Sep 4, 2016
Psychology Student
I just entered in my 40s and I'm in my junior year in Psy, with a minor in Stats.
Right now I have a 4.0 GPA and I did a couple of pre-test for the GRA scoring 160ish verbal and 165ish quant.

I'm working with a couple of professors to do research starting the next semester and I'm applying to the honors college in order to do a honors thesis.

Right now I'm on the trajectory to graduate in 3 years in Fall 2017.

Professionally I worked as engineer for a major oil and gas company for about 15 years and I really need to change the field, I took a big "retirement" package last year and pushed hard on the studies.

Here are the questions.
1) Would be better to slow down, graduate in Spring 2018 and try to get more research and maybe an internship or the speed of graduation is a valuable asset in order to get in a Clinical Ph.D.?

2) If possible I would like to stay in Texas (I have a wife and a kid on the way) and unfortunately I'm in San Antonio. so APA approved programs relatively close by are in Austin (UT Austin), Houston (UH), and Waco (Baylor). What would be the best action to improve an area where they might consider me weak?
Meaning.. should I focus on work harder for my GRE? try to get more research experience (they allow 2 semesters of independent study at UTSA), the Honors thesis? Be active in the psy club?

3) Forget about everything and apply to most of the top ranked schools and figure out later how to survive?

Hi to everybody :)


Psychologist, Academic Medical Center
7+ Year Member
Aug 2, 2010
(1) Research experience is essential, but speed of graduation is irrelevant (I assume you meant you'd graduate in 3 semesters, not 3 years, if fall 2017 is the target). Some people apply to graduate school after being out of college for a little while, and in general that's not a problem.

(2) Get good research experience that will result in at least one glowing letter of recommendation, (co-)author a conference presentation if not a publication, keep your GPA high, and do well on the GRE. If geography is a factor, well.. at least you're in a big state. Note that both UT-Austin and U. of Houston offer both clinical and counseling psychology PhDs. If you want to expand your search to north Texas you'll have even more options. Depending on how badly you want to go to graduate school, consider applying to out-of-state programs as a backup option.

(3) I would not recommend this approach. What do you want to be the end result of your graduate training? Find programs that are a good fit with your goals and have excellent student outcomes. Talk to your professors about the process early and often.