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cef0309

Options for Post-Graduate Studies (From a Once-Confused Double Major)

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Hi! I'm new to this forum but have a question about what my options might be for postgraduate studies in counseling psychology. Here's a bit of a background: I'll graduate in May 2019 from Penn State with bachelor's degrees in journalism and psychology with likely around a 3.7 GPA, and I've spent most of my undergraduate career stuck between those two degrees (essentially debating whether I wanted to go to graduate school for psychology or enter into a communications-related job right out of school). For that reason, most of the extracurricular activities/work experience I've had has been in the communications field (for ex., editor at my school's primary media outlet and a corporate communications internship this summer). But after different work experiences and lots of inner debate, I've decided that a degree in counseling psychology would be the most fulfilling career path for me. I wish I could have somehow come to this conclusion sooner, but I'm hoping my choice to have psychology as a second major left me with a few options. 

I've considered applying to either master's programs or PsyD programs, and I have also considered applying to programs abroad (I spent this past semester in the UK and would apply there). For now, I'm taking steps to prepare for the GRE, but I'm hoping to get some insight/suggestions (possibly from someone who's been in a similar position before where they weren't always sure they wanted to go to graduate school and might not have prepared the same as other psychology students). A potential path I've considered is getting research experience during the summer of 2019 and applying for graduate counseling certificate programs in the UK for the 2019/20 academic year, before applying to a master's or doctorate program. 

Any insight would help -- thanks!

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On 6/1/2018 at 4:48 PM, cef0309 said:

Hi! I'm new to this forum but have a question about what my options might be for postgraduate studies in counseling psychology. Here's a bit of a background: I'll graduate in May 2019 from Penn State with bachelor's degrees in journalism and psychology with likely around a 3.7 GPA, and I've spent most of my undergraduate career stuck between those two degrees (essentially debating whether I wanted to go to graduate school for psychology or enter into a communications-related job right out of school). For that reason, most of the extracurricular activities/work experience I've had has been in the communications field (for ex., editor at my school's primary media outlet and a corporate communications internship this summer). But after different work experiences and lots of inner debate, I've decided that a degree in counseling psychology would be the most fulfilling career path for me. I wish I could have somehow come to this conclusion sooner, but I'm hoping my choice to have psychology as a second major left me with a few options. 

I've considered applying to either master's programs or PsyD programs, and I have also considered applying to programs abroad (I spent this past semester in the UK and would apply there). For now, I'm taking steps to prepare for the GRE, but I'm hoping to get some insight/suggestions (possibly from someone who's been in a similar position before where they weren't always sure they wanted to go to graduate school and might not have prepared the same as other psychology students). A potential path I've considered is getting research experience during the summer of 2019 and applying for graduate counseling certificate programs in the UK for the 2019/20 academic year, before applying to a master's or doctorate program. 

Any insight would help -- thanks!

I think that your second major in psychology and solid GPA leaves you with plenty of options. I did a late career switch because I thought I was going into medical school for a long time, and then decided on graduate school my final year of undergrad. I took 2 years off after to get research and clinical experience before applying, and that was critical to affirming my decision to go to grad school and my application success. I applied to and will be attending a PhD program, though, which I know is a little different.

I do know people who applied to Masters and PsyDs though. This is all about the US, though. I'm unfamiliar with the UK. Masters degrees require less experience to get into. Many people even use a psychology Master's as a career-switching stepping stone to a PhD degree. The PsyD degree is a different degree, and it may not be worth applying because it doesn't sound like you have any clinical experience. Both masters degrees and PsyDs are an investment of time and, if you are applying in the US, lots of money. PhDs require even more experience, but I'm not sure you are considering that option.

Basically, I think that you need to narrow down what you actually want. Nowhere in your paragraph do I see any mention of what career you want to have. "Counseling psychology" is a broad field that includes Masters, PsyDs, and PhDs, all of whom do different things. I would probably recommend that you take some time off and work in counseling psychology. Once I was able to figure out that what I wanted to do was psychology research, it became clear to me that a PhD was the way to go as opposed to a masters or PsyD. You could also find out that what you want to do is therapy, and then maybe a Masters is all you need. If you intend to do more clinical work, maybe the PsyD could be the way to go. Actual practical experience is the best way to find out. 

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