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Feb 22, 2021
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I'd love to hear from students who are currently in Clinical Psychology PhD programs and especially those applying for internship and postdoc: What factors are the most important to weigh when considering PhD programs? The programs I've been accepted to are APA-accredited, fully funded, and 100% internship match rates. Outside of this, what should I be looking at? Is it a bad sign if many alumni end up going into private practice and very few into faculty/academic positions? How much does the name of your PI matter? (My PIs are doing research really aligned with my interests, but they don't have national name recognition or too many recent pubs. I'm not sure if this is something I should be concerned about).

And in terms of applying for fellowships, internship, and postdoc positions, how much do you feel prestige of the program and university name make a difference? I know the US News rankings are meaningless, so just trying to get a sense of how to judge ranking and reputation within the field. Any advice would be appreciated!
 
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summerbabe

2+ Year Member
Nov 22, 2016
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Congrats on having options! If you have 3 or more offers, please consider releasing one of the offers if you can/have narrowed to a top 2 so that program can extend the offer to somebody else.

In general, I would consider how each program can support your career goal(s). If it's academia, picking a supportive mentor that you'll likely work well with is even more important. If it's clinical, look at typical training opportunities. For example, my PhD program would not have been a good fit for somebody who wanted to pursue neuropsych due to practicum limitations of our area.

If multiple programs are perceived to fit well, I would further elevate personal factors like geography to help with decisions.

Is it a bad sign if many alumni end up going into private practice and very few into faculty/academic positions?
Only a small fraction of PhDs/PsyDs will ever work in academia full-time. Looking at licensure and EPPP pass rates might be a better predictor.
How much does the name of your PI matter? (My PIs are doing research really aligned with my interests, but they don't have national name recognition or too many recent pubs. I'm not sure if this is something I should be concerned about).
Probably quite a bit if your goal is academia but likely is minimal impact to complete irrelevance if you plan to practice. For academia, (which I think will only get more competitive in a post-COVID funding landscape) and your PI isn't publishing much, that will hinder your ability to bolster your CV compared to those in more productive labs.
And in terms of applying for fellowships, internship, and postdoc positions, how much do you feel prestige of the program and university name make a difference? I know the US News rankings are meaningless, so just trying to get a sense of how to judge ranking and reputation within the field. Any advice would be appreciated!
Based on my experiences, longer-tenured training directors will have a sense of some doctoral programs that generally ensure their interns are well trained before they match and a list of programs that may be questionable based on trainees who performed poorly. And conversely some programs may also encourage their students to consider certain internships due to good previous experiences. For fellowship, your internship site will likely be much more important than your graduate program.

Generally speaking, I don't think a university's 'brand' matters much for our field. Most high school students can't get into an Ivy so there's prestige with being a Harvard grad. But many successful PhD applicants have similar GPAs, GREs and quantified research output so they are looking for a good program fit, rather than getting into the school itself.
 
Dec 4, 2014
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For research I would 100% go with what aligned with your interests over name recognition as long as it appears to be a productive lab. Other factors to consider: Average number of years until graduation for students, factors that would be more or less helpful for your family / partner (e.g., what is the job market like there for them? Proximity to airport? etc.)., cost of living / geography/ access to things that make you happy, diversity (age, past experience, ethnicity/background, etc), on a scale from 1-10 how would current and former students rate your prospective mentor on a variety of terms. If you can get an idea of hwo much former students keep in touch after graduation, that might be a reasonable indicator on what it was like to work with that person. Ask students about that person's supervision style, conflict style/resolution (ask for examples of misunderstandings or differences of opinion, perhaps?) ,ability to get diversity of experience e.g., by doing practica in other labs, externship options. If you think you might want to go into academia, that might be somethign to consider (if people have successfully gone into academia) but otherwise I wouldn't let that stress me too much. Ask people what is the average number of hours totla they spent per week for each year (incorporating studying, reading, classes, practica, etc). I guess what I'm saying is assess for work/life balance - how remote does it seem - possibility to approximate a healthy balance? How do the current students get along? (Do they hang out together on the weekends just becuase, or do they all go their different ways?) What adjectives would students use to describe their team? What is one thing they would liek more or less of in their program/experience, and what was the most pleasant surprise to them about being in the program? In general I like asking people what surprised them (good or bad). Everyone has an answer, because nothing is ever truly what you expect/matches the idea you had in your head. Oh, also find out where people ended up for postdoc.
 

YoungFrancis

2+ Year Member
Dec 25, 2017
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I'd love to hear from students who are currently in Clinical Psychology PhD programs and especially those applying for internship and postdoc: What factors are the most important to weigh when considering PhD programs? The programs I've been accepted to are APA-accredited, fully funded, and 100% internship match rates. Outside of this, what should I be looking at? Is it a bad sign if many alumni end up going into private practice and very few into faculty/academic positions? How much does the name of your PI matter? (My PIs are doing research really aligned with my interests, but they don't have national name recognition or too many recent pubs. I'm not sure if this is something I should be concerned about).

And in terms of applying for fellowships, internship, and postdoc positions, how much do you feel prestige of the program and university name make a difference? I know the US News rankings are meaningless, so just trying to get a sense of how to judge ranking and reputation within the field. Any advice would be appreciated!
I would be more concerned with recent productivity than with name recognition if you hope to go the academic route. See if you can figure out why a faculty member's recent productivity is low. Were they on sabbatical? Were they in an administrative position? Were they collecting gobs of data that they have ready for you to help with? Did the students say they're non-responsive? Are they coasting? Ask students what happens when they propose new ideas to their PI.

I would look closely at the PI's CV and their students' CVs if you can find them to get a sense of productivity. Look for how often students are first author. Do the students publish with faculty other than their advisors? Ask students about this if you can't tell.
 
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