PhD/PsyD Do you have to present yourself as wanting a career in academia or other research venues when you apply to PhD programs?

mdwpsyd

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PsyD programs were created in part because the only route to becoming a direct-service psychologist was feigning keen interest in research in order to gain admission to a clinical or counseling psychology PhD program. The PhD programs were tired of trying to sniff out the feigners and the students were tired of having to fake it.

When I applied to grad school in 1985, there were a decent number of university-based PsyD programs, but many prospective grad students who wanted to be full-time clinicians still applied to PhD programs b/c "they are better than PsyD programs" according to almost every psych professor back then.

What is the situation these days? Can grad school applicants who aspire to a career in direct clinical service be totally open about their career interests when applying to clinical psych PhD programs without hurting their chances?
 
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WisNeuro

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I got into an R1 University based, fully funded PhD being fully open about my career plans being primarily clinical.
 
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Sanman

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I got into an R1 University based, fully funded PhD being fully open about my career plans being primarily clinical.

Yeah, but you are old, the OP wants to know about today not when the dinosaurs roamed.... ;)

Seriously though, I went to grad school in the the 2000s (so did @WisNeuro, I believe) and I do think that faculty were much more understanding about the realities of the job market even then. I went PsyD, but was interviewed and accepted to a few PhD programs being open about wanting to work as VA or AMC staff rather than as a university professor. I think most balanced programs are fine with this. Some of the more academically inclined PhD programs (PCSAS/ clinical scientist model programs) might be less okay with this, but their goal is to produce academics. I did not apply to those programs. Everyone I applied to was a balanced boulder model program (including the PsyD).
 
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WisNeuro

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Yeah, but you are old, the OP wants to know about today not when the dinosaurs roamed.... ;)

Seriously though, I went to grad school in the the 2000s (so did @WisNeuro, I believe) and I do think that faculty were much more understanding about the realities of the job market even then. I went PsyD, but was interviewed and accepted to a few PhD programs being open about wanting to work as VA or AMC staff rather than as a university professor. I think most balanced programs are fine with this. Some of the more academically inclined PhD programs (PCSAS/ clinical scientist model programs) might be less okay with this, but their goal is to produce academics. I did not apply to those programs. Everyone I applied to was a balanced boulder model program (including the PsyD).

Get off my lawn! ;)

Yeah, I entered into grad school in the mid oughts. Both the program I started in (more research focused) and the program I followed my faculty member too when they were poached away (more balanced) had a fair number if students whose clinical career interests were well known. There was never a real notion that you had to pretend to want to go into academia.
 
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Indiana_Jane

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I am currently at an R1 University based, fully funded PhD (applying to internship). I was open about my career plans being primarily clinical, and I also came to grad school with more clinical (i.e., previous work experience in multiple MH and medical settings) experience compared to research. I'd say the majority of students in my cohort and the cohorts around me lean more clinical.
 
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Does this differ between programs? For example, if one is applying to a clinical science program but wants to work in mainly clinical settings, does it hurt the applicant to say they want their work to be primarily clinical? Only asking because I am applying next year to some Clinical Science programs where the PI is a great fit for my research interests.... but I am mainly focused on clinical work. Obviously I will need research to carry out clinical work, and I don’t hate research by any means, but I‘m wondering if that will hurt my chances of receiving admission.
 
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Sanman

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Does this differ between programs? For example, if one is applying to a clinical science program but wants to work in mainly clinical settings, does it hurt the applicant to say they want their work to be primarily clinical? Only asking because I am applying next year to some Clinical Science programs where the PI is a great fit for my research interests.... but I am mainly focused on clinical work. Obviously I will need research to carry out clinical work, and I don’t hate research by any means, but I‘m wondering if that will hurt my chances of receiving admission.

It really depends on the outlook of the individual program and the individual mentor. Some people are idealistic in their training goals for students and other more pragmatic. Read the the program literature to see what their goals are. Even if they are more on the idealistic spectrum, I don't think it would hurt to present oneself as hopeful for an academic career, but wanting to be prepared for a more clinical career given the realities of the field.
 
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AbnormalPsych

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Think it depends more on the program, and specific faculty. At my public R1 it was probably 50/50 coming in on whether students wanted to be in academia/research or have a clinical career. People were typically upfront about this. Probably 75% of those graduating my program go into clinical roles or blended clinical plus some teaching, research, etc.

Coming from a scientist-practitioner perspective I think faculty wanted students who understood the value or science and research in understanding the field and our profession. What one does with that after is up to them.
 
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ClinicalABA

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It really depends on the outlook of the individual program and the individual mentor.
This. Remember- in many Ph.D. programs are mentor based, and you are really applying to work with a specific faculty. Try to get a sense of where this person's former students end up. Some faculty will have a "former students" link on their individual websites. If all they list are students in academic positions, I'd be wary of emphasizing my desire to primarily be a clinician. You might also check out alumni pages on the general program website, but these tend to be more self-selective. As to general programs, you should be aware of the meanings of descriptive terms such as "clinical scientist," "scientist practitioner," and "practitioner-scholar," and tailor your application choices and materials appropriately.
 
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