Mike Parent BA (hnrs) in Psych, U Manitoba Advisers: Dr. Wendy Freeman (now at McMaster) & Lisa Seymour, M.S.W. (SCCC, U of M) Accepted to Counseling Psychology PhD program at the University of Florida, Sept. 2007 Adviser: Dr. Bonnie Moradi M.S., 2009
Most students in Canada don’t know about all their options for Grad School Students tend to start their application prep too late You’re not my competition anymore
Why go to grad school in psych? What is grad school? Applying in the US? Money, Counseling Psych, PsyDs Being a competitive applicant Hoop-jumping Picking schools, personal statements, interviews…
What can you even do with a BA in psych? Picking your end goals These might change… pick something that let you be flexible Therapist? Researcher? Consultant? A Clinical/Counseling PhD is one of the most versatile degrees Therapy, research, consultation, administration, teaching… But there might be other routes too…
Therapist Most clinicians with a PhD/PsyD have a higher income than those with other degrees (M.S.W., Masters, LCSW, etc) Can develop unique specializations Clinical neuropych, forensics, more Specialized training in assessment Important for Counseling Centre jobs Many alternative routes for therapy (counseling certification, MSW, masters-level, more)
Researcher/Prof Grad school is prettymuch essential
Consultant Working with organizations HUGE variety Organizational streamlining Executive coaching Personnel selection Executive selection Merger streamlining Many alternative routes (e.g. MBA), but psych offers some edges (e.g. assessment)
Syntheses You can find awesome work in intersections of some of these things E.g., assessment and therapy with substance impaired executives
Ultrabrief overview…. 5-7 (or more…) years total 4-6 years in class from BA to internship Classes Teaching Practicum Reearch 1 year internship (required to graduate) More on this… fraught with perils… (+ postdoc, maybe, or sure sure for neuro r clinical practice)
Education: 2-4 years in masters program psychology Program: clinical work heavy, research thesis typically required, some coursework Acceptance based on: clinical experience, GPA, research experience Can often go on to a PhD afterwards Pros: Minimal amount of post-grad work to allow you to do therapy, can transition fairly easily to PhD program, easier to get into masters programs than PhD programs Cons: Rarely funded, typically quite costly, not all are good quality
Typically 4-6 years (or more) in a program, plus 1 year clinical internship. Program: typically research projects for masters thesis and dissertation, lots of coursework, clinical work, teaching, additional research. Acceptance based on: Research experience, fit with program, clinical experience, letters of recommendation, GRE, GPA. Very versatile degree Pros: Often fully funded (tuition waiver + stipend), allows great versatility in career, many areas of specialization Cons: Research focus is undesirable for some (choose a different career). Not all programs are funded. Not all programs and mentors are high quality. Hugely competitive. Relocation typically required for grad school, internship, post-doc, and job.
Typically, 4-8 years program + 2 year research post-doc Program: Research focus. Little coursework, no clinical work Acceptance based on: Research experience, fit with program, clinical experience, letters of recommendation, GRE, GPA. Pros: Great for people into hardcore research, often many fewer applicants. Potentially spectacular pay (IO psychology/consultation) Cons: Degree is not as versatile as clinical/counseling
Typically 4-6 years in program + 1 year internship Program focuses on clinical work, research required for dissertation Acceptance based on:… Pros:… Cons: Massive crushing debt. Often low internship match rates. Often poor student outcome data. Often massive class sizes.
Undergrad Grad school Internship Post-doc (?) Licensure (?)
Psychiatrist (MD, sometimes MD/PhD) Typically, 4 years medical school + 4 years psychiatric residency, maybe more for specialization Acceptance based on: MCAT, GPA, Extracurriculars, research experience, interview, letters of rec. Psychiatrists do not typically do therapy Primarily work in medication management CAN do therapy, but may require additional training as many medical schools no longer teach it Pros: Highest likelihood of best pay. Versatile degree. Cons: Often dependent on health care system issues. Experience significant scope creep from other providers. Some people don’t want to do med school
Med School High debt Super high pay after Highly structured No direct mentor typically Can spend lots of time in rotations you aren’t into Grad school Should be fully funded Decent pay after Virtually unstructured to highly structured Based on mentorship Can spend all day doing what you want
Completion of, typically, MSW, 2-6 years Coursework, clinical work, advocacy, research, teaching Acceptance based on: GPA, clinical experience, advocacy experience Pros: Powerful lobbies, gaining scope. Good degree for applied counseling work. Excellent degree for advocacy work. Cons: Pay generally not so hot.
Research University, Research center, hospital, VA Clinical Private practice, university counseling center, hospital, VA, group practice Teaching University (SLAC, 4-year college, community college, university, R1) Advocacy Administration
More programs! A greater number of programs = more chance of a good “fit” Different Programs PsyD (not many in Canada…) Counseling Psych FUNDING (for PhD programs) ADMISSIONS (PsyD programs accept more students) …there are some challenges to be aware of though
Greater Number of Programs The simple fact that there are more Universities and Colleges, and thus more programs, increases the likelihood of finding a Prof. you have a strong “fit” with!
PsyD Programs “Fit” with a professor isn’t as important as “fit” with a track in the program. Most schools offer a generalized degree with the option to specialize in a specific area. Although this is an option, consider two things: 1. Cost 2. Internship match rate
Advantages More people are accepted More clinical experience Disadvantage Harder to gain a position as a prof No tuition waiver, can have VERY high tuition (over $100k) Larger classes Many programs have low internship match rates
Counseling Psych MA/PhDs Very few of these programs in Canada
Advantages: (often) more emphasis on non-pathological psych (often) more interest in vocational, minority, therapy process work (often) just as funded as clinical counterparts (can be) a little like school psych, if you’re into that Disadvantages Some are in Ed. departments, which can limit program size and some opportunities
But wait!! A HUGE advantage of applying to a US University is a TUITION WAIVER! Not Applicable to (nearly all) PsyD programs.
Available primarily to PhD applicants, Tuition waivers or remissions cover your ENTIRE tuition. Yes, all of it. No, really.
Supported by government and private funding (and undergrad tuition), many US institutions waive tuition for graduate students. You might be left with a paltry $500 in fees to pay. Or nothing at all. No, really. I mean it.
Waivers are not offered by every University (CHECK!!). If you are pursuing a PhD, though, they are offered at ENOUGH that you can probably restrict your applications to only schools that offer them, and still be able to apply at dozens of places!
Aside from waivers, other funding sources exist: Research Assistantships: toil as a researcher! Get paid to be fifth author! (really, get a TON of experience as a researcher and prepare to be a prof!) Teaching Assistantships: teach Intro Psych to unappreciative first-years, some of whom will probably hit on you! (actually, can be a BLAST if you want to teach)
FELLOWSHIPS: Free money! Competitive programs offering money to grad students for… well… nothing. Often MUCH more money than assistantships, but harder to get. You still get to do research all year and teach in the summer! CIHR/NSERC!
Your Timeline! Deadlines are EARLY– we count as International As early as November …but, the selection process doesn’t start any earlier for International students. Missing some info? Make arrangements and you can usually get around it
Financial Statements Many schools need you to demonstrate financial support. This often comes in the form of some sort of statement saying you (or your parents) have/have access to anywhere between $10 000 and $50 000 ($40 000 - $125 000 for PsyD programs). …but, this isn’t always an absolute necessity (wait till we talk about funding)!
Exposure to new ideas! No undergrad-MA-PhD-Post Doc all at the same institution for you! By being willing to move, you can make yourself available to programs that fit YOU, where you can spend 5 (or 8) years doing something you LOVE!
Application statistics for PhD programs are basically the same as in Canadian programs (but, US students tend to do worse on the GREs!) Hey, you count as International! They like that! (sometimes)
PhD- Many U.S. programs do not require an honours degree. Virtually all Canadian programs will instantly drop anyone without those magical letters after “BA”. BUT the programs (especially well-funded ones) still place UTMOST emphasis on research experience.
GPA scales are all wonky in the States. When you compare your own to the school’s disclosure data, be sure to check out their scale. GRE scores that are outstanding (combined 1400 and higher on general, over 700 on the subject) will make up for a less-than-stellar GPA, and vice versa. No one cares how you did in your first year foreign language elective. Your psych marks and your last 2 years typically count more For all programs, your “fit” with the program trumps EVERYTHING, both ways.
Why not buy this? Lists over 300 Clinical, Counseling, and PsyD programs in North America Lists faculty interests, program admission stats, and FUNDING info (including tuition waiver stuff) Has GREAT general advice on the whole process! Cheap! (it’s like $20) Similar variations exist for other programs in Psych
PhD applicant? You might have heard that you should contact some prospective mentors at some of the schools you’re applying to. This is wrong. E-MAIL THEM ALL!! You don’t know if a prof is retiring, moving to another school, on sabbatical, pregnant, just died (it’s happened), or is simply not taking a student in the coming year. If any of that is the case, there goes your fit with the program! Tip: the effort you put into your contact will determine the effort the prof returns. A “Hi, are you taking a new student?” will get you less than demonstrating your interest in their work through your e-mail.
1) Is the program what you’re looking for? 2) Does the school accept Canadians? 3) Do the professors have similar interests? 4) Do I have the right experience to make this process worth it?
General GRE The minimum score for most schools is 500 on each section Put aside about $200 for each exam to pay for it and to send scores to additional schools. Subject GRE Do your schools require this exam? Put aside another $200. Offered every April, November, and December.
Do I send this in one package or multiple packages? The application fee: $25-$100+ Transcript & GRE scores Writing sample?
Letters of Recommendation Find out what the focus needs to be. Give your profs at LEAST 4 weeks to complete the letters; they’re busy people. Letter from your bank to verify your funds (sometimes bank statements are requested too). CV
300 words – 10 pages long Focus on: Your interests Professors who share your interests Your research experience Your clinical experience Strengths Weaknesses and how you’re turning them into strengths Your excuse for low GRE scores or a low GPA
Use anything that you can TRACK if you want to spring for it Priority mail Expresspost These methods may be more expensive, but you don’t want to have your application lost
Start your research during the summer. Make a spreadsheet and contact professors and admissions officers. Give yourself a few months to put your application materials together. Try to mail your application at least 1 month before the due date in case you’re missing something.
If you’re applying to multiple schools, you’ll end up paying anywhere from $800 - $1500+ Exams, transcripts, application fees, mail, etc. Keep in mind… if you get interviews, it will cost you a lot more… Think $1000 for any in-person interview I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.
Costs: flights, taxi, hotel, and food Some schools will put you up with a current student, pay for your hotel, or give you some money back. Or you might get jack. Prepare yourself by reading about the school and coming up with questions. Reread your personal statement.
Be honest, be yourself! They’re trying to get you to choose their school as much as you’re trying to get them to accept you. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. Look for an internship match rate of at least 80% (the national average). Get to know the prospective students, the current students and the professors.
Allow plenty to time to study for the GREs and to complete your applications. Save your money! You’re going to need it! Remember to research your schools to find your “fit”.
If you think of any questions, feel free to e-mail me. Michael Parent: firstname.lastname@example.org