Grad School

Tag: Grad School

Timeline for Applying to Graduate School

Adapted from ucsd.edu and columbia.edu  

While the application process for graduate school can be overwhelming, it becomes easier to manage if you split the process into smaller steps over the course of several months (or even years). Here is a timeline for the application process to help you prepare over time!

TIMELINE (if applying for admission immediately following graduation from Lawrence)

Junior (Year 3) 

If you plan to apply to graduate school during senior year, it’s a good idea to: 

  • Solidify which area of study you would like to pursue. 
  • Speak with advisers, professors, and career advisors about your interest in graduate school to get advice and suggestions for beginning the program search process. 
  • Create a CV. Here is a sample to help you get started. This resource can give more advice and examples. Our career advisor can help with this as well. 
  • Start research on graduate programs of interest. Things to consider include placement, curriculum, location and size, and more. Pay attention to details about required standardized exams, application processes and deadlines, faculty research, and financial aid/scholarship information. If necessary, contact schools for more information. 
  • Start gathering information about financial aid: scholarships, fellowships, and graduate and teaching assistantships. This list of resources for funding can help you.
  • Start preparing for any necessary graduate admissions tests, such as the GRE 
  • Get involved in a research project if you have not already gained research experience – click here to explore research opportunities and watch our information session on how to apply to the Lawrence University Research Fellowship for the summer 
  •  If possible, attend conferences in your discipline, especially if they include sessions for prospective graduate students or graduate school fairs 
  • If needed, prepare for taking the GRE exam 
  • Look into extramural fellowships in your relevant fields 

Summer before senior year (June to August) 

This is about 6 months away from most application deadlines. While it is important to use the summer to recharge or do other things like research or internships, it is important to have a strong start to your application process. It is important to: 

  • Narrow down the list of programs you intend to apply to (investigate potential faculty mentors, requirements, etc.) and record application requirements and deadlines. This school comparison worksheet can help you do so – you can also use Excel to recreate this worksheet.  
  • Prepare for and/or take the GRE or other required standardized exams 
  • Draft a personal statement or statement of purpose and any other required application essays or materials.  

Early Fall (September to October) 

By early fall, the application process speeds up. It is important to: 

  • Actively seek and apply for application fee waivers 
  • Contact faculty members to seek their advice and ask if they are willing to write you a strong recommendation letter 
  • If your discipline requires you to reach out to prospective faculty for your graduate program, start reaching out to them – you can find their contact information either on their website or on the department website 
  • Solicit feedback on your personal statement and any other essays from professors you know, campus writing centers, and/or your career advisor 
  • Register to take the GRE no later than October (if you haven’t already done so) 

Late Fall (October to November) 

By late fall, you should be nearing completion of your application materials. 

  • Complete application forms 
  • Revise and finalize your statement of purpose, CV, and any other essays 

Application Deadlines (November to December – deadlines vary by program) 

As year’s end approaches, send your applications by the due date 

  • Submit all applications 
  • Order/send transcripts  
  • Ask your letter writers to submit their recommendation letters, providing all the forms, information, and deadlines 
  • Verify that letters of recommendation, test scores, transcripts, and any other supporting documents were received by the graduate programs  

Reach out for help!

The graduate school application process is daunting, but you do not have to go through it alone! Your professors, academic advisors and our career advisors will be happy to support you throughout this process. Feel free to reach out and make an appointment with Jacklyn Fischer, our PHN advisor, for help! 

Career Spotlight: Occupational Therapist

Are you looking for a dynamic career where you can interact with people of all ages, in all places, and help create meaning in their lives? Consider becoming an occupational therapist. Occupational therapy is an incredibly flexible field, with opportunities to work in settings as diverse as hospitals, schools, homes, and community centers. Regardless of the setting, occupational therapisits can make a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Are you interested in exploring this exciting career path? Read on to learn more about the field of occupational therapy.

What do occupational therapists do?

Long story short, occupational therapists help clients to participate in areas of their lives as independently as possible, doing the things that they find most meaningful. In practice, this can look many ways. OTs commonly work with clients who have injuries, acute illnesses, mental health and neurological conditions, and those who have recently had surgeries. The goal of the work is to increase a client’s ability to perform a task or tasks which are relevant to their daily lives. Examples of tasks are trips to the grocery store, socializing with friends, completing school work, engaging in tasks required by the client’s job, and performing certain physical movements. OTs also frequently participate in redesigning a client’s home or another space, in order to increase their independent use of that space.

Where do they work?

The work environments of occupational therapists are incredibly diverse. Depending on the nature of the task(s) that the OT is helping a client with, OTs may work indoors or outdoors, in hospitals, homes, or out in the community. An OT can often choose their work environment(s) based on the nature of their employment, for whom they work, and their client populations. For example, OTs employed in hospitals would be likely to work indoors in clinic/office settings, whereas OTs working with children would be more likely to spend time in schools and/or outdoors.

Who do they work with?

OTs can be employed by many types of organizations, and can also be self-employed entrepreneurs. This provides a lot of opportunities for growth and tailoring throughout a career: you can work in many settings, with many different kinds of colleagues and patients/clients, and in many types of organizations. It is fairly common for OTs to start out employed by various organizations, and to start their own independent practice later in their career. OTs who work in hospitals would tend to interact with other hospital staff, especially other practitioners seeing the same patients (such as doctors, physical therapists, nurses, etc.) In schools, OTs may collaborate with school staff such as teachers, school counselors, and advisors, as well as with parents.

What is the training required?

Practicing as an occupational therapist requires a license. The most common pathway to licensure is to attend a masters program in occupational therapy, which can take 2-3 years following a bachelor’s degree. A growing number of OT master’s programs are transitioning to OT doctoral programs. Browse a list of programs here and explore the differences between entry-level master’s and doctoral programs.

What is the job outlook?

The median annual salary for occupational therapists in 2020 was $86,280. Employment is expected to grow in the coming years. Occupational therapy is lesser known than some other similar fields, which often means there are jobs available with fewer candidates to fill them.

In the Know: Professional organizations and resources

Want to learn more, find resources, or connect with occupational therapists? It’s never too early familiarize yourself with professional organizations in your field of interest. Organizational websites can have a lot to offer, from program lists, to licensing information, to networks of professionals. Here are a few occupational therapy organizations:

Lawrence Connections: Alumni with occupational therapy backgrounds

These Lawrence alumni have backgrounds in occupational therapy. Feel free to message them on Viking Connect, Lawrence’s alumni platform. Alumni are on Viking Connect by choice (not by requirement), so they are here to connect with students! There is no better way to understand a profession than to speak to professionals in the field.

Wherever your career path leads you, we’re glad you took the time to learn about this vibrant, flexible, and expanding field!

Is a Clinical Psychology PhD Right for Me?

Are you considering applying to PhD programs in clinical psychology? The field of clinical psychology can be stimulating, rewarding, and might be exactly where you belong. However, it is important to understand the realities of this profession before ending up in a program or career that is not what you bargained for. Read on to learn some of the factors you might want to consider when making a decision. 

What are the realities of a PhD? 

The biggest challenge with pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology is the competitiveness of admissions to clinical psychology PhD programs. Many programs receive hundreds of applications and accept only 2-10 percent of applicants. Additionally, applicants may not realize exactly what to expect from such a program. For example, PhD programs in clinical psychology are almost always research-focused. They usually espouse a philosophy known as the “scientist-practitioner” model, meaning that they put science (research) first, and practice (training in providing therapy) second. Applicants are most often expected to have research experience. 

Examine your motivations. 

Despite its challenges, there are situations when pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology may be the best next step in your professional and academic pursuits. It may be worth your time to consider your motivations for pursuing a PhD, just to make sure that it really is the option that will make you the most fulfilled overall. 

In an article on psychology graduate school, a writer for the American Psychological Association lists several “bad reasons” one might be drawn to a PhD – in other words, reasons that might not make you the happiest in a PhD program long-term. Some of these reasons are: 

  1. Just wanting to help people (there are many ways to help people that require much less training) 
  1. Wanting to be rich and/or be able to say you have a PhD (clinical psychologists don’t always make as much money now as they used to, and teaching positions are difficult to get) 
  1. Wanting to understand yourself (a degree in psychology will not solve all of your personal issues, and is not the same as going to therapy yourself) 

The APA article also mentions “good reasons” to get a PhD – reasons that hopefully mean you will ultimately be happier in a PhD program than on another path. These reasons include having a passion for psychological research, and having specific areas within psychology that you want to learn more about. 

What are some alternatives? 

Many people interested in psychology or therapy think of a PhD as their only option. However, depending on your area of interest, there are many related programs that may allow you to pursue exactly the career you want without some of the difficulties of a PhD. Here are some graduate programs to consider: 

  1. Masters in Counseling (MA/MS) 

If you want to provide therapy to clients, a masters in counseling is a great option. A masters typically takes 2-3 years to complete, and includes an internship year prior to licensing. Masters programs typically focus primarily on training for working with clients, and the research component is often minimal. Following the program and internship, you would be eligible for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), or other similar designation depending on the program and state. 

The field of counseling has a distinct history from the field of clinical psychology, but in practice the fields are very similar today. However, be aware that while it is common to become a licensed provider with a masters in counseling, a masters in clinical psychology is usually only a step on the way to a PhD or PsyD, and would not qualify you for licensure. 

Organizations:  

American Counseling Association 

American Mental Health Counselors Association 

Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) 

  1. Masters in Social Work (MSW) 

A masters in social work is another great option for those interested in providing therapy to clients. A MSW may also fit well if you would like to work with agencies and in communities, working more holistically with clients, families, and organizations. Doctoral-level social work programs are also available for those interested in social work research. 

Organization: National Association of Social Workers 

  1. PsyD in Clinical or Counseling Psychology 

If you like the idea of a doctoral-level program but aren’t especially interested in research, consider looking into PsyD programs. These are doctoral-level programs that take around the same amount of  time as PhD programs, but emphasize clinical practice training over research. Rather than the “scientist-practitioner” model, PsyDs usually espouse a “practitioner-scholar” model, putting practice training first, and scholarly and research work second. They are often slightly less competitive than PhD programs, and the license designation is the same as that of a PhD: Clinical Psychologist. However, note that PsyD programs are usually NOT funded, and offer minimal scholarships. Thus, the cost can be quite high. If a PsyD sounds like a good fit, however, look into scholarship and assistantship opportunities, as they do exist. 

Organization: American Psychological Association (APA) (for both PhD and PsyD) 

  1. Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) 

MFT programs are masters-level programs similar to MSW and counseling programs. As the name suggests, they tend to focus more on training for relationship and family issues in therapy, but MFTs are licensed to provide individual therapy as well, just like LPCs, LMHCs, and MSWs. There are doctoral programs in marriage and family therapy as well, though one is not required for licensure. 

Organization: American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy 

  1. School Psychology 

Would you like to provide services in schools? School psychologists do just that. They typically work with youth on mental health, learning, and behavior, and often collaborate closely with parents and other members of a school team. There are both masters and doctoral programs in school psychology, and both involve a year-long internship similar to other psychology-related programs. School psychologists are usually credentialed at the state level, although the National Association of School Psychologists also has a national certification process. 

Organization: National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) 

  1. PhD in Counseling Psychology 

PhD programs in counseling psychology are quite similar to PhDs in clinical psychology.  However, while clinical psychology programs lean toward the study of more severe  psychopathologies, counseling psychology PhDs often focus more on life transitions,  relationships, vocational guidance, etc. Additionally, while still highly competitive, PhD programs  in counseling psychology tend to be slightly easier to get into than those in clinical psychology. 

Organization: Society of Counseling Psychology (APA Division 17) 

As you make your decision and consider your options, keep in mind that psychology and related fields are incredibly diverse and flexible. Try to notice if you are placing value judgments on any of these options. If you are, just notice that and maybe ask yourself if those judgments are accurate. It would be a shame to close off options for yourself just because of misinformation, incorrect assumptions, or insufficient awareness of your own interests. As you consider, ask yourself what path will bring you the most happiness, fulfillment, and peace.

Writing a Personal Statement for Summer Research

Adapted from the Institute for Broadening Participation

Personal statements are an important component of the research application process, especially for off-campus programs. They provide you with the opportunity to explain why you are interested in this research opportunity, how you will be able to contribute to this project, and how the project connects to your goals. The personal statement also enables the selection committee to get a better idea of who you are as a person and whether you are the best fit for this research opportunity. But given how important a personal statement can be, how does one go about writing a strong one? 

Your personal statement should include: 

  • Why you are interested in a field of study 
  • How that interest started and how it grew over time 
  • How the research opportunity is the next logical step in the path toward your specific goals 

To help write about above topics, try answering the following questions: 

  • Why are you interested in this program? Does it fulfil your interests in a particular area or field of study?  
  • How did you become interested in this specific research area/academic field? Maybe it’s because you took a class that sparked your interest, or you read a book that intrigued you and pushed you to learn more about this specific field of study.   
  • What are your aspirations, goals or future plans? How does this summer research project act as a stepping stone in pursuit of your academic and career goals? 
  • What kind of activities or experiences have you done that contributed towards your interest in or preparation for this field or research area? Explain how your skillset aligns with what they need for this research program to grab the reviewers’ attention. 

Personal statements also give you the opportunity to explain certain gaps or weaknesses in your application. For example, if you got low grades in your spring term of sophomore year because a family member passed away or you had low grades during your first term due to challenges with difficulties adjusting to college, you could say: 

  • “Unfortunately, a family member passed away during my spring term of sophomore year which is why I my performance was sub-tier. However, I learned how to get connected with counseling resources and was able to get back on my feet the following year” for the first example. 
  • “Although a lack of academic preparedness caused my grades to suffer during my first year, my transcript from more recent semesters shows a significant improvement in my grades, proving that I’m committed to my academic growth and demonstrate that I’m ready for this research opportunity” for the second example. 

However, while explaining weaknesses or apparent gaps, don’t list excuses. Focus on what you learned from that situation and how you dealt with this challenge to get back stronger. You can make a strong case for yourself by turning your own weaknesses into strengths and while the application committee understands that most things in our life are out of our control, they are most interested in hearing how you work through challenges.  

Other tips to keep in mind when planning your personal statement: 

  • Saying “I am…” instead of “I have always been…” 
  • Make positive statements and how you are qualified for this summer research position: “My experience in… makes me well suited for this opportunity because…” 
  • Your opening statement (why the committee should accept you for this research) should be supported in the body and should also be consistent with your closing. 
  • Organize the statement so it flows from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph. 
  • Proofread for grammar, spelling, paragraph breaks, and correct punctuation. 

A strong personal statement could be the deciding factor in whether you are accepted for a research opportunity, which is why it is important to create drafts and plan ahead. If you need more advice on writing a personal statement or any other part of the research program application process, feel free to make an appointment with our PHN advisor, Jacklyn Fischer. 

Advancing in the Arts: Interviews with Alumni

When Abbey Atwater ’19 was a Career Peer Educator, she conducted several alumni interviews with Lawrence alumni who have gone on to pursue their Masters degree in an area of the arts. See what they have to say about their experience in graduate school so far, the application/ audition process, and what they hope to do following the completion of their degree!

Common #ECE Graduate Degrees

Considering a Career in Education?  

If you are considering a career in Education, it is important to note that you often only need a Bachelor’s Degree in order to be a classroom teacher at the early childhood, K-12, and high school levels. However, if you would like to teach at the higher education or University level you often need at least a Master’s degree.   

These degrees can be pursued at any time after a Bachelor’s is achieved. For example, one can take a few years off after undergrad to get hands-on experience teaching in a classroom setting before pursuing their next degree. There is no right or wrong way to do it, it all depends on your schedule and how you would like to pursue the degree. 

If you’re considering getting a Master’s degree for the field of education, you must consider which Master’s degree is the right fit for you. Currently, there are two common Master’s programs that can take you two different paths in the field; the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and the Master of Education (M.Ed.). The MAT is for those who specifically want to teach in a classroom setting. On the other hand, the M.Ed. is often pursued by those who wish to work in administrative or policy roles, for example, within school districts, with the US Department of Education, or departments of education at the state level.   

There are two main Doctorate degrees for those in Education. The Doctorate in Education (Ed.D), and the Doctor of Philosophy in Education (Ph.D). The Ed.D is often pursued by those who want to work in positions of leadership and policy making within a school or school district. Whereas the Ph.D is often for those who wish to be University and Higher Education Teachers or teacher educators.  

Want to know more? Check out these sources below:  

Considering Religious Work?  

For those considering furthering their education in the field of Religious Work, it is important to know that many professionals in the field have Ph.D’s and Doctorates rather than just a Masters degree. However, there are multiple Master’s degrees available for those with different interests and aspirations. This is important to consider when career planning, and deciding exactly which career path you would like to take.  

The current Master’s programs offered for Religious Work is the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Religion(MRel), and the Master of Theological Studies (MTS). The MDiv is often pursued by those who wish to become ministers. The MRel is for those who want to specialize in any ONE religious tradition, whereas the MTS is for those who want to specialize in MANY different religious traditions.  

As mentioned before, those in the field of Religious Work often have Doctorates rather than just a Master’s degree. The Doctorates currently being offered is the Doctor of Divinity (DD), the Doctor of Biblical Studies (DBS) and the Doctor of Philosophy in Theology (Ph.D). The DD is for those who wish to lead religious organizations and the Ph.D is for those who wish to be researchers on Theological Issues. However, the DBS is specifically for those who want to specialize in the Christian faith.

Want to know more? Check out these sources below:  

Pursuing Graduate Work in Religious Studies (via) CSUChico.com

What Can I Do With a Relgion or Theology Degree? (via) DegreeQuery.com

Considering Social Work?

All positions in Social Work require at least a Bachelor’s Degree. However, many positions often require higher degrees in order to achieve them.  

For those interested in Social Work there is one main Master’s degree one can pursue; the Master’s of Social Work (MSW). Almost all social worker positions require at least a Bachelors, however, if you wish to become a licensed clinical social worker you must also have an MSW.  

There are also two Doctorates one can pursue in the area of Social Work. These are the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) and the Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work (PhD). The DSW is beneficial for those wishing to continue their education as a clinical social worker in hopes of become agency heads and other positions of administration, whereas the PhD is for those considering being educators in social work.

Want to know more? Check out these sources below:

Do I Need a Masters Degree to be a Social Worker? (via) SocialWorkDegreeGuide.com  

Should I pursue a Ph.D in Social Work? (via) DworakPeck.usc.edu