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04 Sep Psychology Graduate Programs

You can earn a graduate degree, Master’s and doctoral, in Psychology either through a regular grad school/university or through an online college.

Before applying you should do thorough homework about the schools, their curriculum, reputation, teaching approach (some schools are research-oriented whereas some schools emphasize coursework and practical training), financial aid, and career opportunities after completing the course. “Graduate Study In Psychology”, an annual publication of the American Psychological Association, is a mine of information on schools, courses and career prospects in psychology in America. Almost all reputable schools contribute to this book.

To enroll for a graduate program you should have a bachelor’s degree with a high GPA from an accredited college. You also need to get an excellent GRE score and prescribed number (generally three) of recommendation letters from your undergraduate instructors. Any research/work experience in psychology would be an added advantage.

Many schools require the applicant to write a comprehensive Statement of Purpose (SoP) justifying his/her candidature, career aspirations, why s/he wants to study from that school and why s/he chose a particular program.

Though a bachelor’s degree in psychology is very helpful, it is not compulsory. If you can convincingly demonstrate your interest and your ability to succeed in the area, admission should not be very difficult. You can ask your undergraduate professors to vouch for your capability to do justice to the course in their customary recommendation letters. Before applying, you can also try taking short-term certificate courses in psychology to prove your interest.

Grad schools are very selective in filtering the applications, since psychology is a niche area. The admission rate is less than 5% in some leading schools. You should apply to at least 4-5 schools of first choice, and another 4-5 schools of second choice. You should also finalize funding sources before admissions. Student aid websites provide the necessary information about funding; many universities, too, help through fellowships and assistantships.

A Master’s degree takes around two years and a doctoral degree 4 to 6 years to complete. Students who want more clinical training and are not very interested in research can go for a PsyD, “Doctor of Psychology,” instead of a traditional Ph.D. But it is an expensive program and admission is much tougher.

Psychology offers a wide range of career openings. The American Psychology Society, American Psychological Association and various other organizations list the latest job openings.

Research, teaching, clinical/criminal psychology, social counseling, organizational behavior, employee training and development, industrial relations, change management, leadership development, quality of work, organizational development etc. are some of the major work areas. One can be a full-time employee or a consultant.



Peter Emerson

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