Thanks for the invite Scott Olster!

Here’s the question:

“I’m in my mid-thirties. I’ve worked In technology since a very young age and I’m currently a senior director at a big corporation. I’ve become discouraged with the corporate environment. Now I’m planning to pursue a doctorate in psychology. But how do I uproot everything that I’ve come to understand, now later in my life, with more debt and more family responsibility?” — Chris, New York City-based marketing director

Hi Chris,

Congrats on beginning the process of finding a better fit for you! Like you suggested completing a doctorate in psychology is a major commitment and can take between 5-7 years. However, being a psychologist can be an amazing career choice because it is a versatile degree that provides you with many expertise to pursue and it’s incredibly rewarding to help improve other people’s lives proactively. I am not sure what discipline within psychology you would like to pursue, but to make my feedback more focused, I am going to assume counseling or clinical.

What I would suggest is asking yourself a few questions in your process of making this decision:

  • Why am I pursuing the doctorate specifically? Is there something that I want to do with the degree that cannot be done with a master’s level degree in social work or counseling? It can sometimes be very difficult to get into a doctoral program without a master degree and the masters degree can be a wonderful time to really test out the waters and decide if it should be a terminal degree for you.
  • Is my family onboard and are they fully aware of the impact to our family life in terms of my availability due to time demands of the program or changes to our financial situation?
  • What’s my timeline to prepare for applying? Applying for a doctoral program is a very different process than applying for other levels of higher education because the programs accept usually only a few students a year and expected you to demonstrate fit with the program and particular interests of the faculty. So you want to be prepared for the process.

Finally, I encourage you to make sure that you have looked why you want to pursue a doctorate in psychology. Is it a fit for your skills, values, interests, personality, lifestyle plan, etc.? It’s a big commitment and requires a lot of preparation to successfully be admitted so you want to make sure that you have made the decision knowing all the facts.

I wish you the absolute best! I would encourage you to find a mentor(s) or a career coach with expertise in this area to help you with the process. It will help facilitate a smoother, more successful process!