I was recently asked a series of questions about getting a graduate degree from BYU’s department of Instructional Psychology and Technology (IP&T). Since I spent some time answering this prospective student’s excellent questions, I thought I might as well put them out there for others who may be interested. The person’s questions are in bold.
What are the biggest strengths of BYU’s IP&T program versus others?
It’s really cheap for what you are getting! Grad school is expensive, especially with out-of-state tuition. For me, that’s reason enough to go to BYU. But the caliber of the program, from what I’ve heard and understand, is great! I seriously think it’s probably one of the best and most diverse (academically speaking) departments in our field. I obviously don’t know a ton about other programs, so can’t say for sure, but I know we have a lot of really good professors who are well respected in the field. Another really big draw for me was the opportunity learn about things with a gospel perspective. Learning is so crucial to the gospel, and we know the Holy Ghost can play a role in learning, which is something we could never discuss at any other university.
How many financial benefits are there at BYU (assistantships, scholarships, etc) and how tough are they to get?
There are some “need-based” scholarships and I think they are relatively easy to get. I applied for one once and got it. As for assistantships (research and teaching), I’d say there’s probably more openings than people who want to fill them. I’ve never heard of anyone having a problem getting a research assistantship. The department actually has quite a bit of funding for that kind of thing. Basically, just find a project you want to work on and the professor will probably hire you. There are fewer teaching assistantships, but they are still not too hard to come by.
What is the job placement like for someone who works like crazy in the BYU program?
I’m not sure what you mean by this question. If you are wondering how hard it is to get a job after you finish the program, let me tell you what one faculty member told me once. “The biggest problem our department has is that our students are getting hired before they finish their degree and when they start working full-time they often end up not finishing or taking longer than they should to finish.”
If you could do it over again, would you choose BYU? Why or why not? What would you have done differently?
I would still totally go to BYU! I got accepted to Utah State and they have a great program but it’s colder there. And I just like the atmosphere in our department. If I really wanted to be a professor and end up at BYU, I would probably do my Masters at BYU, but do my PhD somewhere else so it’s easier to get hired at BYU. And if you want to be a professor anywhere, it’s not a bad idea to do your master’s and PhD at different universities. I always hear good things about UGA and I probably would have looked into their program had I known about it, but I would have still come to BYU for at least one of my graduate degrees.
Other thoughts about the field in general
There are so many opportunities doing so much in such a board range of work that the field is ripe already to be harvested! Haha! But seriously, I just feel like I have gained so many skills, that no matter what happens, I’ll still be able to find a good paying job doing something I like that is related to our field. And there are so many exciting things happening in education (and things that need to happen in education) that this is an great time to get involved. There’s a lot of fun to be had and a lot of good we can accomplish! And the depending on what you are doing and who you are working for, the pay is pretty good, too.