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Considering a PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by koharu, Nov 22, 2017.

  1. koharu

    2+ Year Member

    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    I'm considering getting a PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology and hoping to get some input/advice.

    Some background: I already have a B.A. in Psychology and an MSW. I'm specifically interested in child psychology, human development across the lifespan, mental health, and social justice. I've always been really passionate about psychology and drawn to the idea of getting the highest degree and becoming an expert within the field. I would like to start my own business one day.

    Another reason I want to get a PhD is to do consultant work with agencies and organizations to help create + advance policies, programs, and interventions that will improve children's development and families.

    Thoughts/opinions? Does a PhD in Developmental Psychology hold much weight in the real world? Will my career options be limited to teaching and conducting research? Anyone on the board have a PhD in Developmental Psychology willing to share his/her experiences? Is the degree worth it? Is it a mistake?

    *I've been looking at programs like George Masons PhD in Applied Development Psychology program*
    #1 koharu, Nov 22, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017
  2. PhDToBe

    7+ Year Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Likes Received:
    I do not know much about that specific degree, but I have seen experimental psychologists (who can only teach and do research) fail to find jobs time and time again. Most I know end up teaching at small colleges. I would not advise getting a Ph.D. in any field of psychology that limits you to just teaching and research. There are always exceptions and YMMV, particularly if you have a lot of pubs, a well-known mentor, etc., but I wanted to share my limited knowledge. You could always apply to clinical programs that have professors doing research in your area/s of interest.
  3. foreverbull

    2+ Year Member

    Sep 8, 2015
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    You can become a consultant/private practitioner with a specialty in child/developmental psychology in a counseling or clinical doctoral program with the right program, practica, or specific training experiences. I would concur that your best bet may be the aforementioned tracks. You could also consider an education doctorate, but that would be under the education domain and prevent any clinical work options.

    Developmental psychology isn't usually a licensure track in most states (state boards license clinical/counseling, and educational, usually, but educational is for school psychologists, typically), so it is a professional gray area that may limit career options.
    #3 foreverbull, Nov 24, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2017
  4. sfgucadoc

    Aug 15, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Psychologist, Academic Administration
    I would agree - do child-clinical, not straight developmental.

    I did a PhD in educational psychology at a Brand Name school and was out doing research for a few years before deciding to go back and do clinical respecialization. It's an option but not a great option.

    Also, as a person who lived on 100% soft money from NIH and foundation grants for ~20 years, it's a tough, stressful life. And getting tougher as more and more folks chase the shrinking NIH and foundation $. With a clinical degree, you can do 100% research after you get licensed if that's what you want but you don't paint yourself into a research-only corner.

    Having said that, I know that getting into any clinical program is tough to do. Straight developmental may feel more doable at the moment but if you don't get in, there is a lot of good advice in the threads here about how to improve your credentials for a 2nd application.

    Best of luck with whatever you decide.

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