Jump to content

Graduate Program Doubts


Recommended Posts

I am a second semester graduate student in a Human Factors Psychology program. This is currently my second semester within the program, and I am having serious doubts on a daily basis. I constantly feel as though I should not be in the current program that I am in and that I have no interest conducting experimental research with any of the faculty within the department; the original faculty member that I intended to work with is no longer at the university. I'm currently in a different faculty member's lab, where I am finding it incredibly difficult to become motivated in the work.


My current semester consist of three main courses (engineering psychology, biomechanics and ergonomics, and advanced statistics), TA-ing for two courses (psychology of women and interpersonal conflict), and working along side the aforementioned professor. The courses are 3 credit hours and the research is 1 credit hour (however, the faculty member seems to think that I should be working at least 9 hours per week for this 1 credit hour). I am finding it more and more difficult to find interest in what I'm doing, and I constantly feel as though my lack of interest is, in part, due to the fact that I picked a program that is (now) of little interest to me (at this point in my life). Eventually, I want to teach at either (or both) the university/college and/or high school level, with an intent in getting into educational policy.


I am aware of the fact that it is possible to teach Psychology at a college with a master's degree. I'm having a problem deciding whether I should just suck it up for the next 3 semesters to complete this master's degree, or if I should transfer/re-apply to a different program elsewhere (such as, educational psychology).


On a side note, I also constantly feel as though I don't fit in with the other students or within the program; often times this leads to doubts regarding my capabilities as a student. *It should be noted that I hold myself and others to high standards.


Advice, comments, or anything is openly welcome.

Thank you for your time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While it is theoretically possible to teach college psychology with an MA, in practice it's difficult.  Because the job market is so competitive, even at regional public universities psychology professors usually have the PhD.  There's a possibility you might be able to get a full-time permanent position at some two-year colleges with an MA, but your best chances (if you want to be a professor) are with a PhD.


Also, ignore the credit hours when it comes to research credit.  You really have to work however many hours your research supervisor wants you to work.  A lot of times students are registered for 3 research credit hours in a semester but that usually represents at least 20 hours per week of research work.  Even 9 hours is a bit low to really get done the kind of research you need to do to be competitive for academic jobs later on.


That said, your decision seems to lean on teasing out your feelings.  Is it that your individual department has made you lose interest because your adviser left and you have no one to work with - but you're still excited about human factors, and if you transferred to another engineering psychology department, you would be energized again?  Or is it that you've lost interest in engineering psych/HF altogether and you want to do something different in psychology, but you still want to be a researcher and academic?  It doesn't sound like you have completely lost interest in academia altogehter, so I suspect it's one of the first two.  Or it could be plain old imposter syndrome.  Every grad student feels a little out of place in the first year and often beyond.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that the research credit hours don't mean anything and that 9 hours is very light! My research technically counts as 3 hours but that involves at minimum 5 hours of actual meeting time per week and probably 30 hours of work on my own. I am not including things like applying for research fellowships or other lab tasks (like showing potenital new grad students who are interested in our lab around campus) in this either. I think that this sort of level is what is expeted of a grad student.


Since you are already almost half way through then my best advice to you is to finish up the masters and then leave. If you trasfer departments who will pretty much be starting over. I would try to find ways to enjoy the program more... maybe you can take a class next semester in another department that you find interesting and count it? Or maybe try to do research at another school over the summer to get a break from there? I am sorry that you feel out of place! I would try to make it work until you complete the masters and if you find yourself really too miserable to make it there then quit/reapply/etc. It is definitely not worth being completely miserable for.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regarding my interest in the engineering psych/HF program; I do think that I am progressively becoming disinterested. Aside from the advisor that I initially planned to work with, I really had no interest (and still don't) in any of the other faculty member's research. I mean, yes, I suppose that I could work on my attitude, stuck it up, and find a way to like the research. However, is that a waste of mine and their time?


My teaching assistantships have been teaching a course on my own; something of which I find a great deal of satisfaction and joy in. Also, I have found myself drawn to educational research and policy -- something that I feel suits my personality more than what I am doing. Unfortunately, I find it difficult to talk to many of the current faculty members here. Yes, apart of this has to do with me; but, it also has to do with them as well. I've never really had a good mentor, and I've been on my own since I was 17 -- which may be a source of my uncertainty regarding direction.


Anyways. Thank you for both of your replies and the questions/points that were addressed. I will definitely reflect on what you have stated.


Take care.

Edited by students
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use