Graduate Guide To PhD in Psychology

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Students who are looking to enroll for their doctorate in psychology will be in for an exciting and challenging period of their educational and professional lives. Because of the dedication, determination and hard work that is going to go into obtaining this sort of qualification, it is imperative that individuals feel they are prepared for the challenges ahead. What is more, they will need to ensure that they have chosen the right course to aid them in achieving the career goals that they have set out for themselves.

PhD and PsyD Qualifications

These days, most psychologists have a PhD, which is a doctor of philosophy. This sort of qualification is usually obtained through an institution that offers research-based training and it is quite common for psychologists to have to complete a thesis before they can graduate.

The PsyD qualification, on the other hand, is a much more experience-based degree, and it also happens to be one of the newer introductions to the field. Students who enroll for this sort of qualification will usually complete their training within a public or private institution, and while they are going through the course, they will be expected not only to conduct research, but also to complete practical assignments. While they are undertaking the latter, they will be under constant supervision.

Becoming a Licensed Psychologist

In order for a student to become a licensed psychologist, they will very likely need to complete an internship, and this is something that they will very often need to do before they complete their PhD. Internships often take about one or two years to complete, and once they are done, the student will be able to sit for the licensing examination within their state. A pass is required for them to be able to go on and begin practicing within their state of their choice. Many professionals within this field opt for fellowships once they are done with their PhD because they are looking for some more experience before they step out into the world as a qualified professional. This can come in handy for those who are willing to commit a bit more time to building up their experience before starting out on their own.

Not all students opt for their PhD in order to start practicing as a psychologist; some opt for very diverse careers within the fields of education, research and even corporate environments.

Is a PhD Necessary?

While a large number of professionals are opting to enroll for their PhD, there are still many who are choosing not to take this route. Because of the time and the expenses associated with this qualification, master’s graduates often look to start working with the qualification they have, so it is important that potential doctoral candidates understand why they should be moving ahead with their post graduate studies.

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There are jobs available for students with just a master’s degree. These students are usually able to apply for positions within research labs, as well as work in schools and mental health clinics. They might be somewhat limited in terms of the roles that they can play, however, and they will almost certainly earn less than someone with a PhD. These are only some of the reasons why many people are choosing this route.

Becoming a Member of a Professional Psychological Association

There are a variety of professional psychological associations that individuals will need to become a member of in order to practice within their chosen field. The American Psychology Association is one of these organizations that require a membership before certain individuals can practice within their state. In order to be eligible for a membership, individuals need to keep in mind that they will have to adhere to certain requirements and in some instances, this might mean that they should have a PhD. It is usually a good idea for prospective students to find out a bit more about the requirements of the specific professionals organization with which they will need to register so that they can enroll in the most appropriate course.

Applying For a Master’s Beforehand

Some students opt to enroll in a master’s course before applying for a PhD, while others don’t. While there are some courses that force students to enroll in the former before being eligible to apply for the latter, this isn’t always the case. Those who aren’t required to complete a master’s before going on to completing a doctorate might want to consider completing this course for a variety of reasons.

PhDs are usually quite competitive courses, so prospective students will most likely want to make sure that they put all of their attention into making themselves as appealing as possible in terms of their candidacies. Master’s programs tend to provide students with the opportunity to strengthen their applications by improving their grades to the point where they really stand out. What is more, this will also demonstrate the abilities of the student to complete graduate level work, as well as provide them with opportunities to work alongside members of the faculty.

Questions To Ask Yourself When Applying For a PhD

When applying for a position as a PhD candidate, individuals will need to ask themselves certain questions to ensure that they have chosen the right qualification to help them in achieving these goals. One of the first questions that a professional needs to ask themselves is what they want to achieve in their careers. Sometimes, professionals will have a general idea about the sort of work they want to be doing, while in other instances, they might be very specific with regards to their goals. Either way, this information can then be used to determine whether the course is actually going to assist them in achieving these goals.

It might be helpful for a professional to identify someone in their field that has a position similar in nature to the one that the prospective student desires. By finding out more about this individual’s career path, a student will have a better idea of what they can achieve by following the same route.

Students need to be comfortable in taking on a certain amount of debt when applying for a position within a PhD course. Those who are picking a course might want to weigh up how much they are likely to spend studying with how much they are likely to make once they enter into the field as a qualified professional. It is believed that an assistant professor within this field will make about $53,000. Practicing clinical psychologists earn a median salary of about $58,000.

Those who want to reduce the amount of debt that falls onto their own shoulders might want to consider applying to those programs that offer fellowships, teaching assistantships and scholarships. All of this can go towards helping an individual in getting through these years with ease.

Students need to consider the sorts of internship match rates that are available to them once they have graduated, otherwise they could end up with the theoretical knowledge and none of the practical experience. These internships are not always required, but for those who are interested in the fields of counseling, clinical or school psychology, this might be an important consideration.

Finding out who are the top researchers within a school will help students identify those professors who are interested in similar fields to the student. This is important because it shows the students that they will have a better fit in the event that they are chosen for a PhD candidacy position. Information on the professors and researchers can usually be found on the website of the institution, along with links to their work and publications.

Putting Together a Strong Application

Because of the number of students who will most likely be competing for the same positions, it is important that individuals put together an application that really stands out. Schools will most likely require a student’s grades from their bachelors or master’s years and this can take some time to collect, so students are advised to do so as early as possible.

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The school will also most likely require a letter of intent. This statement should be pretty straightforward and requires the student to explain why they are interested in the field of psychology, what their goals are and how the program can help them achieve these goals. Students are usually advised to avoid making statements about wanting to help people, since these have been overused. It might be better to focus on the fields of interest where a person might want to help others, such as working with the aged or the disabled.

Anyone who is seriously looking into applying for a position as a PhD candidate will want to makes sure that they not only know what they are going to need to do to achieve this goal, but also that they are making the right decision about their career choice. This is going to be a challenging and rewarding period that students need to commit to for at least the next three years, so it becomes important to ensure they know what they want from the program.



About the Author: Ann Steele

This website is co-authored by Ann Steele, a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego with extensive experience with children and adolescents. Ann Steele attended American School Of Psychology & Argosy University Online. She especially enjoys using music therapy for mental and emotional well-being.

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