Apr 12, 2010
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I am currently a psychology major (junior) at UCSD. My GPA (overall) is just below a 3.5, and my psych GPA is just below a 3.2 (drastically lowered due to a C+ and C earned during my first two years). I am planning to take the GRE this summer. I am currently working at the local hospital as a research intern, and have participated in two other labs over the past year... so I'm hoping that my internship experience will help make up for my low GPAs.

I've considered applying to various PsyD and MFT programs (I'm interested in counseling vs. research)... but I'm facing two problems:


1. I was only able to find ONE "top ranked" list for PsyD programs, and NO "top ranked" lists for MFT programs.


2. I want to aim low (aka be realistic), but not TOO low. Basically, I don't want to apply to 10 schools in the fall, and be rejected by all of them because I'm not good enough... but I don't want to be accepted into a program that's TOO easy, and end up with a degree that's essentially worthless to employers (or seen as a joke by other professionals).


I could really use some guidance regarding all of this. =(
 

erg923

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Basically, I don't want to apply to 10 schools in the fall, and be rejected by all of them because I'm not good enough... . =(
Sorry, this is just the reality of applying to grad school.

1. Think about what you want as a career and what education is best for it, and NOT overkill for what you want to do 2.) Kick ass on the GRE 3.) apply to psy.d programs who at least offer some financial support 4). keep debt low as possible during grad school
 

docma

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Look at MSW programs. You can get a good grounding in clinical work if you choose the right program, you can also do research if that interests you, there are jobs and you can go onto a PhD/PsyD in either social work or psych later when you know your path more clearly
 

YoungestOld

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2. I want to aim low (aka be realistic), but not TOO low. Basically, I don't want to apply to 10 schools in the fall, and be rejected by all of them because I'm not good enough... but I don't want to be accepted into a program that's TOO easy, and end up with a degree that's essentially worthless to employers (or seen as a joke by other professionals).


I could really use some guidance regarding all of this. =(
I may be stuck on the wording a bit here, but what would you gain by aiming low, aside from saving a few hundred on app fees? Your overall GPA is good and can get better in your Senior year, and so much of this process depends on your "fit" with a mentor and the style of a program once you've clear a school's GPA/GRE hurdle. That is to say, idiosyncrasies and intangible mentor preferences can get you interviews at reach schools, and cold shoulders from safety schools. So shoot the moon! :)

Also I agree with Docma. While your research experience will serve you well wherever you apply, you may want to get some more clinical experience to be sure that's the route you want.
 
Apr 12, 2010
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I may be stuck on the wording a bit here, but what would you gain by aiming low, aside from saving a few hundred on app fees?

My apologies... by "aiming low", I was referring to the quality of the program. Like, applying to one of those not-so-beloved PsyD programs in California. I mean, I'm almost certain I could get into one of those, but would the degree be worth anything? Basically, what would be better... getting a PsyD in one of those programs, or getting an MFT? If I were to receive an MFT, or any other master's degree that allowed me to become licensed, I don't believe I would go on to earn a doctorate later on.

As for social work... I'm sorry, but there's just no way I'm going into that particular line of work. It's too depressing. I'd rather wait longer to find a lower-paying job that I loved, than to get into a line of work that would leave me feeling burnt out after a few years.
 
Feb 3, 2010
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As for social work... I'm sorry, but there's just no way I'm going into that particular line of work. It's too depressing. I'd rather wait longer to find a lower-paying job that I loved, than to get into a line of work that would leave me feeling burnt out after a few years.
That's sad to hear you say :( Compassion is a pillar of psychology- I hope that you do not pursue the MFT if that's where you are coming from.
 
Feb 9, 2010
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That's sad to hear you say :( Compassion is a pillar of psychology- I hope that you do not pursue the MFT if that's where you are coming from.
I have considered an MSW in the past and I didn't want to for the same reasons, I knew that I would be unhappy when I talked to people when I explored that path. Depending on what you do with an MSW, it's true that you can become quickly burnt out by your own feelings. I know people who feel the same way who DO have and MSW. It has nothing to do with lack of compassion. It COULD be due to too much compassion to the fact that you are bringing all these icky feelings home with you. Depending on what you do with a PsyD can leave you burnt out for the same reasons.


Its all in what you would like to do with your degree.
 
Dec 15, 2009
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As for social work... I'm sorry, but there's just no way I'm going into that particular line of work. It's too depressing. I'd rather wait longer to find a lower-paying job that I loved, than to get into a line of work that would leave me feeling burnt out after a few years.
You might also be burnt out after a few years in a doctoral program.
 

psich

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It would do you good to research information about the PsyD programs you are interested in and determine whether the doctorate or master's degree best suits your career goals. What are your career goals? Are you willing to sacrifice reputation to get a doctorate?

If I were to receive an MFT, or any other master's degree that allowed me to become licensed, I don't believe I would go on to earn a doctorate later on.
If you receive a terminal master's degree that allows you to become licensed, that does not mean that you cannot earn a doctorate later on.

As for social work... I'm sorry, but there's just no way I'm going into that particular line of work. It's too depressing. I'd rather wait longer to find a lower-paying job that I loved, than to get into a line of work that would leave me feeling burnt out after a few years.
You will most likely experience burn out at least once in either profession, as a social worker, family therapist, or psychologist.

I'm getting the impression that you are feeling rushed and unsure about applying. I think it would be good to slow down a bit and write down exactly what you want out of your career. After that, narrow down universities and programs and go from there.
 

twilson

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Just wanted to point out not all states recognize the MFT, for example I know my state doesn't. I found that out when I originally was interested in clinical.
 

jnine

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That's sad to hear you say :( Compassion is a pillar of psychology- I hope that you do not pursue the MFT if that's where you are coming from.

no offense intended but isn't the depression and mental fatigue because of compassion? if one didn't care so deeply they could leave the job at the office and not feel upset over the state of thier clients' problems.

to the OP: as a couple others have said- find out what you want to do on a day to day basis and go for the degree that will make it possible. actively research different careers in psych and see what's for you. if a doctorate is potenitally in your sights, get more research experience before applying. Even if you're not intererested in generating research, research expereince is important so that you can evaluate other people's work. Also, consider it an investment in your future (i,e. research experience makes you a more competetive applicant makes you more likely to get into a funded program or win awards). try to make sure the research expereince is in line with what you want to do professionally, because that will make you look good as an applicant.
 
Mar 18, 2010
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no offense intended but isn't the depression and mental fatigue because of compassion? if one didn't care so deeply they could leave the job at the office and not feel upset over the state of thier clients' problems.



No, I would argue that the fatigue and depression are result of poor self care and a failure to be vigilant to countertransference..
 

RejectClinical

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I am currently a psychology major (junior) at UCSD. My GPA (overall) is just below a 3.5, and my psych GPA is just below a 3.2 (drastically lowered due to a C+ and C earned during my first two years). I am planning to take the GRE this summer. I am currently working at the local hospital as a research intern, and have participated in two other labs over the past year... so I'm hoping that my internship experience will help make up for my low GPAs.


I've considered applying to various PsyD and MFT programs (I'm interested in counseling vs. research)... but I'm facing two problems:

1. I was only able to find ONE "top ranked" list for PsyD programs, and NO "top ranked" lists for MFT programs.

2. I want to aim low (aka be realistic), but not TOO low. Basically, I don't want to apply to 10 schools in the fall, and be rejected by all of them because I'm not good enough... but I don't want to be accepted into a program that's TOO easy, and end up with a degree that's essentially worthless to employers (or seen as a joke by other professionals).


I could really use some guidance regarding all of this. =(
I think 2 things are in your favor--most schools look at the overall GPA, not the psych and a 3.5 overall won't keep you out. Furthermore, I've heard over and over again from people that they would rather have a 1350 GRE and a 3.5 GPA than a 4.0 and 1200 GRE. With that said, if you can get a great GRE score, you will definitely be competitive.

I would apply to ALL schools you are interested in. the worst that happens is you don't get in. If you don't try, you'll never know.

Also, I know you are interested in counseling vs. research. However, there are plenty of clinical psych phd programs that embrace and accept students who aren't planning a career involving research. You could also apply to counseling psych phd programs as well.

Good luck and don't sell yourself short!!!
 
Feb 7, 2010
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I dont think there is a ranking system for MFT programs

My fiance just finished hers at Fresno State and it was an amazing program with hands on experience the whole way through and faculty who were outstanding.

When looking at an MFT just look at internship placement rates and the amount of actual counseling you get during the program. But be warned, some programs will have you only counseling other MFT students and you might want to stay away from that. You want actual counseling with real future clients.

Just be sure that your state recognizes the MFT license.
 

kedmonkey

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If you are worried about acceptance, you may want to look into programs which accept a greater number of students into their masters program and then apply to their ph.d. programs. It's very school-dependent but some schools don't really accept people from their masters progam... some require that their ph.d. students complete a masters at their school before applying to the PH.D. program (e.g. New School for Social Research). This doesn't mean the PH.D. program will be easier to get into but you will have time to improve your GPA and form relationships with faculty.
 
Apr 12, 2010
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First of all, thank you to EVERYONE for your replies! =) I never expected to receive so many in such a short amount of time. I will be sure to come back to this forum from now on, if I have any questions regarding grad schools or my professional career.

That's sad to hear you say :( Compassion is a pillar of psychology- I hope that you do not pursue the MFT if that's where you are coming from.
I understand your concern; however, if there's one thing I DON'T lack, it's compassion. I'm a highly empathetic individual... not to the point where I will burst into tears after hearing someone's story, but their stories DO tug at my heart strings, and I DO want to help them. I've worked with adolescent girls at a juvenile detention facility in the past... and I couldn't do nearly as much for them as I wanted to. I feel like the stereotypical social worker position would comprise of "shuffling patients around".

I have considered an MSW in the past and I didn't want to for the same reasons, I knew that I would be unhappy when I talked to people when I explored that path. Depending on what you do with an MSW, it's true that you can become quickly burnt out by your own feelings. I know people who feel the same way who DO have and MSW. It has nothing to do with lack of compassion. It COULD be due to too much compassion to the fact that you are bringing all these icky feelings home with you. Depending on what you do with a PsyD can leave you burnt out for the same reasons.


Its all in what you would like to do with your degree.
You're absolutely correct. Even though I fear an MSW would put me in an undesirable position (see previous response), I shouldn't get so caught up in what degrees will allow me to do what. In the end, it's about gaining the experience I need, and obtaining a license to practice. If I have a passion for some career in particular, then I need to focus less on the degree itself and concentrate on the end goal... getting to wherever I want to go, and taking a path that will get me there. Thank you for opening my eyes to that. =)

It would do you good to research information about the PsyD programs you are interested in and determine whether the doctorate or master's degree best suits your career goals. What are your career goals? Are you willing to sacrifice reputation to get a doctorate?
My "dream" career would be to work in a private practice, diagnosing and treating individuals with a variety of problems. Forgive me, I know it's a rather vague definition. I'm interested in severe mental disorders (currently working with older patients who suffer from schizophrenia), but I'm also interested in helping adolescents and adults with a variety of problems (mental disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, domestic violence, phobias, etc.). I suppose a PsyD would make me more of an expert in diagnosing/treating, but an MFT would still allow me to do some of these things, just more family-oriented (which is fine by me, since I think it's very important that individuals receive support from their family and friends).

If sacrificing reputation would hurt my chances of getting my "dream" career after graduating, then I would rather settle for a "good" MFT program than go with a "bad" PsyD program.

Just wanted to point out not all states recognize the MFT, for example I know my state doesn't. I found that out when I originally was interested in clinical.
Thank you. =) I've heard that as well. Do you, by any chance, know of a website that lists which states do and do not accept the MFT?

I think 2 things are in your favor--most schools look at the overall GPA, not the psych and a 3.5 overall won't keep you out. Furthermore, I've heard over and over again from people that they would rather have a 1350 GRE and a 3.5 GPA than a 4.0 and 1200 GRE. With that said, if you can get a great GRE score, you will definitely be competitive.

I would apply to ALL schools you are interested in. the worst that happens is you don't get in. If you don't try, you'll never know.

Also, I know you are interested in counseling vs. research. However, there are plenty of clinical psych phd programs that embrace and accept students who aren't planning a career involving research. You could also apply to counseling psych phd programs as well.

Good luck and don't sell yourself short!!!
Thank you! =) Your response gave me a lot of think about. I'll definitely do my best on the GRE, and will look into counseling psych PhD programs as well.

I dont think there is a ranking system for MFT programs

My fiance just finished hers at Fresno State and it was an amazing program with hands on experience the whole way through and faculty who were outstanding.

When looking at an MFT just look at internship placement rates and the amount of actual counseling you get during the program. But be warned, some programs will have you only counseling other MFT students and you might want to stay away from that. You want actual counseling with real future clients.

Just be sure that your state recognizes the MFT license.
Thank you for those tips! It's a shame that there aren't ranking systems for MFT programs... but in a way, that might be a good thing. It'll force me to REALLY research all of the programs I'm interested in, vs. being tempted to base my decision on a number.

For internship placement rates, are you referring to post-graduation? Or while students are still earning their degrees?

If you are worried about acceptance, you may want to look into programs which accept a greater number of students into their masters program and then apply to their ph.d. programs. It's very school-dependent but some schools don't really accept people from their masters progam... some require that their ph.d. students complete a masters at their school before applying to the PH.D. program (e.g. New School for Social Research). This doesn't mean the PH.D. program will be easier to get into but you will have time to improve your GPA and form relationships with faculty.
It's funny you should mention that... I was just looking at a promising PsyD program the other day, and was disappointed to learn that the university requires students to have Master's degrees before applying to their PsyD program. HOWEVER, the university also seems to have a great MA/MFT program... so if I were to get into that program, it might improve my chances of getting into the university's PsyD program later on. If not... well then, at least it seems like a great program, and I can put that on my list of schools to apply to. =)
 

KillerDiller

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I dont think there is a ranking system for MFT programs

But be warned, some programs will have you only counseling other MFT students and you might want to stay away from that.
Wow, really?! That seems ethically dubious. I'm shocked.
 

psich

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If sacrificing reputation would hurt my chances of getting my "dream" career after graduating, then I would rather settle for a "good" MFT program than go with a "bad" PsyD program.
It's a domino effect...if you go to a PsyD program which has a less-than-stellar reputation in the community, you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage when you are looking for internships. But apart from reputation, you should check the match rates for the universities you are interested in so you can find placement into a program which gives you a good shot of getting an internship.

If you get a great internship, you're putting yourself in a better position to get a better salary (even though internship salaries are already quite low), a better post-doc position, a better job...Now this isn't the hard-and-fast rule, but I think you know what I mean.

After reading your post, it seems like the MFT degree is one that better suits your goals since you aren't interested in research...which is what the PhD and PsyD programs incorporate in their curriculum.
 
Feb 7, 2010
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Wow, really?! That seems ethically dubious. I'm shocked.
yea really

and to the OP:

any MFT program worth its salt will require you to have completed at least 500 hours towards your 3000 before awarding the masters degree so you need to look at rates of kids placed in internships DURING school.

For instance at fresno state:

first sem you do a basic intro to counseling. Second sem you provide free counseling to students at the college who seek free counseling from the student health center. Third semester you work at a local counseling center that is ran by the department that offers counseling to the community for $5 an hour. Fourth/fifth semester you continue working at the counseling center and earn at least 300 hours towards your 3000 per semester.

It really was a great program.

also ask if the school will find you an internship or if you must find one yourself. Fresno state found one for you for the first 600 hours but after that you had to find one on your own.
 
Mar 14, 2010
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That's sad to hear you say :( Compassion is a pillar of psychology- I hope that you do not pursue the MFT if that's where you are coming from.
In my experience, not liking social work is not a matter of not having compassion-- it is a field that relies heavily on different strengths than psychology. I was halfway through my M.S.W., and I chose it because I thought it would be a quicker, easier way to be a therapist. What I found, unfortunately, is that social work was not for me-- it focuses, in my opinion, more on the macro aspect of mental health, and can become exhausting if you want to focus more on the micro aspect. I am now going into a Psy.D. program, but I have gained a lot of experience because of pursuing social work. However, I would rather be almost anything else before a social worker again, because it was such a poor match for me.