Why and How You Should Obtain Ph.D. in Psychology
Many students do not stop getting formal education upon obtaining a Master’s degree. It might be difficult to arrive at such a decision, but once taken, it will never make one regret. Psychologists should be specifically interested in applying for a post-graduate program since many careers in this sphere are not accessible without doctorate (Ph.D.). Beyond doubt, gaining it will be a challenging process as it implies writing a dissertation and passing qualifying exams. Nevertheless, the studying will turn out to be a very rewarding experience. Therefore, do not hesitate and find out more about post-graduate programs in psychology that an international student may pursue in the US. Reading this article might be the first successful step in doing it and inform you about peculiarities related to Ph.D. studies.
In the US, except for attending courses, a Ph.D. student is obliged to meet a set of requirements before he/she gains a degree. The major condition is to write a dissertation, which is rarely optional. Students have to come up with an original idea as well as conduct a relevant experiment to collect, analyze, and interpret data. The entire process and the findings resulting from it should be described in a lengthy research paper, which a dissertation actually is. The aim of this challenge is to ensure that students are capable of carrying out psychological research professionally and applying previously gained knowledge in practice. However, before one is allowed to proceed with writing a dissertation, he/she might need to either go through a preliminary doctoral examination or compose a prospectus. These tasks are targeted at checking students’ preparedness for conducting research and ability to process and critically analyze numerous sources of information.
Another condition to be satisfied in order to gain a doctor’s degree is to take several mandatory courses. There are two types of these classes. The first category is core courses that are compulsory for every student who is studying psychology regardless of his/her specialization and, thus, cannot be avoided. The second type is the breadth courses that are aimed at making sure that future psychologists are versed and competent in various fields. For example, even if your specialization is developmental psychology, you might be demanded to attend classes on sensation and perception or take a social psychology course. Usually, there are several options available. It means that students are allowed to choose the sphere the knowledge in which he/she would like to deepen.
Post-graduate students, including international ones, have an opportunity to engage in an assistantship. It means that one may help either a researcher in working on a project or carrying out an experiment or faculty members in conducting undergraduate courses in psychology. The duty of a research assistant is to work in a lab. As a teaching assistant, a student will have to grade undergraduates as well as be in charge of exam review sessions and class discussions among other responsibilities. Both variants are valuable since they give a chance to gain experience and even earn some money. It can be a stipend or a tuition fee waiver, which will definitely prove handy in the studying process. For these reasons, international students should sign up for assistantships.
Instead of traditionally moving on to developing career immediately after graduation or sticking to teaching, people holding a doctor’s degree in psychology may apply for post-doctorate programs. It does not require you to teach courses and is perfectly suitable for those who would love to tie their lives to research in this field. It is a kind of a transitional period between being a student and becoming a practitioner. A post-doctorate program is an opportunity to train for passing an exam in order to obtain a license, work with innovative and sophisticated equipment, and get acquainted with new experimental and statistical methods of collecting and analyzing information. Moreover, an international student who participated in a post-doctorate program is likely to have a great advantage over other candidates on labor market. Thus, you should give it a thought and consider this option viable.