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Earned BA degree online- how do I discuss this?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Hopeyhope, Sep 22, 2014.

  1. Hopeyhope


    Aug 28, 2014
    Hello all,

    I am about to earn my BA in Psychology through Arizona State's online program. I have awesome grades and strong GRE scores, have worked hard to cultivate relationships with professors for letters of rec, and have some research experience gained locally.

    I know that online degrees are becoming more and more common, but I seriously doubt that many doctoral programs are used to admitting students from them. My question is, how much do I discuss this in my SOP? I don't want to completely neglect mentioning it, as that seems shady somehow, but I worry that I will be seen as less of a true "successful student" or whatever because of it..

    Does anyone have any thoughts or advice about this?

    Thank you!
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  3. OneNeuroDoctor

    OneNeuroDoctor Clinical Neuropsychologist 2+ Year Member

    Nov 1, 2013
    Most all universities have BA/BS online degree programs and the degree is the same regardless of being online or on campus. Probably they will know you had online classes based on the course numbers. You do know we have online high school programs in most all states. No need to act like you received inferior education as it is a testament of your fortitude as online degree programs require a high degree of self commitment and motivation and they may be more intensive than on campus programs.
  4. erg923

    erg923 Regional Clinical Officer, Cenpatico National 10+ Year Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    Louisville, KY
    That's great and all, but that not a shared sentiment in tradtional academia and you know it.
  5. Hopeyhope


    Aug 28, 2014
    OneNeuro, thank you for your response. It helps alleviate some anxiety knowing that there are professionals out there who believe that online programs can be just as effective as the on-campus counterpart. Thank you for the feedback.

    Erg923, I know this as well! Do you have any advice on phrasing this in a way that sounds as positive as possible? Or on verbiage to avoid? ...Or, in your opinion, should I refrain from commenting on it?

    Thank you both for your responses.
  6. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist Psychologist 7+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2009
    I agree with erg, academia still prefers brick and mortar. I would address it by playing up what you listed as strengths, the relationships and research experiences you were able to gain. That would show motivation and initiative to make up for the lack of opportunity due to the online education.
  7. Ollie123

    Ollie123 10+ Year Member

    Feb 19, 2007
    Were you able to obtain research experience and if so, what was it like?

    Given that is a primary concern of admissions committee and also one of the primary concerns about online education in psychology (i.e. that being "remote" may not limit opportunities for substantive research involvement), addressing how you obtained appropriate research experience while getting a degree online may provide you an opportunity to frame it in a positive light (e.g. "look how motivated I am - I earned my degree elsewhere but did X,Y,Z nearby").
  8. SublimeNature


    Sep 10, 2014
    HoneyHope, I would suggest applying to an on-ground M.A. first. The market all really depends on weather it's Ph.D. or Psy.D. The latter is less competitive because they often take more students due to funding. Psy.D. is often pay out of pocket (i.e. no grants/scholarships available) due to the lack of funding from research. Either way, you will have a better chance of getting into a Psy.D. program, but if you do one year of your M.A. at a brick and mortar and do well, you can then apply to either program and say "Look! I can do this!" It's a more expensive route, but with an online degree I think it may be a hard sell to either program. Particularly a Ph.D., which is very competitive. FWIW, my APA accredited doctoral program will not allow us to take online courses for credit as the APA frowns upon such things. I imagine that a B.A. in psych will be looked upon the same way by accredited schools. If you're not concerned by accreditation (yikes- I said it), then you may have more options in the short-term. In the long-term, that is a huge risk.
  9. Hopeyhope


    Aug 28, 2014
    WisNeuro, honestly I'm really counting on admissions committees viewing me as tenacious and motivated with my experiences, otherwise I'm definitely at a disadvantage. I appreciate your feedback on the approach :)

    Ollie, thanks for your response. I did obtain research experience (almost 2 years of it) but it is in the research dept of a behavioral services agency rather than a psych lab. I know that the experience isn't quite the same, but I'm hoping that some of the skills that I've demonstrated with be easily translated to straight psych research (e.g. data collection and clean-up, SPSS use, data analyzation, literature reviews, proposals, etc).

    Sublime, thanks for your feedback. I looked into alternatives (Psy.D., MSW, etc) early on, and I know that a (n accredited!) Ph.D. is definitely the best avenue for me and my future goals. However, I am definitely being realistic about it and know that it is very likely I am going to need to bolster up my apps quite a bit before admission. I don't have the funds to put towards a M.A. at this point and am hesitant to take on more loans unless as a last resort, so I think what I will likely do is try to gain a ton of research experience (in an actual psych lab) and then apply again in a couple of years. I feel like since my grades and test scores are high that the academic/intelligence aspect wouldn't be the concern, but more-so the research immersion aspect... what do you think?
  10. Why are you going to wait a couple of years to apply? If you don't get into a program, then you will be waiting anyway. Also, as far as I know, behavioral services is psych so am a little confused why you are making a distinction. Another thing is that the high GRE and good GPA at a reputable school will help to balance out the online aspect. Another question is were you making money doing research or volunteering. If you were making money and it was separate from school then you have already demonstrated abilities that some programs would value.
  11. Hopeyhope


    Aug 28, 2014
    Smalltownpsych, first off, thanks for your reply. Sorry, I should have specified- I'm going to apply this year, and if I don't receive admittance anywhere then I will try and get a research assistant position somewhere; depending on when that happens, I will either reapply again in fall/winter of 2015 or fall/winter of 2016 (if it takes a while to find a research assistant position).

    The reason I made the distinction is that the research project we are currently working on is efficacy on a specific treatment model on a specific type of youth- so yes, psychologically related for sure, but most people involved in the org are social workers, MPH, etc so I think that is why I made the distinction in my own head.

    I am not making money with the research- it has been on a complete volunteer basis.

    Thanks for your feedback; there is only so much I can do for this round, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed!
  12. Sounds like psychology research to me. We research interventions that are carried out by other professionals all the time. Usually the psychologists are the ones designing the research and getting the funding and such but others do research in the same field. I have seen authorships in the research I read with a variety of different initials including MSW, DSW, MD. Good luck with your apps and don't sell yourself short!
  13. Hopeyhope


    Aug 28, 2014
    You rock. Thanks for your feedback. I'm definitely going to go into my apps and SOP selling myself and my experiences, and hope for the best! :)

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