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4 Tips for Choosing a Graduate Psychology Program

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The field of psychology is one of the most fascinating out there; as a study of the human mind, the directions you can go are limitless; you may want to work in a clinical setting or devote your time to research or academia. Choosing a graduate program is not something to be taken lightly and the range of programs can seem overwhelming. But, with some careful thought, you can more easily find the right program for you.

What are Your Career Goals?

This might seem like kind of an obvious question, but a common sentiment among many enrollment advisors in graduate programs is that many students do not give enough thought to what they plan to do after they get their graduate degree. What fields are of particular interest? If you like the idea of working with law enforcement, a forensic psychology graduate program may be a good fit; if you like the idea of working with companies to help them finding optimal employees, an industrial-organizational program may be the way to go. Clearly defined goals can also help you decide between a PhD or a PsyD program; the former makes more sense for academia or research, while the latter prepares you for the actual practice of psychology. Talk to professors to get an idea of the different paths you can take. Read as much literature as you can about different areas of psychology. While it is hard to know exactly what you will be doing five years from now, it is important to figure it out as best as you can.

What are Internship Match Rates?

If you intend to get a degree in clinical, school or counseling psychology, you are going to need to complete a one-year internship to gain practical experience. The American Psychological Association (APA) provides a database that matches students and internships; unfortunately, about 25 percent of students are not able to be matched and need to explore other avenues for securing an internship. This can put a significant delay in finishing your studies. When exploring potential schools, it is important to research match rates for internships.

APA Accreditation Considerations

Choosing graduate programs that are accredited by the APA offer many advantages.Many internships will require attendance at a school accredited by this institution. Any school that carries this endorsement is delivering a quality education that has met stringent standards. In some instances, you may not even have a choice as some licensing boards, academic institutions, government agencies, and other types of employers require degrees from accredited programs.

How Much Debt can you Shoulder?

Doctoral programs in psychology can cost anywhere from 38,000 to 120,000 dollars, depending on the type of degree you are pursuing. When deciding on your program, you need to give careful consideration to the average salary of your chosen career path and how much debt you can reasonably pay off based on your earnings. You may need to give extra weight to financial factors such as cost of tuition, and availability of grants, fellowships, traineeships, research assistantships and teaching assistantships.

About the Author:Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who has written extensively about a variety of education topics.

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