Being a competitive applicant for clinical psychology PhD or PsyD programs, how?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by zeraldaviperia, May 11, 2008.

  1. zeraldaviperia

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    I am a junior level transfer student at University of California Davis this is my second quarter I usually earn around a 3.5 GPA. I am extremely interested in clinical psychology and considering going for a PhD or PsyD. I am thinking more likely the second because I am more interested in working in a clinical than an academic setting but I do enjoy research. What do I need to do to be competitive? I have done some research on graduate schools and it looks like most applicants have a better chance of being abducted by aliens than getting into a good PhD or PsyD program! I have heard high GRE scores, letters of recommendation from high ranking professors, published works, clinical work experience, research experience or original research can make or break an application. I have none of these things, yet. I am already in the process of applying for summer research assistant positions and attempting to build relationships with my professors. What should I do now to become a stronger applicant?

    Thanks for your advice!:)
     
  2. erg923

    erg923 Regional Clinical Officer, Cenpatico National
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    Well, you pretty much have answered your own question. It's everything you have just mentioned, except, the letters of rec just need to be from professors who know you well and can attest to your abilities, not necessary "big wigs" in the field. I would also add it is relatively rare for undergrads to have pubs of their own. It's a great thing to strive for, but focus more on just getting good ole solid resesrch experience in your department. Lastly, off all things you mentioned, clinical experience is on the low priority list for Ph.d programs. It does tend to help for Psy.D though. Also, getting a Ph.D doesn't necessarily mean an academic career. In fact, the majority of students who get Ph.Ds still have primarily clinically focused careers. But, if you do not enjoy hardcore research, a Ph.D. program would not be an enjoyable experience. Yes, Ph.D and Psy.D are competitive, but its not impossible. Acceptance rates for Ph.d run from 2% all the way to 15%. Psy.D. programs vary from from about 5% all the way to 30%...just depends on the program. Please be aware though that the Psy.D programs that are accepting 30% or more of their appicants are also going to be the ones that will cost you an arm and a leg (i.e.,Alliant, Argosy, etc) and have questionable reps.

    You still have some time to get involved in research and get more exposure to the field. But don't delay, because you're running short on time if you wanna try to go straight out of undergrad. Nail your GREs and keep your GPA above a 3.5. However, keep in mind it is becoming increasingly common for students to take a year or 2 off after undergrad before applying, in order to get more research experience to make themselves competitive.
     
  3. Prsstnt

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    I am looking to apply for PhD Clinical Psychology this year 2008-2009. I am actively interviewing for research opportunities and I work full time in a clinical setting. Best case, I will have about 6 months of research experience before I apply. Would this be considered too little?
     
  4. erg923

    erg923 Regional Clinical Officer, Cenpatico National
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    I assuming you mean you're applying for fall 2009 admission? In that case, it just depends on the nature of what you are doing. If its just entering data....no. But something more, it would be better. That said, remember, clinical programs want to see an indication of your dedication to research (typically evidenced by a track record of research in undergrad), not just the abilities themselves. The fact that you waited until the very last minute to get any research experience at all would raise questions in my mind (if i were on an admissions committee). Remember, you are likely going to be up against people with years of research experience.
     
  5. Prsstnt

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    Thanks. I am most definetely shooting for more than data entry. Any research experience I get will add to my CV since I don't have much from my EdM :scared:. My Bachelors was in Computers (Don't ask).
     
  6. Ollie123

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    Are you planning on applying to research-focused, clinically-focused, or balanced programs?

    To be blunt, I doubt you'd be remotely competitive at top-tier research programs with 6 months of experience just because with training and everything else, you'd really just be starting to get involved. However if you're not primarily research-focused, are looking at the middle of the pack, etc. you might be okay.

    I don't say that to be discouraging, its just reality when its the #1 thing those schools are looking for, and most people will have several years under their belts. Full-time clinical work will look great though if you are applying to clinically-oriented programs.

    Worst-case scenario, you keep up the research and take an extra year. It happens to an incredible number of extremely qualified people:)
     
  7. zeraldaviperia

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    Thanks erg923, good to know I am on the right track. I just sent out emails inquiring about 5 different volunteer research assistant positions in the psychology department at my university. What kind of research experience is best?
     
  8. Ollie123

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    Can you explain what you mean by "What kind"? Are you talking about what activities? What kind of lab? What research topic?

    I don't really think there IS such a thing as best. You want to do something interesting to you, you want to work in an active lab with a professor that is known for doing good work. You want one that gives the opportunity for substantial involvement (i.e. doing more than just one task, opportunities to learn about the research itself) and interaction with faculty themselves, not just senior RAs and grad students. I'm not sure what to say beyond that, hopefully that's helpful.
     
  9. erg923

    erg923 Regional Clinical Officer, Cenpatico National
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  10. Prsstnt

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    Thanks for your advice. Blunt works. All this information will help me pick the right research position and that, will take me one step closer than I am now :) Appreciate your time.
     

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