A year ago I wrote one of my first blogs which was why I knew my Health Psychology masters was for me. I decided that after researching specific courses at that time, the one that I was most interested in and one that I felt would help my career in psychology was a masters in Health Psychology.
I’ve now been a student on this masters for six months now and I have completely finished all of my lectures and now only have one final, yet hefty task, which is my dissertation. In the process, I’ve been reflecting on my year and the challenges that I’ve honestly felt through this journey and whether I would truly recommend this course and a masters to someone else who is thinking of pursuing a career in psychology.
First of all, I would like to say that if you’re thinking of doing a masters in the U.K., think long and hard about the skills that you do have and what exactly it is that you want to expand on. There are many misconceptions that a masters is necessary to pursue and get further in psychology, however this is not always the case. As I mentioned, for me I completed this masters due to the interest I had in the area and to broaden my knowledge for the areas and careers in which I could potentially work in within the future. However, upon actually taking on the course and studying the content, I wouldn’t say that I learnt significantly more than what I would have eventually learnt if I continued to work clinically and corporately in psychology. I would therefore say, if you are in a role that you enjoy, weigh up the pros and cons seriously, especially considering the expense of the course.
My second reflection is the fact that you have to be prepared for critical scrutiny (maybe this is from the university I am at), but you also have to be prepared for a significant educational ‘jump‘ when it comes to a masters. Though you may have a first-class degree in psychology, by no means will you find the course any easier. If you think about it from the perspective that the jump between a masters in psychology is like the jump between GCSE’s and A-level’s, then you’ll know its almost like stepping into new territory. The academic aspect goes from broad basis of psychology, to be come more focused and specific in your masters. But don’t forget that this focused knowledge needn’t always come from a masters; your clinical experience could also teach you this.
For me, the academic aspect has been something that I have personally struggled with. I’ve found the way the university marks as hard to grasp, but also hard to incorporate any feedback into future work given the poor communication between markers and students. Though again I do understand that the level of independence does increase between undergraduate and masters work, I do believe that staff should accurately support students in their studies and to learn from areas, especially given the expense we are paying to learn about a further area and expand our knowledge.
I would finally urge you to ask any educational departments if you’re currently in paid work to see if they will fund your development. Whilst my place of work couldn’t do this as I was a shift (bank) worker, I know that several people contacted their education departments and were offered bursaries and scholarships to not only pay for their course, but help pursue the role further after the course was finished.
Taking up a masters is by no means the easy option and it involves a lot of work, no matter what field you’re planning to go down. But I would always encourage you to decipher whether this is the right goal path for you. You shouldn’t feel pressure to do one, but you shouldn’t also stop yourself if this is what you want to pursue.
Good luck all that are applying to courses this year. I hope this honest blog on my reflection helps a little!