Access to PhD | Inequality in psychology

Access to PhD |  Inequality in psychology

Each year, approximately 2,000 new students graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Quebec. Fewer than one in six earn a doctorate, which is mandatory for the right to practice as a psychologist. In times of scarcity, leading figures in the field argue that many bright students cannot accept that they have hit a wall and are thus denied a psychology degree.

Posted at 5:00 am.

Louis Leduc

Louis Leduc

At McGill, in 2021, 460 students enrolled in the undergraduate program in psychology. In Ph.D., there were 10. at Concordia University, in 2022-2023, at 1 p.mR cycle, the new batch consisted of just 500 students. In the year 2021-2022, 13 students received their doctorate degrees from this institution. At the University of Montreal (UdeM), 60 students were able to register for a doctorate in 2022, while around 300 are registered for a bachelor’s degree per year. The University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) offers the highest number of doctoral degrees, 70 to 89 annually (and 243 to 310 new registrations for bachelor’s degrees in recent years).

Why do universities admit so many students to undergraduate courses knowing that they cannot give them access to a doctorate, as a degree as a psychologist requires it, while the academic record of many of them allows them to fully achieve it? ?

“That’s a great question,” says Hélène David, a professor of psychology at the University of Montreal, then vice-chancellor and minister of higher education.

He explains that the problem comes from the way universities are funded: the more students, the more it costs. Those enrolled in psychology — and those who need a doctorate to gain the right to practice — thus find themselves in a maddening race. A” The rat race “, in his words, very harmful, which affects their mental health.

Photo by Ivano Demers, La Presse Archives

Hélène David, former professor of psychology at the University of Montreal

We need an average of patients [pour être admis au doctorat]. If you don’t have A’s everywhere, you’re crying for your life.

Helene David, former professor of psychology at UdeM

Here she raises the case of this ex-psychology student who just got admitted to medicine. “For the same period of study, you will be a doctor, you will be rich, and you will have more power in society! She remembers telling him.

Many students and teachers are missing

The underlying problem? Since 2006, a doctorate has been mandatory to become a psychologist in Quebec. However, this decision did not help in recruiting professors in universities. Conclusion: Large auditoriums are large enough to offer undergraduate courses, but not large enough to ensure long and individual follow-up of students requiring a doctoral thesis.

When the duty of a doctorate was introduced, Helen David thought it was a good idea.

She regrets that it resulted in such an “admission funnel” and never-ending surveys, explains Helene David. She earned her psychologist degree at the age of 21 with very few requirements.

“I saw it as a big master’s degree,” he explains, adding that he believed a doctorate would allow students to do more internships and not lead them to do more research.

When Rose-Marie Charest was president of Quebec’s line of psychologists, a requirement to obtain a doctorate to become a psychologist was introduced. The idea, he says, is to ensure that young people have more practical training and not have their careers unnecessarily extended by research requirements.

“We need to find a way to train more psychologists,” he says today. These days the needs of the people are high and the society cannot bear such severe scarcity. »

Currently, the grades required are always high and relevant experience in research, volunteering, etc. Still growing, explains Stephanie Juneau, vice president of the University Association of Doctoral Students in Psychology, who describes access to a doctorate as highly “anxiogenic.”

Photo by Robert Skinner, The Press

Stéphanie Juneau is vice president of the Interuniversity Consortium of Doctoral Students in Psychology

You have to find a teacher and luck decides who gets accepted. Often there is no room.

Stéphanie Juneau is vice president of the Interuniversity Consortium of Doctoral Students in Psychology

The Psychiatry Action Plan published last year by the Université de Montréal’s Association of Psychology Students (AGEEPUM) notes that it is dismaying that it makes no mention of the difficulty of accessing a doctorate. of the problem.

Before registering, young people know that they need to obtain a doctorate to become psychologists, AGEPUM notes. But as their department says during information sessions once they start school, they realize only once they admit that even a perfect statement is not enough. They are then asked to think of a project, for example in psychology, criminology etc.

Long studies

Quebec’s Premier François Legault seems to ignore all this. During the election campaign, he declared that “three years at university are required” to train a psychologist.

In fact, teenagers finish their studies eight to nine years later, notes Christine Crews, president of a series of psychologists.

“Can the university program be done more quickly? Perhaps, he says, “the mandate of psychologists” is not closed to the idea of ​​trying any solution that increases access. [à un psychologue]. »

But for students admitted to psychology faculties, all is not lost, he points out. “Having a bachelor’s degree in psychology provides a very interesting culture,” argues group.

Universities that sent us their data noted that it is dangerous to make a connection between labor shortages and significant reductions in the number of students between undergraduate and doctoral programs. Not everyone wants to be a psychologist by joining the field, they argue.

This is the reason why only degree students were counted. At the Université de Montréal, if we include all those enrolled in the field of psychology (minors, majors, certificates, bachelor’s degrees, etc.) in the fall of 2021, either full-time or part-time, the number rises to 2,143. Students.

And at the Ph.D., there is competition from students from other universities for the rare places available.

While some young people realize during their studies that a career in psychology is not for them, almost all want it, notes Helene David.

“Worried about 2023”

For her part, Sophie Parent, vice-dean of the Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, confirms that her institution is aware that “it would be desirable for us to train more psychologists.” (Ditto for Laval University, which says it “looks for solutions to increase the number of people admitted to doctoral degrees.”)

But there is a shortage of professors to ensure more thesis supervision, explains Mme Parents. Each professor in the department at the University of Montreal is already following five to nine doctoral students — and “we are very worried in 2023” because of the announced boycott, he explains.

Hundreds of psychologists and neuropsychologists in the Quebec network are literally threatening to no longer take interns and trainees next year.

They calculate that a public sector psychologist in Ontario earns 57% more than his counterpart in Quebec. According to the Alliance of Psychologists of the Quebec Public Network, these working conditions contribute to the scarcity front, with psychologists more attracted to private practice, where salaries are much higher.

Learn more

  • 900
    The number of psychologists who will disappear from the health network in 2023

    Source: Alliance of Psychologists of Quebec Public Network (CPRPQ).

    $65,028 (35 hours/week)
    Entry Salary for Public Sector Psychologists After Doctoral Degree

    Source: Alliance of Psychologists of Quebec Public Network (CPRPQ).

  • 700 hours
    Duration of internship during training

    Source: Order of Psychologists of Quebec

    1600 hours
    Duration of Compulsory Internship during training

    Source: Order of Psychologists of Quebec

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