Getting a doctorate is usually the ultimate goal, but for John Darland, his Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology (1998) just wasn’t enough. Darland wanted to learn more about macro-level angles in mental health care, including legislation and lobbying, so he returned to school to earn his M.P.P. in Public & Nonprofit Management (2001).
As a former mental health policy analyst at the Minnesota Department of Human Services, he used his education background to help corporations and hospitals in public policy. He was also a former clinical psychologist for RiverView Clinic in Minnesota for two years. Darland expanded his professional psychology experience by traveling to Universidad Peruana de Ciencias in Peru, which works in partnership with The Chicago School.
While in Peru, Darland learned just how much psychology connects across countries, continents, and communities.
“There’s an application of psychology everywhere—whether it’s natural disasters, or universities, or clinics, or working with those experiencing homelessness,” Darland says. “And I was really intrigued and excited to talk with the students about how their communities and schools made them want to go into psychology.”
While in Peru, Darland also participated in a presentation course called “Online Education in the 21st Century” about the evolution of online education, dispelling some of the myths related to what it would be like to get an education degree online. A year before that, he also wrote a chapter in Jeff Green’s third edition of the book First Course—How Do I Learn Online?
Darland, an online higher education teacher for the nontraditional Capella University for 14 years, gravitated to The Chicago School because he wanted to bring his online experience in teaching psychology to a more traditional university. The Chicago School’s focus on diversity and international partnerships was also a significant draw for him. With the majority of students in the online master’s of psychology program, Darland continues to use his public policy background and interdisciplinary perspective as a reference tool for his students’ career direction in social services, human services, government, and health care.
“You have to learn to adapt. Psychologists wear many hats and work across many fields and sectors, sometimes at the same time,” he says. “So you need to be open to working in multiple fields in a variety of worlds. When I was in undergrad, there weren’t online tools. Likewise, 10, 15, or 20 years from now, there’s going to be opportunities that we can’t even imagine now. It’s important for leaders in psychology to be open and aware of all the different ways that psychology can be applied, as well as the roles and communities that psychology can service.”