Sep 15, 2015
2
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NE U.S.
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Psychology Student
Hi All,

Skip to the bottom of this post for an abridged question. Continue reading for context.
I have a bit of a colorful background story, so please bare with me for a moment:

I attended my undergrad at art school for design (*shock, gasp, awe!*) where I also took a handful of undergrad psychology courses. Psych was my first love. Now, I work in the design field, but I also take night courses in psychology (undergrad) and volunteer at a suicide hotline and a sexual assault/rape crisis support center. I have recently been reading about neuropsychology and criminology and I find it captivating. Any study that delves into the neurological reasoning behind behavior makes me happy. PET scans light up my computer screen as I gaze affectionately at this magical science.

Not only do I love people, but I love the brain. I have a handful of friends who are psychologists and they (thankfully) all unanimously push me to go into the field of psych.

Due to the fact that art & design dominated my undergraduate career, I obviously have no research experience. I'm taking the GRE in a few months to further set myself up for graduate school applications. I am also trying to sniff around for any jobs in the humanities that would hire someone with my background (community art therapy? psychiatric hospitals? who knows...) Well, it's kind of a hurdle to climb, as you can see. I believe that it's worth it, if done carefully.

My interest is in Clinical Psychology. My focus, I'd like to be in Neuropsychology.
Question: What are some good Master's programs, specifically research-wise, for the Neuropsychology route? How can I saturate myself in this field with my background?

Or is this idea too far-fetched? I have A's in all my psychology courses and I'm strong with biological sciences. Any advice or thoughts are appreciated.
 

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It's certainly not too far-fetched, although it'll likely take a couple years to make yourself competitive. If your undergrad GPA is solid and you have (or will have) the necessary coursework by the time you apply, then a masters may not be the best route. Instead, you could see about working (paid or volunteer) as a research assistant in a psychology lab, typically at a nearby university. Working in a neuropsych-related area would be best, but any psych research experience will be good, and much better than none at all.

I typically only strongly recommend a masters if a person needs to "compensate" for a below-average undergrad GPA, or that's the only option for getting research experience. As for what type of masters, an experimental psychology-type program (rather than a terminal program) would be best, as these are the most likely to provide you with research opportunities.

Neuropsych is a particularly competitive area, but I don't say that to discourage you, just to let you know that it'll be something to keep in mind throughout the entirety of your training. While finishing grad school, you'll need to apply for internships (ideally one with some neuropsych aspect), after which you'll need to apply for a two-year neuropsych fellowship. Each of these steps could require that you move to a different area of the country. After fellowship, you'll finally be ready for "the real world," which may or may not require another move, depending.
 
OP
_Ajna_
Sep 15, 2015
2
0
NE U.S.
Status
Psychology Student
It's certainly not too far-fetched, although it'll likely take a couple years to make yourself competitive. If your undergrad GPA is solid and you have (or will have) the necessary coursework by the time you apply, then a masters may not be the best route. Instead, you could see about working (paid or volunteer) as a research assistant in a psychology lab, typically at a nearby university. Working in a neuropsych-related area would be best, but any psych research experience will be good, and much better than none at all.

I typically only strongly recommend a masters if a person needs to "compensate" for a below-average undergrad GPA, or that's the only option for getting research experience. As for what type of masters, an experimental psychology-type program (rather than a terminal program) would be best, as these are the most likely to provide you with research opportunities.

Neuropsych is a particularly competitive area, but I don't say that to discourage you, just to let you know that it'll be something to keep in mind throughout the entirety of your training. While finishing grad school, you'll need to apply for internships (ideally one with some neuropsych aspect), after which you'll need to apply for a two-year neuropsych fellowship. Each of these steps could require that you move to a different area of the country. After fellowship, you'll finally be ready for "the real world," which may or may not require another move, depending.
Thank you for your thoughtful response.

That's good to hear that you feel it is a possibility with the correct amount of work. I've had a few psychologist friends recommend that I try a research assistant position, but since I don't have a Bachelor's in Psychology (or even science in general), I've shied away from that. However, I think I'd really love it! Would my volunteer experience and classes be enough to qualify me? I wonder what is the best way 'pitch' myself for such a position...do you have any recommendations or tips?

My undergrad GPA was good (3.6), but I could probably pull a 3.8 or higher in a psychology master's program because I'm so interested in the work and way more invested in the field. I was thinking something akin to the Boston College MA in Psychology with a concentration in Cognitive Neuroscience en route to a PhD. I've also thought about an MS in Psychology to make up for my lack of science in undergrad. However, if I can forgo a Master's degree completely, I probably would to save a lot of money and time. I'm not in a rush. I'd like to be very careful and deliberate about what I choose.

That is good to know, thank you for the head's up. I don't mind moving around. I lived in several different states growing up,and I have a nomadic spirit, naturally. For a good education in a field I love, that's a minor sacrifice.