Follow up to help choosing graduate programs…

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Gordon, Dec 8, 2002.

  1. Gordon

    Gordon New Member

    Greetings all,

    Previously, I had sought opinions and feedback regarding the pursuit of graduate studies, as well as opinions regarding University of West Alabama (UWA) and/or Fort Hayes State University (FHSU).

    Following the good advice received from those replies I arranged several meetings with the former (retired) HOD from the local hospital and discussed with him my graduate education plans. The short(er) summary of these meetings is that he was able to confirm that, with a Master’s degree in a related field coupled with exposure to and/or training in psychometrics I would be eligible to work in the area of psychometrics as (a) it is considered to be a psychometric review/examination, not a psychological assessment, and, (b) at all times, one would be working under the supervision of a licensed Psychologist.

    In this regard, the degree from UWA – with the extra emphasis on assessment - would indeed meet my needs and I would be eligible to obtain employment at the local hospital, and/or a private clinic etc.

    However, when the topic turned to completing a PhD and seeking licensure, the road became a lot more twisted. Here goes:

    As things stand today, if I were to complete either of the two degrees noted above, I might not be eligible to become licensed as a Psychologist in the Province of Ontario. The following Q & A were found within the FAQ section of the website for the Ontario College of Psychologists, (

    · How can I tell if my doctoral degree is acceptable?
    Generally, a doctoral degree in psychology from a department of psychology from a Canadian university, or a program that is accredited by the CPA or APA or designated by the ASPPB/National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology will be acceptable.

    And then…

    · My graduate degree was obtained through distance learning. Will I be eligible for registration?
    The Guidelines for Academic Preparation Leading to Eligibility for Registration – Psychological Associate require the graduate program in psychology to have a resident body of students and resident faculty. This would preclude a distance learning program from meeting the guidelines.

    I found this answer to be more than a little ambiguous, if not presumptuous. If I am reading this correctly, the college seems to hold the opinion that schools that offer Distance Learning programs apparently do not also have the noted ‘resident body’ of students and/or faculty. Moreover, it seems to speak to a strict, correspondence-type of educational arrangement (virtual school…?) which does not accurately reflect the current DL landscape. Both UWA and FHSU, and a ton of others, are B&M schools, of long standing history that have resident faculty who deliver, via distance learning, the same program of study that is delivered to resident students.

    So, I contacted the OCP and pointed out that the Fielding Graduate Institute held APA accreditation and also had a Distance Learning component to the program. I then presented to the OCP the question that, if one were to graduate from this program, could one seek licensure as a Psychologist in the province of Ontario? After some checking, the college representative informed me that, the college was not making any exceptions vis-à-vis Distance Learning. When asked about the apparent contradiction this would pose -- and I once again reminded her that Fielding is an APA approved institution -- the representative again stated there would be no exceptions made…and then thanked me for my call…

    While disappointing, the position of the OCP does not really surprise me a great deal. The universities in Ontario have a notorious, and well-earned, reputation for being extremely conservative institutions that embrace new thoughts, ideas or technologies with glacial-like speed. And, I think the college is simply a reflection of these values…

    However, the next chapter in this saga takes us to the Province of Alberta, where things are much more positive. Located within the FAQ section of the website for the Alberta College of Psychologists ( the following information was found:

    · My graduate degree was obtained through distance learning. Will I be eligible for registration?

    Yes, as long your degree was obtained from a:

    · government-approved or authorized degree-granting institution of higher education in Canada, or
    · regionally accredited institution of higher education in the United States, or
    · university in another country that has been recognized or authorized by an appropriate authority of that jurisdiction.

    Now, this is indeed very good news and, quite simply, if I was living in the Province of Alberta, I would be ecstatic knowing that licensure as a Psychologist could be obtained as long as the above guidelines were followed – and, as both UWA and FHSU are RA schools, I would be just fine in this respect.

    However, I do not presently live in the Province of Alberta, and I am therefore left with only a couple of options…

    A lot to chew on, and, once again, I would value any and all comments, thoughts and opinions.

    All the best,

  2. Tom Head

    Tom Head New Member

    Hmmmm... I think "resident body of students and resident faculty" is meant to exclude pure-DL schools like some of the California-approved numbers, but would not exclude schools such as the Union Institute or Fielding (which do have some resident students and faculty). I'd explicitly ask "Would a distance learning program offered by an accredited school that has resident students and faculty ...[etc]," and get an answer in writing either way before proceeding.

  3. Orson

    Orson New Member

    Follow Tom's advice...

    In addition, one could hope that the situation in Ontario will change in the interim; you could also be a progressive educational force for change within this professional body!

    And finally, console youself with the fact that you need no passport to keep Alberta in your future...
    (grim humor, I know).

  4. Gordon

    Gordon New Member

  5. Gordon

    Gordon New Member

    Re: Follow Tom's advice...


    Indeed! One option is that I should continue to live in Ontario, pursue my graduate studies -- being certain to follow the Alberta guidelines -- and sincerely hope that by the time I am ready to seek licensure (approx 5+ years) the College will have changed, amended or ‘updated’ its position.

    And, if the College does not change its position, then I would look forward to the lovely drive to Alberta, seek licensure, and then simply enjoy the best that Canada has to offer -- except that my beloved Maple Leafs are here… ah, the sacrifices…

    Thanks for your thoughts

  6. Orson

    Orson New Member

    At least hockey still lives...

    even it psych licensing shant, eh...?
    Best wishes, Gordon.

    (Native Minnesotan, & hockey fan too)
  7. tenbsmith

    tenbsmith New Member

    Who were you talking to at the OCP? If it was the person answering the phone, then they likely are just giving you any answer. You need to be in touch with someone in charge. Getting a written response is not a bad idea, be sure it comes from someone in authority.

    It also seems that if you will be getting a PhD, it won't matter where your Masters is from. Or, maybe I'm missing something there. Another thought that occurs to me is that if you plan ultimately to get the PhD, it would be more efficient to just apply to a PhD program from the start. You'd end up with the PhD sooner (you may be aware of this and have your reasons).
  8. simon

    simon New Member

  9. Gordon

    Gordon New Member

    In this regard you are absolutely correct, however, I have not (yet) found such a program. Quite simply, virtually all of the universities in my area only offer a full time option with respect to graduate studies. And, due to family and employment commitments, I would be unable to meet this requirement (although there is an outside chance that I could do so, at the Doctorate level). I did, however, apply to the one university that offered a part time option, and, unfortunately, my proposed thesis supervisor was not taking on graduate students that year. So, rather than wait year-by-year for that one possible spot to open up, I decided to look ‘beyond the box’ and investigate pursuing my graduate studies via Distance Learning.

    So, my plan is to complete a Masters degree program from a university that is RA, and in an applied area of psychology that incorporates as much psychometric assessment as possible, and then seek acceptance into a doctoral program. And if, later on, I am able to attend as a full time Doctoral student, then the Ontario universities remain an option.
    If not, then I shall investigate other universities that include a Distance Learning component to their graduate program, such as Union.

    Thanks again for your insight,

  10. Gordon

    Gordon New Member

  11. Gordon

    Gordon New Member

    Re: At least hockey still lives...


    What are the odds: First Minnesota, and then Colorado?

    With the North Stars advancing to the Cup finals every tenth year (1971, 1981 and 1991) and then the Avalanche actually winning it all, life doesn’t get any better for a hockey fan!!

    My Christmas wish is that the individuals who run the Maple Leafs will, just once, set aside their juvenile games of politics and corporate fiefdom long enough to allow the fans the privilege of experiencing a championship season. Just once...

    Or, maybe all they need is the right Psychologist…hmmmm…

    Thanks for your kind wishes,

  12. simon

    simon New Member


    It appears that your best suportive argument will emanate from the use of Fielding not Union or any similar DL schools. Fielding is both regionally and APA accredited while Union and related programs are only RA and not affiliated with the National Register of Health providers.
  13. Orson

    Orson New Member

    Re: Re: At least hockey still lives...

    YES, Gordon!
    The sad "gift" of the Nordiques to Colorado certainly put Quebec City on my map of "gotta go to" places-to-visit--not to mention the add-on of a certain not-to-be mentioned Maple Leaf goalie--and did bring joy in (as American's put it) mudville... ;)
    Nor did it hurt that, at the time, I was dating a woman who had just divorced a pro-hockey player (IHL), and worked at a company whose head office was in Winnepeg (where my sister attended university), and then with all those Canuck accented board of directors gathering in Denver, reminding us of the Northlands...[sigh.])

    But not to seem impertinant: have you already excluded U of London's MA in Org Psych from your list?
    If cost is an issue, and I assume it is, both the MA and the Post Graduate Diploma route offer a pay-as-you go option. Does the CPO have an opinion on British higher qualifications?

    And speaking of the Maple Leafs, the model of Canadian Pat Bowlen, owner of the Denver Broncos, who progessively bought out rival owners and focused his franchise on two championships, sounds precisely like the organizational model they need.
    So, Gordon, how's your strategic salesmanship coming along?

    PS And who was the Maple Leaf veteran my girl-friend once introduced me to? At least we know the best team won the last Winter Olympiad. (I also spent a year living in Salt Lake City.)
    It was a moving victory here, too!--for Canada.
  14. tenbsmith

    tenbsmith New Member

    Gordon, I still think you should consider starting out going staight for your PhD if at all possible. If I were in your shoes I would focus on two approaches.

    1) I would get to know the faculty at the university offering the part-time option. Network. Do you have any contacts who have a contact at the university. Talk to the proposed thesis advisor and ask when he expects an opening and what you would need to do to get that opening.

    2) Start at Fielding in a doctoral program. There is probably an option to get a masters along the way if you so desire. If so you could work on OCP until the masters and then make a decision then. Otherwise you would want to get clearance from OCP before starting.

    I'm telling you this as someone part way into a career, who has a masters in psych, and who wishes he had the PhD. Ultimately, getting just the PhD or the masters/PhD at one institution will be more effecient b/c you won't have to worry about transferring credits.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 11, 2002
  15. Gordon

    Gordon New Member


    This is a very good point. And, in addition to holding APA accreditation, Fielding also holds a DL component to their program. I look forward to reading the response from the OCP in this regard.
  16. Gordon

    Gordon New Member

    You have offered some very good advice. Thank you for your candour, and, I do see the logic with this approach.

    It turns out that I have started to do many of the things you suggested. An associate of mine, who is the former (retired) HOD from the local hospital, has a close friend who is a part-time lecturer at the university that offers the part-time option. Through this connection we have been exploring what it would take to gain admission to that particular university.

    One of the considerations that we face is that, the larger Ontario universities, specifically, those that offer CPA and APA accredited PhD psych programs, are typically research-based and tend to accept only a few new students each year. One the one hand, they are able to offer substantial financial support to their grad students, on the other hand, only a select few are admitted each year. David Williams has referred to an excellent article by Bridgett Murray (APA Monitor February 1999) that speaks to this point as well -- thank you David! (

    Consequently, competition for these few spots, as one might imagine, remains quite high, and, while I do not necessarily fear this competition, I am mindful that only a select few can be admitted each year.

    One observation that was passed along to me is that some of the successful applicants, at one time, had to ‘wait along the sidelines’ until their spot opened up. During this time, many of these applicants completed a stand-alone masters degree and sought related employment at hospitals, private and public clinics etc. Now, whether or not the possession of a master’s degree did or did not make *the* difference regarding their admittance cannot be stated for certain; only that they had one and were later accepted. And, it may simply be a coincidence that these particular applicants all held master’s degrees.

    Nonetheless, that is why I was / am exploring the idea of completing a stand-alone Masters; that it would hold vocational relevance and might improve my chances for acceptance.

    Thanks again,


    BTW, another excellent article that also provides a great deal of insight, is by Steve Lindsay from University of Victoria (
  17. Gordon

    Gordon New Member

    Re: Re: Re: At least hockey still lives...

  18. tenbsmith

    tenbsmith New Member

    Gordon, I understand your direction completely now and it makes sense. Finding your way into one of those supported, research oriented programs is a great way to go. These programs tend to prefer applicants who are research oriented, so be sure to include research interests in any application or discuion with university faculty. Aside from 'standing on the sideline', another approach is to get involved in research being conducted by a prof at the U of interest on a volunteer basis, that could potentially pave your way.

    Our situations are somewhat similar. I am looking for a non-traditional way to complete a doctorate with an emphasis on research in the area of public health, health policy, psychology. My initial contacts at local universities have moved away, so I now must find new ones.

    In any event, good luck with your continued quest, for a quest it is.
  19. David Williams

    David Williams New Member


    You are most welcome; I'm pleased you found my posts useful. It is clear that you've done a great job researching your situation. I don't have much to add so I've been silent on this thread. I get the idea you're a budding neuropsychologist which is really a good place to be in the profession at this point in time. As far as psychometrics is concerned school psychology master's degree programs typically provide the most in depth training. I've known a couple of people who had backgrounds in school psychology that went on for the PhD in neuropsychology; their skills were awesome. Alas, I don't know of any dl school psychology MS programs. I had a Canadian friend who did the pediatric neuropsychology doctoral program at the University of Georgia who was really an ace. The last I heard, which was more years than I care to think about, she did a post-doc at Brown University and returned to Canada.

    Hang in there,

  20. Gordon

    Gordon New Member


    Once again we have actioned a number of the good suggestions that you make. In particular, my associate, who is the former (retired) HOD from the local hospital, has kindly arranged an introduction with a local neuropsychologist who has a private-practice. As it turns out, this neuropsychologist is also connected with one of the larger universities that offer a research-based, CPA and APA accredited PhD psych program.

    I am hopeful this arrangement will work out as it would be (for me) a wonderful opportunity to work with a respected neuropsychologist, gain valuable hands-on experience, and to perhaps engage in research that is otherwise taken straight from the labs of the desired university. My fingers are indeed crossed…

    As well, I am fortunate in the sense that my undergraduate degree was completed at a smaller university whose faculty within the psychology department were all rather heavy-hitters with respect to research. Consequently, I received the benefit of a research-driven program of study and consider myself to be ‘methodologically-correct’ – tho I gotta shake the rust off …

    In your situation, have you been able to narrow down your choices? Have you found a university that will meet your needs? Are you still planning on waiting for another year and a half before you begin your studies?

    Thank you once again,


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