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Hello all,

I'm in a bit of difficult spot right now in deciding how to proceed with my education, and what path to take. I graduated with a BA in Psychology from Hofstra University in May, with the intention to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology. I decided to not apply for the following season (my mistake) because it was suggested to me by professors and doctorate students alike that I get an RA or psychology-related position in the interim between my studies to bolster my application. I had a decent GPA (3.67 or so) with some small research experiences through an honors thesis I defended with honors and a class project that I took to a conference. The honors thesis was not published.

I was not able to locate a research position, and I am now juggling a general job search with university applications and studying to retake the GRE to improve my scores.

I am applying to both PhD and Masters programs, though I'm not sure I could get into a doctorate program without a research assistant-ship on my resume. For Masters programs I am mostly concerned that I will repeat a lot of coursework and that it will be just an added expense on my bank account that augments the cost of my education terribly in addition to a PhD program. The idea of expenses piled on top of each other has even made me think of stopping at a Masters.

I could use any input/advice. Have any of you been in this situation, or knows someone who has? What would you do? Would you stop at just a Masters? Would you go for an independent Masters and then a PhD? Or would you just hope to be accepted to a PhD program straight away?

Thanks for your attention!

Pastaguy
 

GoPokes

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Regarding your question about whether or not to stop with a master's degree, it may be helpful to know more about your career aspirations.
 
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Regarding your question about whether or not to stop with a master's degree, it may be helpful to know more about your career aspirations.
Hi Gopokes,

My thought was to be involved in the care and study of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other related psychotic and mood disorders. I'm interested in research in this area (though it's not a top priority and I could do without it), but I'd also like to work with intake and diagnostics of patients. Basically anything where I could be of service to such populations.
 

GoPokes

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Hi Gopokes,

My thought was to be involved in the care and study of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other related psychotic and mood disorders. I'm interested in research in this area (though it's not a top priority and I could do without it), but I'd also like to work with intake and diagnostics of patients. Basically anything where I could be of service to such populations.

Given that it sounds clinical work is something you're more interested in (i.e., you mentioned you could 'do without research'), is there any reason you would want to go beyond a master's degree? You could certainly be involved in the care, intake, and diagnosis of the types of clients you mentioned without a doctorate. It's also important to note that a Ph.D. is a research degree, and so it may more worth your while (and money) to stop at a master's degree. Just my $.02
 
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I think you may be right. My main motivation to get a doctorate was to maximize my salary and ultimately live in financial security and comfort, so I could provide for an eventual family. If I can do that well with a Masters, I might just stop there.

Do you know how much a Masters degree holder in psychology might make working with clinical populations?

And would it be an MA in Psychology or an MA in Clinical Psychology?

Thanks for your input GoPokes!
 

MAClinician

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I think you may be right. My main motivation to get a doctorate was to maximize my salary and ultimately live in financial security and comfort, so I could provide for an eventual family. If I can do that well with a Masters, I might just stop there.

Do you know how much a Masters degree holder in psychology might make working with clinical populations?

And would it be an MA in Psychology or an MA in Clinical Psychology?

Thanks for your input GoPokes!
Salary will depend on licensure and type of setting you work in (community mental health, private practice, hospital, etc).

Each state has its own licensing board that determines what degrees are acceptable and what the requirements are. Some states require CACREP counseling degrees, some states don't care if it's clinical or counseling as long as the required classes and experiences are met. There is also the MSW degree which allows different flexibility. Do you anticipate moving around states in the future? Find the licensing board for the states you might live in to determine what's required.
 

ClinicalABA

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This hasn't been true for many decades.
This myth continues to be propogated out there. Another post got me looking at the website for Cal Southern (not to be confused with Southern Cal, even though that's likely an "intended error" ;)). In describing the Psy.D., the website says:

"The Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) differs from the PhD in that, whereas the PhD is focused primarily on academic research and scholarly publication, the PsyD degree is an applied degree that is clinically focused. It emphasizes counseling and therapy and gives you great leverage and opportunity in your career—you can move into virtually any position in any organizational hierarchy with the PsyD."

This is just not true. A good clinical Ph.D. (and a good Psy.D., for that matter), will focus on research AND clinical applications. In fact, there is some evidence (e.g. APPIC statistics), indicating that Ph.D. students have as much- if not more- clinical experience come internship time than applicants from Psy.D. programs. APA accreditation and State Licensure Boards require the same quantity and quality of coursework and clinical practicum/intership experience regardless of your degree. It's not like you can use all those "maths" classes and pesky empirical theses and dissertations to "buy out" of clinical courses and hours. You don't get to do less clinical work in exchange for that Clinical Ph.D.!

Edited to Add: Just got a chance to look at the 2015 statistics for internship applicants:
32. Doctoral practicum hours reported on the AAPI (From https://www.appic.org/Match/MatchStatistics/ApplicantSurvey2015Part3.aspx):

Doctoral Intervention Hours

..................Ph.D. .......Psy.D.
Median ........612......... 597
Mean............667.........665
St. Dev..........291.........339

Doctoral Assessment Hours
.................Ph.D.........Psy.D
Median........175 ......... 150
Mean...........231..........195
St. Dev..........195.........178

At best, there is no significant difference in accrued clinical hours between Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs. Ph.D. students seem to get more testing experience. Overall conclusion: Students in Ph.D. programs get more direct clinical hours, on average, than their Psy.D. counterparts. From the same dataset, it seems that Psy.D. students apply to interships generally one year earlier in their training than Ph.D. Students. Also from the same dataset: Psy.D. students average 140K in debt, Ph.D. Students 30K.
 
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Hi all,

So I checked to see if licensing is provided to holders of Masters degrees in the states I'd be interested in working in (New York, New Jersey), and unfortunately it is not. Only doctorate-holders can apply for licensing.
 

WisNeuro

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Hi all,

So I checked to see if licensing is provided to holders of Masters degrees in the states I'd be interested in working in (New York, New Jersey), and unfortunately it is not. Only doctorate-holders can apply for licensing.
Depends on which license. As a psychologist, yeah, but there are several licenses under which mental health services can be provided.
 
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I saw mentions online of Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Professional Clinical Counsellor (LPCC) paths. I hadn't really considered these ideas, but I may!
 

entitlement

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In regards to the MHC, make sure you choose a program that meets their requirements. I am not sure what they are now, but when I attempted to get licensed in NYC as a MHC (this was about 10 years ago), you needed to earn at least 60 credits during your Master's. My master's program was only 48 credits, so I did not qualify and I could not take additional courses to make up the 12 credits I needed (even though I met all their other requirements, literally, I just needed to have 12 more credits on my transcript!).
 

entitlement

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I should mention that I completed that Master's in NYC so just because the program is in the same state, doesn't necessarily mean it will meet all the requirements for MHC licensure. I think this is more of an issue with the MHC license since its broad - MFT and Social Work programs tend to be pretty straight forward (except for some variations here and there, particularly social work programs that focus on policy/administration).
 

Justanothergrad

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Also, consider the portability of the license outside of the state you are immediately interested in working at the present time. A prime example of this is that the requirement for credit hours may differ between states, making it harder to transport in the future in some programs. I think this is less of an issue than it was a number of years ago but I suspect its far from resolved.
 
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Also, consider the portability of the license outside of the state you are immediately interested in working at the present time. A prime example of this is that the requirement for credit hours may differ between states, making it harder to transport in the future in some programs. I think this is less of an issue than it was a number of years ago but I suspect its far from resolved.
This is critical. While many folks may (shortsightedly, wrongly, dare-I-say: stupidly) assume that they already know with absolute certainty (no such thing) that they are going to work, live, retire, and die in the state where their terminal degree allowed them to squeak by into some form of licensing, there are absolutely no guarantees that they will be so "lucky" anywhere else. What if the spouse gets a fantastic job in another state and wants to move? What if the parents in another state need one to be closer down the road? What if one gets fed up with the weather in one's current dream state in middle or older age? What if there is a great job option just a few miles away, but across a border and in another state? A smart consumer will strive for the most flexible degree... and, while I am on a rant, the most flexible career options.
 
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GoPokes

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This hasn't been true for many decades.

I didn't mean this to come across as if Ph.D. students are only focused on research or only have career goals related to it.. Using myself as an example, I've done barely any outside of my thesis/dissertation. I only meant that a Ph.D. requires a willingness to engage in and consume research. Obviously, many PhD students are very clinically focused.
 

WisNeuro

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I didn't mean this to come across as if Ph.D. students are only focused on research or only have career goals related to it.. Using myself as an example, I've done barely any outside of my thesis/dissertation. I only meant that a Ph.D. requires a willingness to engage in and consume research. Obviously, many PhD students are very clinically focused.
Fair, but stating is as a research degree pretty much assures that interpretation. It'd be closer to say that it involves the consumption and production of clinical research, while generally giving more in-depth and perhaps specialized clinical training. There are many of us who did far more clinical work than research.
 

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I would hope all clinical degrees would train providers who are willing to consumer research as a basis for practice. We are a science, after all.
That's the hope. But, there are plenty of organizations willing to train subpar clinicians who dislike research because it's "too hard," utilizing federal student loan monies that are seemingly unending and unconcerned about poor outcomes.
 

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Here is what I would suggest if I spoke to a college student today:

- Only go to a clinical or counseling psych doctorate if you don't have to pay
- Consider an LCSW as it allow you to be a therapist and gives you many administrative options for jobs as well
- If you want to prescribe meds of make tons of money, consider the psych NP or medical school route
- If cognitive assessment intrigues you, consider the SLP route.

Done
 
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PsyDr

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...dislike research because it's "too hard," a
The only part of research I ever thought was hard was data collection. That's why research assistants and grad students were invented.

Especially when the government will loan you money to buy it.
Best investment ever. Completely secured, non discharge able debt at above market interest rates.

I know a financial consultant for large university systems who helps set tuition prices based on govt loan metrics. Has two houses in the low 7 figures each.
 
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The only part of research I ever thought was hard was data collection. That's why research assistants and grad students were invented.



Best investment ever. Completely secured, non discharge able debt at above market interest rates.

I know a financial consultant for large university systems who helps set tuition prices based on govt loan metrics. Has two houses in the low 7 figures each.
The main reason they don't like research is that they don't know what it is and just know they don't like writing term papers which are sometimes called research papers. I used to think that way for a time way back in undergrad.
For the second part, I'm in the wrong business. ;)
 
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WisNeuro

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The only part of research I ever thought was hard was data collection. That's why research assistants and grad students were invented.
Yeah, not hard, as much as it was tedious and time consuming. And yes, competent undergrad research assistants were golden.
 

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I know a financial consultant for large university systems who helps set tuition prices based on govt loan metrics. Has two houses in the low 7 figures each.
Now that is an interesting job. I am really curious to be in the room when those decisions are made. The paycheck likely does not hurt either.
 

Justanothergrad

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competent undergrad research assistants were golden.
Is this like a unicorn, a post-bender, or a snipe?


- Consider an LCSW as it allow you to be a therapist and gives you many administrative options for jobs as well
- If cognitive assessment intrigues you, consider the SLP route.
I had an interesting discussion with my supervisor today about the state of psychology and it seemed relevant to this.

Psychology is particularly bad at marketing itself and it keeps trying to find itself out of work, and not because mental illness isn't there to be treated. If the advice for doctoral studies is always "consider getting something besides a doctoral degree because of X, Y, or Z" then we are encouraging other fields with different approaches to treatment (MSW, LPC, etc) to engage in a field with a limited pool of income. This is particularly true in managed care setting where the question is always 'why should I pay you 80k when I can pay him 50k a year for the same results'. Yes, I agree that the costs of training are extensive (financially, socially, you may wind up at a school that is opposed to your alma mater, etc.) but if we are pushing people into other fields for MH instead of making an argument for psychology practice as a primary focal area in the treatment of mental health. I'm not sure what the answer is here, but I'm not sure that always encouraging folks to consider other fields is one that is the most consistent with what I think psychology does well. For instance, does a SLP (actually came up as well) have the same training with cognitive tests than we do? I know several SLP and none of them feel comfortable with the strong interpretation that psychology offers. I've found that their doing cog. testing was more a function of no one else to do it and it needing to be done and less an issue of firm competence.
 
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WisNeuro

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Is this like a unicorn, a post-bender, or a snipe?
.
We were usually lucky to get a couple of these a year, as we were a larger lab. We rewarded them amply with poster/pub opportunities and glowing letters of recommendations. Most everyone else gets mediocre LOR's. The worst get the sound advice that they should probably seek a LOR elsewhere, as ours will do them no good.
 
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Sanman

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I had an interesting discussion with my supervisor today about the state of psychology and it seemed relevant to this.

Psychology is particularly bad at marketing itself and it keeps trying to find itself out of work, and not because mental illness isn't there to be treated. If the advice for doctoral studies is always "consider getting something besides a doctoral degree because of X, Y, or Z" then we are encouraging other fields with different approaches to treatment (MSW, LPC, etc) to engage in a field with a limited pool of income. This is particularly true in managed care setting where the question is always 'why should I pay you 80k when I can pay him 50k a year for the same results'. Yes, I agree that the costs of training are extensive (financially, socially, you may wind up at a school that is opposed to your alma mater, etc.) but if we are pushing people into other fields for MH instead of making an argument for psychology practice as a primary focal area in the treatment of mental health. I'm not sure what the answer is here, but I'm not sure that always encouraging folks to consider other fields is one that is the most consistent with what I think psychology does well. For instance, does a SLP (actually came up as well) have the same training with cognitive tests than we do? I know several SLP and none of them feel comfortable with the strong interpretation that psychology offers. I've found that their doing cog. testing was more a function of no one else to do it and it needing to be done and less an issue of firm competence.
While I agree with your premise, we really need to clean up our house and get a seat at the table properly. We have done a poor job of advocating for ourselves generally. I actually do a lot of cognitive assessment in my -sub-acute rehab facilities and consult with many SLPs. I am not worried about my job as MSWs, LPCs, etc are not allowed to bill for sub-acute rehab patients. So there is no issue there. Now, there is an issue with CMS being unwilling reimburse psychologists for cognitive assessment that the APAPO is currently fighting ( and that I am drafting a letter regarding if possible). Regardless of which way we push a student, laws are what establish our right to practice. Regarding our numbers, we outnumber psychiatrists and they seem to have no problem carving out their piece of the pie (despite the efforts of many in the APA to change that). There are many things that need to be fixed regarding the current system for psychology training in my opinion. Starting with streamlining and standardizing education better, controlling quality and numbers of admitted students, and ending with an internship balance and licensure when you graduate to not financially ruin post-doc opportunities. While psychology is a great field, we have done, IMO, a piss poor job of streamlining entry into the clinical healthcare provision arena that every other field has embraced.

EDIT: If you doubt my points, go see how many topics there are on online programs for MSW, SLP, or med school compared to on here. The one place that it organized is school psychology, but they also fall under a slightly different provision.
 
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