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Research heavy Ph.D programs vs. less heavy Ph.D and Psy.D

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by JustinSane1, Feb 28, 2007.

  1. JustinSane1

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    This is my first post and I'm relatively new to the site, so forgive me if this has been covered.

    I am looking to become a practicing clinician after attending graduate school. As of right now, I'm a graduating senior at a rather prestigious (top 20) university planning to take at least a year "off".

    I want to be able to stay in California for grad school, but the only prestigious grad schools in CA seem to be HEAVILY research oriented. While I have some research experience (worked as an RA and I'm currently doing an honors thesis), I want to focus on practicing. Is these some way to juggle this? I like the idea behind Psy.D programs but I have heard mixed reactions about them (esp. the ones in CA such as Alliant, Wright Institute, etc.). I feel like a program with more focus on practice is what I'm looking for, but at the same time I have the kind of qualifications (aside from the GREs which I have yet to take) that would make me competitive if I chose to go to a top flight university.

    What do I do? Can you really learn to be a good practitioner at a major research-focused university? How much more research does a school ranked a 6 on one of those "insider guides to clinical grad schools" likert scales do than one ranked a 4 or 3? Is it worth it to incur the large amount of debt I'd get by going to a Psy.D? Please help!
     
  2. perfektspace

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    In regards to the Insider's guide scale, it's a good place to start. After going through most of my interviews I have been surprised just how clinical some of the PhD programs I have interviewed at have been (IG has them listed as 4's). A few in particular were very clear and open with applicants to pursue clinical and/or research interests. The extra research and coursework will make you a better clinician down the road...or you may come to the dark side and really like research. Many of the grad students I talked to on interviews changed their career focus after a few years or months in school. Keep you options open and do a "balanced" PhD. A Psy.D is more likely to pigeon hole you.

    Start emailing program directors this summer and get a feel for who would be open to your interests. Look for externship sites with access to patient populations you are interested in. I'm sure your research experience will help convince schools that even though you are clinically inclined you are also ready and able to do the needed research requirements.
     
  3. JatPenn

    JatPenn Senior Member
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    Assuming everything you said above is true -- your best bet is a masters in counseling or MSW. The therapy training you will receive from those programs will adequately prepare you for clinical work without incurring massive debt.
     
  4. 50960

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    Don't think so......
     
  5. Ollie123

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    This is always an unfortunate situation, that you are not the first person to encounter.

    In psychology MOST of the big-name schools will be heavily research focused. That doesn't mean you CAN'T become a practitioner after going there, but chances are you will have less-than-ideal clinical training since that isn't their focus.

    Personally I would stay away from PsyDs unless you are CERTAIN you do not want to be involved in research in your career. They're great for people who have no doubts in their mind, but its much easier to go from a PhD to clinical work than from a Psy D to academic work. Not impossible, just harder.

    Debt is unfortunately also a factor and unfortunately from what I have seen, the more clinical a school is, the less funding they generally offer.

    I'd look at University of Vermont and University of Montana. I applied to both and they both provide a good balance. Its not Harvard, but I've gotten the impression psychologists care a lot less about the name then other fields. So even if you can get into Yale, Harvard, etc. it might not be worth it if there are other schools that are a better "fit".
     
  6. Jon4PsyD

    Jon4PsyD Go Red Sox
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    I'm curious about this myself. I'll be applying to doctoral programs (AGAIN, 2 years later) this Fall/Winter for entry in the Fall of 2008, as I'll be finishing my M.A. in May of '08. I thought I wanted a Psy.D. out of undergrad but after doing my M.A. I think I'd like something more balanced (yet something that will still give me proper Clinical training). Besides Vermont, which other programs in the Northeast are good to look into?

    Also, I noticed one of the programs I've looekd into claims on it's website that it follows the Practioner-Scientist model. I've never heard a Ph.D. program make this claim before. Does this make sense?

    Thanks to anyone who can help me out.
     
  7. Bajrinna

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    I would suggest looking at SUNY-Binghamton or Case Western Reserve. Even though Case is in Cleveland (and not exactly the East Coast), it does provide a balanced program of research and practice. If you're willing to travel, I also found that UC Boulder does as well. My suggestion would be to look at professors whose research you are interested in and see if they are at places which have clinics on campus. In particular I suggest seeing if the professor is based out of or runs a local clinic. That's usually a good way to tell if the professor is interested in clinical practice. Also look to see if the professor has done any clinical research studies; sometimes they use licensed clinicians to do the diagnosing, but often-times its a good way to figure out if there is access to clinical experience.
     
  8. Homunculus25

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    It seems to me that _many_ of the more research oriented schools still offer excellent clinical training and, in fact, pride themselves on it. at a couple of the schools I've visited, their clinical training model is a matched hour training, in which, for each hour you are in session with a patient, your individual mentor will spend an hour critiquing and advising you on how to improve from video footage. Other programs may give their students many hours of clinical experience, but might have less supervision per hour students are in session. I guess my point is, give these Cali research oriented programs a call and get a sense of what their clinical training actually looks like. at some it may be sub-par, but at others it might be really good. I have massive student debt from undergrad, and am not in a position to pay for my training, but I still consider practicing psychology one of my future career goals, even though I've interviewed at and am interested in research schools as well. I like having options, and I think the Clinical Ph.D. is a great way to maintain them if you can get in somewhere you like. unless you find doing research and teaching classes unpalatable I think clinical ph.d.s are worth trying for. this is just my take, and I'm just in the deciding where to go process right now, but the line of reasoning outlined above is what got me here, and into a couple of pretty good programs.
     
  9. Dr.Maybe

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    All of the counseling and clinical PhD programs I applied to emphasize clinical work in addition to research. Even more telling, most of the professors at these programs are clinicians in addition to their academic/research work. I think that counseling programs in general may be a little more focused on practice - the current top 3 programs are Boston College, Penn State, and VCU. As for clinical PhDs, I was VERY impressed with UVA's Curry program - GREAT balance. You could definitely be a top-notch practitioner coming from any of these schools.
     
  10. docjohng

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    Personally I would stay away from PhDs unless you are CERTAIN you do not want to be involved, like the vast majority of psychologists, in practice in your career. They're great for people who have no doubts in their mind, but it's much easier to go from PsyD to other work than from a PhD to clinical work. Not impossible, just harder.

    See? Generalizations like this just make no sense. While they may be true to the folks who parrot them, they really don't matter in the real world.

    In the real world, if you want to do something, neither the degree nor the program will be an impediment to your goals or dreams. Dream big.

    John
     
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  11. NeuroPsyStudent

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    I totally agree. A good PsyD is excellent clinical training. PhDs I know graduate their programs knowing little of clinical work. Some have been trained in one "EBT" which they can apply to every kind of patient. I know there are exceptions, but if you want good clinical training, go for a competitive PsyD.
     
  12. Ollie123

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    Wow, and I thought I was being careful with my wording:laugh:

    Really was not meant to come across as touting one or the other. I'm actually trying to stay out of the whole PsyD v PhD argument. I know people in both, I like the ideas behind both. I completely agree that PhDs are generally not as good for clinical training compared to a PsyD(though like anywhere, this depends on program). However I don't think my stance was unreasonable.

    I'm just spouting what I've heard from people in the field. When I decided I wanted to go for my doctorate, everyone told me if I wanted to go the clinician route, PsyD was better training, if I wanted research or wasn't sure, PhD programs generally gave more research options than the PsyD.

    Would it matter in the real world? Not necessarily, in fact probably not, but given that many tenure-track academic jobs have hundreds of applicants per opening, I think it makes sense to avoid any thing that may cause even the tiniest twinge of doubt in a search committee. I've been given the impression that clinical work is, in general (with a few areas of the country being noted exceptions) easier to find.

    That being said, this is all my opinion based on what I have seen and heard from people in the field (I don't consider my BA-level research job to be "in the field"), so I'm by no means claiming expertise. Just wanted to offer my opinion since I figure another perspective doesn't hurt, and leave it up to others to judge the overall value of my opinion.
     
  13. amy203

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    Frankly, this type of post gets old. I mean, potentially, a person could get a PhD in French literature, then luck out and manage to do research in psychology (by working hard and dreaming big, of course) and then luck out and manage to land an academic position in a psychology department. That doesn't mean a degree in French Literature is a good career move.

    If the only correct response to questions about career path (e.g. "Does it matter if I go to an accredited program?" "Should I get a PhD or PsyD?" "Are online programs OK?" "I'm thinking of just skipping grad school and setting up shop in an abandoned 7-Eleven, sound like a good plan?") is going to be "don't worry about it, just work hard and dream big," then what’s the point of even having a forum? The link should just take you to an otherwise blank page that says “work hard, dream big, the end.”
     
  14. NeuroPsyStudent

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    I think you missed his point. He did not suggest that one's training is meaningless. I thought he was saying that there are multiple paths to the best training, and that the fame of a program is not necessarily related to quality of clinical ability at graduation. Sorry if I am putting words in your mouth, Docjohn....
     
  15. amy203

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    He was responding to, I thought, a very logical post by Ollie about why someone in JustinSane1's situation might choose a PhD over a PsyD.

    I have undergraduate interns ask similar questions all of the time ("what are some good programs to apply to if I want to be a clinician") and I'm looking forward to directing them to this thread - I think there have been some really good suggestions so far. I don't see anything wrong with suggesting that one type of program might be more appropriate than the other. Applicants are going to have to choose one type of program over the other eventually, unless they really want to dream big and get two graduate degrees.
     
  16. psychabeck

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    Can anyone suggest additional Clinical focused PhD programs?
     
  17. Shrinkydink

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    Here are some, at least in NYC and surrounding areas:

    *CUNY -- Clinical PhD program
    *Adelphi
    *Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus (they also offer a PsyD, at the C.W. Post campus)
    *St. Johns
    *Fordham
    *New School

    Hope this helps!
     
  18. OP
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    JustinSane1

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    Thank you for replying, everyone!

    Can anyone suggest clinical focused PhD programs on the west coast?
     
  19. psychwanabe

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    I've read all the posts and I hate to say that I agree with everyone! :confused: It sucks being balanced: it's so hard to make up your mind!

    Here's where I'm coming from: I applied to 11 schools, 9 PhD and 2 PsyD (as backups). I got interviews at 2 each. So far I have one offer and am expecting another (both PsyD), and I'm not feeling hopeful about PhD offers. I KNOW I want to do clinical work, and I'm pretty sure I want at least the option of doing research. I don't know about teaching, it's low on the list. At both of the PsyD programs, I paid close attention to their attitudes about students doing research. At one, I felt that it was encouraged and supported. There were tenure-track faculty still doing research and they would always be grateful for a graduate student partner. At one, the most feedback I got was from 4th year students who had no respect for research at all - this made me concerned that the faculty did not preach and teach the value.

    Based on research and site visits, I firmly believe that I will receive better clinical training at either of the PsyD's. They start earlier and get more hours than any of the PhDs I researched and/or interviewed with. I think that John is right, and the "dreaming big" part of his post was about making something happen for yourself, in spite of the program you enter. I know that I can do the research I want in either of the PsyD programs: the difference here is that it will be driven by me, and I will be on my own in terms of finding/starting/completeing studies than I would be if I was in a PhD program. Doesn't mean it can't be done, however. It just means it will be harder. And since when are any of us afraid of something being hard? We'd all be Recreation Management majors if we were afraid of hard!!!

    Anyway, I wanted to say thanks to John because he reminded me that I CAN achieve my goals for myself and my career regardless of the program I choose (or the one that chooses me, dammit!).
     
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  20. psychabeck

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    Thank you for the information. I've been getting advice to apply to counseling programs for the next time around if I don't get in this year. I've been told they are generally more practice oriented. I'm sure it depends on the program. My concern has been that I may not get the assessment and diagnosis training. Any suggestions?
     
  21. amy203

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    Again, I think this is a very reasonable statement. About 15% of PhDs end up in academic settings, while less then 5% of PsyDs end up in academic positions. There aren't any other major differences for other types of settings (hospitals, outpatient clinics, private practice etc), but if you want to do research, you should probably stick with a PhD. (Ref: Gaddy, C. D., Charlot-Swilley, D., Nelson, P. D., & Reich, J. N. (1995). Selected outcomes of accredited programs. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 26, 507-513).

    This response isn't specific to anyone on this forum - it's a very personal choice. However, notice that the rates of people getting academia positions are pretty low even for PhDs. I'm not sure why you'd want to make any more difficult.
     
  22. amy203

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    Maybe the Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology program at UCSB? This is from their website:
    The primary goal of the CCSP Department is to prepare graduates for academic and research positions. A secondary goal is to prepare psychological service providers who will, in addition to providing direct service to their clientele, exercise influence on professional psychology through teaching, research, and leadership.

    Also, I was really impressed when I interviewed at DePaul (not SoCal, but you may need to consider other locations). They are very focused on clinical training, especially community mental health.
     
  23. amy203

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    A friend of mine interviewed at UW, and she thought the clinical training there seemed excellent. For instance, for every hour of clinical work you complete, you get an hour of one on one supervision (unfortunately, a lot of the more research-oriented programs only offer group supervision).

    It's a really research oriented program, and I'm pretty sure they are only really interested in applicants who want to be researchers (it's also hella-difficult to get into), but you might want to check it out! At least it's on the West Coast, right?
     
  24. Psyclops

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    This thread seems to be decided on the question that PsyDs getting better clinical training. And I think this quote is where everyone is coming from.

    My question would be: Are more clinical hours the best indicator of quality of training? Has anyone looked into the supervisory situation? How many hours of group and individual supervision does each program offer. As I understand it these are hours that are reported come APPIC match time, so internship sites seem to value them. Is there any differences between programs on this? Are people considering qualitative differences beyond just quantitative differences in clinical training? Although, i suppose the "amount" of supervision could just be a different type of quantitative difference (I had been seeing it as a qulaitative difference).

    I trust that people can be civil in discussing this. I think it might be worth thinking about before you go program shopping.

    EDIT: I seem to have mirrored Amy's post.
     
  25. NeuroPsyStudent

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    No. More clinical hours does not necessarily mean better clinical training. It very much depends on the quality of the clinical situation, supervision, group practicum, etc. University-based PsyD programs tend support excellent supervision and lots of it. In addition to onsite supervision/groups, these programs tend to have practicum groups at school and lots of focus on clinical discussion as part of the coursework. For example, most classes will require papers/presentations based on a student's current clinical caseload, and in addition to standard coursework, students may be required to attend additional case formulation groups.

    Argosy, on the other hand, sends its students out to other sites for supervision. And those sites see Argosy students as largely free labor. But, an ambitious Argosy student who receives excellent placements can get a super education. The best clinical training comes from working with excellent supervisors, and I know of one Argosy student in particular who has played the system well.

    As for PhDs, there is some variability. The programs I am familiar with do not offer the quality and quantity of clinical experience/supervision that a good university based PsyD program offers. I was very concerned to encounter a 4th year PhD student with an undergraduate degree from one of the finest institutions in the world complaining that she had almost no clinical experience and no idea what it was like to be with a patient/client. This was a successful student from a well-regarded clinical PhD program who followed the advice of her advisors. She will have to educate herself after she graduates....
     
  26. Therapist4Chnge

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    NueroPsyStudent pretty much said what I was going to say. I think it really depends on your supervisor(s). I've been lucky enough to have great supervisors during my training (individual, group, didactic)....though like mechanics, quality can vary greatly.

    -t
     
  27. KillerDiller

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    JustinSane1 (great user name, by the way), it seems like you may now be leaning more towards ph.d programs, but, for what it's worth, back when I thought I wanted to do strictly clinical work I researched the Psy.D programs at Pepperdine and Pacific Graduate School in California. Both are respected names in the field and both seem to differ from the professional schools you mentioned, so you may want to check those out as well.

    I feel your pain. I was in a similar situation to you a few years ago. Actually, shockingly similar. Of course, then, somehow I ended up deciding I want to do research instead :oops:.
     

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