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Looking for advice re: beginning research on PhD programs in psychology

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Hi, everyone:

I've recently begun researching PhD programs in psychology and I wanted to ask your advice given my educational background might be somewhat atypical for applicants. I graduated from college with a bachelor of arts in English, writing and philosophy/religion and went immediately to a divinity school afterward. I'm gay and I was living in the Bible belt at the time, so I thought I might study the Bible in order to be a better resource for other LGBTQ+ people and a stronger advocate. My trajectory shifted, however, when I discovered I loved ministering and caring for LGBTQ+ people so much more than biblical scholarship, and pastoral care/counseling became of greater interest. My thesis on gender and sexual minorities, religion, bullying and suicide wound up being incredibly psychological in nature, and it was really well-received by my university, which seemed like a sign I was moving in the right direction. I put off aspirations of a PhD in Bible studies and in the years after have been glad, as my thesis topic is where my interest remains.

However, I'm not sure how people from non-psych backgrounds (no B.S. with a psych major, no master's degrees in psych, etc.) are received as applicants by admissions committees, so I thought I might ask people here, as well as ask if any schools out there might be open to someone interested in the intersections of queerness, religion, bullying, oppression, trauma, and loneliness. 

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I think your background would be well received. You may wish to look into counseling psychology programs, but also programs in community psychology.

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I also know that most programs require the subject test, if you do not have a background in psychology. I do agree that you will be well received but probably might need to take the subject test. 

Edited by aokanlawon

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21 minutes ago, t_ruth said:

I think your background would be well received. You may wish to look into counseling psychology programs, but also programs in community psychology.

Thank you! I certainly will do some investigating on those.

19 minutes ago, aokanlawon said:

I also know that most programs require the subject test, if you do not have a background in psychology. I do agree that you will be well received but probably might need to take the subject test. 

I think rather than applying this fall, I'll apply next. That gives me more time to study for the subject test and it might allow me to audit some classes at my alma mater so that I have a better vocabulary to draw from. Thank you so much! 

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I agree about checking out counseling psychology programs, in particular, take a look at Oklahoma University's program! A lot of the people there are doing LGBT related research (from what I gathered when I was researching schools).

Also, I think there may be terminal masters programs in divinity counseling that may be related to your interests as well. I know that Harvard has a masters in divinity counseling program that is more focused on the counseling aspect of things rather than Biblical scholarship. I think that you can choose from a wide variety of religions to focus on as well and it includes a foreign language learning requirement.

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I agree that counselling psych would be a good fit for you. In addition to the subject GRE, it might be good to take some psych classes (especially stats and research methods) over the next year. 

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