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Didn't major in psychology... what can I do?


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I am in the beginning processes of considering graduate study in psychology. (The very beginning stages, so please forgive any naivete... :)).

For background, I attended a top-20 university and graduated three years ago. My degree was a B.A. in Film and Television, though I took a number of psychology courses (I came in with AP credit for introductory psych, took a statistics course (it was business stats, but the psych department said they'd accept it), abnormal psych, developmental psych, cross-cultural psych, and a 1-credit "careers in psychology"-type class). I graduated summa cum laude (3.95 GPA, all As in the psych classes) and scored well on the GRE (710 verbal, 750 math).

Last year, I was accepted, fully-funded, to a top Ph.D. program in film/tv studies. However, when I went to visit the program in depth, I realized that it was ultimately not a fit, and I turned down the offer. Since then, I've spent a lot of time reflecting on what I'd truly like to do, and I feel like psychology may offer me a good fit.

So my ultimate question, I suppose, is what can I do to make myself appealing to graduate programs in psychology, not having majored in it and realizing how competitive the field is?

Because I feel like I'm in the initial stages of considering a career in psych and feel under-prepared, I find myself gravitating towards M.A./M.S. programs that seem to offer a good foundation of knowledge in the field, which could then be utilized to continue on in a Ph.D. or Psy.D. program. Are these Master's level programs beneficial in that manner? I'm particularly interested in programs in Chicago, and so have found myself drawn to DePaul's program. Financial aid would certainly be a consideration, and from my experience with applying to graduate programs in media, it seems like terminal Master's level funding is an issue.

I realize I'd likely need to take the psychology subject GRE (any tips for preparing?), and perhaps take a course in research methods, as this seems to be a common requirement for admission that I'm lacking. But are there other actions I can take? Other programs or routes I should consider? It's all very inchoate at the moment, but I believe I am most drawn to a career in clincal/counseling psychology at the moment. This also makes me wonder if perhaps an MSW would be a better fit. I do see a Master's as a way to narrow my focus to a particular field of interest.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

Edited by peffy1962
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It is good to gather background information before you jump into a new field so you are taking a first good step! It seems like lots of people want to jump into psychology without even knowing what it is first.

Here's my advice based on your post:

First, I would try to volunteer in some clinical psychology related job. A suicide hotline, shadowing a psychologist, a hospital, ect. Just to get more of a feel of the clinical psych field and you will be able to meet and talk to many people currently in the profession. Also, continue to read about clinical psych on your own time. I suggest this site for learning about clinical psych stuff http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forumdisplay.php?f=57

Then, you would need to take some more psych classes like research methods, abnormal psych even for masters programs. And yes doing well on the psych GRE would help a lot since you were not a psych major (its pretty much wrote memorization so i can't really offer many tips on it since I didn't take it).

If you want to practice psychotherapy and see patients then I would suggest a masters program. I can't give advice on specific programs but honestly, the clinical psych field is going through some tough times and masters leveled clinicians seem to be having comparable job prospects (perhaps better) and earnings to PhD level clinicians. There was a study showing how the level of training doesn't make much of a difference for psychotherapy outcome. So insurance companies don't want to pay PhD level people more for the same product.

That should get you started. I was interested in clinical psych for awhile but I got more into research and now I'll be starting grad school in experimental psych next fall.

Good luck!!

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