FATIMA FRAUSTO "You know a lot about this," my friend Fernanda told me a few days before our Neural Systems test. The 'this' she's talking about are the requirements to transfer into the Psychology degree. (She's not the first person to say this. I also know a lot about The Gilded Age, Impressionist Art, and basically any non-science topic.)
Transferring must have been easier before the university began to enforce the 4-year graduation rule. You might have dug around online to find what was necessary for a successful transfer. Depending on what college your intended new major is in, there are different rules for each transfer. The Cockrell School of Engineering and McCombs School of Business allows internal transfer ONLY in the Fall semester. Most colleges at UT will not allow you to apply if you have had more than 60 hours in residence OR have completed 4 semesters at UT. The College of Natural Sciences, however, allows you to appeal this rule by writing an essay explaining how you plan to graduate within four years. Even if you're looking for a dual degree, you must go through the internal transfer application.
Here, I'll be talking about the Psychology degree requirements. Different colleges and departments have different rules and requirements, so please use this article as a guide for any questions you have later on!
Info Sessions: Most colleges require you to attend an info session before you can even apply. In order to transfer to the Psychology department, you must attend an info session, where you will confirm your attendance by name and EID. I attended the first info session for the Fall 2015 cycle. Many who were there were CNS majors, with a couple of Communication and Geosciences majors sprinkled here and there. Info sessions are generally provided to let you know what you're about to get yourself into before you apply, and where an advisor from the department or college will go over what each major you’re interested in transferring to is all about, and how the application process is like. Everything I will mention afterwards comes from the info session, so please realize the info session is necessary and very, very helpful.
What’s the catch?: Most colleges have a GPA requirement to be considered for internal transfers. For the Psychology department, you need a 2.5 UT GPA and a 2.5 UT PSY GPA. The Psychology department requires you to have taken at least one Psychology course in residence for a letter grade, so if you only have credit for PSY 301 from AP Psychology, then you have to take another psychology class here, buck-o. You can still apply if you have not completed, and are currently taking a psychology course at UT. You might need to have taken a certain amount of hours completed in residence, as well, so check that before you consider applying.
Is this the major for you?: You might be thinking, "Yes, duh, of course it is! Why would I even consider transferring if it wasn’t?" We all have our reasons for transferring or picking up a second degree. Sometimes you may think switching to your new, dream major will offer you the training and background you want for your dream job. In the case of the Psychology Department, sometimes people have an inaccurate idea of what a psychology degree can offer. If you're looking to work in criminal profiling, industrial counseling, or regular counseling psychology, then getting a psychology degree from the College of Liberal Arts would not be a good fit. An alternative would be pursuing counseling psychology, offered in the School of Education. Though a degree in psychology at UT will give you a good background in general psychology, if you’re looking to specialize in, say, child psychology, you'll have to wait for grad school in order to do that.
Another thing the advisor went over was what degree plan would be a best fit. The psychology department offered two degrees: B.A and B.S. The B.A. requires you to take less math and science courses, and is better suited if you are interested in getting a Ph.D. or a Psy. D. A B.S. in Psychology, in contrast, focuses on math and science courses, and is better suited for if you’re interested in a pre-health professions track. Another major difference is that the B.S. requires you to take either 2 culture courses, or take one culture class and one language class. (Various restrictions apply. COLA has a list of classes you can take to fulfill these requirements.) The B.A., however, requires you to take four semesters of a language.
Psy. D., Ph.D., M.A., M.S.: Depending on what you want to do after you get your B.A./B.S., you may want to know what will be the best fit for you. Some fields don’t require anything above a Bachelor’s, but some require a Ph.D. We all know what a Ph.D means (Doctor of Philosophy, if you didn’t know), but what’s a Psy.D.? Apart from sounding like the lovable Pokemon, Psyduck, a Psy.D. means Doctor of Psychology. Both require you to participate in a doctoral program, but a Psy.D. requires practical experience (i.e. you complete a certain amount of hours in a clinical setting) in exchange for minimal research in your doctoral career. If you’re interested in counseling, but don’t want to commit to a doctoral program, then a Master’s will probably be the best fit for you. If you’re going for the Master’s (in either Arts of Social Work), you also must apply to become a licensed professional counselor (LPC), which vary by state. Again, you will probably go over this at the info session, so pay attention!
And now we play the waiting game: OK, so you’ve attended your info sessions, you’ve asked your questions to the advisor who handled the session you attended, and now you’re putting the finishing touches on your personal statements. You suddenly feel a trickle of freezing water down your spine, and you think, “What if I don’t get in?” Most colleges/departments give you two tries to apply. So if you don’t get in the first time, there’s always a second time!
For now, however, you must play the waiting game. Most colleges and departments will let you know of their decision by late May/early June. After you’re accepted, they’ll likely ask to set up an appointment to meet with you and discuss your brand new major. There you can tell them to add this new major as your second major, or to ask them to dump your old major. For the psychology department, they’ll also ask what degree plan you want to pursue. And then comes the real headache (it doesn’t end happily ever after): registration pains. You’ll be given the run down of what you need to take before you can take those coveted upper-division classes. Again, these required classes vary by what your new major demands. In Psychology, you must have the following:
- PSY 301
- A math course before you take PSY 418, a stats course just for Psychology majors; you also cannot take PSY 418 co-currently with your upper division (i.e. you need to take PSY 418 first before you can take your upper division Psychology courses)
- Do your research first. I pored over all of the catalogs for the Psychology department I could find. I ran IDA searches for both the B.S. in Psych and my B.S. in Neuroscience. I even ran an IDA for B.S.A in Neuroscience and weighed my options between the B.S.A. and the B.S. I have sheets of papers that have required courses I need for each major that I look over daily. It’s a mess, but necessary.
- Ask. I bugged my advisor last semester over what I could do with the B.S.A. and B.S. in Neuroscience, and whether I could finish a dual degree in 4 years. And don’t limit yourself to your major specific advisor. I talked Mary’s ear off after the info session over courses, rules, life after a Bachelor’s, and how the application process works after you turn in your application.
- If you want to set up an appointment with an advisor in your dream major, be warned. Right now registration is ramping up and if you attended an info session recently chances are you may not need to talk to an advisor right now. Current students in your major need to be advised so please be considerate!
- If you want to take upper division courses in your dream major, look at the requirements in the course schedule. Sometimes if you just take a course you can become eligible to register for the class you want. Talk it through with the department, though. You don’t want to take a class, suffer through it, and then be told you didn’t need to do that.
- Ask yourself if you want this. I spent the entire winter break wondering if getting a dual degree is what I wanted. Talk it out with people you trust to give you sound advice. If you feel like it’s not going to work out, then follow your gut feeling. Always follow your gut feeling.