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Advice needed: get a Phd or second master's?


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Hi all,

I'll be graduating in May with an MSSW and I plan to return to school but I'm struggling deciding which degree to pursue. 

While I enjoy the clinical aspect of social work and the ability to give therapy, I realized that I'm really interested in advocating for disadvantaged populations on a macro/systematic level. I want to study social systems and policies and create interventions and solutions to problems in the real world, internationally and domestically. I'm really passionate about social justice and I'm looking into Master's of Public Policy programs and considering applying. But I don't know the likelihood of me being accepted as I have no formal training in policy and my bachelor's is in psychology. Which brings me to the next part of my question...

Having studied it in undergrad, I'm really passionate about psychology and I can't shake the idea of wanting to further my studies in the field and receive the highest degree in psychology. I've been looking into Phd Psychology programs that have a developmental focus. I'm specifically interested in studying human behavior and childhood/adolescent development and using this understanding to inform interventions. 

I know  Georgetown has a dual MPP/PhD Psychology program which sounds ideal for me. While Georgetown's is renowned for the policy program, I don't know about the quality of their PhD Psychology program. But I cannot find many other dual degree programs like this. (I have been looking into NYU's Psychology and Social Intervention program).  Also I don't have much research experience, and I know this is a priority in PhD Psychology programs, so if I decide to apply to Phd Psych programs, I would first have to get research experience under my belt first. 

So that's my dilemma. 

Do I get a Master's Public Policy/MPP? Or a PhD in Psychology? Or try to do both? 

Any advice, direction, or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. 

Edited by mary109
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If you want to go back to school, I would definitely go for the doctorate. If you get another master's, you'll still be perceived as a "master's level" candidate. I think you can pick up many of the skills you want through self-study, short-term certificates, or real world work experience. I've read others on this forum state that the way to build a "macro" career is by starting at the bottom and working your way up. 

The PhD is nice, if for no other reason than to have those three letters after your name. The upside is that quality PhD programs are funded while you would almost certainly have to pay full price for a second master's. However, there is tremendous opportunity cost to getting a PhD. You're pulling yourself out of the workforce for another 4+ years of lost earnings. Also, you have to ask yourself if what you want to do truly requires a doctorate in a market that's flooded with PhD grads.

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