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Educational psychology vs Counseling/Clinical psychology Phd


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Has anyone had any experience with applying to all three of these types of programs? I have a master's degree in Mental Health Counseling and I have applied to several Counseling/Clinical psychology PhD programs in the past few years. This cycle I threw in one application to an Educational Psychology program (I applied to a Counseling Psychology program at the school and it asked if I would also like my application to be sent to other programs). Surprisingly, I got in without an interview! I guess I am skeptical because although I have had plenty of interviews, I have struggled getting into Counseling/Clinical programs, so it seems too good to be true. I also have not found a lot of information on Educational Psychology programs online- are they typically much easier to get into? Are they taken seriously?

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4 hours ago, Gradstudent_2018 said:

Has anyone had any experience with applying to all three of these types of programs? I have a master's degree in Mental Health Counseling and I have applied to several Counseling/Clinical psychology PhD programs in the past few years. This cycle I threw in one application to an Educational Psychology program (I applied to a Counseling Psychology program at the school and it asked if I would also like my application to be sent to other programs). Surprisingly, I got in without an interview! I guess I am skeptical because although I have had plenty of interviews, I have struggled getting into Counseling/Clinical programs, so it seems too good to be true. I also have not found a lot of information on Educational Psychology programs online- are they typically much easier to get into? Are they taken seriously?

Yes, they are much easier to get into. Depending on the university they can be taken seriously but if you want to practice with clients (and be a health service psychologist) I would recommend not attending. 

If you have an interest in working with children you could always try School Psychology next year. Quite a few programs offer specializations in mental health disorders, clinical practices and school mental health facilitation (I should know since I am attending one next year!) 

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A degree in Educational Psychology is a research degree and will not make you eligible for licensure to be a practicing psychologist. If your goal is to get licensed and work with patients/clients, then you need to go to a Clinical, Counseling, or, in some states, a School Paychology PhD or PsyD program. 

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12 hours ago, PsyDuck90 said:

A degree in Educational Psychology is a research degree and will not make you eligible for licensure to be a practicing psychologist. If your goal is to get licensed and work with patients/clients, then you need to go to a Clinical, Counseling, or, in some states, a School Paychology PhD or PsyD program. 

That is great to know. I guess part of my confusion is that since I currently have a master's degree in mental health counseling and can see clients, I am unsure if a degree resulting in licensure is even necessary.

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6 minutes ago, Gradstudent_2018 said:

That is great to know. I guess part of my confusion is that since I currently have a master's degree in mental health counseling and can see clients, I am unsure if a degree resulting in licensure is even necessary.

You can totally pursue a non-licensable PhD. Just know that you can't ethically advertise yourself as a doctoral level provider and the degree will most likely not equate to a higher earning potential for clinical work. 

What are your goals in pursuing doctoral work? Depending on what it is, a PhD in Educational Psychology may or may not fit your goals. 

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14 hours ago, PsyDuck90 said:

A degree in Educational Psychology is a research degree and will not make you eligible for licensure to be a practicing psychologist. If your goal is to get licensed and work with patients/clients, then you need to go to a Clinical, Counseling, or, in some states, a School Paychology PhD or PsyD program. 

FWIW, I did my outside field in educational cognitive psychology. Although the professor I studied under did not have a Ph.D or Psy. D., the professor once indicated that he had worked as a clinician. As this professor was something of a really big deal with decades of work in the private and public sectors in addition to higher education, he may done that work before standards were changed or under circumstances where qualifications were less important than outcome.

 

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1 minute ago, Sigaba said:

FWIW, I did my outside field in educational cognitive psychology. Although the professor I studied under did not have a Ph.D or Psy. D., the professor once indicated that he had worked as a clinician. As this professor was something of a really big deal with decades of work in the private and public sectors in addition to higher education, he may done that work before standards were changed or under circumstances where qualifications were less important than outcome.

 

I'm not sure what licensure laws were like whenever that person got licensed, so I can't speak to that. However, nowadays, people can practice as a clinician with a master's level license in counseling, marriage and family therapy, or social work, but they cannot be licensed as psychologists. Some states have grandfathered in master's level psychologists (like Pennsylvania), but only those who got licensed prior to a certain date are eligible for that. Other states, like Texas, have licensed psychological associates, but they often have less practical freedom than licensed counselors. 

Psychology licensure is specifically for those graduating from a clinical psychology, counseling psychology, or school psychology (in some states) PhD or PsyD (some states EdD is acceptable as well). A PhD in Educational Psychology does not lead to licensure because it is not a clinical degree. It's a purely academic degree, just like a PhD in sociology or anthropology or any other social science. Clinical degrees require several years of supervised clinical practice, followed by a full year off-site clinical internship prior to graduation and postdoctoral clinical training hours in most states prior to licensure eligibility, along with passing a national licensing exam. That is not built into an Educational Psychology curriculum. 

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8 hours ago, PsyDuck90 said:

You can totally pursue a non-licensable PhD. Just know that you can't ethically advertise yourself as a doctoral level provider and the degree will most likely not equate to a higher earning potential for clinical work. 

What are your goals in pursuing doctoral work? Depending on what it is, a PhD in Educational Psychology may or may not fit your goals. 

I have looked into future career options for educational psychologists and did ask the admissions committee of the program what jobs graduates of the program have received- I am interested in academia so I do think it would be a good fit, however I was hoping to also have the opportunity to practice if I did decide to go that route. Basically, my motive for getting a PhD is to have the flexibility, which is why I never went the PsyD route. 

I did not realize that I would most likely not make much more doing clinical work with this degree than I do currently with my master's. I am a bit confused by the "licensure" aspect- since I would not be licensed would I still be considered a psychologist once completed? 

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22 hours ago, JakiraJakira said:

Yes, they are much easier to get into. Depending on the university they can be taken seriously but if you want to practice with clients (and be a health service psychologist) I would recommend not attending. 

If you have an interest in working with children you could always try School Psychology next year. Quite a few programs offer specializations in mental health disorders, clinical practices and school mental health facilitation (I should know since I am attending one next year!) 

Thanks for your input! I guess I am just skeptical due to how "easily" it seems like I got accepted compared to the other programs. There were several clinical programs I avoided applying to due to their reputations, so I do not just want to go somewhere JUST to say I have a PhD if it will not benefit me in the long-run. School Psychology is actually one subfield I have not tried to apply to yet! 

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7 hours ago, Sigaba said:

FWIW, I did my outside field in educational cognitive psychology. Although the professor I studied under did not have a Ph.D or Psy. D., the professor once indicated that he had worked as a clinician. As this professor was something of a really big deal with decades of work in the private and public sectors in addition to higher education, he may done that work before standards were changed or under circumstances where qualifications were less important than outcome.

 

Thank you! I also currently work as a clinician with my master's degree. From what it sounds like, I just would be unable to practice as a licensed psychologist and would have to continue practicing as a master's level clinician if that is what I chose to do. 

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2 hours ago, Gradstudent_2018 said:

I have looked into future career options for educational psychologists and did ask the admissions committee of the program what jobs graduates of the program have received- I am interested in academia so I do think it would be a good fit, however I was hoping to also have the opportunity to practice if I did decide to go that route. Basically, my motive for getting a PhD is to have the flexibility, which is why I never went the PsyD route. 

I did not realize that I would most likely not make much more doing clinical work with this degree than I do currently with my master's. I am a bit confused by the "licensure" aspect- since I would not be licensed would I still be considered a psychologist once completed? 

It seems like this may be a good fit for you based on your goals. The reason it may have been seemingly easier is because a. Purely academic psychology degrees are less competitive than the clinical/counseling ones because so many people intersected in pursuing psychology want the option to practice. If you look at the curriculums of clinical/counseling psychology PhDs compared to the Educational Psychology curriculum, you will see that there are several years are clinical practicum followed by a year-long off-site internship embedded as requirements to graduate, along with courses on clinical skills and theories. These are required for state licensure in any state. I'm willing to bet the Educational Psychology PhD does not require all that. If it did, I would be very surprised. 

Clinically, there would not be any salary difference because you would still be using your counseling license. If you bill insurance, you are billing under your counseling license, and you will be getting that rate because that is the license you have. If you work for an organization, same thing. They will be hiring you based on your clinical license, not because of your PhD. In the clinical sense, you would not be a psychologist. In the academic sense, you would be a psychologist in the same way someone with a sociology degree is a sociologist. However, if you were to advertise yourself as a psychologist for clinical work, you would potentially be in violation of state regulations, since the public would assume you held a doctoral level license to practice clinically. So just be mindful of that concern as well. 

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10 hours ago, PsyDuck90 said:

It seems like this may be a good fit for you based on your goals. The reason it may have been seemingly easier is because a. Purely academic psychology degrees are less competitive than the clinical/counseling ones because so many people intersected in pursuing psychology want the option to practice. If you look at the curriculums of clinical/counseling psychology PhDs compared to the Educational Psychology curriculum, you will see that there are several years are clinical practicum followed by a year-long off-site internship embedded as requirements to graduate, along with courses on clinical skills and theories. These are required for state licensure in any state. I'm willing to bet the Educational Psychology PhD does not require all that. If it did, I would be very surprised. 

Clinically, there would not be any salary difference because you would still be using your counseling license. If you bill insurance, you are billing under your counseling license, and you will be getting that rate because that is the license you have. If you work for an organization, same thing. They will be hiring you based on your clinical license, not because of your PhD. In the clinical sense, you would not be a psychologist. In the academic sense, you would be a psychologist in the same way someone with a sociology degree is a sociologist. However, if you were to advertise yourself as a psychologist for clinical work, you would potentially be in violation of state regulations, since the public would assume you held a doctoral level license to practice clinically. So just be mindful of that concern as well. 

That makes sense that the required internships would make them more competitive. I believe you're right that the Educational Psychology program does not require that. I am definitely still considering it. Ideally I would have liked to attend a Counseling Psychology program, but at this rate I think realistically I need to consider other options (as long as they would also be a good fit). 

That is good information, I would not have thought of that and most likely would have thought it would be fine to advertise as a psychologist. Thanks so much for your help!

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