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Dec 30, 2020
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Thank you in advance for answering my questions! I wanted to give a little background about my situation to see my best chances for furthering my education: I am in my 30's and have a large gap in education at two separate community colleges. I took a break for financial reasons to pursue a career in hospitality after the '08 crisis. That being said, my GPA is around 3.4 and I just completed my first semester at a university I transferred into with a 4.0 and was a part of research lab. Next semester, I am working in two research labs, taking 15 units, and volunteering remotely. I am interested in the neuropsychology route. From what I have gathered, it is perfect for someone who enjoys neuroscience but wants hands-on clinical engagement with others. I do not have any interest in being a researcher as a career, so I am not going the neuroscience route, although it is fascinating. That being said, my questions are:

1. For someone in my situation who is not attending the most prestigious school (Harvard, Yale, UC Berkeley), nor has the highest GPA, would I be ineligible for funding for a Ph.D. or are my chances pretty slim?
2. If ineligible, would a PsyD be a better route if the cost is near the same? - I am not interested in being a professor.
3. I have searched salaries for neuropsychologists and the estimates seem to be pretty high here for California. I assume the highest salary exists for someone who has been in the field for quite a while. I have seen an estimate from ($150k-$356k) For anyone who has gone this route, is the debt from education even worth it? I want to choose a career that I love, but one that does not make me feel underwater for the rest of my life with debt and a salary that doesn't help me get out of it. I just want to see if it is manageable.

Thank you for your time.
 

WisNeuro

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1) Prestigious university does not matter as much as you'd think. Meaningful research experience and good grades matter more.

2) The vast majority of funded PhDs go on to clinical careers. The PhD is not a "research degree." Additionally, reputable PsyDs have just as much of a research component as balanced PhDs. Some of the reputable university based PsyDs are also fully or partially funded.

3) Salary is highly variable. Best bet is to limit your debt as much as humanly possible. Best way to do that is not attend a diploma mill. Your threshold for debt may vary, but I don't recommend anyone go much over 35-50k debt in total from schooling.
 
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1) Prestigious university does not matter as much as you'd think. Meaningful research experience and good grades matter more.

2) The vast majority of funded PhDs go on to clinical careers. The PhD is not a "research degree." Additionally, reputable PsyDs have just as much of a research component as balanced PhDs. Some of the reputable university based PsyDs are also fully or partially funded.

3) Salary is highly variable. Best bet is to limit your debt as much as humanly possible. Best way to do that is not attend a diploma mill. Your threshold for debt may vary, but I don't recommend anyone go much over 35-50k debt in total from schooling.
Thank you for answering my questions. I am luckily involved in a lot of research and learning how to code. I know schools are highly competitive in CA, so I am looking out of state even though I want to stay here. From what I have seen, there are more diploma mill PsyD's than I originally thought. I have also found that some PsyD's are tricky for people interested in Neuropsych. I sure need to do research on partially funded PsyD's because I didn't know this was a thing. Another question: if I get into a P.h.D. program, am I required to teach? Thank you again.
 
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WisNeuro

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Thank you for answering my questions. I am luckily involved in a lot of research and learning how to code. I know schools are highly competitive in CA, so I am looking out of state even though I want to stay here. From what I have seen, there are more diploma mill PsyD's than I originally thought. I have also found that some PsyD's are tricky for people interested in Neuropsych. I sure need to do research on partially funded PsyD's because I didn't know this was a thing. Another question: if I get into a P.h.D. program, am I required to teach? Thank you again.

CA is pretty diploma mill heavy. As for the PhD program, many people teach, but many also get funded on research grants. I did both in my grad years. I didn't think I'd like teaching, but I ended up loving it. IMO it also helps in gaining skills that are also useful in providing supervision down the road.
 

AcronymAllergy

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Agreed with everything that's been said.

1) Prestigious university certainly isn't necessary, and most applications I helped review way back when I was in grad school weren't Ivy Leaguers. Anecdotal, but I attended a large state school, didn't have the best GPA (3.4 to 3.5), and still ended up with a funded spot. I did well on the GRE and there was luck involved to be sure, but it's possible. Definitely apply broadly, though, and assume you're going to move a few times during your training.

2) My personal choice was that if I couldn't land a funded spot, I would've probably chosen a different career. Like was mentioned above, most folks earning a Ph.D. go on to mostly or entirely clinical careers. And there are folks with a Psy.D. who work in academia and/or are very well-known researchers. There are more similarities between balanced Ph.D. and reputable Psy.D. programs than there are differences.

3) I would always plan around earning the lower end of estimated/average salaries. And no, I would not say the path is financially worthwhile with $200k+ in loans. People make it work, but it's not ideal. $150k in early or late-early career is definitely possible, although having a strong training record (with some good networking) is very helpful in this regard.

Also, be wary of the "neuropsychology track." There are some well-respected graduate programs that offer an explicit neuropsychology specialization or focus (e.g., University of Houston), and even in those programs that don't, you'll often work in the lab of a neuropsychologist if that's your career goal. However, many neuropsychology tracks are more marketing fodder than anything else.
 
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CA is pretty diploma mill heavy. As for the PhD program, many people teach, but many also get funded on research grants. I did both in my grad years. I didn't think I'd like teaching, but I ended up loving it. IMO it also helps in gaining skills that are also useful in providing supervision down the road.
CA is pretty diploma mill heavy. As for the PhD program, many people teach, but many also get funded on research grants. I did both in my grad years. I didn't think I'd like teaching, but I ended up loving it. IMO it also helps in gaining skills that are also useful in providing supervision down the road.
This has been very helpful. I really appreciate you answering my questions and guiding me in the right direction!
 
Dec 30, 2020
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Agreed with everything that's been said.

1) Prestigious university certainly isn't necessary, and most applications I helped review way back when I was in grad school weren't Ivy Leaguers. Anecdotal, but I attended a large state school, didn't have the best GPA (3.4 to 3.5), and still ended up with a funded spot. I did well on the GRE and there was luck involved to be sure, but it's possible. Definitely apply broadly, though, and assume you're going to move a few times during your training.

2) My personal choice was that if I couldn't land a funded spot, I would've probably chosen a different career. Like was mentioned above, most folks earning a Ph.D. go on to mostly or entirely clinical careers. And there are folks with a Psy.D. who work in academia and/or are very well-known researchers. There are more similarities between balanced Ph.D. and reputable Psy.D. programs than there are differences.

3) I would always plan around earning the lower end of estimated/average salaries. And no, I would not say the path is financially worthwhile with $200k+ in loans. People make it work, but it's not ideal. $150k in early to late-early career is definitely possible, although having a strong training record (with some good networking) is very helpful in this regard.

Also, be wary of the "neuropsychology track." There are some well-respected graduate programs that offer an explicit neuropsychology specialization or focus i(e.g., University of Houston), and even in those programs that don't, you'll often work in the lab of a neuropsychologist if that's your career goal. However, many neuropsychology tracks are more marketing fodder than anything else.
1. Hearing about my GPA and school is a relief. My grades and determination are much stronger now than 15 years ago. I am already getting started on the GRE and taking a course in the summer.
2. I would love to hear your opinion on this: My backup career choice would be therapy, which I know you can save time and money by getting an MFT or MSW so I intend to also apply to those programs. I will apply to most likely four separate programs: MFT, MSW, PhD, and PsyD to cover all bases. I know this is a lot of work but I am determined. If I do not get into any doctoral programs, I would defer the MFT, MSW acceptance (if i get accepted) and spend a year getting more clinical experience and improving my CV. If I do not get into any PhD or PsyD programs after the second round of applications, then I would accept either the MFT or MSW and go the therapy route. I am not one to give up, but I also am like you where I want to land a funded spot. I can afford a funded spot, but not $200k if the return isn't worth it. I can just nerd out on brain science on my own.
3. Thank you for your financial advice. I want to be realistic and not expect to make an insane amount of money, but the thought of having that much debt crushes me. I can't comprehend why these programs charge so much when the return is not good for people getting into the field. I mean, I know where the money is going, but it is just unfair. I can only imagine how many more people would have chosen this path and added to research and improved the field if the debt wasn't crushing.
4. How can I distinguish between marketing and truth? Some lovely person created their own excel spreadsheet for clinical psychology PhD's with an emphasis in Neuropsychology and listed it on one of these forums and I saved it.I have been peeking at that, but it was from a while back.

Again, I truly appreciate everyone taking time out of their day to answer my questions. This can be so daunting and I have spent several weeks watching videos, preparing for the GRE, reaching out to people via Linkedin, conducting information interviews, and reading grad school psychology books. I have made progress but find it most helpful to ask the source. I didn't realize how small of a field neuropsychology was!
 
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Finding a solid mentor match for research is important, particularly for neuropsych. They don't have to specifically do neuropsych research, but "tracks", "concentrations", etc are 98% marketing. A program doesn't need a "track". A program w. a solid mentor is what you want. If they happen to have a few faculty who also are in the area, bonus.
 
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Finding a solid mentor match for research is important, particularly for neuropsych. They don't have to specifically do neuropsych research, but "tracks", "concentrations", etc are 98% marketing. A program doesn't need a "track". A program w. a solid mentor is what you want. If they happen to have a few faculty who also are in the area, bonus.
Thank you! That is good to know. I have seen a lot of programs that say "emphasis in neuropsychology" but what you are saying, if I am reading this correctly, is that I just have to make sure it is a clinical PhD (or PsyD) program in which my mentor would be a good match and help me enter the field of neuropsychology.
 

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Also look at what practica opportunities exist for neuropsychology in the city of the grad program.
 
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