That said, I should point out that as I see it, importance of location is only as important as the program is below my expectations; to wit, the better the program, the less I really care about where I am. Also, I was only looking in places where I knew lady_fox would be willing to live because her location-related happiness is important if she works a similar job. It's like off setting a sims' depression while practicing charisma by putting the room 10 statue in the bathroom. ;) The more I thought about location, the more I thought I didn't care so long as we have friends close by and a nice apartment; these are key. The only exception to this is the San Francisco Bay area, which is my favorite place in America. I know only my Aunt and Uncle out there, so clearly it fails the "friends" portion of the equation. Also, lady_fox likes the area enough to assuage the "no friends" status of the S.F. Bay Area.
Thus, my satisfaction really relies on three factors where satisfying two of these three makes a program/place combination acceptable. I should not that I hold Fox's acceptance of location as constant by only looking in areas she is ok with, but I think her beliefs ally with mine. So, finding a really good program near friends seems the best plan. Now that Virginia has opened its borders all three of my key factors are turning out in spades. Virginia, by merit of its East Coast location is in the "heart" of the ergonomic spread westward which offers several excellent programs in I/O psych as well as Human Factors psychology. Furthermore, lady_fox and I seem to have acquired an excellent friend base in that area which is delightful. What astonishes me is that not only does VA have the good programs and friend, but the cities in which these schools are located are pretty nice. Even Norfolk, which is the least "good" of the pair seems equivalent to Madison in per capita statistics. Now, I assume it will feel older and be a bit dustier as that is a defining feature of East Coast housing in general, but I think I can manage.... Or just go to Fairfax. :)
So, without further ado my list with reasoning.
George Mason University -
Location: Fairfax, VA
Reasoning: It's in a nice location and the department has a good philosophy. It is primarily cognitive psychology based, which emphasizes cognition (which I have researched) and learning (which I'm interested in as far as user interface is concerned). Further more, they value work experience higher than most other places which I have in my field. Quality Assurance's focus is to test like a user, the foundation of Human Factors as applied cognitive psych. The city is close enough to Richmond to warrant frequent trips and LARPing with our new friends, and is a decent drive to hermitgeecko and conanmagruder.
Old Dominion University -
Location: Norfolk, VA
Reasoning: They have state of the art equipment and ties to dozens of technology, business and governmental institutions that are on the forefront of tech design. They offer both I/O and Human Factors (in case I want to switch for some reason). The location, while apparently less "good" than Madison is located near many nice places - like Virginia Beach (I get OCEAN!). This is also close to the new friend group in Richmond and even closer to Geek and Conan.
Number 3ish: It gets more vague here
University of Tennessee - Knoxville
Applied I/O psych and Business
Location: Knoxville, TN
Reasoning: The program is sui generis (singular). It is one of very few research based programs administrated out of a business school. It not only offers the rigorous training as a scientist, but provides internships and practia within the business world. Plus, the middle years of study are swapped between research projects and internships among the many businesses that draw from UT-K's graduate programs. Furthermore, Fox and I have extended family there in the form of Diana and all of the Serpentstone folk. The major drawback that lands this one in opposition with the following is the strength of right wing politics in the area and the general attitude to people that hold my sort of beliefs in all things social, spiritual and economic. Problematically, Diana may be moving out of the area, also lending to this excellent programs lowered status.
University of California - Berkeley -
Location: Berkeley, CA
Reasoning: Berkeley, while offering neither a Human Factors nor I/O program, has one of the top ten Cognitive psych programs. Not only that, the program is integrated with their biology and computer science groups in one of the few places studying artificial intelligence. Why they accept psych students is unimportant, only that they do. The program also offers heightened emphasis on work experience, which may put me over the edge this coming year unlike last year. It's also in the S.F. Bay and very close to my CA based family.
That's pretty much it. All the other programs on the west coast are terminal Masters. While I'll most likely apply to one or two profession programs (Namely San Jose and one other [maybe another bid at UW- Seattle, I don't know yet]) I don't admit liking the idea of these programs. Honestly? I don't have much regard for professional psychology degrees. This is because I hold psychology to be either a distinct scientific or medical practice. Yes, I realize I want to get into applied psychology, but I feel it would better serve me better to have the rigorous academic training. That is much more useful to the world at large. Furthermore it keeps my options open. It is easy enough to transition from research to applied with a research degree, many do so; it is very difficult to transfer from applied to research without a research degree. It is better for me in the long run.
I, also, will not deny that doctors make far more money in applied psych than others in the long run; whereas consultants can earn far, far more in a shorter time span. It is important to know, though, that old doctors get statues and old consultants get downsized.
Edit: This program would be a lark, I think.
Existential-Phenomenological Therapeutic Psychology
Final thoughts: My brain is saying that I've chosen too quickly where every other part of me says that the universe aligned. THe fact that two programs I found yesterday are the top picks is a little unsettling. But, I wonder I they would have been if I'd been looking in VA for programs. That is not the state of thingsm though. Many compelling and intereseting events happened this weekend.
Oh, and I lost 2.5 pounds this last week.5, even with a rich greek dinner. Woot calorie counting! Back under 190.