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I've been accepted to a few PhD programs straight out of undergrad (without having written a thesis- so there is hope, to people that are worried about that!:) ). I've also been accepted to several MA programs.

My initial intention was for the MA programs to be back-up options, but lately I've been reconsidering my choices. Despite the debt, I think I'd feel more comfortable with the 2-year commitment of a MA program. I'd also be an hour away from my family and boyfriend, verses 14 hours away. Additionally, although I enjoy research, I think I enjoy clinical work more. I found volunteering at a Crisis Center to be more fulfilling than serving as a Research Assistant. Finally, I am not very good at statistics. It's the only course I received a B in, and it's very boring to me.

Would it be foolish of me to turn down the PhD offers and get my MA first due to my uncertainty? I know I could always go back and reapply to PhD programs, but I might not get in on the second round :-/
 
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Hey-

I think it would be beneficial to first decide if your willing to leave your relationship behind... A phd program is a big commitment and I believe it would tough if your energies are focused elsewhere. Would your partner move with you?
 
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Hey-

I think it would be beneficial to first decide if your willing to leave your relationship behind... A phd program is a big commitment and I believe it would tough if your energies are focused elsewhere. Would your partner move with you?

My boyfriend can't go with me. The Masters programs would put me (on average) 2 hours away from him, which is manageable. The PhD program would be a lot more difficult. We'd try to do long distance either way.

But the general message I've gotten from people is that you should never choose your school based upon a significant other... because if things don't work out, you're kind of stuck there.
 
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I've been accepted to a few PhD programs straight out of undergrad (without having written a thesis- so there is hope, to people that are worried about that!:) ). I've also been accepted to several MA programs.

My initial intention was for the MA programs to be back-up options, but lately I've been reconsidering my choices. Despite the debt, I think I'd feel more comfortable with the 2-year commitment of a MA program. I'd also be an hour away from my family and boyfriend, verses 14 hours away. Additionally, although I enjoy research, I think I enjoy clinical work more. I found volunteering at a Crisis Center to be more fulfilling than serving as a Research Assistant. Finally, I am not very good at statistics. It's the only course I received a B in, and it's very boring to me.

Would it be foolish of me to turn down the PhD offers and get my MA first due to my uncertainty? I know I could always go back and reapply to PhD programs, but I might not get in on the second round :-/

I think if you truly feel more comfortable with the 2 year MA program you should choose that. If you truly are not interested in research then doing a thesis and dissertation would most likely be painful for you. It depends though if the Ph.D. schools you applied to are more research orriented or have a scientist practioner model. If you are choosing the MA program solely based on the relationship I would consider this choice a little more carefully. Would you feel uncomfortable passing up the opportunity for the Ph.D. ? I know everyone has differing opinions but this is my 2 cents.
 

Markp

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My initial intention was for the MA programs to be back-up options, but lately I've been reconsidering my choices. Despite the debt, I think I'd feel more comfortable with the 2-year commitment of a MA program.
I am going to challenge your words here, nothing personal and it's not an attack. Honestly, is this what you really believe? You're more comfortable with a shorter commitment? If you go for a Ph.D. later, you will still have the same long slog despite doing a masters elsewhere. So I WOULD NOT go for a masters elsewhere if you really want to be a Ph.D.

I'd also be an hour away from my family and boyfriend, verses 14 hours away. Additionally, although I enjoy research, I think I enjoy clinical work more.
I think that this is more of a driver than any other factor that you discuss. Your boyfriend may or not be a fixture in your life long term, your family will always be your family no matter how far away you move. If you are making this decision based on being close to your boyfriend, he better be a keeper. If you don't think the relationship will survive the distance, why do you think it's worth changing the course of your life for? (It may or may not be, only you can answer that question.)

I found volunteering at a Crisis Center to be more fulfilling than serving as a Research Assistant. Finally, I am not very good at statistics. It's the only course I received a B in, and it's very boring to me.
Now you are trying to justify your decision. I have only had to take 2 stats courses in my graduate program (for a Ph.D.) are you saying that you'd forgo the Ph.D. because you might have to take 1 more stats course than you would in a Masters program? Being a research assistant can take many guises, some more clinically focused than others.

Would it be foolish of me to turn down the PhD offers and get my MA first due to my uncertainty? I know I could always go back and reapply to PhD programs, but I might not get in on the second round :-/
YES, it would be foolish if you WANT a Ph.D.

On the other hand, if you're not sure if you can be away from your family or if your boyfriend is more important than you then you might be making the right decision for you. Unfortunately getting your Ph.D. often involves a level of commitment and sacrifice that most sane people are not willing to make.

Good luck in making your decision, I know it's not going to be easy!

Mark

PS - Boyfriends are like buses, another one will be by to pick you up.
 

Wildcat06

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Another major consideration is the nature of your MA program. What is it a masters of? And can you get licensed as a therapist in your state with that degree? Not all masters are created equal and if it is, say, a masters of arts in psychology, there really isn't much you can do with that aside from going on to a PhD.
 

krisrox

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I am going to challenge your words here, nothing personal and it's not an attack. Honestly, is this what you really believe? You're more comfortable with a shorter commitment? If you go for a Ph.D. later, you will still have the same long slog despite doing a masters elsewhere. So I WOULD NOT go for a masters elsewhere if you really want to be a Ph.D.



I think that this is more of a driver than any other factor that you discuss. Your boyfriend may or not be a fixture in your life long term, your family will always be your family no matter how far away you move. If you are making this decision based on being close to your boyfriend, he better be a keeper. If you don't think the relationship will survive the distance, why do you think it's worth changing the course of your life for? (It may or may not be, only you can answer that question.)



Now you are trying to justify your decision. I have only had to take 2 stats courses in my graduate program (for a Ph.D.) are you saying that you'd forgo the Ph.D. because you might have to take 1 more stats course than you would in a Masters program? Being a research assistant can take many guises, some more clinically focused than others.



YES, it would be foolish if you WANT a Ph.D.

On the other hand, if you're not sure if you can be away from your family or if your boyfriend is more important than you then you might be making the right decision for you. Unfortunately getting your Ph.D. often involves a level of commitment and sacrifice that most sane people are not willing to make.

Good luck in making your decision, I know it's not going to be easy!

Mark

PS - Boyfriends are like buses, another one will be by to pick you up.
Good advice, Mark. Especially that last part : P

Seriously, though, you do need to decide what you want to do. I'm going to be moving 14 hours away from my boyfriend and he's not planning on moving with me... at least not yet. Is your career more important than convenience in your relationship? You shouldn't think of it as a career vs. a relatinship because, as previously mentioned, you should go into this with peace of mind knowing that your relationship can last despite the distance...
 
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Hi,
This is completely and totally your decision but learning from experience you should never ever decide to do something based on a relationship. I went to a closer university because it was near my boyfriend (of 6 years) and we ended up breaking up. Believe me its not worth it in the end and if he loves you enough distance won't mean anything to him.
 

jnine

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my 2 cents says it's all about the future career you want. if the phd is what you need to get there, then go for it. the research background is an important part of your training because it will help you understand and evaluate the quality of research supporting clinical interventions. if you're uncertain whether the PhD training is necessary for the career you want, as many people are straight out of undergrad, then the MA is a fair option.

and if you're going to choose based on your BF....

he better be a keeper.
:)
 

phillydave

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I'll second Mark's sentiment about justifying decisions and not using our best judgment when it comes to these life-changing choices. After I finished my MS in Psych, I convinced myself that I was going to apply to law school rather than PsyD programs and made out a long pros and cons list. I tormented myself over the decision for months before I really admitted to myself that I was scared of the 5 years+ commitment, plus the dissertation. In the end, I'm headed into a PsyD program, still scared to death, but knowing I made the right decision. Rational decisions are a lot harder when they are about your own future, so I'd say talk it over with family, or other people who know you well.

Best of luck!
 

PhDToBe

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If you do decide to stick with a Master's because you like clinical work more, I would strongly suggest doing a MSW (Master's of Social Work), because from what I have seen and heard, they're a lot more marketable than a regular Master's in Clinical Psych. I know it varies by state, but they are often employed at hospitals, prisons, etc. I don't know a huge amount about the degree, but it's something to consider.
 
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if you do decide to stick with a master's because you like clinical work more, i would strongly suggest doing a msw (master's of social work), because from what i have seen and heard, they're a lot more marketable than a regular master's in clinical psych. I know it varies by state, but they are often employed at hospitals, prisons, etc. I don't know a huge amount about the degree, but it's something to consider.
+1
 

JockNerd

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If I hadn't moved across the continent for my graduate education, I'd be gay-married in Canada right now. So, I'm certainly aware of how hard it can be.

It's an interesting catch-22--the partner you want is the one who will encourage you to fulfill your own dreams, but that means he's also the one who's not going to try to make you stay.

What others said: if you're not married or an equivalent, take the relationship out of the decision. The other stuff is more relevant, and it seems to me to be a bad decision to make decisions like this based on what works for someone else's life.
 

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Lots of good advice provided. I'd just add, as someone with a husband and children, I think it would be a lot easier to obtain your Ph.D now than later. Commitments and relationships won't get any easier as time goes by. So, if you think you'd eventually like to get the Ph.D and you've been accepted into programs already - girl, I'd go:D
 

Jon Snow

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Bad decision on an unemotional level. You get a masters degree in the course of doing a PhD program. Odds are the PhD program educational quality is higher than the terminal masters program. If you decided a couple of years into the PhD to get out, you'd be able to get out with a masters without much of a problem. On an emotional level, I agree with Mark P, this sounds like you're making decisions based on a boyfriend. I wouldn't do that. Even if you marry the guy, you may end up resenting this decision. Managing dual careers can be a challenge, but I imagine you're young (22 - ish). Now is not the time to anchor yourself to a location because of a relationship. Do the long distance thing, but don't choose to go to some crummy masters program because of a boyfriend.
 

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joonscribble

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My question for you would be what sort of PhD programs did you get into? If you are more interested in clinical practice over research, then going to a program where they give you either 50/50 on research/practicum or even more practicum over research would be ideal for you.

Speaking as someone who went to a terminal masters program in general psychology, I'll say about 98% of us in the program did this because we all came from non-psychology backgrounds and didn't have the qualifications to get a paying research assistant position. But our goals were to get into a PhD program either before we got our MA or soon afterwards since the MA degree itself wouldn't allow us to practice.

Terminal masters to me in clinical or general psychology are just a very expensive stepping stone toward the PhD. If your interest is mainly in clinical practice, I'd suggest either the MSW as mentioned before or a PhD program that offers good practical training rather than be solely research-oriented. There is also the option of the PsyD which focuses less on research and more on clinical work.
 
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1. Unlike the others, I am not going to assume that you're making this whole decision because of your BF. Which, even if you were...we all have different priorities. For some, it is having an amazing significant other. I consider myself extremely driven and motivated, but none of it would be worth as much to me if I didn't have my significant other (and friends and family) to share it with.

2. You sound like you're just sort of freaking out about it all. TOTALLY understandable. Breathe. Make pro/cons lists. Imagine yourself playing out each situation. It is a huge commitment.

3. Go with your gut. (Your gut says you're not ready for a PhD program? Then don't do it. Your gut says you can't miss out on this great opportunity? Go get that doctorate) Which will you regret least?

4. Don't assume (like another poster suggested) that you can get a terminal masters en route to the PhD - not all programs do this. Additionally, they are not all clinical masters, so you would be unable to practice anything.

5. I second the advice of looking into which masters degrees are most marketable in your area. In NY for instance, its the MSW. In other places, it's a clinical psych masters, and in others, counseling masters.

6. I just turned 22 myself, and recently had a big freak out about the PhD program (another psych field) that I'm in. In the end, I decided to stay and bear it - I just had to get over how scary the whole process is.

7. Good luck as you make this difficult but amazingly exciting decision !!!
 

CApsych

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mmm just a word on "if it is a real relationship it will survive the distance"- it's not that easy to maintain a wonderful relationship at 14 hours apart. Some people can do it. Lots of people can't. It's less of a comment on your relationship, more of an analysis of your priorities. I knew I wouldn't be able to make the choice to leave my boyfriend, but I wasn't about to choose a program based on him without a very firm commitment. I talked to him about it and basically said "I have to do what's best for me, which, professionally, is moving. If I'm not going to move, then I need x and y from you, now." I had lots of people telling me I was an idiot to factor him into the decision, but emotionally it wasn't even an option for me to ditch my support system (him and friends). I wrestled with this forever, and I may be disappointed in the future, but it's the only decision I could make at this time. If you are pretty young (under 23 or so), have aspirations of academic positions that would require you to move frequently or aren't super sure about the relationship, think really hard before choosing to stay for him, you will indeed resent him later. However if this move is going to make you so upset it will be hard to focus, then realize you do have a choice.
 

cara susanna

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Careful of the Masters route if you are pretty sure about going for the PhD later. I know people in my program who went in with their Masters and it's made things a lot more complicated and difficult for them. One of them said that they wouldn't recommend it.

True, this is anecdotal evidence and may only apply to my program, but it is relevant I think.
 
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This is a really hard decision. Here is what I can say from my experience—I am currently about half way through my doctorate program in clinical psych, and I’m also in a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend of almost 3 years. We were not dating when I applied to grad school so my decisions on where to apply and ultimately where to attend did not factor him in at all. I think this was a good thing, because I was truly able to choose the program that was best for me and I am incredibly happy where I am. I had also gotten into a program much closer to home and, had I been dating my boyfriend when I had to decide, I can imagine I may have chosen differently, and may not have been as happy at the other program. So in terms of choosing a program, I do think it’s very important to be where you are happy and where you will ultimately be able to achieve your goals—whether that be an MA or PhD or whatever you choose (which of course can be a difficult decision in and of itself).
That said, long distance relationships are very difficult! While I’m very happy at my program, I hate being apart from my significant other. Like an earlier poster said, it is very difficult to have one of your primary supports far away. Of course you will make friends and hopefully have great support at your new program, but it can be hard to maintain the relationship at a distance. So I don’t think it is an insignificant consideration. I will say though, it can be done and, while five years sounds like a very long time, it does go very very fast, especially if you like what you are doing. With some effort it’s very possible that a relationship can make it through that time too. Plus, if you end up choosing a program based on where your sig other is instead of what you really want, you may be miserable there and it sounds like you will still be at a little distance anyway.
Someone once recommended this strategy to me for making difficult decisions like this: imagine you have chosen option 1, and for a few days act as if you had made that decision (think about it that way, talk about it that way, imagine what plans you would make if that were your decision). Then, spend a few days with option 2 as your decision. You might find yourself more excited about one or realize you really wouldn’t be happy if one was your choice. Best of luck!
 

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Careful of the Masters route if you are pretty sure about going for the PhD later. I know people in my program who went in with their Masters and it's made things a lot more complicated and difficult for them. One of them said that they wouldn't recommend it.

True, this is anecdotal evidence and may only apply to my program, but it is relevant I think.
True. One thing to consider is that, in many cases, an MA may leave you with a lighter courseload for a couple of semesters, but it usually doesn't shave that much time off of a PhD program in reality. Also, some (but certainly not all) programs are wary of applied MAs, as they like to train people clinically "from the ground up."
 

Markp

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This made me laugh. I wonder if there is a different stop for LGB individuals?
Yes, but there are never enough women at the B stop... ;) There is a bus stop for everyone!

Back to the more serious discussion, long distance relationships... they are incredibly hard, but better than being resentful or always harboring doubt about what could have been. As one poster put it, it's not hard and fast, there is room to negotiate what you need and express your concerns...

Mark
 

BuckeyeAlum

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Do you like school? I mean REALLY like school? If you're on the fence about all the research (and possibly the work of classes, etc.), then maybe a Ph.D. program isn't for you afterall. A Ph.D. program is a lot of time and work. If you really love what you're doing in the program, then that time and work is manageable; if your heart's not it in, then maybe you really should reconsider.

I'm just starting a program in August, however I've known people who started Ph.D. programs and realized after a year or so that they didn't like some of the essential components (research in one case, reading articles, etc. in another).

And I echo the long-distance stuff. It can be tough (I know from experience), but depending on a lot of things, it can work out and be rewarding too. :)
 
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Hi, Counseling Girl,

One thing to keep in mind on this particular board is that the vast majority of respondents are probably already enrolled in a doctoral program or really want to be! (Have you asked anyone who went the terminal M.A. route? You might get a different set of responses.) I think that you make a strong case for going the M.A. route. One should not always take the most challenging option or the most advanced degree just because he or she is capable of fulfilling the obligations that are inherent to it. For instance, one should not become president of a country or company just because he would do fine at it. Which option do you think will bring you the greatest overall happiness in the long run? If I had as strong a clinical drive as you seem to possess, then I would have just finished my master's in clinical psychology and gone to work. However, as I want to teach and do research full-time, I have chosen the PhD path.

Regarding the type of work you like or don't like, in my math teaching career of approx. a decade, it seemed as though people who liked math, including statistics, usually knew fairly early on whether or not they enjoyed doing that type of thinking. If you don't like stats now, unless you had a really bad stats teacher/book/experience in the course or in life while you were taking the course, then you probably won't like stats in graduate school.

In deciding whether to pursue a PhD, I talked to several relatives and friends who had followed that path. All I considered very smart and wise. If some of them had known what they know now BEFORE they had embarked on the PhD path, I don't think that they would have pursued a PhD. (Too much effort for the eventual payoff, financially and emotionally.) It seems as though some of the "less degreed" people I know are happier than some of the "most degreed" people I know.

Regarding personal relationships, I think that some relationships are worth nurturing! Staying geographically closer makes that easier. (I have stayed loyal to significant others on the other side of the world and the other side of the country, but not everyone is willing to do that. Some respondents might say that if the person wasn't willing to wait several years for you or move closer to you, then he's not a "keeper." That may be true in some cases, but I'm not sure that that's true in all cases.) Also, I'm not sure that there is a bus stop for everyone. (Mark P sounds popular. Not all of us are that fortunate!) Furthermore, I'm not sure that what you find at the next bus stop may be as good! I don't equate being fairly young (to someone like me, a person in her forties) with not knowing what you want in a relationship or in life. Some people figure out those things early! In deciding which university to choose, you might ask yourself, "How committed to me is my boyfriend? How good a partner is he overall?" I vote for following your gut in this case.

Good luck in deciding!
 

Sendtrees

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I definitely don't think it is always a mistake to make decisions based on a significant other, even if you're only 22. Relationships are important. Having said that, I would think hard about turning down a Ph.D. program.

Just because you haven't been interested in research so far does not mean that research really isn't for you. You might find that once you are working on a topic that really interests you, research will be the most fulfilling (and flat-out fascinating) way of engaging with it. Research can enrich your clinical work. And you might end up loving the social practices that go along with it--conferences and presentations.

There are also many, many ways of conducting research. You do not have to be a statistician to do good research. You don't have to run studies in a lab. There is a world of rich and imaginative research out there that pushes beyond boundaries you might think are inflexible.

Think about it this way: if you decide it's not for you, you can always leave with an M.A. But if you choose a terminal M.A. program, you'll have to reapply and likely do a lot of it over again.

Good luck.
 

Markp

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Hi, Counseling Girl,

Also, I'm not sure that there is a bus stop for everyone. (Mark P sounds popular. Not all of us are that fortunate!) Furthermore, I'm not sure that what you find at the next bus stop may be as good! I don't equate being fairly young (to someone like me, a person in her forties) with not knowing what you want in a relationship or in life.

Good luck in deciding!
It's a big world out there. I have been fortunate and I had a metropass... lol, so yes, I have some experience to draw on now that I am in my 40's (although I was hardly "popular".) It is possible that this relationship is "the one", however my experience is that most people are HIGHLY compatible with more than one person.

How many people do you know who have been married and then either divorced or widowed to later partner up again?

Mark
 

Aura5

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It's a big world out there. I have been fortunate and I had a metropass... lol, so yes, I have some experience to draw on now that I am in my 40's (although I was hardly "popular".) It is possible that this relationship is "the one", however my experience is that most people are HIGHLY compatible with more than one person.

How many people do you know who have been married and then either divorced or widowed to later partner up again?

Mark

I think I'm almost encouraged by this...:rofl: I think you're right, though. But I'll just keep waitin' at that bus stop...lol
 
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I truly appreciate everyone's responses! I have been dreading this decision for a long time, and now that April 15th is getting closer, it literally makes me sick to my stomach.

The variety of perspectives shared here will definitely help me make a final decision. I hope this thread can help others in the future, because many people will end up having to make a decision like this.

As for me, I am deciding whether or not to attend the PhD program at the University of Florida. The Masters program I am most interested in is at Indiana University. It's 48 credit hours, and then I'd apply to the Ed.S. program. The link is below if anyone is curious.
http://education.indiana.edu/counsel/Masters/tabid/5561/Default.aspx
 

futureapppsy2

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I truly appreciate everyone's responses! I have been dreading this decision for a long time, and now that April 15th is getting closer, it literally makes me sick to my stomach.

The variety of perspectives shared here will definitely help me make a final decision. I hope this thread can help others in the future, because many people will end up having to make a decision like this.

As for me, I am deciding whether or not to attend the PhD program at the University of Florida. The Masters program I am most interested in is at Indiana University. It's 48 credit hours, and then I'd apply to the Ed.S. program. The link is below if anyone is curious.
http://education.indiana.edu/counsel/Masters/tabid/5561/Default.aspx
Florida's Counseling Psych PhD? There's an SDNer who is current student there now. Really likes it, but it's apparently very research oriented.

I'm a bit confused on a) why you would get an EdS after an MA and b) why you would get an EdS in Counseling Psych, honestly!
 
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Florida's Counseling Psych PhD? There's an SDNer who is current student there now. Really likes it, but it's apparently very research oriented.

I'm a bit confused on a) why you would get an EdS after an MA and b) why you would get an EdS in Counseling Psych, honestly!
Yeah, I actually met him in person at the interview. He's a really nice guy.

Your confusion is understandable. IU's program is odd in that it's 48 credit hours, and to be a LMHC in Indiana, you need to have taken 60. In order to get the 60 credits, you need the EdS degree. The reason I favor it over the other program I'm considering (which is 60 credits and doesn't require an additional degree) is because it's in-state tuition, it's ranked highly, and it's competitive. The acceptance rate for the program is as low as the acceptance rate for the PhD program.
 

futureapppsy2

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Yeah, I actually met him in person at the interview. He's a really nice guy.

Your confusion is understandable. IU's program is odd in that it's 48 credit hours, and to be a LMHC in Indiana, you need to have taken 60. In order to get the 60 credits, you need the EdS degree. The reason I favor it over the other program I'm considering (which is 60 credits and doesn't require an additional degree) is because it's in-state tuition, it's ranked highly, and it's competitive. The acceptance rate for the program is as low as the acceptance rate for the PhD program.
Thanks for the clarification! Is UF's research bent part of your hesitation or is it just a doctoral commitment in general?
 
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Thanks for the clarification! Is UF's research bent part of your hesitation or is it just a doctoral commitment in general?
It's more the doctoral commitment in general. Although Florida is research-oriented, it provides excellent clinical training. They are opening a new clinic this fall, and their counseling center is the largest in the nation.

One potential issue is the topic I'd be researching. I'd research my number 2 interest, not my number one interest. I dunno though, maybe I'm just making excuses again :-/
 

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I've gone to UF (undergrad) and found it to a great school. G'ville itself is a convenient place to live for a college student. I don't know anything about the grad programs though; although it will likely be on my list when I'm ready to start applying. Plus, it's generally a funded program.

I wish you the best of luck in your decision!
 

Markp

Clinical Psychologist
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 19, 2007
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Status
Psychologist
Your confusion is understandable. IU's program is odd in that it's 48 credit hours, and to be a LMHC in Indiana, you need to have taken 60. In order to get the 60 credits, you need the EdS degree. The reason I favor it over the other program I'm considering (which is 60 credits and doesn't require an additional degree) is because it's in-state tuition, it's ranked highly, and it's competitive. The acceptance rate for the program is as low as the acceptance rate for the PhD program.
I can see how that might be a difficult decision, as there are a number of other factors that make it a tough choice. Debt is an important factor as is the quality of the program. Finally there is the aspect of your career and what your plans are for YOUR future. If your goal is to remain in Indiana long term and be an LMHC, that might be enough to justify your decision alone to remain in state. If your goal is to get your Ph.D., perhaps not.

I wish you the best of luck in your decision, much of it only can be decided by you. Don't let your anxiety get the best of you, regardless of which decision you make more than likely you'll be able to live with the results.

Good luck,

Mark