4 answers

When should psychology majors looking to pursue a Ph.D. program plan to enter said program?

4
100% of 4 Pros
Asked Viewed 545 times Translate

I'm currently a freshman psychology major, but I want to start planning early for what I want to do upon graduating with my bachelors. I'd like to become a psychology professor and researcher. I've heard a number of different options for this...1.) You can attend a grad program straight out of your undergrad, 2.) You can go get your masters degree in between undergrad and your Ph.D., or 3.) You can take 2 years or so to work as a research assistant before your Ph.D. program in order to gain paid experience. Is one of these paths more ideal than the others? Does it vary by person and what they plan to do with their Ph.D.? #psychology #graduate-school #college-admissions #research #graduate-programs

4
100% of 4 Pros

4 answers

Emily’s Answer

2
100% of 1 Pros
100% of 1 Students
Updated Translate

I am currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology in a PsyD program, but I am very familiar with the psychology PhD route as well.


1) I think it is possible to attend a psychology PhD program right out of undergrad (and is worth applying), but many PhD programs tend to like people with more research experience and who are a little older/more sure of what they want to do.
2) In PhD programs, you end up getting a masters along the way, so a masters in between undergrad and a PhD is not as helpful and could be a waste of money, unless you are getting research experience during the masters. A masters could be helpful if you did not complete an honors thesis in undergrad and you complete a masters thesis project instead. A thesis is not required, though, if you have other research experience.
3) Taking 2-3 years between school to get more research experience as a research assistant, research coordinator, or lab manager is super helpful in applying to psychology PhD programs! This is what I did, and I think it is a valuable way to get research experience, posters/papers, and making psychology connections. Plus getting paid is nice!


In summary, I would say that it is worth applying to psychology PhD programs right out of undergrad if you know that is what you want to do, but if you do not get in or if you want to take a break in between, getting a paid research assistant position for 2-3 years is the way to go!

2
100% of 1 Pros
100% of 1 Students

Edward’s Answer

1
100% of 1 Students
Updated Translate

The short answer is that early identification of a PhD path makes sense. However, the implication is that you would already have some things in place that helps to narrow your search. This might include having a grasp on the aspect of psychology within which you would like to advance knowledge. As a freshman, it may be difficult to make such a decision given the variety of options you will engage during your undergrad experience. It is very easy to go in with an interest in one direction, then discover that your passions actually lie in another. This leads to another important decision about PhD study; the school that houses the program.


You may very well be aware that each research institution will have its primary areas of focus, with some overlap. This can be a problem if you have not decided what you want to study. The flip side is that you can also use this variety to help spark interest that can guide you doctoral pursuits.


The bottom line is that your undergrad studies help you develop what you want to study for the future. Serious research into PhD studies may be too soon, but you can use some general guidance from existing doctoral programs to help discover the areas of most interest to you. That is when you can truly dig into qualifications necessary to get into the program you want.

1
100% of 1 Students

A. Wallace’s Answer

1
100% of 1 Students
Updated Translate

Hi Alexandra
So good to hear you looking ahead for ways to shape your future. But I don t think you are asking yourself the right question. What you should be wondering is "how can I get a rich experience in psychology over the next three years of college that will help me determine what direction I should go in regarding getting a phd upon graduation.". So,
1. Work summers as an intern in various psychology-related jobs, such as being an overnight supervisor in a halfway house,
2. Work part time in college , again trying to get jobs related to psychology,
3. Google the research interests of all your psychology professors, and professors in surronding colleges, and then go and talk with them about their work. They likely would be thrilled about meeting such a motivated student,
4. Volunteer to work for the professors whose work is of most interest to you,
5. Go to the chair of your psychology program and talk with her about your interests and see what she advised,
6. If there is PhD program in your school, get on the mailing list for upcoming seminars and go to ones that sound interesting to you.
7. Take a few neuroscience courses...neuroscience is the science that is the underpinning of psychiatric diseases,


Have fun with it, pursue your learning with vigor, and in 3 years you will be able to answer your own question.


Best of luck!


Dr. Deckel
Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Retired

1
100% of 1 Students

Daniela’s Answer

1
100% of 1 Students
Updated Translate

Hi Alexandra,


A bachelor's degree in psychology allows people to work as research or administrative assistants for psychologists. A doctorate's degree in psychology typically involves five to seven years of graduate study, which ends with a dissertation involving original research. The advanced degree opens many doors to opportunities involving research and teaching positions at universities, health care services, private industries, and with the government. Psychologists with a doctoral degree often choose to conduct their own research studies while accepting a career position in the meantime.


"The most noticeable current trend is just how many undergraduates are getting involved in research," says Gary W. Lewandowski Jr. Ph.D, the Department Chair of the Department of Psychology at Monmouth University. "Not only are more students getting involved, but more are doing so at a high level [such as] presenting at research conferences."


The most important thing that Mitchell Metzger says he tells students about research is to get involved early. "We have many of our students helping out in the lab with research projects as early as their sophomore year," says Metzger, a professor of Psychology at Ashland University (Ohio) and department chair since 2007. "When a student gets involved early in their undergraduate career, they really have the opportunity to build a variety of experiences by the time they graduate."


He says that while the students may start out in 'lower level' research roles such as data collection and data entry, they are undergoing valuable preparation for diving more deeply into the research process.


Students with an interest in graduate-level psychology research tend to experience a more beneficial application process when they pinpoint a specific area of study before applying.


Conducting an ample amount of research also makes final school selections much easier to achieve, and helps iron out the details of future plans. It is important for students to apply to a program that accommodates their values, abilities and interests. Finding the right graduate program is one of the keys to succeeding in the psychology research field.


The countless opportunities that a student can gain psychology research experience and knowledge are:


Help Out a Professor – Dr. Lewandowski suggests getting started as early in your academic career as possible. "Even if you have not had a research class yet, if a professor is willing to have you help out, you will not only get a head start, but will learn a lot that will make taking the class easier," he says. "The more experience you can get the better."


Find a Mentor – Some of the best ways to gain experience in psychology is learning from those already in the field. "The amount of work may be daunting at first, but just like anything else, you adjust over time and find new ways to manage," says Kongit Farrell, who is a life and relationship coach with a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. "Just keep at it and work on finding a mentor to help."


Attend or Present at a Psychology Conference – "We have a number of graduates with multiple conference presentations under their belts by the time they finish their bachelor's degree, which is a huge advantage for them as they apply to graduate schools," says Metzger. "Many graduate programs see undergraduate research experience as valuable, regardless of what the specific area of research might be that the student was involved in.


Write and Publish Articles and Papers – "It is becoming more necessary for undergraduates to have co-authored journal articles in order to get into Ph.D. programs after college," says Dr. Lewandowski.


Become a Research Assistant – Obtaining a research assistant position is a valuable opportunity to gain experience, and forge professional connections that can help in the future. Universities, hospitals, and private organizations hire assistants to conduct research on psychology projects. Having previous experience working in labs or on academic research projects improves the chance of being accepted into advanced degree programs and research jobs after graduation.


Read APA Magazines and Newsletter Articles – Reading APA magazine and newsletter articles about research tools and methods, as well as the Monitor on Psychology and gradPSYCH magazines keep students in tune with the latest in psychology research.


Independent Research with Faculty Advisor – Taking advantage of independent research and study projects allows undergraduate students to work closely with professors who serve as advisors. The student and faculty usually share a mutual interest. These professors can also write strong letters of recommendation for future graduate study, which demonstrates a student's ability to work independently.


Much more tips in:


http://careersinpsychology.org/choosing-to-focus-on-research-as-a-psychologist/


Good luck!

Thanks so much for the info! Alexandra C. Translate
1
100% of 1 Students