Psychology Graduate (Thinking about masters or job) Watch
I am extremely stuck on what to do when I graduate. I have always wanted to go into Clinical or Educational Psychology (do a doctorate), however, I have been really put off due to the high numbers applying and only a hand full get interviews and then places. I am not sure if I can stand out from the other applicants as they have years of experience and still do not get accepted. I am not sure if it is worth the wait or do something different. I am not sure if a masters will help me stand out from the crowd or if it's a waste of time as I already have (will have in July when I graduate) accreditation by the BPS. If I were to do a masters it would be Applied Developmental Psychology masters at Derby University, they have a placement module but I ma unsure if it enough or even worth it. It is not accredited but it gives me a masters? I am 21 so still young but I want to know what I am doing with my life. I shadowed an Ed psych last week and they said getting experience is essential rather than doing a masters. I would love to get onto an Ed psych doctorate but I was added to a facebook group yesterday based on applicants who are applying/being interviewed etc and it was very stressful reading everyone's horror stories and some have applied with the best grades and tonnes of experience, so I am unsure if I will stand out from them.
I have been looking today at Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy Masters at Derby University, however, I am unsure if it is worth waiting and getting experience for the educational psych doctorate.
Has anyone had experience doing any of these masters? Or waiting for a doctorate in educational psychology? And can please help me. Thank you
It is challenging to get onto doctoral training programmes for Clinical/Educational psychology and whilst these places are highly sought after there are things you can do to enhance your prospects. The first thing to mention though is that persistence may pay off and according to published reports (at least for Clin' Psych) it does take multiple applications and years to get onto the training. The things you can do to stand out will vary whether it is Clinical or Educational that you opted for obviously but doing a Masters programme is one way you can do that because of the sought of training and skills you get from it. There is also practical experience that may enhance your chances by doing some sort of role first (e.g. teacher or research assistant positions). The BPS also offer guidance via their career webpages and so you may want to check that out if you haven't done so already. The advice generally seems to be that doing one or more of these things will improve your chances. So, in my personal opinion (and of course I do lead a Masters you have mentioned) an MSc would enhance your prospects although it wouldn't guarantee being accepted onto these types of doctoral training programmes it would come at a financial and time cost. The MSc in Applied Developmental Psychology does allow students to incorporate a placement into a Negotiated module that runs in the Spring term but is not compulsory and is instead an opportunity if you wanted to include it as part of the programme. About half of our students do have a placement and this is achieved primarily through the students organising it themselves but is supported by the team and the links we have out in the community too. The programme isn't accredited but that's because developmental Masters generally aren't and because they don't need to be. It is only where a masters course forms part of a formal training route (e.g. Health Psychology - an MSc is considered as Stage-1 training) or if it were a conversion course that it would likely be accredited by the BPS.
If you would like to talk any of this through with me I'd be happy to Skype, Zoom or invite you to come onto campus and show you around. There is no pressure and I'm happy to give advice generally as well as talk about what Derby could offer you too. Please feel free to contact me directly if you would like ([email protected]).
I would point out though that just because you’re feeling like it’s too late doesn’t mean it is. You’ve possibly been a bit slower on the uptake than some of your peers that there was more to getting onto educational or clinical psychology doctoral programmes than simply meeting the grade requirement. That’s all. There is time to make that up.
This may seem frustrating to have realised this at the time you have and you may have other priorities other than getting work experience, particularly as this is often low paid or even unpaid. This is part of the psychologist’s dilemma. You do have to make a choice whether to go for roles like support worker and teaching assistant or whether to go for something that is better paid.
If you are interested in Educational psychology, there is nothing stopping you going for a PGCE or schools based initial teacher training programme which would allow you to gain hands on experience in schools and working with children whilst still giving you a back up career. You have may have misgivings about that but it does remain one of the most straightforward routes into EP, even though it is no longer a requirement. You could build up relevant experience by doing CPD in SEND or even becoming a SENDCO, which many regard as being nearly equivalent to an EP these days as they are expected to take on more of the workload.
My advice to just about anyone who wants to do a professional psychology doctorate and pursue that career, however, is this: think about would you want to do if you couldn’t do EP or CP and do that instead. Chances are it will be less competitive, well paid, and still sufficiently related to both fields that you could use the experience as leverage into becoming a psychologist down the line. If it isn’t, then you were probably only in it for the money or the prestige anyway, therefore probably not the right career for you anyway.
It’s a bit brutal, I know, but it’s intended as practical advice that might help you sort your feelings out about the choices ahead of you and give you a rough plan.
All that said, psychology is not as competitive as many people believe. If you meet the minimum requirements, you are likely to get an interview. If you can present yourself well at interview then you have everything to play for. Technically. But there is sacrifice involved, and maybe too much of one at this time. I decided against psychology because I was essentially allergic to risk at the time I had to make the decision. As it is, it’s still an options that is open to me if I want to later on, but I’ve got a backup that I’m very happy with.