I am in a predicament...

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by chrisjm18, Apr 28, 2023.


Help me decide...

Poll closed May 5, 2023.
  1. UTK Master of Legal Studies

  2. KU Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology

  3. KU MA & UTK Grad Certificate

    0 vote(s)
  1. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    So, I have decided to go for another degree. The issue is which degree I should choose.

    1. Master of Legal Studies at UTK College of Law (I have already been accepted, paid my deposit ($100), and registered for summer/fall courses). Tuition and fee-free through employment benefits.

    2. Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology at Kenyatta University. This would be a 2-year on-campus program (the first year is coursework, and the second year includes a 500-hour practicum and research project). The program would cost about $2,600 (if I add the personal therapy (25 sessions*) that I would have to complete as part of the program, it would probably be $3,000).

    The program is a full-time day (M-F; 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.) or part-time evenings. Since I will be 8-9 hours ahead of Central Time, I applied for full-time, which would be 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. or 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. Central Time, way ahead of the "work day." I have always wanted to pursue a career in counseling (either part-time or as a second career when I retire (or leave earlier) from higher education). I have posted about this here before. I almost switched from my M.S. in CJ at Lamar to their clinical mental health program.

    I am confused. I thought I'd do both programs, but I know it will be too much. The MA has 14 units (courses) in the first year, which would be 7 in "the fall" and 7 in "the spring," but they allow you to spread it over three trimesters (5 in the fall, 5 in the spring, 4 in the summer). So I would opt for the three trimesters.

    I am also considering only completing the Grad Certificate at UTK, which requires 15 credits. Instead, I may take one course each semester starting this summer until Fall 2024. I would earn the certificate then. That way, it probably would be more feasible to do both programs.

    I know it's ultimately for me to decide, but it's not easy, or I wouldn't even post about it. Confused!!

    *Here's an article about the mandatory personal therapy requirement in Kenya: https://www.daystar.ac.ke/ajcp/article/mandatory-personal-therapy-and
    Dustin likes this.
  2. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    I think you answered it when you said, "I have always wanted to pursue a career in counseling (either part-time or as a second career when I retire (or leave earlier) from higher education). I have posted about this here before. I almost switched from my M.S. in CJ at Lamar to their clinical mental health program."

    I am assuming you live in Kenya based on the residential university you suggested? If you intend to practice in the USA I would suggest finding a US based program that will qualify for licensure (eg LPC) in the state in which you intend to practice.
  3. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I just want to know the argument to employ to get my wife to be okay with me doing another degree. How do you do that?
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  4. Rachel83az

    Rachel83az Well-Known Member

    "Would you rather I do drugs or another degree?" :D
    Johann, Bill Huffman and JoshD like this.
  5. Lerner

    Lerner Well-Known Member

    Is the Masters in Kenyatta University accredited /approved to allow you to become lets say LFMC?
    Will it be evaluated properly as making one eligible for licesure?
    Is license one of you goals?
  6. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    I am a JAmerican (Jamaican and American) residing in the U.S. I plan to make Africa my home within the next few years. For now, I will be heading to Kenya after the summer to stay long-term while continuing to work remotely as a faculty in the U.S. In negotiating this work arrangement, I told my chair that I wanted to travel full-time. While she didn’t stipulate how long the arrangement would be in place, I told her in my proposal letter that it would either be permanent or for at least two years. A digital nomad lifestyle is what best suits me. I have lived in three states/one territory over the last 10 years. In addition, I have lived in more than one place in two states. So, as you can see, I don’t like to be confined to any specific location.

    The university I work at offers an LPC-eligible program. Another nearby school that would also allow me to earn the degree tuition/fee-free offers a similar program. I have considered both, but they are campus-based, and I don’t want to be stuck here. Do I want to practice in the U.S.? I doubt it. I would either like to practice in Kenya or Jamaica.

    I wish I could tell you rich :D I neither have a wife nor a husband… haha! I would say do it secretly, but I think that would be impossible to achieve (not with women and their detective skills).

    The program is a licensure program that allows you to become a Licensed Counselor in Kenya. There are no specialized accreditation agencies for counseling programs in Kenya. However, you must be registered with one of the professional organizations to practice. The most prominent is the Kenya Counseling and Psychology Association. I do not plan to practice in the U.S. However, for states that don’t require CACREP accreditation, it’s possible to practice once you have the required number of credits (typically 60) and specified coursework. Several schools offer a bridge graduate certificate program in mental health counseling for those who don’t have the required number of credits and want to become LPCs. I could practice in Kenya or Jamaica if I decide to move back there. The requirements in Jamaica are very straightforward. The Jamaican Psychological Society stipulates that if your graduate degree in counseling or psychology is earned outside of Jamaica, you must get it evaluated by the University Council of Jamaica.

    Aside from practicing, I have considered counseling psychology for a few reasons.

    1. It will provide an opportunity for me to network with Kenyans.

    2. I will get a student pass (from immigration) for the duration of my study. Hence, I would not be required to extend my stay or leave Kenya after 90 days, as is the case with a visitor visa.

    3. I can help my family/friends with the knowledge and experience I will gain.

    My career goal is to still be in academia. I love what I do now. Even if I decide to live in Kenya and give up my U.S. employment, I think I could find a job as a CJ lecturer in Kenya. Almost every school there offers criminal justice or a related degree. One of my colleagues, whom I am working with to edit a book, is the department head of CJ/sociology at a WASC-accredited university in Kenya. He’s twice asked me to apply to work for them full-time. I am not ready because I don’t know how the compensation would compare to what I make now. But they also charge higher tuition than most other schools in Kenya (assuming it’s due to the U.S. accreditation). So, maybe they pay better than most of the other schools.
  7. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    I don't view this as a predicament at all. When you wrote about counseling, your interest and passion was evident. I didn't detect the same affinity when you wrote about the legal studies option. Follow your passion.

    Like you, I often look at counseling degree options. In fact I'm looking at two of them right now in addition to a few doctorate programs in an unrelated field. Also like you, my intent with the counseling degree would be to utilize it as a catalyst for a second career, post-retirement. I may settle for a non-licensure counseling degree at some point...I don't know.

    The counseling degree has the potential teach you a lot about people as individuals and as groups. It has the potential to help you better understand yourself. It offers the potential for you to better understand the struggles people go through and how you might help them, relate to them, and support them. Even if you never practice as a counselor, this kind of knowledge and skillset is extremely valuable if it in fact is a passion for you. We all counsel on a regular basis, whether it's to friends, family, colleagues, etc. This degree better equips you to be a better counselor even if you don't actively engage in clinical mental health counseling.

    Regarding your wife and what to tell her, that's a bit more difficult. Every marriage is different. I'd start by asking yourself if counseling truly is a passion. If it is, explain this to your wife. If she loves you she should support you IF she feels equally supported by you in the pursuit of her passions. That last piece requires some objective self-reflection on your part. Do you know her passions? Do you support them in a way that she sees, feels, recognizes and appreciates? If not, start there.

  8. Michael Burgos

    Michael Burgos Active Member

    Here are my thoughts: 1.) This is a great position to be in. 2.) I did two MA's simultaneously nearly to the day while working full-time, carrying a part-time job, and not sacrificing family time. There was no significant overlap, nor was I able to leverage coursework to lessen the requirements of either program (initially, I thought I could). One of those MA's had a significant research component that amounted to about half of my overall grade. It was challenging but fun. I am convinced you can complete both programs and flourish. You've already shown that you can meet the challenge through your previous work.
  9. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your insights, Pug. I couldn't say I am passionate about legal studies. People have always encouraged me to study law. While I was a young police officer, a deputy commissioner recommended that I study law based on my "excellent writing skills." My aunt keeps telling me that I will graduate from law school. Recently, my dissertation chair/colleague told me that he would study law rather than get a second Ph.D. (I was considering these options). Also, my colleague, who is a department chair in Kenya, told me that the LL.B. is a good degree for me to pursue. He felt I could do it while working full-time. So, basically, it has been about what people think rather than what I really want. I cannot see myself pursuing an LL.B. for 4 years and then attending Kenya law school for another 18 months before being eligible to sit the bar exam. So, that's out of the question.

    How did a master's in legal studies come into the picture? Well, I am the dual enrollment coordinator for criminal justice at my institution. I teach one of our foundation courses to high school students each semester. This semester, I was asked to teach The American Legal System to these high school students. Of course, I initially told my chair I wasn't confident in my ability to do so. She offered to let me teach another course while one of the law-educated faculty (we have three) would teach the other course. As a former high school teacher, I don't mind teaching high school students. So, I opt to step out of my comfort zone. The course just wrapped up and I don't think I did too badly... lol. I was initially accepted to UT Knoxville in the spring to study instructional design/educational technology. However, I decided to switch to legal studies since it could broaden my knowledge and help me become more versatile as a criminal justice faculty member.

    Bottom line, there is no real passion for law beyond what I explained and the fact that I think I can adjust to studying most disciplines. I also saw it as a way to earn a degree from an R1 university for free :D As it relates to the wife aspect, let's get one thing straight. I am not! Haha :D On a serious note, Rich was the one with the concern about his wife. I think he wants to get another doctorate or graduate degree. I have no wife (I wouldn't know what to do with her) and no kids.
    Pugbelly2 likes this.
  10. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Michael, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience. I might be able to do both. At least, it might be worth a try. If I decide to go that route, I would take one MLS course this summer and two in the fall. I would also take the 5 MA courses in Kenya. Based on my experience, I could decide whether to take only one MLS course going forward. Even if I decide not to complete the MLS after the fall, I could take two more MLS courses and earn a graduate certificate in legal studies.

    I think it might be worth a try. My mother always said, "Nothing tried, nothing done." My chair allows me to select my courses and the online method of delivery. So, 3 of my fall courses are asynchronous. However, the dual enrollment course I teach each semester will always be synchronous (Zoom) with all students being in the same classroom at their high school. So, apart from being on camera twice a week for an hour, I have a lot of flexibility in fulfilling my job responsibilities. Hence, I could juggle two degree programs, but that remains to be seen :)
  11. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Fashion guy, here. My take: depends 100% on the regalia. First - what colours, each of 'em? :)
  12. JoshD

    JoshD Well-Known Member

    My personal opinion? Go for the counseling degree because you can leverage it academically and professionally. Unless the Masters in Legal Studies allows you to be a practicing attorney (which it does not) then I would not see it being useful…for you. Others may find it useful for landing compliance type positions but you do not seem like someone who would enjoy a compliance role.
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  13. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

  14. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

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  15. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Good point, Josh. I am certainly not into the compliance aspect of things. It also wouldn't qualify me as a law/legal studies adjunct because those require a J.D. So, perhaps there isn't any value for me to have such a degree.
    JoshD likes this.
  16. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Of course I was. Thanks for posting the show. Whatever your choice - I wish you every success. :)
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  17. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Two points: If you are going to study law, study law! Earn an LLB or JD from a law school that's recognized in the jurisdiction where you intend to make your professional career. Don't mess with any kind of "legal studies" program. Law is law, it isn't difficult or particularly intellectually challenging. Don't limit your options.

    Second, don't study law at all unless you intend to become a lawyer. It isn't worth the effort. If you do CJ you will inevitably learn all the law you need to know in connection with criminal justice without having to master acres and acres of civil law, administrative law, and procedure that you will never use.

    The daunting thing about law isn't that it's hard. It's that there's so very much of it most if which you do not need to know unless you want to practice law.
  18. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    And Johann is right. Go with the coolest regalia!
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  19. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Good points. I know that law isn't necessarily hard. It does require a lot of reading. I've been through two police academies, and there was so much we learned in those few months related to Criminal Law and, to a lesser extent, Constitutional Law.

    I don't want to become a lawyer. However, if I did, I'd like to practice immigration law in the U.S. Strangely, in Kenya, once you earn your LL.B., you are a lawyer. However, to become an Advocate of the High Court (i.e., represent clients in court), you must go to Kenya School of Law for 18 months and take the bar exam.

    "After one studies law for four years at undergraduate level they qualify to be lawyers but cannot represent clients in court, draw or commission legal documents."

    Read more: https://www.tuko.co.ke/editorial/explainer/496542-what-takes-a-lawyer-advocate-high-court-kenya/

    Anyway, I have decided to pursue the MA in Counseling Psychology, assuming I get admitted.
  20. Rachel83az

    Rachel83az Well-Known Member

    If you can't draw up legal documents or represent people as a lawyer, what can you do? That seems to be most, if not all, of what a lawyer actually does.
    JBjunior, Dustin and SteveFoerster like this.

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