UCCS Psychology Graduate Student Organization

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Posted: Tuesday, February 18th, 2014


Mission and Organization:

The UCCS Psychology Graduate Student Organization (GSO) brings together graduate students across the department's three programs: Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology, Master of Arts in Psychological Science, and PhD in Clinical Psychology. We aim to enhance psychology graduate students' interests by:

  1. Facilitating a supportive, fun, and collegial environment among graduate students and faculty through department social events
  2. Fostering professional development through activities such as panel discussions and professionally relevant workshops
  3. Giving back to the university and broader community through service activities
  4. Providing resources and disseminating information to current students
  5. Assisting incoming students with the transition to graduate school with a "peer buddy" system and special social events at the start of each Fall semester




Senior Chair: Brenna Renn
Junior Chair: Caitlin Tyrrell
Social Committee Chairs: Arjun Bhalla & Emily Luther
Professional Development Committee Chairs: Nicole Torrence & Isabel Davis
Service Committee Chairs: Chris Schmank & Joie Molden
Welcome Committee Chairs: Kelly O'Malley & Nadia Al-Tabaa

If you have questions or comments about the Psychology GSO, please send an email to Brenna Renn at brenn@uccs.edu.



Find us on Facebook! Click here to go to our page.

Also, check out the UCCS Graduate Student Association of Facebook here.



Student example materials and helpful information:


Informal Q&A about graduate school success with graduate students and faculty:

The following questions and responses are informal and subjective and to be used for mentorship. This information should not be considered definitive or binding and students should check with their mentors on any important issues.


1. For a student interested in pursuing an academic career, what advice can you give about balancing research and clinical work?

Life as a grad student is different from life as an undergraduate! You have to adjust your time management accordingly ~ Dr. Robert Durham (Professor)

Students planning an academic career need to focus on learning knowledge, skills, and attitudes of BOTH clinicians and scientists. In order to learn the science side, students need to spend time in the lab working on projects, including work on projects in addition to their own thesis and dissertation. Understanding and skill of their own clients and of clinical service delivery more generally.

In general, academic hiring focuses on research products, publications primarily, that are judged based on their conceptual impact on the field. Often, impact is assessed by the status of the journal in which work is published. Journals are ranked according to their impact factors; a computation of a regression equation made up of multiple characteristics but is weighted heavily by the number of times articles in that journal are cited in literature. Impact is also assessed by the number of citations of that article.

Job applicants are also judged based on the perceived robustness and viability of their research program. In addition to publications, an applicant needs to demonstrate that his or her work is systematic in its approach to solving a problem.

Clinical skill is important to academic hires that engage faculty member in supervision or service delivery. Medical schools and hospital environments place strong emphasis on a person's ability to deliver empirically supported services, conduct supervision, and in many cases, also conduct research. A research program may be less important in these settings than the ability to flexibly build on the opportunities available to study clinical services in the real world. ~ Dr. Sara Qualls (Professor)

Set aside days for research activities and build them into your schedule. It is easy to get lost in clinical work, so having a schedule helps ~ Sheena Horning (Doctoral Student)



2. As a master's student preparing to apply to doctoral programs, where should I focus my attention in terms of building my vita and strengthening my application?

Impress your faculty supervisors and instructors so that they write you outstanding letters of recommendation. Design a high-impact thesis project and spend a lot of time preparing the written proposal and the oral proposal. Get all A's in your classes. ~ Dr. Michael Kisley (Professor)

That's really dependent on the kind of program you're applying to. Some clinical programs (the extreme are Psy. D.'s) are not as interested in research. Some Ph.D. programs are also concerned if you have too much emphasis on research. Others like a strong balance of both. You need to look at the history of people graduating from the programs you're interested in. ~ Dr. Robert Durham (Professor)

The strongest applicants use their MA experience to build knowledge and skills that can show clearly on the CV in the form of publications, presentations, and clinical or research experiences. Also, time spent raising GRE scores is well spent. The CV needs to tell a story about the person that matches up with his/her statement of career goals. ~Dr. Sara Qualls (Professor)



3. In terms of boosting my vita, how do the various types of professional activities rank (e.g., conference attendance, poster presentation, paper presentation, symposium presentation, paper publication)? If I have limited time and money how should I prioritize my efforts in terms of these things? Do you have any general rules of thumb regarding conference attendance?

I would answer that the single best thing one can do for a vita is to get publications out. I'd say 1-2 publications look better than attending any conferences. Only attend a conference if you're presenting something. And, try to publish everything you present at conferences. And, try to have the manuscript submitted before you present it at a conference. Having said that, I've certainly broken those guidelines, but they are a good goal. I think one of the biggest things that helped me succeed in getting a great internship, postdoc, and job, is having publications on my vita. Conferences enable you to meet people and see what's going on in the field, and publications help you get jobs.

Papers first, then presentations as first author. To me, the most important reason to go to conferences is to present. I probably wouldn't bother otherwise. That should help to save you some time and money too. ~ Dr. Michael Kisley (Professor)

If you hook up with a mentor with external funding, no problems! Papers first, conference presentations second, symposia third, posters last. ~ Dr. Robert Durham (Professor)

Conference attendance is a valuable experience that builds your professional network and socializes you professionally. Presentations at conferences are highly useful ways of building your skill and confidence in professional presentation and makes you visible to the professional world. However, it is possible to overdo conferences so you spend so much time preparing and traveling that you don't have time to think or fulfill the rest of your responsibilities. In other words, conferences offer one type of learning experience but shouldn't take over your life. I think two a year would be the typical maximum. ~ Dr. Sara Qualls (Professor)



4. What should the experimental/clinical breakdown be for clinical PhD students (how much time should be spent writing, researching, teaching, doing clinical work, completing homework)?

I can't imagine setting a time frame for this because our work is cyclical by nature, varying the demands put on us week by week (faculty as well as students). Some kind of ideal that is balanced over time might be 15 hours clinically, 15 hours coursework, and 15 hours in lab. Assistantship work would be on top of that. So is think work (reading, reflecting, writing projects).~ Dr. Sara Qualls (Professor)

The answer to this question will probably vary for students depending on their ultimate career aspirations. But if you feel like one or the other domain is lacking for you, speak with your supervisor and ask them what their minimum expectation would be. If you don't think you can free up enough time to meet that expectation, you need to recruit all of your supervisors to help you problem-solve. ~ Dr. Michael Kisley (Professor)



5. For a student coming in with a bachelor's degree, what is an appropriate timeline for thesis, comps, and dissertation?

MA year 2, Comps end of year 3, dissertation proposal fall of year 4, dissertation when completed ~ Dr. Robert Durham (Professor)

Ideally, a student entering with BA or BS would take 2 years to complete MA (including thesis defense), complete comps at the end of the 3rd year, and spend the final 4th and 5th years doing dissertation. If 6610-6620 are not offered in the third year, students should simply wait until their 4th year for comps, and spend 3rd year doing other research that leads toward dissertation. ~ Dr. Sara Qualls (Professor)



6. What can I expect from the comps process (e.g., timeline, time commitment)? Do you have any tips on how to manage my schedule during this semester?

I suggest beginning to think about Comprehensive Exams the year prior to Comps. The research component requires either a submission of an article to a peer-reviewed journal, a grant submission that is primarily the student's work, or a presentation as first author at a national meeting. Students also must have completed a public dissemination of research project, which is usually required at the CU Aging Center. Two steps to consider during the fall semester prior to comps are choosing a clinical approach, or at least deciding what approach you use with your clients most often and feel most comfortable with, and which client you would like to focus on for your comps process. (Discussions with clinical supervisors can be helpful on both counts).

During the spring semester when you will be completing the comps process, take PSY 6720 Clinical Geropsychology II course. This class requires a practice comps which mirrors the comps process. If you have the opportunity, volunteer to go early in the semester so that you will have an idea about how much time comps will take you to complete. Also early in the semester, choose sessions with two clients, one for the class and one for comps, and begin transcribing. This process takes more time than you think. Remember when choosing sessions that you will never have a perfect session for comps, and that is okay. You will be asked to point out your strengths and weaknesses, so don't worry too much about things you would consider clinical mistakes; they are inevitable!

You may not talk with others about the comps process, so prepare to read a lot of material on your own, and begin collecting articles and book chapters as soon as you have your materials for comps (or before). Also read the Comprehensive Examination Portfolio Guidelines and Policy Manual early. You will find many details in the manual that are important to follow but that are not highlighted in class. Do whatever you normally do to get reading done while meeting all of your other requirements; don't wait until the last minute. In fact, don't wait until the last minute to do anything for comps. IF you had three full weeks free prior to comps, this might be a reasonable approach, but remember that comps falls at the same time as finals. I budgeted a full day per week and two per week toward the end of the semester to focus on comps, not including the work that I did for the practice comps in PSY 6620, and I still wished for more time at the end. ~ Dr. Ashley Williams (Assistant Research Professor)



7. What is an appropriate timeline for internship preparation? Are there any resources to help with this process?

I would recommend beginning the preparation at least a year before your internship date. Doing as much of the preparation as you can ahead of time, you will avoid becoming overwhelmed at the last minute. The best piece of advice I got was to think of the internship application process as a 3-credit class and allocate that much time to it. The APPIC website (www.appic.org) is a great resource and I would recommend joining their listserv if an internship is somewhere in your future. They have a lot of good information, they will answer your specific questions, and you can communicate with other students going through the same process. As soon as you start your practica, make sure you are keeping track of your hours in a way that fits with the APPIC practicum-hours reporting form. This will save you a major headache, not to mention time, when you come to fill out the internship application form. ~ Dr. John Crumlin (CU Aging Center)

Applying for internship is equivalent to having another class, so you will need to budget plenty of time for this process. Just like a class, there will be some weeks that you don't have much to do, while during other weeks applying is all you concentrate on. So, planning ahead and breaking the process down into smaller pieces will make it much more manageable (and much less frustrating).

Over the summer or early in the fall, spend some time exploring the APPIC website (www.appic.org). Go to the internship directory - the search options are very easy to use, and you can begin to gather information about potential sites you may want to apply to. This is also important because some programs do not post their application process and prefer that you email them for more information. Identifying these sites early allows for plenty of time to email training directors and get their materials.

If you haven't been tracking your clinical hours, the summer is a good time to get started. This will take a significant amount of time, so start early!

At the end of summer, the updated APPIC application becomes available on the website. You can download this and work on it at your own pace, this is not something to leave for the last minute because it will require lots of proofreading.

In September, ask individuals about their willingness to write your letters of recommendation. Most programs want 3 letters.

Give your letter writers plenty of notice.  Some may want to review your application and talk with you about internship/career goals (plus, they're pretty busy people).

By October, it's helpful to have a pretty good idea of where you're applying because the deadlines range from November 1st to mid-December. Leave yourself some time before the deadlines, or you'll end up spending a fortune on overnight mail (and waiting until the last minute might not be so impressive to people looking for reliable/prompt interns). Knowing your application deadlines is also helpful for your letter writers.

October is also a good time to have people read your essays. It is very helpful to get feedback from more than one person. New professors or students/friends currently on internship are great reviewers because they have gone through the process very recently and will have useful tips, in addition to proofreading.

Prior to your first deadline, have the Training Director complete his/her portion of the application. You'll need to make copies of this to include with each application.

In November and December, you will be finalizing your application materials and mailing the applications. This also happens to coincide with deadlines for final papers, if you're also taking classes. So, you'll need to budget plenty of time for proofreading, printing, collating, and mailing processes. Read (and reread) each program's application process carefully to make sure you're sending the exact materials they've requested - each place is a little different.

You'll hear about interviews in late November to mid-December. Don't plan on getting much done in January because the majority of your time will be spent traveling to interviews (hopefully). After each interview, it's helpful to make some notes about what you liked/didn't like/etc. because after three or four interviews, this information will start to run together.

An important thing to keep in mind is that everything will take a little longer than you originally planned, so allow yourself more time than you think you'll need. APAGS publishes a guide, which provides lots of useful tips and proposed timelines - Internships in Psychology: The APAGS Workbook for Writing Successful Applications and Finding the Right Match. This book is worth the $15. ~ Dr. Molly Maxfield (Assistant Professor)



8. What are the top 3 Do's and Don'ts of graduate school?

Do invest your time thoughtfully in learning experiences (don't resist the very experience you selected by procrastinating, becoming cynical, or ruminating).
Do take care of your whole self even if there is less time for some parts as compared with others.
Do remember that the faculty is here to help you succeed. ~ Dr. Sara Qualls (Professor)

Do find a professor whose style matches yours.
Do start working on CV immediately.
Do network at conferences a lot.
Don't neglect classes? It's your career!
Don't forget to schedule recreation time!
Don't stay away from the department when you're not in class. Be a professional citizen. ~ Dr. Robert Durham (Professor)

Top 3 dos: 1. Self-care; 2. Time-management; 3. Getting along with peers- they will be your biggest asset, not your competition
Top 3 don'ts: 1. Don't procrastinate; 2. Don't compete with peers; 3. Do not neglect your health and mental health needs. ~ Sheena Horning (Doctoral Student)



9. What is your expectation about attending annual conferences and which ones do you feel are most important?

Gerontological Society of America (GSA; www.geron.org) is popular among aging students and APA (www.apa.org) is highly attended as well.
At least one per year but not more than two. And always present. ~ Dr. Michael Kisley (Professor)

AEA and ATSA are big in my areas. ~ Dr. Robert Durham (Professor)

As for Lori's students, the general expectation is to present research at one or two conferences per year:
Psychonomics (Cognitive Psychology Conference): http://www.psychonomic.org/
Cognitive Aging Conference: http://www.cos.gatech.edu/cac/cac.htm ~ Kethera Bates (MA Alumni)



10. I'd be interested in finding out more about what some recommended experiences in graduate school might be for different job tracks (e.g., if you want to be a professor some day, are there things you should make sure you do in grad school, other than publish as much as possible)?

I think it is a good idea to find more than one person to talk to about professional development. Start with your research mentor, but if you are wanting additional advice, support, guidance, you should not hesitate seek out others professors to assist you.

Doing research, writing papers, and teaching are the core responsibilities of most faculty members. So try to get as much products and experiences in these areas as possible. Also note that you will likely have a year or two of Postdoctoral training where you can also bulk up areas that are less strong from graduate school before you land an academic job.~ Dr. Daniel L. Segal (Professor)

Tough to answer this one. There are no hard and fast rules (unless academe is your goal). ~ Dr. Robert Durham (Professor)