The Post-Baccalaureate Program in Psychological Science
Our Post-Baccalaureate Program in Psychological Science combines psychology coursework with research and/or internship experience. It is designed for people who are interested in a psychology-related graduate program, career development, or a career change, and who could benefit from additional upper-division coursework, research and/or real-life work experience in psychology. Those interested in a Ph.D. or Master’s degree program in a range of areas of psychology (including clinical/counseling psychology, social/personality psychology, developmental psychology, health psychology, psychology & the law, school psychology, cognitive psychology, and social work) will benefit from the preparation received during our program. The program offers an individualized course of study based on each person’s qualifications and goals.
Benefits of the Program
People seek out our Post-Baccalaureate Program in Psychological Science from a variety of backgrounds. Some of our students have a bachelor's degree in a field other than psychology, whereas other students have a bachelor's degree in psychology. Regardless of their background, students come to our program for one of two reasons:
1) To acquire knowledge and skills that will help them change careers or advance in their current career.
2) To prepare for a psychology-related graduate degree (e.g., Ph.D., M.A., Psy.D., M.S.W., M.F.T.) or other relevant graduate degree (e.g., M.D., M.P.H.)
Although completion of our program does not guarantee acceptance into the graduate program or job of your choice, it provides you with the opportunity to acquire a foundation of knowledge, research experience or internship experience, letters of recommendation, and personalized advising needed to make your graduate school or job application more competitive. Each participant brings a unique background and set of goals to our program. A faculty advisor will assist you in developing an individualized program of study, including selecting the courses and hands-on experiences needed to help you reach your goals.
Students accepted into the program gain the same departmental privileges extended to all of the students in our department, including the opportunity to interact with our community of faculty, researchers, and graduate students. You will also be welcome to attend our weekly departmental colloquia and other special events for students. You will be invited to quarterly "career workshops" (organized specifically for our post-bacc students) in which you will be able to listen to and ask questions of professionals in the community and/or graduate students at local universities; for example, in Fall 2018, we had a panel of UCI graduate students who spoke about their path to grad school (and gave tips on taking the GRE); in Winter 2019, we had a panel of practicing therapists who had a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in Clinical or Counseling Psychology; and in Spring 2019, we had a panel of former post-bacc students who had been admitted to (or who had already started) a graduate program. In addition, you would be given access to the computer lab in our department (which is typically reserved only for graduate and honors students), and you will be given a free printing in the computer lab. Career counseling is also available; UC alum (students who earned their bachelor's degree at any UC) will have the option of enrolling in the UCI Career Center One-Pass program (http://career.uci.edu/alumni/services-alumni/), and non-UC-alum (students who earned their bachelor's degree somewhere other than a UC) will have access to meetings with a career counselor at the UCI Extension Office (the cost of these services will be paid by the post-bacc program). Finally, our post-bacc students are eligible to apply for conference travel awards (up to $500 reimbursement for travel to a professional conference without giving a presentation, and up to $1,000 reimbursement for travel to a professional conference at which you give a presentation) for travel to up to two conferences and to apply for funding for a GRE (or MCAT) preparation course (up to $1,000 course fee reimbursement).
In July 2020, all 41 students who had participated in the post-bacc program at any point during the 2019-2020 academic year were sent a satisfaction survey; 36 students (88%) completed this survey. Students were asked to indicate, on a scale of 1 to 7 (where 1 = extremely dissatisfied and 7 = extremely satisfied) how satisfied they were with various components of the post-bacc program (e.g., advising, courses, research experience, etc.) and to provide comments about each component. Students who completed this survey indicated that they were, on average, very satisfied with all aspects of the program, with an overall average rating of 6.41 out of 7 (range: 6.26 to 6.64). Students especially praised the academic advising they received from Dr. Zinger, giving this aspect of the program a 6.64 and writing comments such as, “Dr. Zinger’s advising sessions have been incredibly helpful. She makes it possible for me to identify and enroll in the courses I need in order to make speedy progress in the program (in a sequence that makes sense and fits with my work schedule). Additionally, she shares a variety of useful news about conferences, test prep, applications, work opportunities, research opportunities, and anything else that could help me get closer to achieving my career and educational goals.” In addition, students reported very high levels of satisfaction with their overall experience in the post-bacc program, giving this component a rating of 6.57 out of 7 and writing comments such as the following:
Thank you so much for creating a program like this! It was exactly what I needed to become clear on what type of graduate school education I would need to reach my career goals. I had a life-changing experience in the post-bacc program and at UCI, and the people that I met there are still a large part of my life (and will probably continue to be for years to come). I found the program inclusive, supportive, and perfectly positioned to transition students from undergrad to graduate school, regardless of their previous experiences and future goals. I learned a lot in my classes, my lab, and from advisors/mentors. I cannot say enough positive things about this program!
Finally, students reported that they really enjoyed the courses that they took in the post-bacc program, giving this item a rating of 6.47 out of 7 and writing comments such as, "I love all of the courses I have taken. The professors are very kind and friendly, and I have learned a lot from them."
Graduate School. As of August 2020, 95 of our post-bacc students/alum had applied to graduate programs, and 83 of these students (87%) were accepted to at least one of the graduate programs they applied to. Our post-bacc students/alum have received offers from:
- Affective Science Ph.D. programs (at UC Irvine)
- Biological Psychology Ph.D. programs (at the University of Pittsburgh)
- Clinical Psychology Ph.D. programs (including UC Berkeley, UCLA, and the University of Pennsylvania)
- Clinical Psychology Psy.D. programs (including Baylor University, Yeshiva University, and the University of Indianapolis)
- Cognitive Psychology Ph.D. programs (including UC Berkeley, UT Austin, and Indiana University)
- Counseling Psychology Ph.D. programs (including the University of Missouri, the University of Maryland, and the University of Kansas)
- Criminology Ph.D. programs (at Temple University)
- Developmental Psychology Ph.D. programs (including UC Irvine, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, and University of Utah)
- Education Ph.D. programs (at the University of Southern California)
- Education Ed.D. programs (at Johns Hopkins University)
- Experimental Psychology Ph.D. programs (including UC San Diego and University of Texas - San Antonio)
- Neuroscience Ph.D. programs (at UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, and Rice University)
- Social/Personality Psychology Ph.D. programs (including Cornell, UC Davis, and the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill)
- Social Work Ph.D. programs (at the University of Southern California)
In addition, our students have received offers from master's degree programs in:
- Applied Behavioral Analysis (at Simmons College)
- Applied Psychology (at the University of Southern California)
- Business Administration (at Cal State Fullerton and Chapman University)
- Clinical Psychology (at Pepperdine University)
- Counseling Psychology (including NYU, the University of Kansas, and Boston University)
- Criminology (including Cal State Long Beach and Cal State San Bernardino)
- Data Analytics (at Northeastern University)
- Industrial/Organizational Psychology (at Kansas State University, Cal State Long Beach, and San Jose State)
- International Educational Development (at Columbia University)
- Museology & Cultural Heritage (at the University of Oslo, Norway)
- Nursing Science (at UC Irvine)
- Peace & Justice (at the University of San Diego)
- Public Health (at San Diego State)
- Public Policy (at UC Berkeley)
- Research-Oriented Psychology (including Cal State Fullerton, Cal State San Marcos, and Cal State Northridge)
- School Psychology (including Chapman University, Cal State Long Beach, and San Diego State)
- Social Entepreneurship and Change (at Pepperdine University)
- Social Work (including UCLA, USC, and the University of Michigan)
Finally, one of our former post-bacc students was accepted to the Educational Specialist Credential Program at Cal State Los Anageles, and two of our former post-bacc students were accepted to medical school (including the M.D. program at Johns Hopkins University and the D.O. program at Touro University).
Employment. As of August 2019, of the 64 former students who are "work force eligible" (such that they are not currently enrolled in - or about to start - a graduate program), 48 of them (75%) are working full- or part-time paid positions, 10 (16%) are currently unemployed (looking for full-time positions), 5 (8%) are volunteering in a research lab or in the community, and the employment status of the remaining 2 (3%) is unknown (lost-to-follow-up). Among these position include: Accountant, Admissions Manager (Newport Academy), Alumni Engagement Coordinator (Chapman University), Analyst (DaVita Kidney Care), Bartender (Cravings), Behavior Analyst (Autism Specrum Therapies), Behavior Therapist (California Psych Care), Certified Brain Injury Specialistc (Concussion Sports Institute and Nexus Clinical Solutions), Client Service Advocate (Adult Enrichment Center), Clinical Quality & Research Program Manager (Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest), Clinical Research Coordinator (NRC Research Institute), Coach (LA Galaxy OC), Counselor (Lifehouse Agency, Center for Discovery Eating Disorder Residential Treatment Center), Crisis Counselor (Montgomery County Hotline), Donation/Grants Director (Salesforce Foundation), Early Childhood Therapist (Children's Institute), Elementary Director (Whittier Area Community Church), English Teacher (China), GI Tech, Head of Marketing (Shemmassian Academic Consulting), Human Resources Assistant (Barlow Respiratory Hospital), Human Resources Information System Analyst (Kushco Holdings), Individual Learning Specialist (Private Practice), Instrucational Assistant, Jobs for Youth Program Coordinator (County of San Mateo), Lab Manager (UC Irvine), Mental Health Tech (Dalls Behavioral Healthcare Hospital), MFT Associate (Stepping Forward Counseling Center), Office Assistant (Rowland Unified School District), Packer (Amazon Warehouse), Paralegal (Lidman Law), Product Manager (Broadbean Technology), Professor (Cal State LA), Project Coordinator/Case Manager (Friends Research Institute), Research Associate (UC Irvine), Sales Rep/Sales Associate, School Psychologist (Fullerton School District), Search Account Manager (Microsoft), Senior Admissions & Records Assistant (Fresno City College), Staffing Coordinator (Children's Hospital of Orange County), Substitute Teacher (Dublin & Livermore Unified School Districts), Survey Researcher (UC Berkeley), Therapist/Case Manaer (Navos), and Tutor (AJ Tutoring).
Educational Value of the Program
Post-baccalaureate programs are a relatively recent development in psychology, but such programs have been available for decades in other disciplines (e.g., medicine/biology). For example, there are currently over 125 medical post-baccalaureate programs across the United States (Association of American Medical Colleges, 2013), including programs at UC Berkeley and UC Irvine. Recently, the demand for post-baccalaureate programs in psychology has increased, and a number of programs have been created at both public and private institutions across the U.S. The Post-Baccalaureate Program in Psychological Science at UC Irvine is designed to fulfill the needs of individuals with a range of educational and career goals and will include courses and training tailored to each student. Our program is designed to help students become stronger applicants for competitive programs in psychology and related fields and benefit individuals seeking career change or advancement. The program may also serve the needs of students seeking additional preparation for graduate programs and careers in medicine.
Strengthening Graduate School Applications. The demand for masters-level and doctoral-level psychology professionals is expected to grow 22% from 2010 to 2020 in the United States, which is faster than the anticipated growth for the average occupation (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014). Competition for psychology-related graduate programs is high, and many college graduates who apply are not accepted. For example, only 14% of applicants applying to social/personality psychology graduate programs and only 21% of applicants applying to clinical psychology graduate programs were admitted in the 2011-2012 academic year (American Psychological Association, 2013). In a nationwide survey of psychology graduate programs, admissions directors indicated that having taken psychology courses, having research experience, having psychology-oriented work or internship experience, and having strong letters of recommendation were all important factors in admissions decisions (American Psychological Association, 2013). Students in the Post-Baccalaureate Program in Psychological Science will have the opportunity to strengthen their graduate school applications by taking lower and upper-division psychology courses, working with faculty and graduate students in research laboratories, and/or gaining psychology-oriented internship experience through the Social Ecology Field Study program. By getting to know faculty through participation in courses, research labs, field study, and department activities (such as departmental colloquia and faculty-student "meet and greet" events), students in this program will also have the opportunity to develop the relationships with faculty that are necessary for strong letters of recommendation. Our post-baccalaureate students will meet regularly with a faculty advisor who will work with each student individually to develop a program of courses, internship, and/or lab experiences designed to meet his or her goals. Thus, our program will help students become stronger applicants for competitive programs in psychology and related fields.
Career Change or Advancement. The Post-Baccalaureate Program in Psychological Science is also designed to benefit individuals who are seeking a career change or advancement in a career that values psychology-related knowledge and skills (especially those whose undergraduate degree is not in psychology). For example, the professions of social/human service assistant, mental health counselor, and child care worker are expected to grow 20-36% from 2010 to 2020 (faster than the average for all occupations; Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014), and these positions require a background in psychology. The pre-clinical and developmental psychology areas in our department offer a number of courses that would be relevant to careers in these professions, including Child Development; Child in the Family, School, and Community; Child Clinical Psychology; and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In addition, Field Study internships are available in both mental health settings (e.g., Healthy Relationships California) and childcare settings (e.g., Boys and Girls Club). Furthermore, a number of careers require the ability to conduct statistical analyses, design research projects, and conduct program evaluation (e.g., evaluation manager, research assistant, market research analyst). The research methods and statistics courses in our department - both lower division (e.g., Research Design, Statistics) and upper-division (e.g., Advanced Research Methods, Applied Statistics for Psychology) - as well as experience working directly with faculty and graduate students in a research lab - would provide students with the skills and training needed to enter or advance in research-related positions. Finally, our department is home to several expert faculty in the field of Psychology and Law. We offer several courses (e.g., Forensic Psychology, Juvenile Delinquency), research labs (e.g., the Development, Delinquency, and Disorder lab and the Eyewitness Memory lab), and field study internships (e.g., OC Associate Defender Homicide Unit and LA County Sherriff's Department Gang Diversion Team) that would be of interest to individuals wishing to enter or advance in careers related to the intersection of psychology and law, such as probation officer or addiction specialist/substance abuse counselor.
Psychology training for students applying to medical school. In 2015, the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) will be revised to include a section that focuses on "psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior" (Hong, 2012). This section will make up one-fourth of a student's total MCAT score, whereas previously, this score was derived solely from sections related to biological sciences, physical sciences, and verbal comprehension. The new emphasis on psychological concepts will likely cause some students who are interested in medical school to seek out additional training in psychology after completing their bachelor's degree in biology or a related field. Students who were unable to take psychology courses as an undergraduate (e.g., because of the demanding course schedule of the biology major) and/or students who did poorly on the psychology section of the MCAT on their first attempt may be able to improve their score on the psychology portion of the MCAT by taking lower-division and upper-division psychology courses as part of our Post-Baccalaureate Program in Psychological Science. Similarly, given the acknowledgement by the Institute of Medicine (2004) that psychology is an important component to a complete medical education and a career in the medical field, some students with a bachelor's degree in biology or related fields may simply wish to gain a deeper understanding of the field of psychology prior to entering medical school in order to better prepare for a career as a physician, especially if the student is considering a specialization in psychiatry. Two specialty areas in our department should particularly appeal to people preparing for medical school - our health psychology area (which offers such courses as Behavioral Medicine and Introduction to Biopsychology) and our pre-clinical area (which offer such courses as Clinical Neuroscience and Developmental Psychopathology).