modestmousktr

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Is this a red flag or inappropriate at religious institutions? For example, the following programs are Jesuit university Clinical Psych Ph.D.s that are non-secular, it seems that just because they are at a Catholic institution, there is no religion actually in the program (which is totally fine by me, and how I expect it to be):


Fordham University
Loyola University of Chicago
Boston College

If they ask you why you are applying, is it appropriate to mention that you are attracted to the school in general due to it being a Jesuit university? I am applying because of research fit, same reason I am applying to every other program, but I am admittedly excited at the prospect of attending a Catholic university where I could engage in the community, with mass held on campus churches (like LMU in California), and more acceptance of religion (I am from LA, 95% of my contacts are Atheists and I feel a bit silly at times). Or should I just keep that to myself to not bring up an awkward topic?

Thanks guys. Doubt I'll even get an interview, but thought I would ask, haha.
 

KillerDiller

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Sure, that's appropriate. I wouldn't say it first, because fit with the program is much more important than fit with the university as a whole, but it's a fine tidbit to throw in.
 

erg923

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I would encourage you to mention it if you can tie your values as Catholic Christian to your work as health service provider. Make it relevant in other words. If you just say "And I attracted to this school in general due to it being a Jesuit university" you are begging the question of "why? How does Jesuit Catholicism inspire you and/or your work/interests in clinical psychology?
 

Doctor Eliza

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It feels like an unnecessary gamble. It may pay off a little, but it may backfire big time. I went to a Catholic UG with a PhD program. My mentor regularly urged us to never mention religion or religious reasons in our personal statements and interviews. I think her POV is valuable as a tenured professor making decisions about who to let in to a clinical psych program.

Additionally, way back when I was applying, I interviewed at Catholic University in DC. When a group of applicants were talking with a group of grad students, the question came up: how does being at a Catholic University impact your grad program? In addition to basically saying it didn't, a number of them were pretty disparaging of the faith and made comments that I felt were offensive. My point is, don't assume because people are affiliated with a religious university that they feel positively toward that religion.

Good luck!
 

erg923

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My point is, don't assume because people are affiliated with a religious university that they feel positively toward that religion.
This is a bit silly. People will not always share your particualr beliefs and interests. Hiding them because others might not "be into it" seems immature.
 

WisNeuro

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I don't think it's that silly. You are applying to the graduate program, which does not have a religious component. I'm with people that the focus should really be on fit with the program. If you focus more on the religious part, people may think that's the primary reason for applying. I'd focus on the things that are more likely to get you in.
 

erg923

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I don't think it's that silly. You are applying to the graduate program, which does not have a religious component. I'm with people that the focus should really be on fit with the program. If you focus more on the religious part, people may think that's the primary reason for applying. I'd focus on the things that are more likely to get you in.
No one said "focus more on the religious part." The OP asked if it was ok to mention that as one aspect of fit. I think thats an obvious yes. Same as "I love the area" or "my family is from/lives here." Those all speak to "fit."
 

WisNeuro

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But how is that fit if it's not integrated into the graduate program? I just see it as taking focus away from other things, while adding very little. I think it just has more down than upside. It's like wanting to go to St. Louis University for grad school and telling people that you applied there partially because you're a big fan of the Royals.
 

erg923

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But how is that fit if it's not integrated into the graduate program? I just see it as taking focus away from other things, while adding very little. I think it just has more down than upside. It's like wanting to go to St. Louis University for grad school and telling people that you applied there partially because you're a big fan of the Royals.
"Fit" is why you chose to come there (the school is offering you something that is important to you). Graduate programs dont operate in a vaccum. One's family isnt "integrated into the program," but obviously thats a meaningful variable to be people when picking schools, internship, jobs, etc. and people mention these variable all the time at interviews.
 

WisNeuro

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Fair enough, some could view it positively, I would just see it as irrelevant if I were interviewing that person.
 

erg923

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Fair enough, some could view it positively, I would just see it as irrelevant if I were interviewing that person.
It wouldn't strike you as "off" that a person didn't mention a single other thing other than psychology that is important to them and that possibly drove some of their choices. I would hope there a bit more going on in a person's head than that. "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" and all...
 

Doctor Eliza

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This is a bit silly. People will not always share your particualr beliefs and interests. Hiding them because others might not "be into it" seems immature.
I certainly didn't say to hide anything. There is a difference between making a point of mentioning something and calling attention to it versus addressing it if it comes up. No need to be rude by calling my POV silly or immature.
 

WisNeuro

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If I asked an applicant why they applied to my program, no, I wouldn't find it off if they only talked about aspects of that program. It's generally how it works.
 

erg923

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If I asked an applicant why they applied to my program, no, I wouldn't find it off if they only talked about aspects of that program. It's generally how it works.
Maybe I have a more broad line of questioning than you. :)
 

Member1928

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These schools will have a mission that is consistent with the Jesuit order and likely some part of that mission will align with your own values/beliefs. I might tie your enthusiasm for the school to something concrete like this because it will allow you to be genuine, while also showing that you've done your homework on the institution. Just my two cents.
 

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Is this really like applying to, say, BYU? I wasn't aware that BC was a catholic college, for example. No one I know who goes/went/works there, whose religious affiliation I know, is Catholic.
 
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When I interviewed for internships in rural areas I told a story about getting stuck in LA traffic for two hours. We also talked about my interests in outdoor activities. They seemed to appreciate it and I matched with my top choice. People with children discussed the schools and churches. A lot of things come up during our interviews. I never disclosed my religious beliefs but I would have definitely discussed my interests in the psychology of religion as that was an area of emphasis in my doctoral program that I find useful too. Our program's director literally wrote the book on it. I am siding with the disclose it as it comes up.
 
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modestmousktr

modestmousktr

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Eek! It does seem to be a bit of a touchy subject, which is certainly understandable.

As erg stated, my motivation for bringing it up, if questioned, was because my own, I suppose you can call it, mission statement, has been shaped by the way that I was raised. As a Catholic, I was very inspired by the humanitarian efforts of Mother Teresa, and am particularly drawn to Catholic universities as it seems they have more of a social justice and advocacy component than pure research and clinical practice, which I attributed to their alignment with the Catholic church.

Although I do not agree with the church in many ways (I am very liberal- pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, etc), I find that my upbringing has inspired my interest in human service and social justice, in addition to a lot of my research interests- reducing ethnic disparities in mental health service use, outreach/dissemination for undeserved populations, etc.

For example, one school states "Consistent with Loyola University’s mission as a Jesuit, Catholic institution, transformative graduate education in the Department of Psychology has two foci: (a) Healthy Development in Children, Youth, and Families, and (b) Psychological Foundations of Social Justice. "

Also, as mentioned, I am from an area where religion is frowned upon, especially among college students, so I am actually interested if there is an active religious community on these campuses, which is something I would like to inquire about but am a bit frightened given the sensitivity of the subject.

I am definitely not bringing it up for brownie points, LOL, promise! Thank you guys for all of the input. I will have to think about it a bit more.
 

Ollie123

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Mentioning that statement and how you felt it spoke to you seems perfectly appropriate. I would say its okay to disclose if you feel comfortable, but I also wouldn't make it a goal to disclose...I guess it just depends on the room. Keep it positive though (i.e. don't mention the ways in which you disagree with the church). As others have said though...you definitely don't want to make it a focal point of your reason for applying.

I probably wouldn't ask the question about campus religious activities during faculty interviews. Not because it would necessarily be "bad" but just because its probably a distraction from things you should be focusing on in interviews. I agree with the above that much of it is just about building rapport and being a real person they want to work with who has interests outside psychology. However, this is potentially a very tough thing to discuss in that context. I'm thinking about how I'd react if I was a faculty member conducting interviews and an applicant brought up....it becomes a VERY delicate dance in what I could/should/would communicate to a person in such a situation so as not to open up avenues for lawsuits. The institutions are still (to my knowledge) held to the same standards as any other institution and can't discriminate based on religion, so there may be a CYA approach. Keep in mind faculty may or may not hold beliefs in line with the institution (I know someone openly atheist on faculty at one of the schools mentioned - and I'm sure its not at all uncommon). Anyways, none of this is to say you absolutely shouldn't say it if the situation feels right. Just recognize that its probably safer to exert some discretion ind oing so.


As for religious activities on campus...I wouldn't bring it up during faculty interviews - mostly just because I think there are probably better things to bring up during what will probably be a very short time. However, if its like most schools you will meet with the students too and it seems a perfect question for that situation. Again - I wouldn't include the negative ("where I am from religion was frowned upon"), but a simple question of "What sort of religious activities are available on campus?" is totally appropriate.
 
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PhDToBe

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I would not bring it up at all, because it is not the focus of the interview, and the professor, who is the one selecting you, most likely will not care, and you risk making him/her uncomfortable.

If you do, I would be careful to make sure you don't let them think your religion informs your clinical work in that you would provide therapy from a Christian viewpoint (unless the client requested such).
 

xXIDaShizIXx

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I was questioned, at least initially in mine, because my research involved religious fundamentalism. They basically were looking at if I could remove myself from personal opinions and look at things objectively. I would just be honest and if things don't come up, then just don't bring it up.
 

erg923

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I would not bring it up at all, because it is not the focus of the interview, and the professor, who is the one selecting you, most likely will not care, and you risk making him/her uncomfortable.

If you do, I would be careful to make sure you don't let them think your religion informs your clinical work in that you would provide therapy from a Christian viewpoint (unless the client requested such).
I think its important to clarify that one's faith and beliefs can inspire and assist in their clinical work. If you live your faith, it would be impossible for it not to. This does not mean one does "christian counseling," however.
 
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MCParent

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The institutions are still (to my knowledge) held to the same standards as any other institution and can't discriminate based on religion, so there may be a CYA approach.
They can, actually. Footnote 4 allows religious schools to discriminate against applicants. I don't think it really matters at these schools listed though, and matters more at places like BYU or Regent.
 
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They can, actually. Footnote 4 allows religious schools to discriminate against applicants. I don't think it really matters at these schools listed though, and matters more at places like BYU or Regent.
Footnote 4 to what? Title IX?

And thanks to everyone for answering my random questions. :)
 

Doctor Eliza

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Eek! It does seem to be a bit of a touchy subject, which is certainly understandable.

As erg stated, my motivation for bringing it up, if questioned, was because my own, I suppose you can call it, mission statement, has been shaped by the way that I was raised. As a Catholic, I was very inspired by the humanitarian efforts of Mother Teresa, and am particularly drawn to Catholic universities as it seems they have more of a social justice and advocacy component than pure research and clinical practice, which I attributed to their alignment with the Catholic church.

Although I do not agree with the church in many ways (I am very liberal- pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, etc), I find that my upbringing has inspired my interest in human service and social justice, in addition to a lot of my research interests- reducing ethnic disparities in mental health service use, outreach/dissemination for undeserved populations, etc.

For example, one school states "Consistent with Loyola University’s mission as a Jesuit, Catholic institution, transformative graduate education in the Department of Psychology has two foci: (a) Healthy Development in Children, Youth, and Families, and (b) Psychological Foundations of Social Justice. "

Also, as mentioned, I am from an area where religion is frowned upon, especially among college students, so I am actually interested if there is an active religious community on these campuses, which is something I would like to inquire about but am a bit frightened given the sensitivity of the subject.

I am definitely not bringing it up for brownie points, LOL, promise! Thank you guys for all of the input. I will have to think about it a bit more.
You actually brought up another issue here. When you identify as Catholic, many people automatically assume that you subscribe to certain beliefs about sexuality, sexual orientation, abortion, etc. Many of these beliefs happen to be unpopular among a large number of psychologists. Of course, you and I know that there is lots of variation and dissent among practicing Catholics, but I wouldn't feel comfortable banking my grad school acceptance on the professor not making assumptions.
 

erg923

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Yes, BUT, the poster is discussing this at Catholic universities, of which the faculty are a part of. Catholic universities will attract Catholic Christian students. Faculty arent going to be shocked by this. And the faculty at these universities, will, even if not Catholic Christians, likely have some connection with the larger mission of the university and/or a knowledge that Catholicism is actually a quite liberal faith. I think some of you still view Catholicism as operating the same way it did prior to JohnXXIII and the second council. This is not the case.
 
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Doctor Eliza

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Yes, BUT, the poster is discussing this at Catholic universities, of which the faculty are a part of. Catholic universities will attract Catholic Christian students. Faculty arent going to be shocked by this. And the faculty at these universities, will, even if not Catholic Christians, likely have some connection with the larger mission of the university and/or a knowledge that Catholicism is actually a quite liberal faith. I think some of you still view Catholicism as operating the same way it did prior to JohnXXIII and the second council. This is not the case.
I think you just made my point by saying "some of you still view..." Remember you are not the sole authority on Catholicism here. I am a lifelong practicing Catholic and attended a Catholic UG. I am well aware of misconceptions and prejudices against Catholics and have experienced them first hand.
 
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psyman

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I applied to and got in a PhD program at a Catholic university. I am not Catholic or Christian, but it would have felt silly to mention if I was Catholic as a reason for wanting to attend the program. That's just me.
 
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I applied to and got in a PhD program at a Catholic university. I am not Catholic or Christian, but it would have felt silly to mention if I was Catholic as a reason for wanting to attend the program. That's just me.
That statement doesn't make much sense. How can you speak to something of which you have absolutely no real frame of reference? Of course you would feel silly mentioning something that is not an integral part of who you are and the choices that you make in life. Why couldn't or shouldn't being religious play a role in selecting a religious university? I am really mystified by some of the responses to this thread and I wonder if it's because of the continued anti-religious bias of our field.
 

erg923

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I applied to and got in a PhD program at a Catholic university. I am not Catholic or Christian, but it would have felt silly to mention if I was Catholic as a reason for wanting to attend the program. That's just me.
Yes, it would have. Cause your not Catholic. So you have no frame of reference on how this is valued in the lives of people who are. It is not a egodystonic feeling when you are actually part of the faith, and the relevance is quite obvious.
 
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psyman

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Yes, it would have. Cause your not Catholic. So you have no frame of reference on how this is valued in the lives of people who are. It is not a egodystonic feeling when you are actually part of the faith, and the relevance is quite obvious.
That statement doesn't make much sense. How can you speak to something of which you have absolutely no real frame of reference? Of course you would feel silly mentioning something that is not an integral part of who you are and the choices that you make in life. Why couldn't or shouldn't being religious play a role in selecting a religious university? I am really mystified by some of the responses to this thread and I wonder if it's because of the continued anti-religious bias of our field.
As a former Christian, I actually do have a frame of reference.
 

erg923

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As a former Christian, I actually do have a frame of reference.
I guess I am unclear what you are saying.

You would feel "silly" mentioning your faith a reason for wanting to be part of an institution which was founded by said faith and has mission consistent with it? Is that what you are saying? Why would this make you feel silly?

That's equivalent to applying to work at Apple but then feeling "silly" mentioning the fact that you like MAC operating systems over Windows.
 

psyman

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I guess I am unclear what you are saying.

You would feel "silly" mentioning your faith a reason for wanting to be part of an institution which was founded by said faith and has mission consistent with it? Why would this make you feel silly?

That's equivalent to applying to work at Apple but then feeling "silly" mentioning the fact that you like MAC operating systems over Windows.
Being affiliated with a religious institution had no impact on the program itself. The program was no different or religiously oriented in any way because it was in that university. If I were faculty there, I wouldn't care if someone liked that the uni was Catholic. That has no bearing on being in my program.
 

erg923

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Being affiliated with a religious institution had no impact on the program itself. The program was no different or religiously oriented in any way because it was in that university. If I were faculty there, I wouldn't care if someone liked that the uni was Catholic. That has no bearing on being in my program.
Right, and as a non-catholic Christian, this makes sense. But, for someone who is, there are often draws to places like Loyola, Notre Dame that go beyond the specific department/program. So, I think most Christians would not feel silly mentioning this within the "fit" factor.
 

LETSGONYR

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I'm actually surprised that so many people are against "disclosing" religious affiliation. I am not a Christian and mostly consider myself an atheist, but I personally see nothing wrong with discussing religious beliefs during an interview. I agree with others that it shouldn't be the focus of your interview or why you want to attend a school, but if it naturally fits into the conversation, why not discuss it?

Religion is a large part of many people's lives, even if it's just the sense of belonging that comes from being in a congregation, rather than actual religious beliefs. Something like that can definitely be a positive, even if you are only talking about how religion has helped inform you about the range of protective factors that may help a patient's mental well-being. I would avoid potentially volatile issues, such as abortion, marriage rights, etc., but general feelings about your personal passions/community service, how you can appreciate others' beliefs, how you recognize the role of community supports, and how you learned a lot about how people you only interact with weekly can have a large influence on your life? Totally appropriate to discuss, in my opinion, even for programs in secular institutions.

Also think of it this way- if the faculty of a program is so intolerant that an applicant briefly mentioning how religion has been a positive influence in their life turns them off SO MUCH.... is that really a place where you'd want to spend 5-6 years?
 

LETSGONYR

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Being affiliated with a religious institution had no impact on the program itself. The program was no different or religiously oriented in any way because it was in that university. If I were faculty there, I wouldn't care if someone liked that the uni was Catholic. That has no bearing on being in my program.
No, it doesn't impact the program itself. But it certainly would affect life in that university as a whole... maybe there are extracurricular clubs a person could join, or friends of a certain faith that he could make, or religious events in the community at large.

I don't think anyone is advocating "Go into the interview, praise the pope, and then ignore psychology!" ...but you have to think about your life outside of the program as well, and I think finding a faith community that you can join is certainly going to affect that and probably make you happier/more likely to succeed in the program.
 
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erg923

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Any professor who takes an actual interest in his students will care about their quality of life, and will likely have a natural interest or concern about the person that extends beyond the lab. Professors do care about things other than psychology, folks. We are humans too, with spouses and children and hobbies, and faith identities.

Counter to psyman's statement, your life beyond psychology actually does interest me (I form long term relationships with my prac students, and I usually take then to dinner at the end of their rotation in my clinic), and I sincerely do hope that there are other values/elements of your life that influences your life choices other than me and my work. To deny this reality, or to not care about it, seems extraordinary self-centered on the part of the professor. I hope we aren't advocating such a thing here?
 
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WisNeuro

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I didn't say I was necessarily against disclosing, just that I wouldn't make it a focus. If you have a very good narrative about your fit in the program itself (great fit for clinical and research opportunities) it could be a good thing to mention about also liking the atmosphere because it lines up with your background, etc. But, if that fit narrative is weaker, and you say something like "I also applied here because of the religious atmosphere..." then it looks like you applied with that as your main criteria, and I am less interested in you. So, it's fine, just make sure that is far from being any of your top 3 reasons for applying.
 

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Didn't read all the posts, so this may have already been said...

I worked at a Jesuit university for a few years. Religiosity of the staff varied, with almost no research professors being overt with their faith (if they were even religious). My PI would probably have been uncomfortable if an interviewee had started discussing religion. On the other hand, a good number of (mostly non-science) professors were Jesuit brothers/sisters.

I think talking about the school's misson is great and not a problem. It shows you've done some research and would be a good fit in the environment. However, make sure your real focus is on the research fit.
 
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AcronymAllergy

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My take is that it'd be similar to many other personal details that are potentially central to one's life (e.g., marital and child status)--it's all about context and how it's discussed rather than if it's discussed. If it comes up in the natural flow of the interview, great. If it's forced, just like any other topic in that situation, it could be viewed negatively and/or create an awkward interview experience.
 
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