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WAMC: What Are My Chances

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Therapist4Chnge, Dec 15, 2009.

  1. bpsydme

    bpsydme 5+ Year Member

    Dec 16, 2012
    I think that you have a decent chance at getting into at least 1 program. Unfortunately, I find that until you go through the process yourself, there's is no saying for sure how many and which programs you'll get into. I applied to neuropsychology programs as well, including some of the ones on your list. Some things you can do help your application would be:

    1) Definitely improve on your GRE. Depending on the PI, your GRE may not matter at all given you've passed some cutoff (which, with your scores, I assume you will). However, to a different PI, your GRE may be used as an indicator of your success in grad school. You never know which one you'll get. The PI I worked for sang praises for my near perfect GRE, another person I interviewed referenced my "great numbers" but it was never mentioned at most other places. So to be safe...just retake it and try to get a higher score. Your scores aren't bad, btw. But in a pool of 300-400 applicants, say they interview 30 people, SOMEONE will have higher scores than you with a similar background.

    If you don't have time, I wouldn't retake your psych scores, especially given you were a psych major. I took the psych GRE mostly because I only had a psych minor and was applying to programs that required it. A high score on the psych GRE won't impress anyone, and I think you can save that time and effort and put it towards other aspects of your application.

    2) Given that you've worked with various populations, make sure you relate them in your SOP and interviews. How did working with PD made you want to study schizophrenia? How did you decide you ultimately want to dedicate your research to neurodegenerative disorders? I had a hodgepodge of research experience from across the board- animal, cellular, and clinical. Your SOP should be somewhat of a story, not a "I interned here, then here, and here, and one day had an epiphany about my life calling". Also, your SOP, in my opinion, should be about research...not some sob story about whatnot.

    3) DEFINITELY DEFIINTELY know your research like the back of your hand. One applicant asked a grad student if we had to know our honors thesis.....:confused: It's YOUR research, why wouldn't you know it? I went back and looked up things from research projects I did almost 10 years ago! One of my interviewers spent all 30 minutes on one aspect of a methodology I used for a poster.

    4) Polish your CV. Your CV will leave an impression and I saw some pretty horrendous CVs from applicants...who got interviews nonetheless! Please don't list things like "data entry" as the only thing you did in a lab for 3 months. Also, things that are OBVIOUS like Microsoft excel/word/powerpoint isn't a skill, it's a requirement, and should no go on your CV. Have your PI or someone in the field look over your CV. Make sure it presents you as a professional, not as a student.

    One last bit of advice: I came into the interviews thinking I'd be grilled about the interviewer and POI's research. That wasn't the case at all. In fact, one program provided applicants with 1-2 papers from the POI the day of the interview! I was often the person to bring up this or that paper or study and they would be the one that's like "oh...yes...THAT study...". However, what DID helped was I spent a lot of time studying my OWN research. Make sure I know every methodology, every aspect of every study I have ever done. If it's listed on your CV, make sure you understand it and can explain it in intelligent terms.

    Also, don't forget:

    Hope this helps! Good luck to all for the upcoming cycle. :luck::luck::luck:
    Last edited: May 22, 2013
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  3. DecemberLooms


    May 22, 2013
    Hello Everyone!

    I would really love your feedback, everyone on this site is so knowledgeable! I’d like to apply to fully/mostly funded Clinical Ph.D programs, and those that aren’t completely research focused.

    BA- double major, Neuroscience and Psychology
    (from a top 25 university according to US News)

    Cumulative GPA: 3.7 (Magna Cum Laude)
    Psych GPA: 3.9

    GRE Verbal: 164 (670 old, 93%)
    GRE Quant: 161 (770 old, 83%)
    GRE Analytical: 5 (92%)

    Undergrad Experience
    -1 semester, RA (coding, interviewer, other standard tasks), lab studied adolescent gang prevention
    -3 semesters, RA, lab that studied child forensic interviews in abuse allegations
    -2 semesters, RA, lab that studied cognitive tools for improving virtual teaching (e.g. was partially funded by the military to apply to teaching military personnel how to interact with Afghani/Iraqi officials)

    -2 summers, Intern, alcohol and drug rehab
    -1 semester, field research for major credit, non-profit org that worked to reintegrate mentally ill, post-incarceration homeless individuals back into society

    Post-grad experience (only research, no Clinical):
    -10 months, RA, lab studies alcohol and drug use in college students (current)
    -1 accepted abstract for poster presentation at APA, fourth author
    -1 paper, fourth author (low impact factor… under 1)
    -2 papers, second author on both (also to low impact journals)

    However, I’ve decided to leave my current RA job to accept an opportunity as an RA in another lab that studies the neuropsychology of aging (memory/alzheimer’s/dementia, etc. ). It’s much more reputable than my current position and is something I’m more interested in. According to the lab’s director, I will have the ability to contribute to manuscripts. By the time I apply this December I will have worked there for 6 months.

    Research interests: Neuropsychology and addiction (here’s where it all falls apart… after reading through many of these “WAMC” posts, I realize that fit is crucial, so I know I have to refine that substantially, but time is on my side, right?)

    Programs I’m considering:
    Duke (I know it’s heavy research)
    George Washington
    U Georgia
    U Houston

    Any suggestions on programs are welcome. Thanks to those who take the time to reply, your help is greatly appreciated!
  4. thewesternsky

    thewesternsky 10+ Year Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    Hi December! Your stats and experiences look great. Definitely work on refining your research interests and add 2-3 more programs to your list, and you should have a good shot at getting in somewhere this round. Good luck!
  5. KayDee103

    KayDee103 5+ Year Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Wow! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your taking the time to write such a thought-out and helpful response. You make some really fantastic points that had not even occurred to me - I will definite keep everything in mind and take full advantage of your advice.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
    Last edited: May 23, 2013
  6. Member 598922

    Member 598922

    Jan 16, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2013
  7. blueanon


    May 25, 2013
    I am graduating in Spring of 2014 with my BA in Psychology with a 3.8 GPA (4.0 in my major and minor classes), and I have secured solid letters of recommendation. I am in the process of applying for grad schools (clinical and counseling psychology programs), and I am setting my sights fairly high in terms of where I am applying. I don't have any research experience yet, though I am in the process of looking for opportunities at my school. Am I being unrealistic looking at the Ivy league? I don't know much about what schools are looking for, so any insight would help.
  8. cara susanna

    cara susanna 10+ Year Member

    Feb 10, 2008
    Why are you applying to Ivy League? Is there generally a good fit there? Remember that in clinical/counseling psych, Ivy Leagues don't necessarily correspond to prestige in your area of interest.
  9. pretzels


    Mar 1, 2012
    Building off what cara said, i think you need to read up a bit on the process of applying to these programs. Applying to PhD programs in clin psych is not like applying to undergrad, or even something like med school or law school -- it doesn't so easily fit into "tiers" from 'upper' to 'lower'

    One thing is for certain: most schools that will take you without any research experience are generally going to be schools you don't want to go to. You will need a solid year or two of research experience to be 'competitive', but your GPA is solid and if your LORs are good then all that is left is rocking the GREs and getting that experience. Publications and presentations are the gold standard currency for these programs, and the more you have, the better your options.

    You need to figure out what you want to focus in on for research as well; this will be your primary determining factor when picking schools. Harvard, for example, is a well known school but if there are no psychologists there studying what you want to study then it offers little to you.
  10. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Faculty Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Oct 6, 2006
    The Beach
    There is a thread for this....
  11. ResearchGirlie

    ResearchGirlie 5+ Year Member

    Dec 18, 2006
    The fact that you are asking this makes me think you haven't done much research on grad school in clinical psych. Ivy league is an undergrad thing. The top schools in psych vary tremendously by your research interest.
  12. futureapppsy2

    futureapppsy2 Assistant professor Moderator Gold Donor Classifieds Approved 7+ Year Member

    Dec 25, 2008
    Moving to the WAMC thread
  13. softwareninja81


    May 29, 2013
    I've got a really good one for you all. I graduated from college in 2004 with a B.S. in Computer Science and have recently realized that I don't really want to do this for the next 35 years. Psychology was a career I considered initially but decided against.

    I think I have a very, very uphill battle in front of me. I'm OK with that as long as it's not actually impossible.

    - I have not yet taken the GRE. I'll be doing that soon.

    - Graduated with a poor GPA: 2.93. I made 3.0 or higher every semester of school except my first two, but they were pretty bad and the damage was forever done at that point.

    - Currently I expect to enroll back in school as a non-traditional / irregular student to get the undergrad psychology courses I will have to have to even consider following this route. I think dragging my GPA upward during this process is about my only realistic chance of fixing the problem. After that, my plan would be to get into the Master's program at the school I graduated from, then move on to the PhD program at another school once that's done.

    - I can secure the letters of recommendation. I had about four or five of my professors in offer to write them for me while I was still in school and hopefully those offers still stand.

    - I have 8 years work experience in my field, but that's pretty well useless to me at this juncture.

    - If I can do this, I am looking more at experimental psychology as opposed to clinical. The area I would like to research is social media and the kind of impact it has on people, especially young people. I'm specifically interested in what kind of effects the kind of socialization you see in electronic media has on adolescents in their formative years.

    This is really very little information to go on, I know that. I guess what I want to know is if it is even possible to do what I'm thinking of. I don't plan to try for Ivy League, I imagine "decent state school" is about as high as I'm likely to go.
  14. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Faculty Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Oct 6, 2006
    The Beach
    For doctoral programs...a "decent state school" is probably far harder to get into than most Ivy League programs, as they tend to have better funding and more well known mentors.
  15. AnzorM


    May 30, 2013
    Hi. I am a new member here. I went over this thread and saw that almost everyone got a reply by some really helpful members. I would also appreciate a reply about my chances to get into a Masters program in clinical psychology at a US school.

    I am an international applicant from the Republic of Georgia (formerly a member of the Soviet Union). My undergrad is in business - graduated in 2010. I have worked at a consulting firm for two years and an environmental NGO for the past year as an environmental economist. As you can see I have had little formal connection with psychology, however last year I enrolled into a one-year weekend course in psychology and will receive a certificate of completion in June. (To avoid any confusion about why I want to apply for a psychology degree, I should mention that I am seriously passionate about psychology, I am doing a lot of self-education and reading about mental disorders and would love to work in this field).

    My GRE scores are:

    158 Verbal
    155 Math
    4.5 AW
    I took TOEFL and nailed it - got 117 out of 120.

    I realize that I am not very competitive due to an unrelated background and average GRE scores (considering that I did not prepare for GRE at all, I guess the scores are satisfactory, but I realize that schools do not care whether I prepared or not). As a result, I plan to apply for a Master degree at an average school in the US to increase my chances of being accepted and to get formal training in clinical psychology and then continue my advanced studies at a more serious university.

    If anyone has some advice, or just comments about my background, I'd greatly appreciate it. If anyone could recommend some schools where I'd have a higher chance of being accepted, that would be a nice bonus (My priority would be schools in Denver, Colorado, or in and around New Jersey).

    Many thanks! :)
  16. thewesternsky

    thewesternsky 10+ Year Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    Is your ultimate goal a Master's program or a PhD program? What are your career goals? This will help us to give you advice.

    If your ultimate goal is an M.A. in clinical psychology and then to practice, you may have a chance of getting in somewhere.

    If your eventual goal is a PhD, I would NOT recommend getting a Master's degree in clinical psychology first. This step would not help your chances of getting in to a PhD program. (If this is your goal, let me know... We can talk about some better options, including first enrolling in an undergraduate program in Psych at an American university.)
  17. AnzorM


    May 30, 2013
    Thank you for the reply. I really appreciate it.

    My ultimate goal would be to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology, but I was planning to take a pause after I finish my Masters and before starting my PhD. Why wouldn't you recommend getting Master's degree in clinical psychology first?
  18. thewesternsky

    thewesternsky 10+ Year Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    The short answer is that, although there are some exceptions, the majority of M.A. programs in clinical psychology are set up to prepare students for licensure at the M.A. level. They are NOT set up to prepare students for Ph.D. programs. Ph.D. programs are primarily going to be looking for students with excellent research experience (in addition to good grades in psych courses and good GRE scores). Although you may do some research in most clinical M.A. programs, the other demands on your time will be extensive.

    Your best bet would be to enroll in some kind of program that will allow you to do psychology coursework AND gain high quality research experience. The best ways to do that are:

    1) Enroll in an psychology undergraduate program. You could probably finish the degree in roughly two years using your transfer credits. While there, start working with professors as an undergraduate research assistant. You could even do a thesis.

    2) Enroll in a few undergraduate courses (without doing the full degree) and also start working with professors as an undergraduate research assistant.

    3) Another potential option would be to enroll in an experimental psychology M.A. program and get research experience that way. You may or may not be competitive for these programs. If you do apply to some of these, be sure to ask how successful their past students have been in gaining acceptance to Ph.D. programs.

    I hope that's helpful! Let me know if you have questions.
  19. softwareninja81


    May 29, 2013
    I don't have a prayer, do I?
  20. thewesternsky

    thewesternsky 10+ Year Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    softwareninja - I think you do have a chance. I have a friend who graduated with a degree in chemistry a few years ago with a low GPA, worked in industry for a couple years, and then went back to school for psychology. She did really well in her psych courses, got some valuable research experience, and was enrolled in a experimental Ph.D. program within two years.

    Do well in your classes, be sure to get as much research experience as you can, and rock the GRE. You're right that this is going to take work, but it's also possible. I do suggest that you look into job prospects for social psych PhDs before you start, though. You're going to find some pretty discouraging things about the job market in academia and teaching.

    Best of luck!
  21. AnzorM


    May 30, 2013
    Thank you, Thewesternsky! I will consider applying to undergraduate degree in psychology. Since I studied business, I doubt many of my credits will transfer, so I might have to study more than 2 years, which is fine...except for the fact that it will probably be associated with high costs.
  22. softwareninja81


    May 29, 2013
    I would consider the clinical path, but the six figure student loans are scary enough to send me hiding to a corner.

    If the prospects are so bad for non-clinical PhDs, what does it look like for Masters level? I would guess not much better, but there's always the whole less money spent on schooling thing.
  23. somedaypsych

    somedaypsych Clinical Psychology PhD Student 2+ Year Member

    Jan 8, 2013

    This is how I did it (I had a completely unrelated undergrad degree). I enrolled in an affordable public university back in Jan of 2011. I completed all the prereqs, and began working as an RA for my mentor. I will start my doctoral program in the fall.
  24. thewesternsky

    thewesternsky 10+ Year Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    Re: student loans-- you could always try for a funded PhD program.

    Re: Master's degrees... What kind of prospects? It depends what kind of career you're talking about.
  25. softwareninja81


    May 29, 2013
    About the funded program...I admit that I am, at present, completely lost about the ins and outs of graduate school. I am currently under the impression that clinical psychology programs are, by and large, not pretty much have to pony up the money yourself or finance it entirely with loans. Is my perception on that wrong?

    As for career...I always assumed that if I was going to do this, it would be worth my trouble to go to the PhD level. I could easily see myself as a researcher and teacher; I can also easily see myself doing clinical work where I would have the chance to directly intervene in ways that will improve other people's lives. The truth is, I really don't know what kind of opportunities are even available for a Masters in Psychology. Everything I've looked at so far indicates that I need a doctorate.
  26. thewesternsky

    thewesternsky 10+ Year Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    This is wrong. Most reputable Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology are fully funded, including tuition remission and a stipend. :) They are, however, competitive and difficult to get into. I suggest doing some reading on this board if you're interested in these programs. Some especially valuable threads are linked to here:

    I am not sure what you have been reading, but if you only or mostly want to be a therapist you do NOT need a doctorate. There are some really useful threads on these paths on the Mental Health and Social Welfare [M.A., M.S.W., B.S., B.A.] board... Depending on your interests and your state's licensing procedures, you may want to consider programs that would prepare you to be a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (MMHC), a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), or a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT).
  27. softwareninja81


    May 29, 2013
    Thanks for the info. The competition is very concerning, my current college transcripts are not going to help me much there, at least for now, but I appreciate the link to info.

    In my current state of residence, I know for a fact that you will not be licensed to run a private practice without a clinical doctorate. Relocation is always an option, however.

    The truth is that I think I would feel more at home in research and academia, but I'm not hearing good things about the prospects of finding work going that direction. Decisions, decisions....
    Last edited: May 31, 2013
  28. PsyDLICSW

    PsyDLICSW 2+ Year Member

    Mar 16, 2011
    Actually, LCSWs can be licensed and independently bill third party insurance companies in 47 states. This means that you can hang out your shingle and have a private practice. Are you in the three that do not allow LCSWs to practice independently? I would look at state laws before making any decisions so you know for sure.
  29. GradSchoolFocus

    GradSchoolFocus 2+ Year Member

    Jun 3, 2013
    I am planning to start the application process to roughly 12 to 15 Clinical/Counseling PhD programs in the fall of 2014. I am currently in the summer before my senior year. I am not restricting myself geographically and I am only applying to programs that have faculty who are studying my research interests, which are specific but not too specific. Here are my credentials:

    1 year of solid research experience (at least in my mind). I have served as an RA to a fantastic mentor in the field of multicultural psychology. I have been present for several focus groups, been allowed to express ideas and give input on current projects, done literature review, data collection, poster presentation, and worked on preparing tables, graphs, etc. for presentations so the data has been explained to me by my mentor. I've done both qualitative and quantitative research. I am currently conducting my own independent project under the supervision of my research mentor. My project is being conducted in the same field of research that my POIs are currently working in. Data collection has already been started and planned completion is in early fall.

    2 My Overall GPA is a 3,98. My Psych GPA is 4.0. I received an A- in Spanish this semester. i have taken Abnormal Psych, General Stats, Stats for the Behavioral Sciences, Research Methods, Theories of Personality, Multicultural Counseling, Family Psychology, Theories of Psychotherapy, Child Psych, and Introduction to Clinical Psychology so far. I have a Clinical/Counseling focus within my psychology major.

    3 I have yet to take the GRE but have scheduled it for this coming August.

    4 I go to a small university so I have close student-faculty relationships across the board. I can easily secure three solid recommendation letters simply because of the high level of interaction with others in my department. My research mentor is a former grad student of one of the schools that I am applying to so I feel that this may give me an edge?

    5 I will have given 7 poster presentations by the end of this summer. The three larger conferences I have presented at are APA, APS, and MPA.

    6 I have received a number of grants for research. I'm not sure if this play a role in the application process?

    7 I am getting my clinical experience this summer. I am going to work two days a week at a private in patient facility with a clinical population (schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, schizo affective disorder, etc. I also intend to work at a hotline for sexual assault victims. I have already taken a course through my university that gives me the 40 hour training necessary to do this. I also will be working as a mentor to first generation college students in the fall. Does the duration of my clinical work matter? I will only have clinical experience from this summer and fall at the time of my applications.

    8. I am currently vice president of Psi Chi/Psychology Club and also President and Co Founder of an organization that actively promotes engagement in research across campus.

    9. I am going to be serving as a primary volunteer coordinator for a division of APA (the division that is focused on the area of research I am planning on pursuing in my graduate studies) this summer at the annual conference as well. I feel like this will give me the opportunity to network seeing that the majority of my POIs will be present at this conference. Many of them serve on the board for this division in some way. I have already done some minimal networking at APS. Does it help to put a name to the face before "application season".

    10 I also am a member of APS and APA and a division member within APA. I've heard this shows that you are actually involved and familiar with the field.

    Any input would be much appreciated. I am open to advice and constructive criticism :) My main concern right now is clinical experience and my GREs. I generally don't like standardized testing but I am going to spend my summer studying even more.
  30. Hatusu


    Jun 2, 2013
    Hi guys, I’ve been reading the WAMC thread for a while now, and finally want to post for myself! I would REALLY appreciate any feedback you guys have. I’m planning to apply to a fully funded, research-oriented PhD program in clinical psychology this coming winter.

    I graduated in June 2012 from a top-10 public university with a B.A. in Psychology , summa cum laude and with highest honors.

    Overall GPA: 3.89
    Psychology GPA: 4.0

    GRE Scores

    Verbal: 170(99%)
    Quantitative: 160(81%)
    Analytical: 5.5(96%)
    Psychology: 780(97%)

    Experience: During undergraduate, worked in three different psychology labs(one clinical, two non-clinical) for a total of three school years. I got pretty solid experience in these labs but no poster presentations or publications. :/ Independently of working in these labs, I conducted a psychology honors thesis on a non-clinical psychology topic(cultural/social psychology) and it was judged by a thesis committee, receiving highest honors. I went on to present this research at an undergraduate research conference, although this was not published or presented professionally.

    Currently, I am working full-time in a clinical neuropsychology lab and have been for about a year(will continue to do so for another year). In this job, I’ve gotten very high-quality experience as the lab manager leading a team of RAs, administering clinical interviews, and interacting daily with patients with severe mental disorders.

    Posters: Only 1, second author :oops:
    Presentations: 1 upcoming in September(will present above poster at a national conference).
    Publications: 1 manuscript in prep, but this is not guaranteed to be finished by the time I apply.

    Clinical experience: Worked for 8 months as a co-leader of a social skills group for autistic teenagers.

    Letters of recommendation
    : Two strong (one from a psychiatrist and one from a clinical psychologist) and one decent.

    I want to apply to about 15 different schools, programs of different levels of prestige and research/clinical balance, but probably leaning more heavily towards research, and of course focusing on fit.

    My biggest concerns about my application are: Not a lot of publications or poster presentations for the amount of experience I have, and very broad experience not necessarily specializing in any one topic. Should I be worried? Thoughts?
  31. psychpsychpsych

    psychpsychpsych 2+ Year Member

    Nov 11, 2012
    I think your background in CS will actually be a huge asset to you. A lot of departments need someone with that skillset, especially if you're interested in anything relating to neuroscience. But even outside of that, skill in programming is very helpful. Check out departments like Northwestern Feinberg's CBITs to see what I mean.

    That said, the issue of research experience might get you. How familiar are you with research methods in any field? Is there any way you can relate your work experience to the type of work you'd need to do as a grad student in your department of interest?

    It sounds like your area of interest might be housed in more social psych departments, but you might be able to find faculty in clinical looking at the same thing. You'd have to search around at some programs and see what faculty are looking for. If you don't have any schools in mind right now, you can check out the Insider's Guide to Programs in Clinical and Counseling psych at a bookstore/library/wherever. They have a whole appendix in the back that lists various areas of research interest and what schools house faculty who are studying those things.
  32. mcvcm92

    mcvcm92 2+ Year Member

    Aug 10, 2011
    Hatusu - I think you're in really good shape! Your GPA / GRE scores are impressive, and so is your research experience (even if you don't have that many publications or presentations). You're aiming for top programs so it's obviously uber-competitive, but I think you've done all you can to give yourself a really good chance. Emphasizing a research fit with your POI will clinch the spots for you.... good luck!
  33. Bianco32


    Mar 3, 2013
    I won’t be applying for a while, but I figure I’ll give it a shot. My primary interest is in sport/performance psychology, but will be pursuing a general clinical Ph.d, and will hopefully find a program that has a specialty track in my particular interest or a lab that has this particular focus. As said, I am not applying for a little while and have only done preliminary research on schools, but the University of North Texas looks promising in this regard. I hope for my research in school and eventual career to revolve around current or former professional or collegiate athletes who have suffered traumatic sport injuries and henceforth have issues with performance (if they can still play) or are suffering from clinical disorders as a result. This interest stems from my brother who suffered this same fate.

    Major: Psychology
    Minor: Statistical Methods

    GPA: 3.11
    - Every time that I look at that number it makes me sick. I’m the classic case of not caring
    about my education until I realized what I wanted my career to be and that I will need
    a doctoral education to achieve it. The good news is that there is a significant upward
    trend from freshman year to my graduation. My scarlet letter is a D+ that I received in
    “Psychological Statistics”. I retook the course and received a B+ and went on to receive
    a minor in statistics in addition to an A in research methods. Hopefully that may help the
    situation a little. I understand that I am fighting an uphill battle with this GPA and will not be shooting for the moon when it comes to the schools that I apply to.

    Research Experience:
    - For my senior year I worked as a research assistant in one my professor’s lab that focused on family relations and mood disorders (I’ve found there aren’t many labs that specialize in my specific interest). We did do a lot of work with motivation and performance under stressful situations, which I believe can easily be translated to sport/performance issues. I did all the typical RA work, data entry, survey administration, etc. I did do some unique tasks such as administering sections of the WAIS-IV and collecting saliva samples to measure stress hormones before and after stressful tasks. (Getting a LOR from this advisor)

    - I took a semester long course in which we were tasked with creating a testable hypothesis, and creating a study designed around it. We did all the work that goes into a typical study spanning from initial research and creation of consent forms to the recruiting of participants and eventual creation of a mock journal article. It was an amazing course, but unfortunately has little to nothing to do with my specific interest. (Getting a LOR from this professor)

    - I did not complete a senior thesis or have any sort of publications. However, I have
    presented several posters that were from my own research for various classes. Not sure
    how beneficial that will be.

    - I took the GRE the summer before my senior year when I had a strong focus on my grades. Because of this I did not study for it anywhere near as much as I would have liked to and did average, but not well enough to get me where I want to go. (I forget exact scores as I decided then to take some time off after graduation and retake the test at a later date).
    Obviously I will retake the test.

    - I graduated in May and have since accepted a job working in a large central IRB. The
    studies we receive range from psychology to oncology, however we generally work with
    pharmaceutical trials for these sciences. I manage the company’s database and organize
    and maintain recruitment and study related documentation. I also perform quality control
    checks on them to make sure the IRB appointed changes were made by the investigators.
    It isn’t the traditional way to gain research experience after college, but I do feel that
    I am learning a great deal about the process and the correct ways to make this type of
    documentation. It also pays the bills.

    - During nights and weekends I am going to personal train. This is more of a passion of mine, but I think it will also give me a little experience in the performance/sport psych field. Though not in a clinical sense.

    - Additionally, when I settle down a little bit (IE find a place to live) my lab adviser from
    undergrad has said that I can come back and help him out with his research anytime. (I work about an hour away from where I went to school).

    - This most likely has no bearing at all, but I was the executive vice president of my fraternity(see low GPA) spanning from my sophomore to junior year.

    Well, sorry for the novel, but I figured if I was going to ask I mind as well give you everything. Thanks for any and all advice!
  34. Bianco32


    Mar 3, 2013
    I apologize for the horrible formatting of my above post. I guess this is why we shouldn't do things like this from a phone
  35. samcatg


    Jun 11, 2013
    I am wondering if I can ask for a bit of advice. I am currently a part-time RA for a prestigious research institute. My goal is to apply to a clinical psych graduate program and follow a child track orientation. However, I am currently doing research that focuses on depression in minority populations in adults. Although I have excellent clinical and research experience, and since I am only working part-time, I started looking for other opportunities to obtain experience with children. I am mainly interested in working with minority populations and latino children, my research and clinical interest lies there...
    I have two new part time paid job offers... one is at a therapeutic nursery school affiliated with columbia university where I would work as a teacher assistant (TA). The second position is another RA position assisting in research focusing on head start programs and latino toddlers. I understand that the RA position would strengthen my application incredibly and may help round my research interests i suppose, however, I am so in love with the TA position...
    I was wondering how would clinical phd or psyd programs value the TA position? It would be purely an educational and clinical experience. The director of the nursery said that a lot of her TAs do go on to great clinical programs.. but do clinical programs value a TA as a clinical experience? Would that be ok if I continue my research exposure at my current RA position?

  36. Valshteint

    Valshteint Valshteint

    Apr 22, 2013
    Upon reevaluating my priorities I have expanded my school search both wider geographically and program-wise.

    I would still prefer to be in the northeast (family, friends, and relationships), but realize the need for flexibility. I am also looking at school psych, ed psych, and counseling psych in addition to clinical.

    Some of my previously mentioned targets have been removed and others have been added. I feel as though I have a better grasp of what I am looking for - now I just need to perfect that SOP.

    Thanks all!
  37. absolutmey


    Feb 13, 2013
    Hello. I'm a Senior UG, Psych major, Org Comm minor. Looking to apply to I/O and Social Psych phd programs this fall at:

    Virginia Tech
    NC State
    Duke (social)
    UNC-Chapel Hill (social)

    Cum GPA: 3.88, Psych GPA: 3.89
    Just took my GRE and the scores are the reason I'm posting: Q150/V155. I am worried these scores are too low. I don't have my writing back yet, but I'm not worried that I'll score lower than a 4.5.

    I completed 1 semeseter-long group research project, and two year-long individual research projects - 1 experimental, 1 purely review - both on I/O related topics.
    I have accepted a RA position for this year at UNC-Charlotte in the Social Psych dept. I have presented my research three times - twice at local conferences, once at a regional conference that I applied for.
    I anticipate my letters to be strong. I also have very strong supplemental extra curriculars like Pres of Psi Chi for two years, Honor Council and writing center tutor.

    thanks for your input. I really want to be as competitive as possible and get into a good program.
  38. derekream


    Feb 14, 2013
    Dallas, TX
    I am currently a master's degree student at UT-Dallas studying cognitive neuroscience.

    Here are my stats:

    University of North Texas
    Bachelor of Arts
    Major: Sociology (GPA: 3.75)
    Minor: Psychology (GPA: 3.66)
    Cumulative GPA: 3.3
    UNT GPA: 3.75
    GRE Q: 137
    GRE V: 145
    GRE A/W: 4.5

    I have spent over 14 years a classical musician, I started off my first year in college as a music performance major at New England Conservatory of Music...and my grades sucked then. Over the past 3-4 years, I made sure I kept a solid upward trend where I did great in my major and minor.

    I don't have any research experience, but I am currently in the process of getting a research position at UTSW and at UT-Dallas during my master's program. I am essentially looking for Ph.D. programs in both clinical and counseling psychology...hopefully around the Texas area. Any recommendations (obviously GRE is one of them)?
  39. Mandolin140

    Mandolin140 2+ Year Member

    May 21, 2012
    Going into Senior Undergraduate Year at a State University

    Overall G.P.A.: 3.73
    Major: Psychology
    Minors: Philosophy, Neuroscience, Sociology

    GRE 1
    Quantitative: 152
    Verbal: 160
    Writing: 3.5
    New Total: 312
    Old Range Total: 1260-1280

    GRE 2
    Quantitative; 162
    Verbal: 154
    Writing: 4.5
    New Total: 316
    Old Range Total: 1280-1295

    Practical Experience

    1 Year Suicide Hotline Volunteer
    1 Year Support Tutor to First Year Students
    1 Year Volunteering at Psychology Lab
    Misc. outreach positions for mental health and general peer education

    Poster Acceptances

    1st Author for Undergraduate Conference
    2nd Author for Poster at APA


    Just based on the above, where do I stand relative to admits into 2nd tier clinical programs?
  40. DrClinPsyAdvice

    DrClinPsyAdvice SDN Advisor SDN Advisor 7+ Year Member

    Jan 22, 2008
    Hi all,

    FYI, the following volume has now been made available FOR FREE to all students. Just visit while on a computer connected to the server of any major university. Most all universities have a subscription to Springer's content which lets students download the whole volume for free. Enjoy!

    The Portable Mentor, Second Edition
    Expert Guide to a Successful Career in Psychology
    Editor: Mitchell J. Prinstein

    Part I Applying to Graduate School

    1 Before you Apply to Graduate Programs in Psychology: Knowing When You’re Ready, and Gaining
    Postbaccalaureate Experiences
    Casey D. Calhoun and Mitchell J. Prinstein

    2 Deciding to Apply and Successfully Gaining Admission to Graduate Schools in Psychology
    Mitchell J. Prinstein, Sophie C. Choukas-Bradley, and Karen Guan

    Part II Beginning your Career

    3 The Whys and Hows of the Scientific Path in Applied Psychology
    Steven C. Hayes and Nicholas M. Berens

    4 Advancing Understanding of Cultural Competence, Cultural Sensitivity, and the Effects of Cultural
    Joseph E. Trimble

    5 Developing and Practicing Ethics
    Kenneth S. Pope

    6 Balancing Career and Family
    Paula J. Caplan

    7 Psychologist and Parent: Advice from Professionals in Different Career Tracks
    Vicki DiLillo, Andrea Hussong, Barbara Kamholz, and Elizabeth Richardson

    Part III Your Research/Academic Career

    8 Writing a Literature Review
    Roy F. Baumeister

    9 Presenting Your Research
    Lindsey L. Cohen, Laurie Greco, and Sarah Martin

    10 Publishing Your Research
    Alan E. Kazdin

    11 How to Write an Effective Journal Article Review
    Dennis Drotar, Yelena P. Wu, and Jennifer M. Rohan

    12 Recommendations for Teaching Psychology
    William C. Rando and Leonid Rozenblit

    Part IV Your Career as a Practitioner

    13 Gaining Clinical Experience In and After Graduate School
    Alan D. Katell and Marcy C. Adler

    14 Training to Begin a Private Practice
    Jeffrey E. Barnett and Elizabeth Musewicz

    15 Navigating the Internship Application Process
    Mitchell J. Prinstein

    16 Obtaining a License to Practice Psychology
    Corey J. Habben

    17 Specialty Certi fi cation in Professional Psychology
    Robert D. Hill and Ted Packard

    18 Becoming a Competent and Ethical Clinical Supervisor
    Erica H. Wise and Ellen E. Fitzsimmons-Craft

    Part V Your Professional Service Career

    19 Getting Involved in Professional Organizations: A Gateway to Career Advancement
    Daniel Dodgen, Raymond D. Fowler, and Carol Williams-Nickelson

    20 Advocacy: Advancing Psychology and Public Well-Being
    Christopher W. Loftis

    21 Public Education of Psychology: An Interview with Philip G. Zimbardo, Ph.D.
    Philip G. Zimbardo

    22 Strategies for Successful Interactions with the News Media
    Rhea K. Farberman

    Part VI Your Career After Graduate School

    23 Recommendations for a Postdoctoral Fellowship
    Amy F. Sato, Valerie Simon, Elissa Jelalian, and Anthony Spirito

    24 Applying for NIH Grants
    C.W. Lejuez, Elizabeth K. Reynolds, Will M. Aklin, and Christopher Frueh

    25 The Job Search
    Robert J. Sternberg

    26 Employment and Trends in Psychology
    Jessica L. Kohout and William E. Pate II
  41. thewesternsky

    thewesternsky 10+ Year Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    This is fantastic! Thanks, DrClinPsyAdvice!
  42. Dirkwww

    Dirkwww Post Bach 2+ Year Member

    Apr 15, 2012
    I am on a major university server and still cant seem to access it. Any ideas on ways to get access to this? seems like a great resource i could use.
  43. DrClinPsyAdvice

    DrClinPsyAdvice SDN Advisor SDN Advisor 7+ Year Member

    Jan 22, 2008
    Yes, try looking up the book on your university's library website and there many be a a link to download there. Or, contact someone in the university library and they call tell you how to access "Springer's e-Book collection (2012 BehSci eBook Collection)." You should be able to get it for free!
  44. CalPsych


    Jun 19, 2013
    Here are the top choices in order. I know the order is a bit strange, but there are reasons. More will obviously be applied to than these, but these are the top ten.

    1. UCLA
    2. UC Berkley
    3. University of Pennsylvania
    4. USC
    5. UCSD/SDSU
    6. UCSB (This one is a combined Clinical, Counseling, and School program)
    7. University of Oregon
    8. Northwestern
    9. Boston University
    10. Harvard

    Here are the Stats

    1) UCLA Undergrad: 3.95 Overall; 4.0 Psych

    2) 1 year + stats and research methods

    3) GRE Scores (New scoring): Verbal:158; Quant:154; AW: 5.0

    4) 2 years volunteer work as a crisis intervention counselor for a non-profit sexual assault advocacy group in socal (certified as a ci counselor, but it only required around 50 hours of training to obtain)

    5) Western Psych Association published presentation on sexual assault variances between different sub-cultures.

    Not much research or published works. What are the chances in your opinions?

    Thanks in advance for any observations.
  45. psycscientist

    psycscientist 7+ Year Member

    Feb 1, 2011
    These are very competitive clinical science programs. The chances are slim without a very focused research match plus at least 2 years of good quality research experience and proof of productivity ability (e.g., pubs and posters).
  46. Marissa4usa

    Marissa4usa 10+ Year Member

    Sep 5, 2007
    If you were to apply to any of these programs, your chances likely won't be too great. You have decent, but not great GRE scores. Since all these programs are all extremely research heavy, your clinical experience won't matter and you have very limited research experience. You may have a somewhat better shot at programs that are not as research heavy as these. It also seems like you chose those programs due to location and general prestige as opposed to research match which people will generally strongly advise against.
  47. CalPsych


    Jun 19, 2013
    Thank you and to the last poster as well. I think more research needs to be done, possibly another stab and the gre, and definitely a couple of more years to gain research credibility. Maybe a masters is a better alternative at this point. From what I've seen it looks like these stats will gain entrance into most masters programs. A Ph.D. may just be a little later on down the line. The goal is to teach at the UC level, which won't be possible with a masters, but it may just be another stepping stone. Still have to make a living in the mean time, so maybe a clinical focused masters is a better option. Again, thank you for the advisement.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
  48. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Faculty Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Oct 6, 2006
    The Beach
    Teaching is possible, though teaching at a large research university and teaching at a small liberal arts college require very different backgrounds. A large research university will want you to be a researcher who happens to teach. A small liberal arts college will probably want you to teach more, but then you'll have to do other things to stick around.

    Clinical-focused masters are good if they line up with your path, but it is akin to wanting to live in Italy but you study Spanish instead of Italian. They have a bit of crossover with a more research/stats focused masters, but the essence of the training is quite different. You'll be better served to work at least two years full-time in a research lab or pursue a research/stats focused masters degree, as both make a lot more sense to any of those 10 programs than someone who spent 2-3 yrs in a masters program with a goal of doing therapy.
  49. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist Moderator Psychologist Gold Donor Classifieds Approved 7+ Year Member

    Jan 7, 2010
    Agreed. Most of the programs listed are heavy hitters are far as research (and overall admissions competitiveness) goes, so a full-time RA gig sounds like it'd be the ideal spot for you--it will get you the research experience you'll need in order to garner serious consideration, and will also help you to earn a living in the mean time. Trouble is, if you're in CA (as might be thought based on many of your school choices), those positions could be tough to secure. Certainly worth a look, though, and you could also try reaching out to any professors with whom you established a relationship while in undergrad to see if they might have any leads.
  50. mewtoo

    mewtoo 2+ Year Member

    May 12, 2012
    Since I wrote that recently I just quoted and edited. Edits are bolded.

    I'm starting a experimental psych MA program this fall and am fully funded with a tuition remission and a stipend. Its great, but I still have to take out a lot of loans since the stipend is about half of what one gets in a doctoral program. Because of this and that I want to get the ball rolling and not waste my time in a masters program if I don't have to (especially since most phd programs don't allow many transfers!), I am wondering if I should go ahead and apply this cycle and if I get in leave a year early. My undergraduate mentor said she thinks that's a good idea, but I've heard others are more wary. I tend to give her opinion a bit more authority in this certain situation because she actually went to this exact masters program and expressed concern she didn't think it would be rigorous enough research wise for my liking. I may even be working with the same adviser (not certain yet) so I assume she would tell me if the professor would be angered by this.

    Also of consideration is my relatively low (for psych doctoral programs) GPA and that glaring D in my last semester... I don't know if that will completely doom me and it would be better to stay in the masters program to show I can hack it. Though it is an upper level biology class so they may let in slide more. Another thing to consider, however, is I took a graduate level biopsycholgy class that same semester and made an A in it. I had to write a paper similar to a qual and even defend it (I guess I could mention this in my SOP to drive it home?). So I don't know if that would be proof enough. Also, if they want a writing sample do you think it wise to send something like that (I got a 100 on it and my defense) or keep it to my independent project's manuscript that I wrote about 2 years ago?

    I'm wondering if you think the added awards, plus a few posters that weren't on there yet (and maybe even more I could add while in my first semester of my program), could make a difference in how my apps would turn out. I'm definitely going to overhaul all my written portions of the app, in hindsight I think they may have been a bit weak and I only had one professor look at them.

    For what type of programs I am wanting to go into, I will be applying to clinical balanced or heavy research focused programs and probably some social/health psych programs as well. I'm not so much interested in clinical work, its just my research interests fall in that area. I want to do research at a university or research hospital.

    So basically, should I stay and finish? Should I go (if I get the opportunity)?
  51. fallen625

    fallen625 5+ Year Member

    Oct 8, 2012
    Regarding the GRE, I think you should def. retake. I have a feeling you didn't make it to many interviews because of your Q score, as your GPA is fine and your research experience is excellent. The good news is that math is really easy to raise - I would suggest using the Barron's Math Workbook and the Manhattan Prep Math GRE books (there is 5 of them I believe)

    I think the MA program is a good idea since it is fully funded. Even if you have to take loans for living expenses it shouldn't be that much. Could you also get a research job on the side, perhaps to avoid loans (and the added experience is a bonus)? It would be especially great if you managed to get a 3.8+ GPA to make up for the 3.3 (which is not horrible by any means, but I think below average)

    I think the D by itself shoudn't be horrible - I hear that admissions officers rarely look at transcripts in detail. I wouldn't mention it in your SOP. Speaking of, how was your SOP? Now may be a good time to work on improving it

    PS - do you know anything about which experimental MA programs are funded? I hear some are, but haven't been able to find a list of them. I am thinking of applying to a couple as backup option if I don't get in this cycle.

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