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Master, Ph.D., and life in between

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PsyHike

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Hello. I'm an international student recently accepted to M.A. in Forensic Psychology at John Jay College. While I'm thrilled to begin studying there, I'm trying to understand what my life will consist of in the next few years, and would welcome a feedback from people who went through the graduate process "later" in life.

I will be 28 when I begin my Master, which I plan to finish in 2 years. In order to become a clinical psychologist, I will have to apply, get accepted, and go through with Ph.D.. Now, my husband, who works in US, and I would like to have kids at some point and would like to have dual income (or at least income and no tuition fees) as well. If, for example, I finish M.A., take the year off to have a kid (fingers crossed it'll happen fast), and then apply for Ph.D. - how doable is that? I mean, in the best case scenario I get my license at 36-37, that's a little too late to start having kids in my opinion and considering individual health issues. Is it better to have them during Ph.D. than before? Also, what's the money situation during Ph.D.? Can there at least be no tuition expenses (as opposed to M.A.), or is it very rare?

I fully understand that everyone's situation is different. Unfortunately, I wasn't lucky enough to start B.A. at 18 and be done with Ph.D. by 30-32, so I will welcome any advice.

Thank you in advance!
 

psych844

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I am actually interested in that program but tuition is super expensive..how are you affording it as a international student?
 

PsyHike

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I am actually interested in that program but tuition is super expensive..how are you affording it as a international student?
The tuition is actually not that expensive, compared to other programs. They haven't yet posted an upgraded tuition for 2016-2017, but judging by the past years it looks reasonable. And I am affording it just as any other student is affording it :)
 

psych844

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The tuition is actually not that expensive, compared to other programs. They haven't yet posted an upgraded tuition for 2016-2017, but judging by the past years it looks reasonable. And I am affording it just as any other student is affording it :)

Well, you are right that it's reasonable..but I mean as an international student don't you need to prove that you can take care of yourself..including rent..so doesn't it work out to about 35k/year? How does that work? I guess co-signer for a big line of credit/loan?
 

PsyHike

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Well, you are right that it's reasonable..but I mean as an international student don't you need to prove that you can take care of yourself..including rent..so doesn't it work out to about 35k/year? How does that work? I guess co-signer for a big line of credit/loan?
I'm not moving to US at the beginning of the program, I am already here on another visa for the past couple of months. So rent and everything is settled. Unfortunately, as long as I'm not a permanent resident, I will always be in the category of "international student". And one of the reasons I begin grad school so late in life (compared to US students), is because I have worked to have some savings.
 

psych844

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Ah ok.

Well to answer your original question..I'm actually in the same boat as you. I'm early 30's, and hoping to start grad school next fall. It is not all that uncommon. In fact, if you see the average age for many Phd programs, it's late 20's, early 30's.

And in terms of tuition expenses for Phd programs. Most good programs offer full tuition remission or at least partial tuition remission..with usually TA/RA positions that work out to 15 to 25k/year. There are also scholarships, internal and external. So as long as you are able to get into a decent program, you should leave with little or no debt.

I think it was Wisneuro that said, and it seems like a good rule..if you can't get into of those programs..at least get into a program that wouldn't get you into more than 30k debt for the whole program.
 

PsyHike

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Ah ok.

Well to answer your original question..I'm actually in the same boat as you. I'm early 30's, and hoping to start grad school next fall. It is not all that uncommon. In fact, if you see the average age for many Phd programs, it's late 20's, early 30's.

And in terms of tuition expenses for Phd programs. Most good programs offer full tuition remission or at least partial tuition remission..with usually TA/RA positions that work out to 15 to 25k/year. There are also scholarships, internal and external. So as long as you are able to get into a decent program, you should leave with little or no debt.

Thank you! I will try to keep that in mind when applying for Ph.D.. Now the only thing remaining is to figure out the rest of my life around grad school and work :)
 

Justanothergrad

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I'm in my mid 30s finishing my PhD, about the same age as many in my cohort. Many (most really) of my friends and cohort members have either had kids, gotten married, or both during our time together in the program. This is your life and grad school is just part of it. Many have opted to extend their program because of either training opportunity or life circumstance, doing so without regret. Reputable programs will be able to fund you without substantial debt if you are able to make reasonable life choices to balance living expense (this also varies on if you are single or not). Most of the debt I see at good tier programs is from UG and masters, although this is not always the case in all programs as evidenced by median 50k debt for grad school expenses in clinical psych. Either way, good programs can make it manageable as others have said but be wise about considering that as you weigh program training options.
 

PsyHike

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I'm in my mid 30s finishing my PhD, about the same age as many in my cohort. Many (most really) of my friends and cohort members have either had kids, gotten married, or both during our time together in the program. This is your life and grad school is just part of it. Many have opted to extend their program because of either training opportunity or life circumstance, doing so without regret. Reputable programs will be able to fund you without substantial debt if you are able to make reasonable life choices to balance living expense (this also varies on if you are single or not). Most of the debt I see at good tier programs is from UG and masters, although this is not always the case in all programs as evidenced by median 50k debt for grad school expenses in clinical psych. Either way, good programs can make it manageable as others have said but be wise about considering that as you weigh program training options.

Thank you, this is really encouraging! You actually managed to calm my growing anxiety a bit :)
One bonus question (that might be obvious, but still): how do you choose "good tier" programs? Is the ranking based on EPPP grades? Licensure percentage? Internship? Something else (like an all-around national rating)?
 

Justanothergrad

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Thank you, this is really encouraging! You actually managed to calm my growing anxiety a bit :)
One bonus question (that might be obvious, but still): how do you choose "good tier" programs? Is the ranking based on EPPP grades? Licensure percentage? Internship? Something else (like an all-around national rating)?
High accredited match rate, high licensure percentage, low debt, and folks with a name in the field. There isn't any magic formula, but stay away from programs with a for profit model as if they are contagious.
 

PsyHike

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High accredited match rate, high licensure percentage, low debt, and folks with a name in the field. There isn't any magic formula, but stay away from programs with a for profit model as if they are contagious.
Thanks!
 

Wendi22

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Hello,

My situation is a little different in that I will likely finish my phd in my early 30s but I will likely have a baby toward the end. I've been talking with ppl who had babies while in a phd program and in a nutshell it has been encouraging. It will be challenging no doubt but is possible with hard work and dedication. My school offered full funding. Funding and minimal debt is important especially given my personal goals (I.e a family)


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PsyHike

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Hello,

My situation is a little different in that I will likely finish my phd in my early 30s but I will likely have a baby toward the end. I've been talking with ppl who had babies while in a phd program and in a nutshell it has been encouraging. It will be challenging no doubt but is possible with hard work and dedication. My school offered full funding. Funding and minimal debt is important especially given my personal goals (I.e a family)


Sent from my iPad using SDN mobile

Thank you! Ideally I would also wait till the 4-5 year, but you can't always get what you want :) And knowing that it is hard, but doable is indeed encouraging.
 
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One bonus question (that might be obvious, but still): how do you choose "good tier" programs? Is the ranking based on EPPP grades? Licensure percentage? Internship? Something else (like an all-around national rating)?

In many (most?) cases, funded Ph.D. programs will operate on a mentor model. You aren't exactly applying to the program- though there are generally minimum standards related to GPAs, GREs, etc.- but rather are applying to work with a specific faculty. All the previously mentioned factors are important (e.g., good APA internship match rate; high EPPP pass rates; full funding), but the reputation of the mentor in a specific area of study trumps the overall rep of the program. Clinical psych is too big a field for any one program to be the overall best. For example, the best programs in, say, behavioral gerontology might not provide very good training in adolescent trauma interventions. While some general themes may stand out within programs, you really need to evaluate things at the individual faculty level.
 
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PsyHike

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In many (most?) cases, funded Ph.D. programs will operate on a mentor model. You aren't exactly applying to the program- though there are generally minimum standards related to GPAs, GREs, etc.- but rather are applying to work with a specific faculty. All the previously mentioned factors are important (e.g., good APA internship match rate; high EPPP pass rates; full funding), but the reputation of the mentor in a specific area of study trumps the overall rep of the program. Clinical psych is too big a field for any one program to be the overall best. For example, the best programs in, say, behavioral gerontology might not provide very good training in adolescent trauma interventions. While some general themes may stand out within programs, you really need to evaluate things at the individual faculty level.

Thank you! That's very informative. When the time comes, I'll try to look at all the factors combined and read all I can find about the specific faculty members within the funded options.
 
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