Arekusu

7+ Year Member
Oct 24, 2010
15
1
Seattle Area
Hello everyone –

I am looking for some advice on how best to move forward, and what some good options might be for me to research and plan.

I am in the military but nearing retirement (yay) and am considering a career change to Psychology and leaning towards a PhD type of program. The PhD seems to offer a variety of different paths and has work flexibility by working for yourself, a formal company, or University. It also seems to give options to how you wish to conduct yourself whether it be research, clinical, or being an expert witness (I may have that expert witness part wrong). Or at least that is what I am gathering from my research these past couple of weeks.

The rub is I still have about 5 years until retirement, and the military would like me to pursue a master’s degree to be competitive for retention and promotion. The benefit is that I can use a small bit of tuition assistance to help offset cost but will still likely have to come out of pocket roughly 2/3 per class. This assumes I keep my school choices conservative. I have also gathered there are zero accredited PhD or PsyD programs online. Also, from reading a few threads on here, the thought of a purely online program makes zero sense for the learning of the profession.

Questions:

1. Is a blended program an option / available for PhD or even PsyD that you recommend looking in to? I can likely take some vacation time throughout the year to do a weekend or week long in person class if it is blended.

2. Is there an online or blended non- Psychology Masters degree that would be beneficial to the end goal of pursuing a PhD in Psychology in a few years?

3. I investigated Engineering Psychology and Human Factors due to my military background, but I’m not certain if that’s the path / lifestyle I want after the military.

Thanks for the read! Looking forward to any recommendations or guidance!



Alex
 

Temperance

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May 27, 2015
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What are you hoping to do with a psychology degree? It sounds like you have some interest in potentially clinical work, but your mentioning engineering and human factors psychology is a bit confusing. Are you hoping to work with the military post-degree, or are you thinking of working in the field after you retire?
 

R. Matey

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What are you hoping to do with a psychology degree? It sounds like you have some interest in potentially clinical work, but your mentioning engineering and human factors psychology is a bit confusing. Are you hoping to work with the military post-degree, or are you thinking of working in the field after you retire?
Seconded. What are your goals for this degree?
 
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Arekusu

7+ Year Member
Oct 24, 2010
15
1
Seattle Area
What are you hoping to do with a psychology degree? It sounds like you have some interest in potentially clinical work, but your mentioning engineering and human factors psychology is a bit confusing. Are you hoping to work with the military post-degree, or are you thinking of working in the field after you retire?
Thanks for the reply! I am interested in clinical work at this time. I'm a former military aviator and have worked with some human factors specialists before for human to aircraft integration projects. It was interesting. I thought I may be able to leverage my former aviation experience to the Human Factors field, but it seems a bit narrow from what I've found, but I could be wrong. I also am not a fan of a corporate environment. I can do it, but I'd prefer not to. I'm hoping for options in this next phase of my life.

I would like working with military members post degree, but I'd prefer not to directly work for government. Time for something different.

Alex
 
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Arekusu

7+ Year Member
Oct 24, 2010
15
1
Seattle Area
Seconded. What are your goals for this degree?
My goals would be to be in a clinical environment mostly for daily work, if I have the option to break things up like clinical and research. I'm not sure those paths are the same yet. I also like the idea of doing research (is that weird?) for the idea that I may be able to use that research to help others. I have this idea that I may be able to do research in things like PTSD, the affects on returning from deployment, and the affects to military members upon separation from the military. Also things like survivor guilt and effective team dynamics are things I'd like to research.
 

R. Matey

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Jul 15, 2014
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My goals would be to be in a clinical environment mostly for daily work, if I have the option to break things up like clinical and research. I'm not sure those paths are the same yet. I also like the idea of doing research (is that weird?) for the idea that I may be able to use that research to help others. I have this idea that I may be able to do research in things like PTSD, the affects on returning from deployment, and the affects to military members upon separation from the military. Also things like survivor guilt and effective team dynamics are things I'd like to research.
Ok then, you should know at the outset that most reputable Ph.D. degrees leading to the job it sounds like you want are more than full time and require around 5-7 years of schooling including internship and at least an additional year for postdoc all at pretty low wages if you're able to get into a funded program. I've never set foot in a VA so I'll let others speak to what research within the military would look like, but this is a long road so you'll want to be absolutely sure you want research as a part of your career.

If you decide, you mainly want a clinical career (e.g.: psychotherapy only), you might consider a master's degree. I tend to recommend MSWs. These can be completed part-time.
 

Arekusu

7+ Year Member
Oct 24, 2010
15
1
Seattle Area
Ok then, you should know at the outset that most reputable Ph.D. degrees leading to the job it sounds like you want are more than full time and require around 5-7 years of schooling including internship and at least an additional year for postdoc all at pretty low wages if you're able to get into a funded program. I've never set foot in a VA so I'll let others speak to what research within the military would look like, but this is a long road so you'll want to be absolutely sure you want research as a part of your career.

If you decide, you mainly want a clinical career (e.g.: psychotherapy only), you might consider a master's degree. I tend to recommend MSWs. These can be completed part-time.
Since this is the research phase of this plan, what might be a few MSW programs to look into? My concern with this is not being able to accomplish the clinical portion due to moving every three years and that I still have a full time job. I also still have one to two moves remaining. I am not familiar with how the clinical portion must be accomplished (ie: if it has to be one location, all in one chunk, etc). Does the MSW roll well into a PsyD or PhD later if I choose to pursue that route when I'm no longer moving all the time? This could be the best choice considering my current situation.

I sort of figured I may be able to do the PhD or PsyD blended while i was in the military, then retire from the military and accomplish the last two or so years in residence. Not sure if that is realistic.

Alex
 

R. Matey

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Jul 15, 2014
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Search in the social work forums for program recommendations. I think there's been a few threads on that recently. I probably should also mention that it's very common for people to have to move for both their predoctoral internship year and their postdoctoral fellowship year (or two) in addition to moving for the program that admits you (this was true in my experience). So, it might be difficult, if not impossible, to move for work (or really work at all) while attending a Ph.D. program. There are some doctoral programs that offer part-time options, but these are (1) of ill-repute and (2) cost-prohibitive when you account for your ending salary.
 
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Arekusu

7+ Year Member
Oct 24, 2010
15
1
Seattle Area
Search in the social work forums for program recommendations. I think there's been a few threads on that recently. I probably should also mention that it's very common for people to have to move for both their predoctoral internship year and their postdoctoral fellowship year (or two) in addition to moving for the program that admits you (this was true in my experience). So, it might be difficult, if not impossible, to move for work (or really work at all) while attending a Ph.D. program. There are some doctoral programs that offer part-time options, but these are (1) of ill-repute and (2) cost-prohibitive when you account for your ending salary.
Thanks for the replies. And this is why I just bit the bullet and decided to ask the internet on what the best path would be. You helped clear this up a bunch, thank you! I'll look into the MSW and see if that fits my goals for what I can do right now.

Alex
 
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summerbabe

2+ Year Member
Nov 22, 2016
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Psychologist
I sort of figured I may be able to do the PhD or PsyD blended while i was in the military, then retire from the military and accomplish the last two or so years in residence. Not sure if that is realistic.
I work in the VA and know a couple of staff psychologists who are veterans and each completed their training after departing the military.

Does the MSW roll well into a PsyD or PhD later if I choose to pursue that route when I'm no longer moving all the time?
Unfortunately not. Even though there is overlap in the disciplines, you'd start your clinical or counseling psychology PhD/PsyD at the same spot as somebody coming directly from undergrad.

If you started your doctorate with a MA/MS in psychology, you may be able to waive some courses depending on your program so instead of 5-7 years, it may be 4-6 years until completion, because doctoral programs are responsible for ensuring that you have a baseline competency in therapy, assessment, and research, all of which takes a lot of time.

2. Is there an online or blended non- Psychology Masters degree that would be beneficial to the end goal of pursuing a PhD in Psychology in a few years?
The largest hurdle is often demonstrating competence in relevant social sciences research since being able to complete a dissertation is a requirement to graduate. While some of this will be learned/refined during grad school and you'll have the guidance of a professor, you'll need to be able to independently identify an original research idea, develop hypotheses, design a project/experiment that attempts to answer these hypotheses, collect data, and interpret the data via appropriate stats methods.

If you do a MA/MS in psychology primarily as prep to a doctorate, make sure you're getting appropriate coursework in research design, statistics, etc and can also to get hands-on research experience. Most professors have labs/research teams that meet weekly to discuss new and on-going projects.

Good luck!
 
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