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How do I choose a psychology graduate track?

I'm a rising college junior majoring in psychology and minoring in criminal justice. When I was researching graduate schools, I found there are many tracks in the psychology graduate programs that I'm interested in. How do I narrow down a single track? #psychology #graduateschool #college #degree #student #program #major #tracks #mentor #ms #colleges #programs #professor #july20

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Christine’s Answer

It can be difficult to narrow down your interests to a specific track when you are exploring graduate programs – you are certainly not alone! Here are a couple of suggestions/thoughts:
First, often the specific tracks are embedded within more general programs. So, for example, if you are interested in clinical psychology, a program might have tracks in clinical child, health psychology, etc. An experimental psychology program, may have tracks or programs in industrial organizational psychology or social psychology (to just give you a few examples). Thus, it is good to decide whether you are more interested in a clinical psychology degree or a degree that would fall under another area such as experimental psychology or counseling psychology. Once you know this, I would suggest that you read the faculty profiles of the individuals affiliated with interesting tracks to get a sense of their research interests and what they are doing, to see if their work seems appealing to you. If you have questions about their research (or any others), I would suggest that you email the faculty member and introduce yourself and tell them that you are interested in their work and their respective track, followed by any questions that you might have about either. So, for example, I often had students ask me about any ongoing research studies that I had going on in my lab as well as specific program requirements. A lot of faculty also have citations for their research studies online when you look at their profile on the psychology department’s web site. If you read some of their research studies, this also can give you an idea of whether their work might be of interest to you. Also, courses affiliated with each track should be listed on a department’s web site and you should review them to see which topics seem most appealing. Additionally, graduate programs should have a program director listed on their web sites. If you have questions after reading about a specific program or track on a web site, do not hesitate to email program directors about any questions that you might have about their programs or tracks. Finally, depending on the program, you might not have to always declare a specific track at the very beginning or there might be some flexibility in changing tracks if you decide to go in a different direction – this might be something that you could inquire about, if it is not clear from the web site. Good luck and it is good to do your homework before applying to graduate programs, so great job in planning ahead!

Thank you, Dr. Gidycz! I found your answer very helpful and informative! Brittany S.

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angie’s Answer

I'm a Jungian PhD and Ancient Wisdom Studies Researcher at Ubiquity University, and I absolutely LOVE it! How did I find this program? I went on a trip with them to Mexico and met amazing teachers actually doing what I want to do. They weren't just teaching in a classroom - they were traveling the world and meeting psychologists, mystics, art therapists and Shamans from all over this great planet. I felt like I had found my tribe.

For me, psychology is deeper than studies and teachers and school names -- it's a calling and a feeling. I suggest you sit in meditation or prayer and ask yourself what it is you are searching for - not for the school, but for your life. And then find that University that makes you excited about learning and bettering yourself, first. If you love it, then you'll be awesome at it!! And you'll be able to share your skills and knowledge well with others.

If it isn't joyful, don't do it! Find your joy, and you'll find your passion and your track.

Good luck!

Hi Angie! Thank you so much for your answer, I found it very insightful and compelling! I will definitely take your suggestion. Brittany S.

You're welcome, Brittany. I hope you find your unique joy! angie azur

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Phillip’s Answer

I think it depends on what you think would make you happy in this field. If it’s high salary or something else that makes you tick, like working with a specific demographic, let that guide your decision.

Thank you for your guidance! Brittany S.

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Yuka’s Answer

Great question, Brittany!

When I was deciding a track for my graduate school, I received a piece of advice from my mentor: go check out the programs that are offered in the graduate schools that you want to apply to and read their descriptions. Take my current graduate school, Teachers College, for example, it offers over 80 programs, which blew my mind at that time. It really opened my eyes and allowed me to consider some very innovative directions that I never thought would be taught at the graduate level. So I would recommend exploring the options available at each graduate school, and you will definitely be surprised.

By the way, the link for TC programs is here: https://www.tc.columbia.edu/academics/programs-search/, see if any of the programs sound interesting to you.

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karthik’s Answer

While general psychology degrees can prepare you for many types of roles, most students choose to specialize their degrees. There are so many options in the field of psychology that no school can possibly offer everything. It’s important to figure out which sub-fields of psychology interest you so you can choose the program that offers that kind of coursework.
Popular areas of concentration or specialization include:

Child and adolescent psychology

Clinical psychology

Cognitive psychology

Counseling psychology

Forensic psychology

Industrial-organizational psychology

Marriage and family therapy