4 answers

Should I stay or should I go?

Asked Webster, New York

I am a junior in college studying psychology. I plan to go to graduate school to attain a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. I have heard people say that it is very difficult to get into clinical psychology programs as a student right out of college because they want their students to have some experience in the field (i.e. research, clinical experience, etc.) Is this true? What do professionals in the field advise I do? In other words should I take a chance and apply to graduate schools right out of college or should I wait 1-2 years and gain that extra "experience" it seems people are saying I should have?

#graduateschool #phd #psychology #clinical-psychology #research

4 answers

Linda Ann’s Answer

Hi Imani, As a recently retired faculty member from a small private university with a masters degree program in Health Psychology, I have two recommendations for you. Explore both doctoral level and masters level programs now. Begin studying for the GRE now (you should take it over the summer before your senior year). If you are not already working with a faculty member on their research program, start this semester. Apply to both doctoral and masters level programs after receiving your GRE scores. Many programs indicate the typical GRE scores for their entering class on the school's website. Target applications that are aligned with your scores- otherwise you are wasting your money. Apply to at least 15 programs to increase your acceptance. If you aren't accepted into a doctoral program, go with a quality masters program. That is one that requires you to do independent research. Your chances of acceptance are greater with the completion of a masters thesis into a PhD program! I say this having worked with numerous grad students who weren't successful with admission with just a BS in psychology. Good luck!! Have a great career, too.

Dr. Ray’s Answer

Updated Fort Worth, Texas
Dear Imani, I have been away from academia for many years, but in the past many programs did not especially want applicants with previous experience, since they wanted to mold students in their image. Also, jobs in mental health for people with bachelor's degrees are very limited. Finally, if your grades are good and you have recommendations from professors your lack of experience probably won't count for much, even with programs which value it. i agree with Debra that you can apply to graduate schools in your senior year and if you are not accepted for some reason you can look for work in the field. I wish you the best in your career pursuits. Ray Finn, Ph.D.

Debra’s Answer

Updated Roswell, Georgia
Hi Imani - you could simply do both. Apply to graduate programs in your Sr year... and if you don't get accepted, simply wait, get some experience, and then apply again. Many doctoral programs want students with some previous experience, that's true, but that isn't the only consideration when deciding which students to accept. Different programs sometimes look for different things. One of the most useful things to have when applying is a letter of recommendation from someone who graduated from the program you are applying for. That can go a long way.

Steve’s Answer

Updated DeKalb, Illinois

I don't know your field, but I do know for other professions, they suggest getting summer work experience and/or working with a professor while you are an undergraduate. Doing that can provide good work experience and also helps let you know that you want to stay on the career path that you are on.