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I would really appreciate anyone's insight. I am 36 and finally deciding to go back to school to pursue a PsyD. I have an MA from Stanford in a completely unrelated field (Chinese studies) and no prior coursework in psychology. I have high GPAs, and what I think qualifies as a very strong professional background in a related field. For the past 6 years, I worked as a criminal investigator in the public defender system, which gave me almost daily experience with issues of trauma, abuse, addiction, mental illness, etc. etc. This is how I got interested in going in studying psychology, but I am shooting for a PsyD rather than MFT to give myself a deeper grounding in the field as well as greater options afterwards.

Do I have a snowball's chance in hell of getting in? The main schools I've seen that seem possible are the Wright Institute, GSPP University of Denver, George Washington and JFK. Their prereqs are few enough that I can take online courses this year while putting in apps.

Am I being overly confident thinking I can get in? I'm also worried that these may not necessarily be the best programs...I'm not happy about the focus on psychodynamics to the exclusion of other models that I've heard about at GWU and Wright, but also need to apply places I may qualify for.

Any suggestions/advice would be deeply appreciated.
 

futureapppsy2

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Almost every program is going to have pre-reqs, and most programs (I'm guessing) probably aren't going to look favorable on someone who's a) taken all their psych classes online, and b) Is still taking most of them. Also, it's probably unwise to apply to schools (especially ones where you have major qualms about the theoretical orientation) just because you think you can get in. Schools look for "fit," and if you can't demonstrate that, the process probably won't go well, and you may end up aty a program you really don't like.

I'd recommend you wait a year or two to apply, take your pre-reqs (preferably at a brick and mortar school), get some research experience (even PsyD programs like you to have something), get a handle on what you really want out of program (focus, theoretical orientation, funding, etc) figure out what programs offer that, and then apply.
 

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You'll need to take some "basic" courses, and for the programs you want, online almost definitely won't cut it. I don't see how you can even personally commit to a doctoral degree with zero coursework in the field. For some of those programs (and possibly all) you'll also need to get some clinical and maybe even some research experience.
 

AcronymAllergy

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As others have said, I don't know that there are any accredited and credible programs without course-related pre-requisites.

Your best bet would be to knock out the necessary classes via continuing education-like programs, which tend to have more work-friendly schedules (i.e., meetings on nights and/or weekends).
 

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Not sure if this would help, just throwing it out there and others who know more than I do on the topic can chime in, but could the OP take the Psychology subject GRE, and if they scored well on it, would that help illustrate their interest and knowledge?

Also I know if you are working as a criminal investigator you have access and knowlege to programs you can volunteer at for some clinical experience.
 

PsychPhDStudent

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Not sure if this would help, just throwing it out there and others who know more than I do on the topic can chime in, but could the OP take the Psychology subject GRE, and if they scored well on it, would that help illustrate their interest and knowledge?

Also I know if you are working as a criminal investigator you have access and knowlege to programs you can volunteer at for some clinical experience.
I was going to suggest the psych GRE, so that's a good call. I don't know anything about those 4 programs since I'm in a PhD program, but I know for the programs I applied to, there were certain prereqs that just had to be taken at an approved college/university (abnormal, statistics, research design, developmental, cognitive, etc). I think if they take the basic courses AND do well on the psych GRE, that may be enough, but I can't imagine GWU or probably Wright accepting someone without actual psychology coursework.

I also think it'd be insane to commit to a doctoral degree with no coursework. It costs a lot of time and money, and courses are different from real world experience. I'd just caution the OP to see what it's like before committing. Online courses are different from in-person, and if the online ones will prepare you for only programs that don't meet your interests, I'm really confused about why to pursue it. The prereqs could be done in 1 really heavy semester or 2 moderately heavy semesters, and with an excellent psych GRE score, that'd be great.
 
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psychwanabe

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Also just another thought. Any program that would take you with no psych coursework in your background is probably not a good program. Being able to study for and take the Psych GRE is not and should not be enough to get anyone into a doctoral program.

Just my $.02.
 

AcronymAllergy

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Also just another thought. Any program that would take you with no psych coursework in your background is probably not a good program. Being able to study for and take the Psych GRE is not and should not be enough to get anyone into a doctoral program.

Just my $.02.
On a somewhat-related note, I'd imagine it'd be rather difficult for a doctoral program in psychology to justify its acceptance of students without any undergraduate psychology coursework when applying for APA/CPA accreditation.
 

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Am I being overly confident thinking I can get in?
Yes.

There are thousands of other people who did 4 years of college, often 1-2+ years as an RA, and went the extra mile for a shot at a clinical program......and didn't get in. Multiple times.

This is the same thing as saying, "I have experience as an EMT, but I don't have any of the pre-reqs needed to get into medical school. Do you think I can get in?"

If you are serious about getting into a decent doctoral program, there isn't going to be a shortcut. You'll need to take the classes, volunteer with a research lab, and put in the time. There isn't a short-cut for law school or medical school, and there isn't one for a Psy.D......or Ph.D.
 

psychmama

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I'd suggest you do what I did. I applied to and was accepted at a good PsyD program at age 42 after 11 years in another unrelated profession. When I decided to switch careers I spent a little over a year taking undergrad psych classes at a local college (eg, experimental, developmental, stats, abnormal, social). This gave me the prereqs I needed to apply to doctoral programs, as well as giving me a strong foundation for the Psych GRE. Another reason to do this is that you'll be needing recommendation letters. It's going to be a challenge if you have no psych profs who know you and can vouch for your academic work and suitability for grad school.

Getting into doctoral psychology programs is very competitive and, as others have said, no decent program will admit someone with no background at all in psychology. You need at least 3-5 courses, I'd say, to make you competitive. That's probably in addition to having some research experience and possibly some clinical experience. This is a long road -- do NOT even think about going for the doctorate if taking a year or two to prepare yourself to apply is a turnoff for you. You need patience to be a psychologist. You'll be in it for the long haul. There are NO shortcuts (believe me, I tried to find them and they are just not there).;)
 
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justme08

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I agree that it would be hard to know a person really wants to do a PhD without actual classes in the subject, I guess I read into it that the OP was planning on taking psych classes.

If that is not the case, then NoPsychCourses, maybe you should look at MSW or other master level degrees that can allow you to counsel if that's what you're interested in doing. In fact, I would think working your present job would be a good match for a MSW.
 
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I agree with others who have posted. Online classes are not the way for you to go. One big reason: references!!! You want to get references from psychology professors who can attest to your ability to do graduate-level work. With online classes, the connection between profesor and student just really isn't strong enough to allow for a strong letter of recommendation. I do think your work as a criminal investigator is a strength for you. You can use it in your statement of purpose to show how you became interested in a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.
 

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I would email the administrators of the Psych departments at the universities you'd like to attend and just ask what the best entry scenario is for someone in your situation.

They'll probably say that you need to take a certain number and type of pre-reqs. If you get a few responses from a few different universities you can start putting together a solid list of pre-reqs to take.

I'm not sure if the US has a professional body regulating accredited psychology courses. If there is one, then they would be good pple to contact as well.

Good luck!
 
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I think I'm pretty much in agreement with everyone else here. Most programs I've looked at require 18 hours of coursework in psychology with stats, abnormal psych, and developmental psych being part of those hours. I'd think your best shot would be to take 6 in-person psych courses over one or two semesters, then take the GRE Psych test, and then apply. Having an interest in psychology is one thing, but having enough of an interest to devote 4-6 years to studying it is another, and an interviewer is going to want to see that you're committed.

If you do that then I think your chances of acceptance would be pretty good. Several programs really want people who have changed careers, and a few offer scholarships for people who have decided to do so.