image description
Volume 16, Issue11November 2003

Presidential Column

Henry L. Roediger, III
Henry L. Roediger, III
Washington University in St. Louis
APS President 2003 - 2004
All columns

In this Issue:
Graduate Education: Deep? Broad? Both? Neither?

About the Observer

Published 6 times per year by the Association for Psychological Science, the Observer educates and informs on matters affecting the research, academic, and applied disciplines of psychology; promotes the scientific values of APS members; reports on issues of international interest to the psychological science community; and provides a vehicle for the dissemination on information about APS.

APS members receive online and print subscriptions to the Observer, including the online archive going back to 1988. The print edition is a member-only benefit.

Looking to connect with the Observer? Visit our Contact the Editor page to discuss writing for us and our Advertising page for sponsorship opportunities. If you have questions about your subscription, please email APS@psychologicalscience.org.

Latest Under the Cortex Podcast

Trending Topics >


  • This is a photo of a piece of paper torn to reveal the phrase "uncover the facts"

    Myths and Misinformation

    How does misinformation spread and how do we combat it? Psychological science sheds light on the mechanisms underlying misinformation and ‘fake news.’

Up Front


  • Macalester College

    Macalester College is a private undergraduate liberal arts college that emphasizes academic excellence in the context of internationalism, multiculturalism, and a commitment to service and civic engagement. It has always had a relationship with the Presbyterian Church, yet has long been nonsectarian in policy and practice. Enrolling its first students in 1885 at its current location in a residential section of St. Paul, Minnesota, Macalester currently serves approximately 1800 full-time and 45 part-time students from nearly every US state and from 87 other countries. Ten Macalester graduates have held Rhodes scholarships, and during the past ten years, degree recipients have been awarded 15 National Science Foundation fellowships, 23 Fulbright-Hays awards, 11 Truman Scholarships, and six Thomas J. Watson Fellowships. Nearly 60 percent of all Macalester graduates earn an advanced degree within six years after graduation. One hundred and fifty full-time and 70 part-time faculty offer BA degree programs in 25 departments and eight interdisciplinary concentrations.

  • Graduate Education: Deep? Broad? Both? Neither?

    A perennial controversy, off and on, within every graduate program in psychology, concerns requirements for the PhD. What should they be? Prior to answering this question, we need to ask: "Do we know the best way to train the next generation of researchers and scholars?" I think the answer to this question is doubtless "no" - hence our perpetual discussion of the issue with no resolution. I suspect the basic arguments (and techniques) for graduate training haven't changed much in the past century, so this column could have been written in 1903. The discussion seems to go on within departments without often being aired in national publications, so this column will start the conversation in the Observer. Feel free to weigh in with letters to the editor at apsobserver@psychologicalscience.org. On the one hand is the strict mentor system of graduate education. At its most extreme, a young psychological scientist apprentices her- or himself to a senior scientist and learns about performing research (and anything else worth knowing) from this one person.

Practice


  • Macalester College

    Macalester College is a private undergraduate liberal arts college that emphasizes academic excellence in the context of internationalism, multiculturalism, and a commitment to service and civic engagement. It has always had a relationship with the Presbyterian Church, yet has long been nonsectarian in policy and practice. Enrolling its first students in 1885 at its current location in a residential section of St. Paul, Minnesota, Macalester currently serves approximately 1800 full-time and 45 part-time students from nearly every US state and from 87 other countries. Ten Macalester graduates have held Rhodes scholarships, and during the past ten years, degree recipients have been awarded 15 National Science Foundation fellowships, 23 Fulbright-Hays awards, 11 Truman Scholarships, and six Thomas J. Watson Fellowships.

First Person


  • Cracking the Code of Research Experience

    Let me tell you something about being a dual major in psychology and writing: it does not instill in anyone with whom you discuss the matter - say, for example, your parents - the utmost confidence for your future. While house hunting in New Jersey, my parents began looking for homes with an extra bedroom, "just in case." While I deem my future a promising amalgamation of Faulkner and Freud, they see it more along the lines of fast food and "May I please take your order?" Not that I'm in much of a position to argue; after all, despite taking twenty-six classes on motivation, I still need a half hour's worth of inspirational chants just to get dressed in the morning. Clearly, this situation is dire. It was with this epiphany in mind, then, that I finally succumbed to Mom's desperate pleas of "Internship! Internship!" and tentatively approached the campus career center. There I found roughly 37,000 internship opportunities available to economics majors, many of which included dental and a company car. But, as expected, psychology openings were painfully underrepresented, listed just after chimney sweeps. I departed empty-handed, dejection slapping me in the face.

  • Applying to Doctoral Graduate Programs: Should You Get a Master’s First?

    Ask any university faculty member about graduate school and most will give the advice that if a doctoral degree is your goal, you should apply directly to doctoral programs instead of applying to terminal master's degree programs first. Getting a master's first can certainly lengthen the time to complete your education and increase repeated course work. However, when I was applying to graduate schools, I believed that a master's program would suit me best because I didn't have a clear idea of my career goals or research interests. I wanted a degree that would prepare me for doctoral study, but would also give me the knowledge to pursue a career if I chose not to pursue a doctoral degree. The application process for master's programs isn't as rigorous as those for doctoral programs. Most master's programs don't require psychology GRE scores and some don't even require general GRE scores; they rarely require an interview. Most programs will not expect the student to know exactly what their interests and goals are, unlike doctoral programs. In general, master's programs are less competitive than doctoral programs too.

More From This Issue


  • New Psychological Science Associate Editor Wendi L. Gardner

    Wendi Gardner, associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University, joins the ranks at Psychological Science as associate editor. Regarding her experiences with the flagship APS journal, Gardner stated, "Psychological Science has always been one of my favorite journals, because it combines high quality research, breadth of topics, and brevity and readability of articles. I could always count on being able to open up the journal and read something genuinely interesting in my own area of specialization or in a different one." In summarizing her goals for the position, Gardner emphasized a history of accomplishment established long before her arrival.

  • Mind in a Bind: Treisman Shows How We Bind Images and Why We Often Don’t

    If during Anne Treisman's William James Award address your attention was on the rusty Powerpoint projector, or the lady in the front wearing a lavender belt around the waist of a green suit, or the precarious waver of an overhead light fixture, that's all right with her. In fact, you may help prove her point, because on stage, APS Fellow Treisman was busy illustrating the object binding problem - why human perception sometimes has difficulty simultaneously reconciling every detail of a vast scene. "At any moment of time the scene around us is filled with objects differing along many dimensions, which we see from particular angles, and which may themselves move and transform," Treisman said.

  • Scientists in the Service

    Military Lab Rat By Kevin Gluck As an undergraduate at Trinity University in San An tonio, Texas, I took classes in a variety of departments before realizing that it was the psychology classes I found consistently fascinating. This led me to major in psychology and eventually to my first exposure to psychological research and development in a military laboratory. As I neared graduation, I desperately wanted to find a job "in psychology," and I learned of a summer research internship opportunity at Brooks Air Force Base (now Brooks City-Base), which is also in San Antonio.

  • Psychologists in Non-Traditional Academic Departments

    Isn't That Spatial: Where Psychology and Geography Intersect By Reginald G. Golledge Rather than being a psychologist employed in a non-traditional discipline, I am a "behavioral geographer" located in a geography department, working extensively with psychologists and publishing in the psychology literature. My bachelor's, master's, and PhD are all in geography. My interest in psychology originated after contact with an educational psychologist in New Zealand, who referred me to Piaget's works on space. During and after my PhD work at the University of Iowa, I helped develop a new area of geographic research called behavioral geography.

  • In Sickness or in Wealth

    The rich get richer, those in the middle drift downstream, and the poor fall farther behind. Might that widening gulf of inequality in the world's wealthiest nation be responsible, at least in part, for that nation's relatively poor health, despite boasting the world's most advanced medical technology? Psychological investigators not only see a strong link between wealth disparity and health, they are developing a body of evidence to explain it. The Bureau of the Census reported recently that another 1.7 million people in the United States slipped below the poverty line in 2002, bringing the total to 34.6 million.

  • Holland Takes Interdisciplinary International

    When Daniel Holland, a psychology professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, set out to examine the role non-governmental organizations play in the health care infrastructure of post-communist societies, he was ready for some surprises. But, as someone who has devoted years of his life to learning, he didn't expect the biggest surprise to be gaps he uncovered in his own knowledge. Psychologists, he said, aren't generally trained for international applications of their work. At the same time, however, many critical issues facing the profession - such as preventive health issues, international security, and population behavior - need an international focus.

  • New Director, New Directions: An Interview with NIMH Director Tom Insel

    Numbers tell the story. And the latest numbers from the National Institutes of Health fairly scream that the National Institute of Mental Health is the NIH home for psychology. In 2001, NIMH spent almost $360 million on social and behavioral science, and a PhD in psychology is the degree most represented among all NIMH grantees - behavioral or not. Psychological research is represented widely throughout the various divisions and branches of the Institute, including the divisions of neuroscience and basic behavioral science, services and intervention research, mental disorders, behavioral research and AIDS, and the Division of Intramural Research Programs.