Most movies and TV shows make being a psychologist look so easy. It’s as if patients simply talk about their feelings to you as they sit on a fancy couch you own. You as the psychologist sit on the opposite side taking notes and repeating back the questions they ask you. It all looks so easy, but it’s not. There is a lot of work involved prior to becoming a psychologist or counselor.
First, let’s identify the difference between a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in psychology. Masters in psychology is a much shorter degree which allows individuals to counsel patients. A PhD in psychology takes longer to achieve but it allows one to conduct research, teach and counsel. In addition, one cannot be considered a ‘psychologist’ without having attained a Ph.D. One may achieve a Ph.D. by either completing their master’s degree first or by applying to the competitive Ph.D. program right after their bachelors.
Texas Tech offers both a bachelor’s program and a Ph.D. program, where you receive your masters on the way. The graduate school at Texas Tech offers a total of three doctoral programs: Clinical (APA- accredited), Counseling (APA-accredited) and experimental (HFES accredited). They are highly competitive program which received over 300 applications. For the fall semester of only 25 students were accepted.
If you plan to apply for this program, begin preparing now!!! This is how:
1. Majoring in Psychology
Most graduate programs across the nation do require you to complete your undergraduate degree in Psychology. Naturally, receiving your bachelors in psychology would mean that you know more about the subject. In addition, this will benefit you when it is time to figure out what track you want to study.
2. Choosing classes
This a great opportunity to take classes that will allow you to gain insight to research and information that could be used when you go into the graduate program. Keep in mind, some programs looks at the classes you have taken as an undergraduate. Hence, if you can show that you took classes that would count toward your chosen track, the better off you are.
3. Undergraduate Research
Lucky for us, Texas Tech University is a research university. This means like all those articles you read in your psychology classes, we have professors who spend months to years gathering data to put together an article. It is necessary to show that you have been a part of such work as an undergraduate student. Get involved!
Interning with nonprofit organizations or at a counseling center will help you stand out as a competitive applicant. This work suggests that you have experience working with people which is what psychology is all about. You can apply to internship programs by contacting your psychology advisor or simply by researching organizations available to you.
5. Letters of Recommendation
The graduate school at Texas Tech requires at least three letters of recommendation. Since getting three letter of recommendation can often be very difficult. Start preparing for it from day one. There are a few of ways to get letters of recommendation:
a) Professors: You are fortunate enough to be in a class taught by faculty, speak to them. Let them know that you want to go into the graduate program and stay in touch with them. A faculty member who has been a part of your academic life can be influential.
b) Undergraduate Research: Research is conducted by a faculty member, whom you will be working for. Hence, a letter of recommendation from such a faculty member will not only suggest that you know some important people, but also that you have completed research.
c) On Campus Jobs: On campus jobs are available to every student at Texas Tech. It’s a matter of logging into raiderjobs.ttu.edu and applying for the ones that you are eligible for. On campus jobs allow you to network with officials that could possibly help you with letters of recommendation.
Networking is extremely important. It will not only help you get into a graduate program, but it will also help you when you need a job. There are many ways to network and stay in touch with other students and officials.
a) Workshops: The Department of Psychology at Texas Tech hosts many workshops you can attend to meet students of the same major. Its purpose is to help you learn about ways to prepare yourself for graduate school.
b) On campus jobs: as mentioned above, on campus jobs will help you network with officials of the school who is influential when applying to graduate programs at Texas Tech.
c) Career Center: The Texas Tech career center will open your eyes to the job world. Visiting their office at the Wiggins Complex will help you figure out what you want to do with your career and network with people who can help you achieve your career goals.
The Graduate Record Examinations need to be completed by every student applying to the graduate program in Psychology. It is recommended that you prepare for the exams at least 4 months prior to taking it. Consider it as the SATs for Graduate School.
Research graduate programs state and nation wide to see which ones suit you best. Make sure you have a complete application. Pay attention to details such as letter of recommendations and transcripts.
Yes, a lot is expected of you before applying to the Graduate program. So buy yourself a planner, stay organized and be passionate about what you want to study.
Good luck and Psychology on!