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Graduate School Assessment

The academic area that I am looking to pursue after my undergraduate studies is sport psychology. Being an athlete myself, the psychological aspect of sports has always been interesting to me, whether it be the forces that drive people to achieve on or of the playing field or the emotional and physical strains that one goes through after an injury. It is for this reason that I have chosen to compare the sport psychology programs of Florida State University and the San Diego University for Integrative Studies. Both these programs offer degrees in both the doctorate level and the master's level. The SDUIS program requires their applicant to already have a MA while the MA is inclusive in FSU's program. I chose to evaluate programs on the opposite sides of the country because it is likely that I may move out of state to explore another area of the country.

Upon beginning researching various programs I found that many programs did not divulge much information to the public. Some programs do not have a website, or even an abstract that describes the goal of the institution's program. This was unappealing to me since I feel that if a program is great; why not tell the world what you can about it. Also, since it is the information age, one key form of communication is through the Internet. The two programs I chose, FSU and SDUIS, both have a plethora of information regarding their respective institutions readily available.

The program that caught my interest at FSU is the doctorate program in Sport Psychology with Full Specialization in Counseling and School Psychology. The program was established in 2003 and is designed to train psychologists and give them the tools to handle both research and clinically centered tasks. Upon completion of the program, FSU expects to produce professionals who are knowledgeable of the current practices, theories, and research conducted in the area of psychology. Also, they are given the tools to become a working School and Sport Psychologist. Students who have completed the program have gone on to become professors and researchers at various universities, consultants to sports teams and individual athletes, and psychologists in various facets including private practices. The program hones in on all of the training required to become and stay a practicing psychologist. The program at SDUIS is the doctoral program of Philosophy in Psychology with a Specialization in Sport Psychology. The program is designed to prepare its graduates to work with athletes in their professional and personal lives. Students are trained in a variety of sports psychology approaches and techniques that prepare them to consult with athletes and athletic organizations. From the general outline, it is evident that the program at SDUIS is much more specialized in that its goals are specifically related to sports and athletic counseling. FSU's program appears to be geared giving the student the general tools of a broader scope, but with less emphasis on every aspect that is sport psychology. This program is offered both on the campus and as a Distance Education program. This means that the assignments are given and turned in via e-mail, discussions are held via chat room or telephone, and the main work such as testing and such are completed at the university. This provides another option if I still live in Orange County and do not want to deal with the commute.

Minimum requirements for the institutions are very similar with both requiring at least scores of 500 for both the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE. Both have a minimum GPA requirement of 3.3 as well. SDUIS's admittance procedures vary in that it is less academic based, but rather it is interview heavy. They state that the individual's drive and plan for their pursuit to study the field is key. This last piece of information was a breath of fresh air since I was not really motivated to over succeed in a good portion of my time here at UCI. Also, it was reassuring to know that institutions will at least consider looking at other criteria, not just GPA, as factors for admittance. But, realistically, a person with a GPA of 3.3 will not get into the programs. With the field growing rapidly, demand is high, so the elite students will get first draw, so it is more likely that one should have at least a 3.6 GPA. Both applications were straightforward with the typical questions, transcript requests, and letters of recommendations. SDUIS's admissions process starts with an interview, then the required documents are reviewed, then there is another interview. SDUIS's application was on-line though, and although it was easy, it was hard to obtain a hard copy of the application. The application for SDUIS has an interesting section in which you can specify which professors of the school you would like to work closely with. I found this to be a nice addition since it hints that they care on an individual level.

Although these programs both interest me, they have different philosophies regarding their instruction. FSU's coursework takes the student on a path to acquire certification from the American Association of Adapted Sports Programs (AAASP), and then through the doctorate coursework. A general outline of the coursework has the student completing his core courses and electives in the first 2 years. Then he moves on to advanced courses, specialization, and field studies in the third year. The dissertation encompasses the last year of the program. SDUIS maintains that their "foundation is of a humanistic, holistic, and applied nature with emphasis on a balanced approach to everything (they) do."(SDUIS Admissions brochure) They maintain this philosophy while still incorporating the research and clinical studies that accompany this area of study. It is mainly because of these differences that FSU's program is APA accredited, while SDUIS is not. Upon completion of FSU's program, its graduates are qualified to take the psychology licensure examination in whichever state they would like. SDUIS is not even pursuing accreditation due to the strict emphasis of clinical studies imposed to gain the APA's endorsement. The institution believes that APA accreditation will only diminish their set philosophy and scope. With this stated, SDUIS is in the processes of being accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) though the process may take 3 to 6 years. From this information, FSU will provide more



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