PsyD or PhD with low GPA

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.


Full Member
7+ Year Member
Jan 27, 2015
Reaction score
Hello everyone,

I am here on behalf of a friend of mine who wants to get a doctorate in psychology. He has a BA in history from a state college with a 2.6 GPA. He wants to become a psychologist but is not sure how to get there. He’s really interested in more of the assessment side than doing actual therapy but wouldn’t mind doing short term therapy. He’s also interested in the assessment of anxiety, depression and the integration of spirituality however he’s still open to other interests in clinical/counseling psychology. He’s taken a few psychology courses but is not sure if finishing the psychology degree will boost his GPA enough to apply to psychology graduate school. Should he try to finish the bachelors in psychology, apply for masters programs or just give up?

Members don't see this ad.
Many PhD programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0 but the vast majority of admits are much higher.

But beyond the low GPA, your friend's biggest barrier is almost certainly a lack of research experience and a CV that probably will not compare well to other applicants, especially if they want to consider funded programs, which have the best training.

At this level, everybody is interested in psychology so differentiators are what one has done within the field (worked in a lab, contributed to a peer reviewed journal article, presented a poster of original research at an academic conference, etc).

Their best bet might be to pursue a master's degree and be successful, which will help alleviate concerns about a low undergrad GPA and lack of experience.

Ideally, they will find a program that is both license eligible (if they decide to stop their education and go into practice) and also provides research opportunities which would be relevant for trying to get admitted to a doctoral program.

There's always the self-pay PsyD route which might mitigate low GPA and lack of research/education in psychology but if a program is willing to admit somebody with a 2.6 GPA and a handful of undergrad courses without any research (which should be the bedrock of a doctorate), that's a program that one should actually avoid at all costs.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
If he can rehab his GPA to ~3.0 through post-bacc or in these psych course he's taking and also write a good explanation, he might be eligible for a decent master's program in counseling or social work. In this situation, I would definitely encourage this person to take the GRE to quell concerns about academic ability. I've known people admitted on < 3.0 GPA to master's programs, but they were placed on academic probation until they demonstrated an ability to complete the program. Agree with @summerbabe otherwise: A FPPS might look at this person, but only as a means to exploit for their own financial gains.

What's more is that it seems to me that your friend's goals for this career are nebulous at best. It's common for most, if not all, mental health practitioners to assess anxiety or depression and integrating spiritual discussions, as appropriate to the client's needs, is a matter of cultural competence. I don't really have a good picture of what this person plans to do day-to-day and my guess is that they don't either.
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users
He has 0% chance to get into a Ph.D. program. Students who get into a Ph.D. programs typically have a GPA of 3.8+ and outstanding GRE scores. He also has almost no chance in getting into a PsyD. program. If he can bring his grades up to a 3.0 he may be able to get into a Masters program. If a GPA of 2.6 is all that he has in the tank, he isn't going to make it at the graduate level. If 2.6 is due to life issues go to therapy. If 2.6 is due to effort issues he needs to buckle down and give 100% or he won't make it.