As a psychology undergrad student, depending on what year you are in, you’ve probably found yourself feeling quite lost when thinking about what career paths are available for you after graduation. This was exactly how my friends and I felt during our first two years of college. However, as you start to take more advanced courses and get some experience, you might find that your worries will shift (not entirely go away!) to now thinking about how to apply to grad school.
As Dr. Sibrava mentioned, there are many various pathways in the mental health professions – researcher/professor, clinical psychologist, school psychologist, psychiatrist, licensed mental health counselor, and social worker to name a few. Can you pick a few that interest you off the bat? Although the qualifications for each of these professions will vary, luckily, the admissions process for all is quite similar.
In general, almost every program is looking for a good GPA, high GRE scores, strong personal statement, recommendation letters, and relevant experience. One advice that Dr. Sibrava has for any sophomore and junior psych majors is to act NOW and find some type of experience, research or field. He mentioned that you should do this for both personal and professional reasons. Personal because it makes you immerse yourself in different experiences and find out what you like (or don’t like) and professional because you are building your research or field expertise which will only help you in future opportunities.
All three of them agreed that when you finally decide to apply to grad school, early preparation is key. Both Marino and Ashley talked about how they used spreadsheets when researching schools— making columns for school name, type of program, application deadline, fees, tuition, and notes on potential faculty mentors. On that note, they also mentioned how important it is to find a faculty mentor whose research interests you, and who also shows a level of respect and interest back when replying to your email. Since most Ph.D. programs are based on mentorship models it’s very important that you find a good match not only with the program but with the professor themselves as well.
In short, there are many different routes that an undergraduate degree in psychology can take you. However, due to the nature of the field itself and the types of jobs available, graduate school is usually the next step for many students. All of this is not to say that you’re completely doomed if you’re a senior and haven’t prepared for your application at all. The important step is to not waste any more time and start now. Whether that means you’ll be taking a gap year to get more experience or head for masters first and then a Ph.D.; act now!
List of resources at Baruch are available below and we’ll have more blog posts coming for students who are in the process of applying to grad school so stay tuned for more! If you’d like to read up more on the application process, here’s a great website to start from.
A list of research labs at Baruch can be found here. The Psychology Department’s main office also carries a booklet describing each lab and the professor’s contact info if you’d like to volunteer in their lab and get research experience. For field experience, Baruch has a Practicum in Community Psychological Services taught by Dr. Barocas where you’ll be placed in a field setting, ranging from a school to an afterschool program to an inpatient psych facility. To sign up for the course, fill out the sign-up sheet outside the door of the Psychology department and Dr. Barocas will be in contact with you.
Dr. Sibrava is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at CUNY Baruch College and his primary area of research is in anxiety and related disorders. Within his research, he focuses on the factors that contribute to the cause, maintenance, and treatment of anxiety and related disorders. His work also examines the role of race, ethnicity, and culture within the context of the disorders. Dr. Sibrava teaches multiple courses at both the undergraduate and graduate-level with topics ranging from Child Psychopathology, Research Methods, to Theories of Counseling and more.
Soohyun (Ashley) Lee is a graduate student in the doctoral I/O program here at Baruch College. As a graduate researcher and the lab manager of the Emotions in Organizations Lab, her interests lie mainly in the subject of envy, with an emphasis on how social media sites can tend to cause a rise in this emotion quite heavily. She is also currently teaching Social Psychology at the undergraduate level.
Marino Mugayar-Baldocchi is also a graduate student in the doctoral I/O program at Baruch. He is part of the Occupational Health Psychology Lab, and one of his research interests is in the study of illegitimate tasks, the type of tasks that are assigned to employees which either undermine or exceed their professional identities. He is currently teaching Personality and Individual Differences and has also served as a T.A. for other psychology classes.
by Tenzin Woesel