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Hello all,

I am considering going back for my PhD in either clinical psychology or social work, and I was wondering if anyone who has struggled with math has done this and can tell me how difficult they found statistics in their PhD program? This is one of the few things giving me pause about pursuing this path. Thanks!
 
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ClinicalABA

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I don't want to scare you, but...

...we had the ACTUAL TEST QUESTIONS (different numbers, but same questions), test was open book, and we could bring in one piece of paper with both sides full when taking our first stats exam. Average score on test was ~ a B. Grad stats in a good program ain't no joke! Two semesters of it, no less. YMMV
 
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R. Matey

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I did fine in undergrad stats, but excelled in graduate school because (1) I had great professors and (2) it was more like math with a purpose rather than just checking a box for a degree. My program included one research design course and three additional statistics courses. I'm just short of a minor (couldn't fit in in), because I loved it so much.
 
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Math has always been slow and arduous for me (never in my life have I completed a timed math test and find certain aspects of calculation difficult). I knew there was a pretty heavy research focus in the program overall (I like research, just don't possess a natural proclivity for math compared to other areas) and that the stats exams were not outrageously hard, but they weren't easy either. All that to say that I was extremely anxious about stats in grad school, with (I think) good reason.

However - in grad school I 1) had a more engaging professor 2) it felt more applicable/meaningful because directly applied to, you know, psych and research, 3) had better resources available to me that i found out about that helped me really grasp the concepts that were still a little muddy after class, and 4) also friends who were good in stats who I studied with (good life strategy: surround yourself with people who are good at things that are harder for you :) ). I still had difficulty finishing tests when we had to calculate by hand but overall the class was much easier and enjoyable for the above-stated reasons and I got through it with an A ( I've never been so proud of an A in my life). I definitely still put in more time outside of class than probably anyone else in the class, but it was doable and while I wouldn't say I enjoyed it, exactly, I very much appreciated it because it was so clear that what I was doing was critical to being good at the job I wanted and once the new concepts clicked it was so exciting to be able to think about research you're reading with a better lens. That made "Saturday Staturday" every week worth it. If you do end up in grad school with some worries about stats, I've seen past posts on this forum where folks have shared some excellent resources that help it make more sense if parts of the class do prove a bit challenging (videos, textbooks, websites, etc) and you can try to balance it with a semester you have classes that require less time if you share some of the same concerns. Don't let your concerns stop you from applying- you can be resourceful and you will find your inner motivation to power you thorough the extra time you may need to put in (or maybe you won't need to put in a huge amount of extra time - there's always the chance it will be much easier than you expect!) Good luck!
 
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Doesn't sound like a struggle. Also, stats isn't about math. If you are dedicated and interested in understanding statistics, I think you will be fine.
nonetheless, we had to do a lot of math in my classes- hand calculations. I think for me it was hard to get past hte idea of "this is math" and thinking about the concepts with numbers attached that made it hard at first to grasp some of the concepts. I agree the conceptual aspects actually weren't difficult- just easy to get tangled up in the numbers for me at first. Once I found some videos etc that kind of illustrated the concepts or walked through assumptions etc as applied to actual research articles we were reading, it was so much easier. Those damn hand calculations though... all semester long. I think they were overkill and unnecessary after a certain point. Good to point out that not all classes entail that aspect.
 

mypointlesspov

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Hello all,

I am considering going back for my PhD in either clinical psychology or social work, and I was wondering if anyone who has struggled with math has done this and can tell me how difficult they found statistics in their PhD program? This is one of the few things giving me pause about pursuing this path. Thanks!

Not from a PhD, but from a rigorous university-based Psy.D. I did well in stats in undergrad and even TA'd a stats class so I had a good understanding of it going into grad school. That being said, my first stats class in grad school was one of the hardest I've ever taken. It was the only class I got a B in (and it was a project that boosted my lower test scores up to that level); I struggled a lot with the concepts (I do think some of it had to do with my professor's teaching style though--it just wasn't clicking for me). I'm very much a person who prefers to have real-life examples, so I did much better in the second and third stats/research methods classes where we started actually evaluating peer-reviewed articles based on the quality of their statistical methods, but I still ultimately had to remediate my stats comprehensive exam.

Having a good grasp of statistics is an important part of being a well-rounded researcher and clinician, so if you ultimately go into a doctorate program, I would recommend allocating extra time to dedicate to statistics and using whatever resources you have available (e.g. tutoring, office hours, supplemental readings). Also, Laerd Statistics saved my ass for stats classes and my dissertation (not an ad).
 

cara susanna

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I failed high school algebra and placed into remedial math in college. I did just fine in statistics. That being said, to have a really deep understanding of stats you do need to understand things like structural equation modeling, linear algebra, etc.
 
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Having a good grasp of statistics is an important part of being a well-rounded researcher and clinician, so if you ultimately go into a doctorate program, I would recommend allocating extra time to dedicate to statistics and using whatever resources you have available (e.g. tutoring, office hours, supplemental readings). Also, Laerd Statistics saved my ass for stats classes and my dissertation (not an ad).
OMG. YES. I recommend Laerd to every grad student I meet. I still use it sometimes.
 
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psych.meout

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My program is 1st B- (or lower) is a warning and a 2nd one is a dismissal. Relevant to this thread's topic, all but two people in my cohort (me and one other student #humblebrag) got their first B- in our first-year stats course. Take from that what you will.
 

AcronymAllergy

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Too many As in my program meant you weren't spending enough time on research.

My program had the same implicit/unspoken undercurrent (i.e., if you had a 4.0, you were spending too much time on your classwork), although it varied by lab. We also didn't have +/- grades, which may have factored in.

Interesting to see how this varies across programs. Although I think it's pretty universal that anything at a C or lower is a definite fail.
 

psych.meout

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My program had the same implicit/unspoken undercurrent (i.e., if you had a 4.0, you were spending too much time on your classwork), although it varied by lab. We also didn't have +/- grades, which may have factored in.

Interesting to see how this varies across programs. Although I think it's pretty universal that anything at a C or lower is a definite fail.
I wish the faculty in my program was this understanding. Instead, you need to be excelling in all domains.
 

AcronymAllergy

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I wish the faculty in my program was this understanding. Instead, you need to be excelling in all domains.

My advisor was great; some others were definitely less forgiving and more demanding. Not so much in terms of grades, but definitely with respect to research productivity.
 
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ClinicalABA

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Our graduate courses were all Pass/Fail, with anything below a straight "B" (83%+) a fail. You only got one of those before you got in trouble (and even with just one, you got a few stern words from your mentor).

Finishing the first Stats exam was a big rite of passage in my program. When you turned it in the professor, he gave you a slip of paper that told you go to certain room in the building. When you entered that room, a gathering of upper year students and some faculty greeted you with loud cheers. There may or may not have been adult beverages there as well.

I remember the initial stats sequence as being not so much hard to understand, but more just a lot to do. Weekly assignments took up weekend afternoons/evenings. It was a huge pain in the ass, but I also remember it a being a major bonding experience between me and my classmates. We would often all get together (there were only 7 of us) to work on it, and it typically ended up being a pleasant social event.
 
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dcpsychdoc

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Hello all,

I am considering going back for my PhD in either clinical psychology or social work, and I was wondering if anyone who has struggled with math has done this and can tell me how difficult they found statistics in their PhD program? This is one of the few things giving me pause about pursuing this path. Thanks!

I did it! Always hated math and dropped most every undergrad stats course I took. But it turned out I was actually GOOD. I just went to office hours every week and had a bit more catching up to do. Took all required and some advanced grad stats classes in my PhD program
and did rally well in all. Also wound up working for our university research services doing stats for other people It’s possible!!
 
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