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How many years off did you take after undergrad?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by whereisit96, Nov 7, 2017.

  1. whereisit96


    Nov 6, 2017
    When I graduate, I’ll have about four semesters worth of research experience (hopefully). My plan was to take a year off to work as a research assistant, attend conferences, etc. I think I want to apply to PhD programs, either in clinical psych or just psych. I’m just curious how many years people took off after undergrad, and what they chose to do during those years.
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  3. singasongofjoy

    singasongofjoy Psychologist 2+ Year Member

    Dec 4, 2014
    Americorps for one year, masters program for 2, 2 more years working, and then phd program.
  4. whereisit96


    Nov 6, 2017
    Just wondering, why did you bother with a master’s degree? Why not just go straight to PhD?
  5. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist Psychologist 7+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2009
    1 year off. Was a paid research lab manager. Also had couple years of research as an undergrad.
  6. whereisit96


    Nov 6, 2017
    So by one year off, do you mean one year off, and then you applied? Or did you apply in the fall following your graduation?
  7. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist Psychologist 7+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2009
    Applied in the fall following graduation. There is only a 1 year gap between finishing undergrad and starting grad school. I was the youngest in my cohort, though. Most people took at least 2 years or more off.
  8. ClinicalABA

    ClinicalABA Psychologist 5+ Year Member

    Aug 31, 2011
    New England
    3 years. Worked clinical/behavioral positions- 1 year in a brain injury rehab facility, then 2 in a special nursing care facility for individuals with dual severe mental and medical illness (separated by a summer running a Girl Scout camp). Great clinical and management experience, some research (poster presentation), as well as real life experiences (met my future wife; got laid off from a job).
  9. PsychPhDStudent

    PsychPhDStudent 7+ Year Member

    Sep 5, 2009
    I already had 2 years of research experience from undergrad. I was a full-time research assistant after undergrad for 2 years and applied for grad school at the end of my first year as an RA (so I spent my second year applying/interviewing/figuring out offers). This was the typical path for my cohort.
  10. singasongofjoy

    singasongofjoy Psychologist 2+ Year Member

    Dec 4, 2014
    wasn't sure which direction I wanted to take and needed some additional experience and time to figure it out; also didn't get much research experience in undergrad.
    whereisit96 likes this.
  11. calimich

    calimich Assistant Professor Psychologist Faculty 2+ Year Member

    Nov 22, 2013
    10 years...2 yrs as a stockbroker, 6 yrs high school science teacher, 2 yrs Peace Corps volunteer...PhD
  12. Justanothergrad

    Justanothergrad Counseling Psychologist Psychologist Faculty 2+ Year Member

    Mar 2, 2013
    0, I took my time off before UG and after my terminal masters (licensed practice for 3 years).

    The message folks visiting the board should take is that there is no 'normal' trajectory and if there was, it would include time off in some way
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  13. psych.meout

    psych.meout 2+ Year Member

    Oct 5, 2015
    I worked for several years in a clinical job before getting into grad school this year.

    The clinical job also involved some research and I feel, like doing both really helped me prepare not only for applications, but also for grad school itself.
  14. MamaPhD

    MamaPhD Psychologist, Academic Medical Center Psychologist 7+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2010
    I took two years off to figure out what I wanted to do career-wise. Over those two years I worked as a clinical research coordinator and an entry-level data analyst.
  15. Meteora

    Meteora 2+ Year Member

    Dec 14, 2015
    Did my MA (took 3 years because of my thesis) and then started my doctorate.

    Why did I do a MA? I had a terrible undergrad GPA, minimal research experience, and I wasn't quite ready to be an adult at the time.
  16. NeuroLady


    Feb 15, 2016
    2 years for MA
  17. Indiana_Jane0411

    Indiana_Jane0411 2+ Year Member

    Jan 4, 2016
    2 years; volunteered in a lab for additional research experience (1 year in UG) and worked in a variety of mental health settings.

    Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
  18. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

    Dec 18, 2005
    Zero for grad school #1 which lasted no time at all. A year paid research assistant between #1 and #2.

    But I entered college as a second semester sophomore or first semester junior, and graduated in a gentleman’s 4 years while taking between 9-12hrs in average. And took a semester off to do research. And started a business in college.
  19. hpxb

    hpxb 7+ Year Member

    Oct 1, 2010
    I did the exact same thing. One year as a paid "project coordinator" in a research lab. Also spent this time studying for the GREs, networking at conferences, and completing applications for clinical psychology doctorate programs. It was definitely worth it, as my application was much stronger as a result.
  20. Doctor Eliza

    Doctor Eliza Psychologist 7+ Year Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    0. Went straight to my PhD program from undergrad. When I was in grad school, I sort of regretted that decision. I felt I probably should have taken a year or two to gain some maturity to deal with the complex politics of grad school. I also felt like i missed out on my 20’s. Now, I’m not sure it matters either way. There are positives and negatives either way. Good luck in your decision-making!
    psyched2graduate likes this.
  21. fritolay


    May 24, 2016
    I took one year off, worked in 2 research labs. I would say most people do 2 years off to get optimal research experience for applications
  22. SummerReign


    Mar 23, 2017
    Philadelphia, PA
    11 years. I started out after undergrad in developmental psychology research. I then worked as a data analyst for a prisoner reentry program. Next, I became the research coordinator for a large nonprofit organization. Then I worked as a human factors engineer, merging my psychology knowledge and software design skills. And then returned to school. My CV definitely helped me get accepted, because my GPA left much to be desired (undergrad was soooo boring). I'll have my doctorate in 2018, specializing in forensics.
  23. G Costanza

    G Costanza Psychologist - UCC 5+ Year Member

    Jun 23, 2011
    Worked as a mechanic and then adolescent inpatient for five years until beginning my masters at 27. Began a PhD at 30. I wouldn’t have had the drive for a PhD at 22 nor would I have believed it was something I could ever do.
    SummerReign and calimich like this.
  24. Hawkeye11


    Sep 3, 2016
    How many years did I take off of what? My life? So many...
    (don't mind me; it's just the APPIC crazies)
    SummerReign likes this.
  25. traumamama


    Nov 12, 2017
    Just 22 years.
  26. ay1314

    ay1314 2+ Year Member

    Mar 17, 2013
    7. Two years of random jobs in fields I thought I was interested in pursuing. 1 year of living in a beach town bumming around. 1 for an intensive MA in another field. 3 working for a university and figuring out what I actually wanted to do. Attended zero conferences and got zero research experience in these years. Worked out fine!
  27. Only one, but I was 34 by the time I graduated so I couldn’t waste too much more time.
    calimich likes this.
  28. psych.meout

    psych.meout 2+ Year Member

    Oct 5, 2015

    34 when you finished your doctorate or a different degree?
  29. 34 is when I got my bachelors. Didn’t finish my doctorate until about ten years later as I went the Masters route first and then took another year off between the MA and the PsyD and an extra year to finish my dissertation. For me it was not that I needed time off so much as I would get overwhelmed and prioritize current tasks as opposed to future tasks and application deadlines are only once a year.
    psych.meout likes this.

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