After reading this, What type of grad school would you suggest to this person?

  • Psy.D.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Terminal Psychology MA/MS

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Ed.D.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • other (please specify in comments)

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    12
Sep 14, 2020
3
0
Status
Pre-Psychology
Dear people of student doctor network,

Let me start by apologizing in advance for this book of a post. I am trying to be as specific as possible to get relevant advice. I really sincerely appreciate anyone who takes the time to read this and put in their two cents, you are a godsend, I would buy you a beer if I could.

After many many hours of reading endless threads about PsyD vs. PhD, MSW vs MA/MS in psych, PsyD vs Terminal masters, etc. ect. etc. I am still extremely undecided about what path to take. I have even gone as far as making a pro and cons list for each different prospective path including full financial breakdown based off of census reported income (at least that's what I think I am getting on .gov websites) on the different prospective fields. I am driving myself insane and am starting to think that I should just throw a dart at a dart board that has these degree letters taped to it and just go with where It lands…

While asking strangers on the internet for advice is usually something I do not bother attempting as everyone has an opinion, Student doctor network seems to be somewhat an exception with good valid advice, barring the elitist politics among standing professionals. I have read both the insiders Guide into psych grad schools and Mitch’s Uncensored Advice for Applying to Graduate School in Clinical Psychology… I am not really any better off… So here I am asking for advice. Perhaps I am just stuck in my head and need a good intellectual slap to the face to ground me and point me in the right direction.

Anyway, enough preamble.

Let me give you a background on me; I am a 28 year old non traditional student who is about to graduate from a respected university with a BA in psychology and is currently trying to navigate the extremely convoluted process of applying to graduate school. I have years of experience in IT work as that is what has paid the bills while I went to school full time (never have had a semester below full time school and part time work). I have a highish GPA (3.6 general and 3.9 psych specific), no research experience (asides from classes like research design and psychological stats), hands on experience with clinical work under Child Protective Services and no interest in becoming a child psychologist or social worker in that setting, bless the hearts of those people.

I do wish to do clinical work in a hospital or non profit setting. Hopefully something that helps with paying back the substantial student loan debt I will have. Day to day financial stability is kinda important to me (ran the numbers, minimum of 60 thousand USD post graduating grad school at this point). The end goal is part time private practice to give me purpose in late life. I am indifferent about specifics, the people I help could be in a clinical (severe disorder, psych ward stuff or trauma stuff) or counseling setting (run of the mill situational anxiety/depression/high functioning disorder) I have little interest in exclusively conducting research however am very interested in The Scientist-Practitioner (boulder model) model of work, being involved where the rubber meets the road per-say. I can handle high stress as long as it is not bogged down in politics. Someone suicidal or experiencing psychosis does not phase me, navigating bureaucracy is what does. I am aware of the insurance BS I will be navigating and have accepted that to be apart of my job, I am more talking about jumping through hoops for IRB’s and or being treated like an expendable cash cow with no skill or value; like say a minimum wage worker.

Honestly I just want to live a simple life. Helping people who need help and doing so in a way that keeps me in my passion (Psychology, I could talk and read for days about it even after my BA). Money also is a little important to me, kinda would like to live a life where I don’t have to worry about bills and most of my needs and wants are within reach. *I am aware that this is predicated on my lifestyle choices, but let's be honest, someone handling money maturely at 40 grand a year with a house and maybe kids is a lot more stressful than someone handling money maturely at 60 or 70 grand a year.

So, with that said, I am completely lost on what the best route for me is. Could do an MSW, but I am not interested in the politics or administrative side that a lot of programs have. Could do a terminal masters in psychology, but I am worried as I have read horror story after horror story about low opportunity and regret about not getting the MSW instead. Could attempt the PhD route, but you know as well as I that my chances with zero research experience are near none, plus I do not want to be in “publish or die” politics. Could go the PsyD route, graduate with a mortgage sized student loan debt and apparently have potentially questionable training plus 5ish years before I am practicing. Could go MFT route and be boxed into a specific niche. EdD route seems to be rather inapplicable as I do not want to be in academia.

Thanks for reading. Like really really, thank you.

If you are totally burnt out after reading feel free to just click your suggestion in the poll here...

As a person who probably knows a bit more than me about grad schools and the work post grad, what would your advice be for someone like me?

Stay safe during covid friends!
 

HPB2015

5+ Year Member
Nov 2, 2014
32
24
Status
Psychology Student
Hi there, sounds like you are overwhelmed. Understandable! You are also at an exciting time, so make sure to make space to celebrate yourself for completing your BA and all the more, for doing so while working FT, wow!

As for the intellectual slap in the face. From your notes you should already know enough to have eliminated the PsyD path from your list - it concerns me slightly that it is still on the imaginary dartboard; not only would this choice not ease the path to financial stability, if you've read through all the advice on SDN, you must also be experiencing some resistance to the general consensus about the unpaid PsyD path here...

It sounds to me the best option for you is likely a 2-year clinically focused program, which may be an MSW (one without a heavy admin/political leaning), an MFT, or a counseling degree. If you are indeed particularly passionate about psychology and not as drawn to more community/contextual approaches, perhaps MFT or counseling is the way to go. There may be other options that don't require a further degree to work in a hospital clinical setting though I am not versed in these - may be worth exploring.

Finally, at your age (lol) I was in a very similar position as you - little research experience but lots of passion and somewhat ambivalent about the balance of clinical/research work I wanted to do. I worked in a research lab for a year (part-time, I worked other jobs as well) and then applied to and was accepted into a couple of excellent PhD programs. I did not have much research experience from undergrad - but I was able to connect my working life in my 20s to my research interests. So, you could approach the coming year (or more) in a similar way - use it as an experiment to see how much you do in fact like research, talk to people who have MSWs, MFTs, etc. - and the results of this experiment can guide your next steps. Please remember that there is no need to start grad school next year (or any year) - better to feel more confident and comfortable with your chosen path!
 
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Sep 14, 2020
3
0
Status
Pre-Psychology
It sounds to me the best option for you is likely a 2-year clinically focused program
Thank you for your input HPB2015. I really appreciate it. I think I am leaning towards the same idea, I just wanted to be sure that there was a consensus that this is a smart decision from like people and that I am not just deluded in my own thought process...

You need to separate funded vs unfunded PsyD’s and repeat that for PhDs.
That is true, I guess i just assumed that as a non traditional with only a 3.63 gen gpa and no research experience and mainly clinically focused aspirations that any funded program would imminently disregard me as I would not be a money maker for them. Am I selling myself short?
 

summerbabe

2+ Year Member
Nov 22, 2016
157
201
Status
Psychologist
a 3.63 gen gpa and no research experience
Unfortunately, you're describing a profile typical of a lot of undergrad psych majors. You'll definitely need additional research experience to be considered for funded PhDs and even then, there's no guarantee of successful admission.

I do wish to do clinical work in a hospital or non profit setting. Hopefully something that helps with paying back the substantial student loan debt I will have. Day to day financial stability is kinda important to me (ran the numbers, minimum of 60 thousand USD post graduating grad school at this point). The end goal is part time private practice to give me purpose in late life.
From what you can see yourself happily doing, I didn't see anything that would require a doctorate in psychology. Is that accurate? What would the primary appeal of a doctorate be?

I voted MSW since it's the most widely known master's level therapy degree, which can help with licensing (especially for possible interstate moves), billing, and marketability.

I would also consider therapy SW positions in the Veteran Affairs system in general mental health clinics, addiction programs, and trauma programs. The VA will offer continuing education via VA sponsored trainings and follow-up consultation for you to learn new therapies that will help your veterans but also allow you to further market yourself if you eventually leave for private practice.

I think fresh SW grads start at the GS9 level, which should be over $50,000 depending on location and can advance up through the GS12 level as Senior Social Workers (and higher in admin/supervision roles). And these positions are eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness if that program sticks around/ever pans out.

Please remember that there is no need to start grad school next year (or any year) - better to feel more confident and comfortable with your chosen path!
This! Good luck!
 
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Sep 14, 2020
3
0
Status
Pre-Psychology
What would the primary appeal of a doctorate be?
Thank you for your reply summerbabe, I appreciate your time. I suppose if we get down to brass tacks about my motivation to even consider a doctorate it is mainly money, respect, and marketability.

My experience as an undergrad witnessing professionals in the field has been that people are rather vicious and judgemental near the top. Your job prospects appear to be predicated on the opinion of the person interpreting the letters behind your name, not you holistically. I know that majority of consumers could care less what you are, they just want your service. I guess the whole politics and stick comparing contest that I have witnessed happening near the top bothers me enough that I would prefer to work for, and have, unquestionable credentials to circumvent being belittled or not considered by any potential job prospects or peers. Perhaps my experience does not reflect the field as a whole and I studied under particularly opinionated professionals.

I am being bluntly forward and honest saying this, really trying to get down to the no BS reasoning deep down below all the logical justification of pursing said doctorate. Ultimately, I suppose I assume that life will be less "dog eat dog" at the doctoral level. The fear being that I will still be expendable at the masters level and that all of my hard work and effort will be rendered pointless.

I suppose most will assume this is a silly motivation for pursuing a doctorate and that I should just deal with reality and get my masters and compete?
 

PsyDr

Psychologist
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Dec 18, 2005
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That is true, I guess i just assumed that as a non traditional with only a 3.63 gen gpa and no research experience and mainly clinically focused aspirations that any funded program would imminently disregard me as I would not be a money maker for them. Am I selling myself short?
Don't be the guy/girl who is too nervous to talk to the super model. Be the guy/girl that takes a shot, and graciously handles the outcome, either way.
 

Sanman

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I voted MSW, but my advice on this subject is pretty much the same for most people.


1. Keep your total debt below one year salary of the field you would like to be in. This likely rules out all private schools and expensive programs in MH. SO state schools for a masters or funded PsyD/PhD
2. Do you want a w-2 job with benefits or to run your own business? If you want to mostly be employed and do therapy, just get the MSW. This is a most common degree for a w-2 job. The dept of veterans affairs hires a lot of psychologists. Outside of that, the jobs for clinicians are largely contractor positions or opening your own practice. In addition, the MSW is the degree that is most accepted by health insurance companies other than PhD/PsyD. MFT and LPC struggle with this as a field and it means inconsistent incomes because you need cash clients.
3. If you want to get the PhD/PsyD apply for funded programs now (it never hurts to try) and decide how many years you want to devote to trying to get in. Get some research experience and apply every year. 28 is young, most people who attend PhD programs are your age or older. If you don't get in or don't want to waste years doing research just to get in, add a list of low cost MSW programs to your application list and go to the lowest cost/best training option you get into that year.
4. If MSW does not fit your $ needs, consider nursing or med school and opt for the psych NP or psychiatry route and prescribe along with therapy.
 
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