which offer to accept? 1st gen, any advice appreciated!

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Dec 11, 2022
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I've been really fortunate to be accepted to 3 PsyD programs. I am the only one in my family to attend college, so I don't have much guidance/people to talk to about higher education advice. I'd really appreciate any input/advice given! I want to make sure I am weighing different aspects of each program correctly. I want to work in clinical therapy and eventually do something with forensic psych.

3 Acceptances: Indiana State University of Pennsylvania (IUP), Immaculata University, University of Hartford

IUP: has an in-house clinical training lab, 5 years to complete, cheapest option (in-state), high EPPP pass rate, high internship placement, elective course work to focus on areas of specific area of interest

Immaculata: has their own internship consortium only open to Immaculata students in the first round, evening classes so can work during the day, offers a certificate of emphasis in forensic psych

Hartford: has a child and adolescent track which they said makes you more competitive for internships

another factor is distance from my mom. My mom & I are each other's only family, and she is older, so I dont like the idea of being that far in case something happens / just to see her more often. Although, she tells me not to factor distance into choosing which school is right for me. as it stands, Immaculata is 90 min drive, Hartford & IUP are both roughly 4 hour drive.

any advice on these schools / what factors to weigh most / etc. would be greatly appreciated. thank you!

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Well, do you want to work with children/adolescents? Do you have an interest in forensic work?

I work in forensics but have a clinical degree. Any emphasis in forensics isn’t really worth it. It doesn’t help with APA compliance and it can be viewed as pigeonholing yourself. Just go straight clinical and it leaves all doors open. Forensic emphasis people are a dime a dozen and won’t help much, if at all, for future endeavors.

Is IUP APA? If so, it seems like the easy choice. Four hours vs an hour and a half isn’t really all that much of a difference and the benefit you would get from a cheaper and shorter program would be definitely worth it. Again, as long as they are APA and provide a quality education.

So I say IUP, hands down.
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IUP seems like the clear option to me. All these tracks and certificates don’t add much, I felt like internship sites only cared where you did your practicum/pre-internship.
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Agree with IUP. A 90 minute drive each way for Immaculata would still be significant in grad school, so the trip would likely cost you around the same total time away from school as the 4-hour one (I.e., 90 minutes is probably too far for a quick visit).
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Congrats on getting offers and having options!

As somebody who is also first-gen and navigated these issues largely on my own, part of the battle is doing the merit based stuff (to get an offer) and the just as important other half is figuring out logistics and knowing what you don't know.

What is the difference between out of pocket costs to you for each of these programs?

And just how literate you are about the financial side of things (anticipated debt load versus anticipated earnings, current interest rate % and how much interest will accrue before you ever make $$$ as a professional, prior debt if any you hold, anticipated living expenses each year during grad school, etc)?

Even if somebody was considering offers from only fully funded programs but especially when you're picking up the tab, I think applicants would benefit from thinking about this also as a business decision, rather than a purely educational decision. Good luck!
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If you want to work with kids, I am sure that you will be able to get clinical experience during practicums with that population and be competitive for internships. Also, broad experience is almost always going to be relevant in any part of psychology. In my mind, this breadth of experience and training is one strength that sets us apart.
I am assuming you live in PA, if so, is IUP also a much more affordable program? I always recommend thinking about debt. Also, IUP has the best reputation, for me, of the three. Immaculate seems like the least worthwhile.
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Immaculata or IUP unless you have a specific interest in children/adolescents that Hartford offers.

IUP wins on cost, however in house clinics are ok IF you also get exposure to outside clinics and facilities for your training practicum and internship.

However, don't discount the value of first round consortium advantages, especially if APA accredited internships, that Immaculata offers, as you stated. Goal is to get good training and education and get licensed.

IUP offers you financial savings IF you stay on track, get an internship on schedule, and graduate on time (not saying you won't but if they don't have a consortium , well sometimes people don't match and lose a year). Immaculata offers you flexibility and consortium , and sounds like closer to your mom.


would be the order I'd rank based on your post.
Congrats! Also a first gen student and I went to Immaculata (graduated 2022). I am a clinical health psychologist currently on postdoc at UVA, but I will say that Immaculata is incredibly supportive and night classes were super helpful especially in the first couple of years before starting practicum which allowed me to work during the day. Once you start practicum, night classes are also still super helpful because you can do both in a day and yes, it is tiring, but everyone is in the same boat and once you find your group of people, it makes it all a lot easier. I had a lot of friends who did the consortium for internship and there are a couple of forensic sites (not consortium) that are available in the area that are run by former grads or have been accepting IU students for a while. The forensic certification does not mean that the program is siloed at all, but that you have maintained focus on forensics in coursework and practicum sites (there may also be other requirements, but I'm not sure since I didn't do forensics). The degree is clinical psych in general and it's up to you to make sure you're connecting with prac sites that support your goals. For myself, that meant that every prac site I was at was in a hospital system and there are a ton in the philly area/south jersey.

Also definitely respect the financial considerations and it seems like IUP has a better set-up in terms of price over time and less years to complete, but I am also very close to my family and a 90 minute drive is significantly easier than 4 hours.

Happy to answer any other questions via email! [email protected]
Historically speaking at least IUP has been considered one of the top 5 Psy.D. programs in the country, is often quite well funded, and you'd have instate tuition. The other two are not in the same ballpark. Doesn't seem like much of a contest to me.
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