When you initiate the process of applying to graduate training in Psychology there are a number of questions you must ask yourself to help pin down the best schools for your needs. While one school might be a perfect fit for some students it might be a terrible fit for you. By considering the following very important factors you can find the ideal Graduate School for your particular needs.
Should I Pursue a Master’s or Doctoral Program?
The first question to ask is whether you want to earn your Master’s or Doctoral Degree in Psychology? Both programs are competitive for those applying. Students who have a clear plan of becoming a Professional Psychologist are best served to pursue a PhD or PsyD in Psychology. Students who plan to pursue employment in other (non-licensed) areas of the field may be able to do so with a Master’s Degree. A Master’s Degree typically requires about 2-3 years of training beyond a Bachelor’s Degree and a Doctoral Degree can take between 6 and 10 years beyond undergraduate training.
What Area of Psychology Do I Plan To Study?
The next important question is what area of psychology do you plan to pursue. If you hope to pursue a career as an Industrial/Organizational Psychology then a program offering neuroscience training will not be a good fit. It is important to research the offerings of each college and each program to understand what their training goals are as well as what is covered in the curriculum.
What Are My Career Goals?
All students considering graduate training in psychology would be benefited from a good long look in the mirror while contemplating their career goals. You may know that you want to be a psychologist but this is a very general term. Do you want to work with children? Do you want to work with individuals who have a psychiatric diagnosis or people experiencing a problem? Do you see yourself in private practice or working in a more institutional setting? Understanding exactly what you want for your career will help you narrow down potential programs.
What Types of Psychologists Does Each Program Train?
One great way to tell if a program will suit you is to take a look at the students who have recently graduates from the program. Are they quickly employed? Do they find jobs in areas you hope to achieve? Are they entering the research side or the practice side of psychology? If you see your own goals mirrored back in these students then the program would probably be a good fit.
There are many different shapes and forms for graduate school. The needs of one student may be very different from others. By taking the time to evaluate what you need and want out of a graduate psychology program you can find the program that is right for you.