How do students in an online master’s program in psychology manage their time?

BY Nicole Gull McElroy01 June 2022, 15:11

General view of the Purdue University campus as seen in October 2018 in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

When Marjorie Ramos, a practicing psychologist, decided to pursue her education with a master’s degree, she knew she would have to juggle several things successfully to achieve her goal. A mother of two children aged 6 and 8, Ramos lives in Colombia and her family moves a lot because her husband is in the Colombian army.

Ramos’ lifestyle demands flexibility even without going back to school, so an online program seemed the most logical for her. In addition, she could broaden the geographic scope of her research, considering programs as far apart as Spain and the United States. Ultimately, given his budget and educational goals, Ramos landed on Purdue University Global’s online master’s in psychology program.

“I was looking to take two classes per term,” says Ramos. “But then COVID hit and my kids weren’t in school. I had to take care of them longer than I thought and could only take one class per term. But that’s what I love about the online option. People who take their masters online are busy people.

Many online programs are specifically designed to increase access to higher education for working adults, much like Ramos, according to Robert deMayo, associate dean of Pepperdine University’s psychology division. “We think it’s particularly appealing to working adults who need the flexibility of an online environment.”

Pepperdine’s online program is a mix of synchronous and asynchronous work that attracts students from across the country and can take 1.5 to 3 years, depending on the student’s concentration and state-mandated licensing requirements. . “For students who are good at time management and pacing, these programs are a great fit,” says deMayo.

Here’s what applicants need to know about managing their time in an online master’s program in psychology.

Online Masters Programs Require Organization

Ramos enrolled in Purdue’s psychology program in 2019 and will graduate this spring. Having served in the Colombian military, Ramos wants to use her degree to work with first responders, a topic she also chose to research for her thesis project. Overall, she estimates that she spends around 10-15 hours a week in school, maybe a little more given that her first language is not English.

Ramos found that she needed to divide her day into blocks to study, attend classes, be with her children, take care of her home and family, and complete projects or do research. This allowed him to stay up to date with all aspects of his life while studying.

“Instead of going to school and back, I used the extra time to study,” she says. “I wake up early in the morning before my children, then I study again when they fall asleep at night.”

Campus Resources for Graduate Students

Some online masters in psychology programs offer students additional guidance on balancing school, work, and life. Arizona State University has an initiative called Success Coach that helps students manage the demands of a heavy course load, stress levels and a career, as well as any other time-related demands, according to Casey Ambrose, executive director. marketing operations at Arizona State. This is part of the school’s academic support team to help students navigate their time at ASU in a productive and healthy way.

The school also relies on platforms such as Slack to simplify communication between teachers and students. It helps maintain an open and effective dialogue between class and office hours for students and faculty, as well as another way to reach counselors, peers, and coaches.

Schedule time for other activities outside of class

While synchronous and asynchronous work is a factor in any online psychology master’s degree, some programs require real-time, in-person attention and effort. The substance abuse track at Purdue Global, for example, requires both in-person and online work, while at Pepperdine, the master’s in clinical psychology also requires supervised fieldwork that is usually done in person.

Ramos, for example, focused his degree on drug addiction at Purdue and had a little trouble sorting out his internship work given travel restrictions throughout the pandemic. She was supposed to complete this work in the United States, but when the borders were closed, it became impossible. Purdue therefore worked with her to locate an organization in Washington DC that would allow her to do her residency online. “It was a great experience,” she says.

In addition to working with patients, some schools also offer extracurricular activities that could add more time to work/study/life balance. At Pepperdine, students with a minimum GPA of 3.7 and at least nine completed graduate course units are eligible to apply for Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. It offers scholarships and special programs to its members, even hosting annual regional and national conferences for students to network and develop their connection to the profession and its practice.

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