gene_halpert

5+ Year Member
Feb 25, 2016
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Hi all,

I’m applying to funded PhD clinical and counseling psych programs this cycle. I don’t have a degree in psychology or otherwise traditional background, so I was planning on taking the psych GRE to demonstrate my knowledge. Unfortunately ETS has canceled all GRE subject tests until Spring so that is no longer an option.

Any other ideas here? Some programs allow for a writing sample, could it be useful to write a paper on a psychological phenomenon/theory relevant to my current work and submit that?

Any ideas appreciated.
 

conky124

5+ Year Member
Feb 18, 2015
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Did you take any upper level psych classes where you had to write a research paper on a topic? You could clean one of those up and use it as a writing sample. If you are going to write something, I think it would be better to try to make it focused on research/empirical literature rather than theory alone. Also, if you have taken the prerequisite courses for the program you are applying to I don't think you'd necessarily have to make up for anything. These programs take people from all kinds of backgrounds and care more about your potential to consume, critique, and produce scientific literature.
 
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Dazen

2+ Year Member
Nov 14, 2018
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I'd also love any suggestions y'all have on this. I am finishing up my basic psych classes so I meet the minimum standards for applying, but was hoping to use the Psych GRE to demonstrate additional competence. Is this going to be a hindrance for those of us not coming from a psych background?
 

Dazen

2+ Year Member
Nov 14, 2018
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define not a psych background?
I studied engineering as an undergrad and all of my research experience is some variety of mathematical modeling/statistics of qualitative systems. I currently work in wilderness therapy, so I have significant experience with my population of interest, but don't have the traditional academic/research experience. I will have all my basic course requirements.
 

summerbabe

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Nov 22, 2016
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  1. Psychologist
These programs take people from all kinds of backgrounds and care more about your potential to consume, critique, and produce scientific literature.
This rings really true for me as well. While I'm not faculty and don't have direct exposure to the admissions process, I did participate in the interview processes for my program/lab. Some candidates with stellar stats or other successful background factors would not receive offers due to poor research fit (e.g., not enough research experience/scholarship produced compared to other applicants, lots of research experience but poor fit with POI's research program) or poor fit with the program in general.

And the Psych GRE doesn't seem to be widely required at funded program AFAIK, which I think speaks to its overall importance in the admission process. Plus, you'll be taking a broad range of content courses like theories, developmental, multicultural, stats, etc while in grad school to shore up any potential knowledge gaps.

I don’t have a degree in psychology or otherwise traditional background, so I was planning on taking the psych GRE to demonstrate my knowledge.
That in itself is not a limitation (I also didn't come from a 'traditional' psych undergrad background).

More importantly, how do you think you compare to other applicants at the schools you're looking at? What type of research experience do you have? Any posters/pubs? Will you have a strong LOR from a tenured/tenure track PhD with an active research program?

If your answer is 'no' to some/a lot of these questions, then unfortunately, I don't think the Psych GRE is going to put your application over and you may need some additional prep before being competitive for a funded PhD.
 
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gene_halpert

5+ Year Member
Feb 25, 2016
26
10
Thanks, appreciate the time you took to post this. It’s relieving. My primary reason for thinking the psych GRE would be useful is that a few of the programs I plan on applying to specifically suggest taking it if one doesn’t have an undergraduate degree in psychology.

My guess is they will understand the situation and judge me on my other qualifications - I am fortunate to have done well on the General GRE (170V, 161Q) and have several pubs/posters (though not all in psych). Thanks again.
 

summerbabe

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Nov 22, 2016
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My guess is they will understand the situation and judge me on my other qualifications
With many programs shifting to virtual/partial virtual education this year, I also think they will be understanding. You can also send a brief email to the training director upon submitting your application indicating that you were unable to take the Psych GRE due to ETS.

Ultimately, it's a crapshoot, regardless of how competitive you are. There were times when my lab got flooded with quality applicants but also one admission cycle when my POI didn't make a single admission offer due to lower than normal applications and poor fit following the interview process.

I also know a number of excellent peers/colleagues who didn't receive an offer their first time applying and I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't primarily factors outside of their control that contributed to these decisions. Good luck navigating the process!
 
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