No. If you intend to get a Ph.D or a Psy.D, those programs are designed to begin just after receiving an undergraduate degree.

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1 How do I get involved in undergraduate research? The best way to do get involved in research is to approach a professor and ask her or him if they have any research projects on which they need help. Sometimes they may have a graduate student doing a thesis who needs help. You will have more success if you took a class with the professor and earned a high grade, and if she or he believes that you will be committed to the project. The important thing about research experience is that you work under the direction of a professor and gain experience with different aspects of the research process. This is what graduate programs want to see. Should I get my master s degree first and then get a Ph.D.? No. If you intend to get a Ph.D or a Psy.D, those programs are designed to begin just after receiving an undergraduate degree. Is a master s degree in counseling the same as a master s degree in psychology? No, it is not. Master s degrees in counseling are usually offered in Schools of Education, not in Departments of Psychology. Like social work degrees, they are very good applied degrees for students who are less interested in psychology classes such as statistics, research design and biopsychology. A master s degree in psychology usually has a scientific-academic focus. What classes should I take to get into graduate school? Having a psychology major is an important first step. People will have different opinions on this, but as a general rule, the science-oriented academic classes are important for any kind of doctoral program in psychology. This includes research design and statistics. At the current time, cognitive psychology and physiological psychology are valued in all areas of psychology at the doctoral level. Other widely applicable classes for any psychology program include social psychology, developmental psychology, history of psychology and personality. How do I prepare for the GRE? The GRE or Graduate Record Examination is a graduate school admissions test. The MAT or Miller Analogies test is another admissions test. For either the GRE or the MAT you should spend one to two months studying. This usually involves going to a book store and purchasing a study guide and working through the materials. You can also search online for a Kaplan course. These courses typically cost about $ and prepare you to take the GRE. They are offered in Birmingham. What score do I need to earn on my GRE to be competitive for graduate school?

2 There is no fixed score. It is usually wise to shoot for one standard deviation above the mean, or a combined score of 1200 on the verbal and the quantitative sections. For some programs a combined score of 1100 may be fine. The MAT is usually accepted by master s programs. In most master s programs an average score is considered very good. An average score on the MAT is 400. Note, as a comparision, an average score on the ACT is about 21. A score of 26 is about one standard deviation above the mean. To how many schools should I apply? To as many as you can afford and as many as you have time to apply. You want to increase the probability that you will get accepted. There is no guarantee that you will get accepted even if you have all the basic qualifications, so it is wise to apply widely. You should apply to a range of schools, including one or two dream schools and one or two safe bets. How do I choose a graduate program that is right for me? That is a difficult question. It is like asking how do you choose a major or career that is right for you. There is no formula for that one. Some people will be happy most anywhere and others be happy almost nowhere. As a rule, you should pick a school that offers the specialization in which you are interested and who has faculty doing research that interests you. The more prestigious the school, the more likely it is that your degree will be marketable. What is the difference between a Ph. D. and a Psy. D. Ph.D refers to Doctor of Philosophy. It is the traditional terminal degree in academia. Someone who has a Ph.D. in psychology is supposed to be able to be a researcher/scholar. She or he should be able to produce research that contributes to the knowledge-base of psychology. Psy.D refers to Doctor of Psychology. It is designed to be a professional rather than an academic degree. It is more like other professional programs such as dental school or law school. Scholarship is less emphasized than vocational training. Students are taught to be practicing clinical psychologists. What is the difference between a clinical psychology Ph.D. and a counseling psychology Ph.D.? These two specialties are becoming less distinct. Clinical psychology is a broader discipline that contains a wide range of specializations including child psychology, abnormal psychology,

3 health psychology and neuropsychology. Counseling psychology training is usually geared toward skills in counseling and psychotherapy. A counseling psychology program is more likely to include an emphasis on race, gender and cross cultural psychology. It will also emphasize developmental rather than pathological models of behavior. Both are psychology degrees and contain a strong academic focus. What is the difference between scientist-practitioner, clinical-science and scholarpractitioner programs? Each is a different training philosophy for clinical and counseling psychology. Scientist practitioner programs train students to be both researchers and practicing psychologists. Clinical-science programs are usually more interested in training researchers. Students who intend to practice may not want be educated in a clinical science program. Scholar-practitioner is a training model used in Psy.D. programs. Research skills are not usually a focus of training. What should I include in my personal statement? Your personal statement should be a statement of your career interests and plans. You should briefly talk about how your interests developed and where you would like to be in five to ten years. It is not a personal autobiography. For some programs you should spend time studying the faculty and their research. In your statement you should state with which faculty members you are interested in working and why. You should to do this only if there is a faculty member with whom you are actually want to work. It is usually a good idea to ask the program if they accept students into the program and then assign them advisors or if faculty member accept students directly into their labs. How do I get good letters of recommendation? If you are applying to a graduate program in psychology, it is important to have letters of recommendations from your professors those who are aware of the discipline and what success requires. Letters from ministers and employers are less valued unless the letter writer also has an advanced degree in the academic discipline. The schools want to know about your academic abilities and your potential as a student researcher and a student teacher. Someone who has been accepted into and successfully graduated from a doctoral program is in a better position to evaluate this. Students who do better in class are going to get better letters. If you get a C, the professor is likely to write you a C letter. If you can, it is better to ask for letters from professors whose classes you have done very well in. Going to class every period is also important. A student who got a A but rarely went to class is typically not going to get an exceptional letter of recommendation unless there were extenuating circumstances. It is also better if the professor has had some contact with you outside of class so they can say more than: This person took two classes with me and earned an A each time.

4 It is appropriate to ask the professor to see a copy of the letter she or he writes for you. How much does it cost to go to graduate school? As with undergraduate program, cost varies from place to place. Tuition in graduate programs tends to be more expensive than it is in undergraduate programs. You should also figure in the cost of living. Getting accepted into a Ph.D. program usually makes graduate school more affordable because those programs typically offer some kind of assistantships and perhaps a tuition waiver. An assistantship can be anywhere from $10,000-25,000 a year. Psy.D programs are typically the most expensive programs to attend. They are free standing programs that are not associated with a University and often run for profit. How do I find graduate schools to apply to? The American Psychologist publishes a list of accredited doctoral programs in psychology in the December issue every year. This list does not include programs in experimental psychology which are not accredited. The American Psychological Association publishes a book called Graduate Study in Psychology. The internet is also an excellent resource. Every university has a web page. To see what kinds of graduate programs a university offers, go to its web site and search to see if they have a program in which you are interested. What does my GPA need to be for graduate school applications? As a general rule, you would want to shoot for a 3.0 cumulative GPA or greater to get accepted into a master s degree program in psychology. Gaining admission to a doctoral program in psychology is more competitive and your GPA should be higher. Minimum GPA can range anywhere from 3.3 to 3.7. How much does it cost to apply to graduate schools? This varies with the school. Cost can range from 35 to 50 dollars. You also have to send transcripts to each school, plus official reports of GRE or MAT schools. Applying to 10 schools will cost 500 dollars or more. If I am accepted by more than one graduate program, how do I determine which is best? There is no formula for this kind of decision but it is a good problem to have. You should consider a number of factors including how well the program matches your interests, the program s reputation and its cost. It is also a good bet that you will end up working in the same kind of setting as other graduates of that program.

5 What if I do not get in? Approach a trusted professor and ask her or his advice. You may need to retake the GRE or possibly gain some research experience. If your record is not going to be competitive, you can apply to a master s degree program with the goal of making yourself a more competitive applicant in two years. If you applied to a psychology master s degree program and did not get accepted, consider a master degree program in a related human services field. How would I qualify to go to a conference as an undergraduate student? Going to a conference with a professor and presenting a poster looks very good on a graduate school application. Undergraduates are usually advised to pick a conference that is relatively close to their place of residence. Examples include the Southeasten Psychological Association and the Alabama Psychological Association conferences. Both are very undergraduate-friendly. Even at large institutions such as Auburn, there are limited funds to send doctoral graduate students to conferences unless an individual professor has considerable grant money. There are even fewer funds for undergraduates. At AUM, once a poster has been accepted under the sponsorship of a psychology faculty member, both the department and the dean may be able to find a couple of hundred dollars to defray expenses if an overnight stay is involved but this will vary from year to year. How do I get an internship in the mental health field? There is no such thing as an internship at the undergraduate level. It is possible to do a practicum. A practicum involves finding some applied site, asking if they need any help or if they take practicum students, and approaching a professor to sponsor the practicum. Practica involve only observations and not direct service. Clinical training and experience in direct service are provided in graduate school. AUM students who participate in American Humanics have obtained internships in the mental health field. The purpose of American Humanics is to educate, prepare, and certify professionals to strengthen and lead nonprofit organizations. The psychology department encourages it majors to consider becoming involved with this organization. What kind of jobs can a person obtain with an undergraduate psychology degree? Like a biology, physics, history or English degree, the undergraduate psychology degree is not a vocational training degree. It is an excellent degree for gaining critical thinking skills, conceptual resources and writing abilities which are valued in many different kinds of occupations. These include social services and business environments.

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