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Psyd Application Advice


Christy3

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Hi all,  I am interested in pursuing a doctorate in Psychology and after doing a lot of research on psychology programs, the Psyd is definitely the best fit for my educational and career goals. I am hoping to compile a competitive application for the Fall of 2019 and I am looking for some advice & feedback. Given that some Psyd programs are quite costly, I am targeting more competitive programs that offer at least some funding. 

As background:

I graduated in 2005 with a bachelors in Psychology- not a stellar GPA, 3.3. I then completed a Masters in Social Work in 2007, with a GPA, 4.0. I worked in a research lab during both years of my MSW program doing qualitative interviews, participant outreach and some data entry but have no other real research experience, presentations, or publications. I worked in the field of social work for 6 years after graduating with my MSW and then took 4 years off (by Fall 2019, it will be 6 years) to stay at home with my small children. I have a lot of clinical/hands on experience to highlight in my application from my work experience. I am starting to study for the GRE and am hopeful that with the ample amount of time I have to study for it, I will be able to score well. 

Advice/Questions:

As I have been out of the workforce for the last several years and out of school for much longer than that, my references are quite stale at this point. I especially hesitate to contact previous professors as it has been so long. I am considering taking an undergraduate psychology course at a local university to get an updated academic reference. Any out there have experience in getting some updated references/recommendation letters, particularly academic references, years after graduation? Any advice for me? If I were to take an undergraduate psych class, any recommendations on what would be particularly helpful to have refreshed for a doctoral program (ie. statistics vs. a intro psych class vs. a random class of interest)?

Secondly, I am considering volunteering in a psych lab at a local university (if this is possible to do) to obtain more research experience and for another updated recommendation letter. Any advice on what types of research tasks/experience would be most useful?

Any other general advice you might have for me in compiling a competitive application- given a lower undergrad GPA and a period of being out of the workforce? And any recommendations on Psyd programs that offer funding? Also, are there any Facebook groups for individuals going through the process of applying to doctoral programs in Psychology?

Thanks so much in advance!

Christy

 

 

Edited by Christy3
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If funding is important to you, be aware that very few PsyD programs offer full funding for their students. You should do some research into the average debt for the PsyD program you look into as well. 

I would also be curious on why you would prefer to pursue a PsyD as opposed to a PhD, especially as you are open to taking time to acquire more research experience before applying to programs. You already have research experience and could no doubt get further experience before 2019 obtaining more relevant LORs as well. 

Forums such as these are a good source of information. There's another one called studentdoctorforums you may want to look into. I also suggest going through this PDF: http://mitch.web.unc.edu/files/2017/02/MitchGradSchoolAdvice.pdf

One last thing I will say is that most people who complete clinical psych PhDs end up going into practice (despite it being a research-oriented degree). 

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Thank you for your reply, Sherrinford. 

I am considering some PhD programs that have a strong clinical focus but I am hoping to find a Psyd program that will work for me. The Psyd programs I've looked at appear to be exactly what I am looking for- course work focused primarily on clinical approaches, assessment, therapeutic techniques, lots of internships/practicums, etc. I feel very clear on the fact that my goal is to practice post-graduation and want to come out of my program being a very competent, comfortable and knowledgable clinician. From what I've researched so far with Phd programs, it seems that even in more clinical ones, there is a really strong emphasis (hence significant time and effort) on research. I am interested in research to the degree that it informs and helps my clinical practice but devoting a lot of time to becoming a high level researcher isn't my goal and I fear it will take away from the amount of clinical training I could get otherwise in a Psyd program. The research requirements and time invested in that training appears to be a lot less in the Psyd program. I am willing to take on some debt to get the degree/training I want but would NOT attend a Psyd program that costs $45,000 and no funding. I think it is definitely worth putting more thought and consideration into clinical Phd programs though as my options for Pysd programs seems to be pretty small.

That is my thinking based on the research I've done so far. if you have any other insights or feedback based on your experience with different programs, I'd love to hear.

Also, thank you for the additional recommendations on forums. Super helpful!

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34 minutes ago, Christy3 said:

Thank you for your reply, Sherrinford. 

I am considering some PhD programs that have a strong clinical focus but I am hoping to find a Psyd program that will work for me. The Psyd programs I've looked at appear to be exactly what I am looking for- course work focused primarily on clinical approaches, assessment, therapeutic techniques, lots of internships/practicums, etc. I feel very clear on the fact that my goal is to practice post-graduation and want to come out of my program being a very competent, comfortable and knowledgable clinician. From what I've researched so far with Phd programs, it seems that even in more clinical ones, there is a really strong emphasis (hence significant time and effort) on research. I am interested in research to the degree that it informs and helps my clinical practice but devoting a lot of time to becoming a high level researcher isn't my goal and I fear it will take away from the amount of clinical training I could get otherwise in a Psyd program. The research requirements and time invested in that training appears to be a lot less in the Psyd program. I am willing to take on some debt to get the degree/training I want but would NOT attend a Psyd program that costs $45,000 and no funding. I think it is definitely worth putting more thought and consideration into clinical Phd programs though as my options for Pysd programs seems to be pretty small.

That is my thinking based on the research I've done so far. if you have any other insights or feedback based on your experience with different programs, I'd love to hear.

Also, thank you for the additional recommendations on forums. Super helpful!

Most PhD students in clinical  and counseling go into practice rather than research or academia. And I know quite a few that are balanced or heavier in clinical over research, UNC Greensboro being one. Theres a guide that ranks how clinical or research heavy many programs are and if I find it I'll post a link.

Edited by 8BitJourney
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20 minutes ago, Christy3 said:

Thank you for your reply, Sherrinford. 

I am considering some PhD programs that have a strong clinical focus but I am hoping to find a Psyd program that will work for me. The Psyd programs I've looked at appear to be exactly what I am looking for- course work focused primarily on clinical approaches, assessment, therapeutic techniques, lots of internships/practicums, etc. I feel very clear on the fact that my goal is to practice post-graduation and want to come out of my program being a very competent, comfortable and knowledgable clinician. From what I've researched so far with Phd programs, it seems that even in more clinical ones, there is a really strong emphasis (hence significant time and effort) on research. I am interested in research to the degree that it informs and helps my clinical practice but devoting a lot of time to becoming a high level researcher isn't my goal and I fear it will take away from the amount of clinical training I could get otherwise in a Psyd program. The research requirements and time invested in that training appears to be a lot less in the Psyd program. I am willing to take on some debt to get the degree/training I want but would NOT attend a Psyd program that costs $45,000 and no funding. I think it is definitely worth putting more thought and consideration into clinical Phd programs though as my options for Pysd programs seems to be pretty small.

That is my thinking based on the research I've done so far. if you have any other insights or feedback based on your experience with different programs, I'd love to hear.

Also, thank you for the additional recommendations on forums. Super helpful!

The greater emphasis on research does not necessarily mean the quality of breadth of clinical training is reduced (I would look into APPIC match statistics to get an idea). Additionally, look into the clinical handbooks for some PhD programs if you have doubts about the clinical training you would receive.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to go into a practice-oriented career. However, if your hesitancy to go the PhD route is due to worries about the depth of clinical training or focus on research, I think it would behoove you to gather more information, talk to those in both kinds of programs, as well as examine statistics so that you are as informed as possible before making a 5-6 year commitment (especially as one of the options is associated with significant amounts of debt).

If you were completely averse to research, my advice might have been different. But as you do have some research experience and are open to further research, I don't think you should discount clinical PhDs as they would still very well prepare you for a career in clinical practice (and likely save you from monumental debt). 

Having said that, there are great PsyDs out there that have very good reputations and provide decent funding (relative to many PsyDs). Rutgers and Baylor College to name a few. 

 

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This is helpful information, 8bitjourney and Sherrinford. Initially, I was looking at just PhD programs but was off-put by the emphasis on research over clinical experience/work. I am heartened that there may actually be some PhD program options that would be a good fit for me- it would be ideal to attend a fully funded program and to receive intensive clinical training. Are either of you aware of good resources for finding those clinically focused Phd programs? Other than sifting through schools individually? 

Sherrinford-Re: Psyd programs, Rutgers is actually my first choice of Psyd programs. The program looks fantastic, there is at least some funding available to every student and geographically it is in an ideal location as I live in NYC and would prefer to stay in the area and practice here. I'm certain it is quite competitive too. :) 

Edited by Christy3
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@Sherrinford I just located the APPIC match statistics you referenced. The number of clinical hours (intervention, assessment & supervision) for Phd students upon applying to be matched is greater than the clinical hours for Psyd students. Thanks for this feedback and mentioning the APPIC stats- it has been very helpful and given me more to think about.

I also found the Insiders Guide to Graduate Programs which ranks schools by their research focus & clinical focus.

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5 hours ago, Christy3 said:

Are either of you aware of good resources for finding those clinically focused Phd programs? Other than sifting through schools individually?

3

If you want to practice you'll want to ensure your PhD or PsyD program is APA accredited.  APA has specific requirements for clinical experience for any school they accredit and they have a great search tool to help you start your search.  I would encourage you to look at both clinical and counseling programs as both could potentially fit what you're looking for.  http://www.apa.org/ed/accreditation/programs/index.aspx

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