To advanced students of psychologyDear student,
Quite a few Open University graduates have been admitted to various graduate degree programs at Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University and Ben Gurion University, without the need to supplement their undergraduate study program. Applicants with a degree from the Open University are judged by the same criteria and standards as graduates of other universities, and Open University graduates admitted to these graduate programs indicate, time and time again, that their background is in no way inferior to that of graduates of other universities.
Students applying to graduate studies should note the following:
- A. Applications for a certain academic year should be submitted around January-February of the previous year. When submitting their application most applicants have not yet completed their undergraduate studies, and this situation is customary.
- B. Each university requires somewhat different information about the applicant, but all universities demand information concerning the students' undergraduate studies, as well as recommendations, including a recommendation from a high-ranking member of faculty.
- C. Recently, a decision was made to conduct a national selection test for applicants to graduate studies in Psychology. Each Psychology department will be free to determine the weight given to the test grade relative to other available information about the student (B.A. degree grade, recommendations, etc.). Details about the test can be found in Admission test to graduate studies in Psychology.
- D. Information concerning undergraduate studies - students must provide separate details of their grades and grade average in Psychology and in another field of study, if relevant. Since the study method at the Open University differs from methods used at other universities, students who wish to apply for graduate studies will be given a form indicating the status of their studies and an accompanying letter specifying courses completed in the department and their grade average, details of other courses completed and their grade average, and their overall grade average. This letter (provided by the secretariat of the Study Program Approval Committee), satisfies the requirements of the various universities. In courses in which the student has not yet received a grade the letter indicates "currently studied" or "will be studied in the next semester". As you are aware, very high grade averages are required for admission to graduate studies, and there is a lot of competition. Moreover, demand exceeds supply. Courses in methodology are extremely important (Statistics I and II and Research Methods I and II).
- E. Recommendations will be sent directly by the person writing them to the university to which the student is applying on special forms provided by the student. These forms include very specific questions about the applicant for which only those who have known the student personally for a considerable period of time will be able to provide answers. This type of relationship often exists between the student and a seminar paper adviser, who through close contact with the student can gain a firsthand impression of the student's academic, and often even personal, abilities. We recommend that students who wish to apply for graduate studies enroll in a seminar course at the first opportunity open to them and work closely with an adviser who will ultimately be able to provide a recommendation. Taking a seminar course as early as possible has two advantages: (a) the adviser will know the student well enough to provide a recommendation, and (b) the results of the seminar paper are known when they apply for graduate studies. It is important to note that the seminar paper component is very important in ascertaining the applicant's academic record.
- F. Seminar papers - it is very important that at least one of the seminar papers written by the student be an empirical study requiring the formulation of a research hypothesis, data collection, statistical analysis and drawing conclusions. Proven methodological ability is as important as a paper summarizing an empirical study. Our experience indicates that the seminar paper adviser will provide utmost support if the selected topic is up to date and of interest to the adviser.
- G. Practical experience - the considerations for admission of students to graduate studies in therapy tracks often include the applicant's prior practical experience. This experience relates to the applicant's voluntary activities in mental health institutions, in community organizations serving mental health patients, on mental health hotlines, or any other therapeutic framework, as long as this experience is accompanied by professional supervision. Such volunteer activities during the student's undergraduate studies (usually after at least 18 months of studies), contribute to all parties: the client benefits; the various organizations enjoy highly motivated support personnel free of charge; and the students have the opportunity to gain firsthand experience of professional work in the field, to make informed decisions concerning their professional future, and to receive recommendations from the organizations to which they volunteered which address both their personality and their work. In choosing the organization to which they plan to volunteer, students should verify that the organization employs a psychologist who will be able to provide supervision as well as a recommendation.
- H. For students who are considering applying for a major in clinical psychology, the Open University offers a suitable framework (such as course 91410 - Field Experience in Psychology). There are those who claim that having undergone psychological treatment is helpful in that it provides the student with first-hand experience, which will help students make decisions regarding their future careers. Naturally, any decision regarding undergoing psychological treatment is left entirely to each student.
- I. Practical questions concerning applications for graduate studies should be referred to the Psychology departments of the various universities. Other questions relating to undergraduate studies may be referred to the Open University Psychology academic advisors and to the coordinators of the various courses.
As stated above, outstanding achievements in undergraduate studies are a necessary, although not sufficient, condition for admission to graduate studies. I wish you success in your studies.
If your grades are not high enough for graduate studies in psychology, other alternatives are available. The Open University offers studies towards a teaching certificate in psychology in light of the steady increase in the number of high school students studying toward a matriculation examination in psychology. Students may continue to graduate studies in criminology, or in educational counseling within Departments of Education, in which the academic requirements are somewhat lower. Students may also consider completing the requirements towards a degree in social work and carrying out therapeutic work of some kind through this field. Graduate studies in psychology are not being developed at the Open University at present.
Prof. Ruth Beyth-Marom