, all over the country. My undergraduate degree is in Psychology. It’s typically fine, although of course depending on the specific mentor they may want more or less scientific background. For example, my CV states that my degree is in Psych, my minor Health sci, and I list courses of interest to entice them to look further (Neurobio, Neuropharmacology, etc). I did an assistanship in the form of this postbac and it was a great decision.

I did a ridiculous amt of research on the process – I’ve been looking at grad schools for over a year before I narrowed down where and when to apply. Feel free to PM me with any questions you have! And I know there’s a couple other ladies on here who are already finishing up degrees who also have some great advice πŸ™‚

Post # 15
Member
185 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

@OrchidsandCandles: I can’t speak to the specifics of neuroscience or psych, but the advice given here is solid.  Also, enjoy the ride.  I’m sure it’s significantly added pressure because of visas, etc, but you don’t have to have it figured out today, this month, this year, or even this decade.  You may find that what you think you want isn’t working out the way you hoped, dreamed, imagined.  And so you switch directions.  You’ve found something that gets you riled up about and you could talk about for hours on end.  Awesome.  Now enjoy the ride.  See if you can find an internship in your country, or volunteer at a mental health clinic and see if you like counseling/that populationn.  Since you’re still in university, take a lab-based class that might give you some technical skills to work in lab where you learn how to perform assays or western blots.  And start reading everything you can get your hands on.  I’m not sure what the research system is like at your university, but the in US PubMed and PsychInfo are two major research data bases that you can put in some key words and get the latest research in your area.  Perhaps your university has those or similar databases so you can see what research is out there and what gets you going.  And, at the end of the day, know you don’t have to have it figured out and most of us don’t have it figured out.  Good luck!

Post # 16
Member
1251 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

Hi there! I’m currently in a Neuroscience PhD program (actually a biomedical sciences umbrella program, which i highly recommend). As far as requirements go, most PhD programs in the states do not require a master’s, although it may help you get in if that’s a concern. A typical bench science or translational science neuro program (ie-not clinical neuroscience or psychology, which are pretty different in the way they’re structured I believe) is going to be about 5-6+ years, Master’s or no Master’s, so many people in my program opted to go straight from a bachelor’s degree or after working as a lab tech for a few years instead of paying to get a Master’s. The top ranked programs usually do require previous research experience…would it be possible for you to take a summer and do research at a lab in UCL or Imperial?

As far as getting married and starting a family….I’d say getting married is doable but for me, starting a family depends on what type of research you’re interested in. While I know some grad students who have gotten pregnant in grad school, I don’t think I could do it for a multitude of reasons.

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