How can an older student without a psychology background get into a psychology PhD program?
September 27, 2008 8:38 AM Subscribe
As a (somewhat) older student, how can I best prepare to get into a clinical psychology PhD program?
Say I want to be a therapist. Say I've had several good therapists in the past, one of whom I worked with closely for a couple of years. Say I have a pretty decent idea of what being a therapist is all about, and that I want to take my previous therapists as professional role models.
These therapists I've liked have all had PhDs, and I want to get a PhD, too, and eventually go into private practice.
I'm nearing 30, and though I have a great academic record, it's not in psychology. I have good grades from good schools, a master's degree in English from a top university, teaching experience, and some work experience that involves people-management (and helped convince me I could be a good therapist), but is of course not psychology per se.
Can I apply to doctoral programs as I am? I hear they're crazy-competitive. Do I need to take a bunch of undergraduate science and psychology courses, and/or do a master's in psychology first?
Assume my GRE general test scores are good. Will I definitely need to take the psychology subject test as well?
I am not 100% against getting an MSW instead, as I understand that it can also qualify one to be a talk therapist, but I'm leaning towards a doctorate because (1) I want the added prestige and earning power of this degree; (2) I want to write about psychology and I imagine a PhD would give me extra authority; (3) it seems to me that social work school attracts people who are more interested in working with seriously structurally downtrodden populations, which I think is super noble, but not exactly where I want to go; (4) I am not sure, but I might like to be able to teach it someday.
I also thought about PsyD's, but heard that they continue to be less well-regarded than PhDs, and also that you have to pay your own way completely.