1 Becoming a Counseling or Clinical Psychologist: Tips for Admission to Graduate School S T U D E N T A F F I L I A T E S S E V E N T E E N ( S A S ) H T T P : / / W W W. D I V 1 7. O R G / S A S / U N I V E R S I T Y A T A L B A N Y N O V E M B E R,
2 Graduate School: Today s Topics How to choose the type of degree to seek Master s degree vs. doctoral level degree Very brief comparison of each How to prepare to apply for graduate school in psychology Materials you will need Steps you will need to take
3 Master s Level or Doctoral Program? Master s About 1.5 to 2 years full-time May be able to complete part-time, but usually full-time Scope of practice is more focused (e.g., you may be trained in therapy but not research or assessment). Admission rates are much higher than for doctoral programs GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and GPA do not need to be as high Some master s programs are designed to prepare you for doctoral-level programs, whereas others are designed to prepare you to work immediately upon graduation. Make sure the goals of the program fit your goals! Source: Gelso & Fretz (2001)
4 Master s Level or Doctoral Program? Doctoral-Level Usually at least 5-6 years (Ph.D.) or 4-5 years (Psy.D.) Need higher GPA and GRE scores for admission than for master s programs More independence and opportunities e.g., assessment, teaching, research, consulting More opportunity for leadership positions Higher salary post-degree Need doctoral-level degree to become a licensed psychologist Can conduct therapy with an appropriate master s degree (and licensure). Will be credentialed as a counselor or therapist rather than a psychologist. Source: Gelso & Fretz (2001)
5 Types of Doctoral Degrees For Counseling Psychology, a Ph.D. is most typical A few programs offer the Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) or Psy.D. For Clinical Psychology, Ph.D. or Psy.D. (Doctorate of Psychology) is most typical Psy. D. is not common in Counseling Psychology Source: Gelso & Fretz, 2001
6 Types of Doctoral Degrees What is a Psy.D.? Practice-oriented Unlike in most Ph.D. programs, learning to conduct research is not typically a focus Usually about a year less to complete than a Ph.D. Because there is less research, you are less likely to get funded as a graduate student Consequentially, the average debt upon graduation is much higher If you want to eventually be a faculty member or conduct research, a Ph.D. may be a better option. However, if you are interested solely in practice, you may want to consider a Psy.D. degree.
7 Admissions Average number of applications to clinical doctoral programs (270) is higher than counseling psychology doctoral programs (130), but acceptance rates are similar: 6 to 8% (Norcross, 2000) Clinical 9%; Counseling -10% (APA, 2010a) Of those accepted (Norcross, 2000): Two thirds are women Ethnic minorities: Counseling - 25% vs. Clinical 18% Two thirds baccalaureate level and one third masters level
8 Admissions It helps to have majored in psychology as an undergraduate You may gain admission to a graduate program without having majored in psychology, but you typically still need to have taken a substantial number of psychology credits Depends on each particular program If you earn a Master s degree, some of the credits can be used to fulfill the prerequisites of a doctoral degree Advanced Standing Practicum and internship credits typically will not be waived
9 What You Need to Apply to Graduate School in Psychology Each of the following is needed to apply to graduate school and will be discussed in the following slides GRE Score Report Copies of Academic Transcripts Research Experience Curriculum Vitae Letters of Recommendation Personal Statement Extracurricular/Leadership Activities Application for Admission
10 Graduate Record Examination (GRE) GRE General Test Test of general ability Computer based Kind of like the SAT or ACT, but for graduate school Required virtually all doctoral programs and many Master s programs Three Sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Analytical Writing Be sure to take the GRE as early as possible, long before your graduate school applications are due Can take several weeks to receive GRE results Visit the GRE webpage for more Information
11 Major Changes for GRE General Test Test underwent major changes in August 2011 Still has same three sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Analytical Writing New types of questions Scores are not on the same scale as the previous GRE test Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores now range from (one point increments) instead of (1o point increments) Analytical Writing scores still range from 0 to 6 Score conversion charts are available on GRE website:
12 Major Changes for GRE General Test Be sure to buy a study guide that reflects the new format! If you recently took the old test, it will still be valid (schools will be provided with conversion tables by ETS). For more information about the changes, visit Bear in mind that many of the numbers provided in this presentation are based on the old version of the GRE Sufficient data is not yet available on the new GRE
13 GRE General Test Scores Needed For Doctoral Program: Depends on each program, but typically a combined score (verbal + quantitative) of at least is required. Higher for some programs. GRE scores of students in clinical and counseling psychology doctoral programs Mean 1248 (Norcross, 2000) Average GRE Score in clinical psychology is slightly higher than in counseling psychology Median 1219 (APA, 2010b) Scores Needed for Master s Program: May need combined verbal/quantitative score of at least 1000 For some programs, not required
14 GRE General Test Cost: ~$160 Preparation: Classes (check with your school, search online) Buy a preparation book Kaplan, Princeton Review, and Barron s all offer GRE study guides Hire a tutor Take practice exams Be sure to begin studying early!
15 GRE Subject Test GRE Psychology Subject Test Separate from the GRE General Test Tests knowledge specific to psychology Cost: ~$140 Unlike the GRE General Tests, the subject test is only offered a few times throughout the year Be sure to plan in advance! Many programs do not require the psychology subject test Check the admission requirements for each program to which you are applying For more information, visit the Subject Test section of the GRE website:
16 Academic Transcripts & GPA Doctoral Programs: Need undergraduate GPA of at least around 3.5 to be competitive (Gelso & Fretz, 2001). Average minimum undergraduate GPA needed to be considered for admission to a psychology doctoral program, as rated by doctoral programs (APA, 2010b): Overall GPA: 3.06; Psychology GPA: 3.13 Average undergraduate GPA of students in clinical and counseling psychology doctoral programs (Norcross, 2000): Overall GPA: 3.5 ; Psychology GPA: 3.7 Median undergraduate GPA of students in psychology doctoral programs (APA, 2010b): Overall GPA: 3.56; Psychology GPA: 3.69
17 Academic Transcripts & GPA Master s Programs: Undergraduate GPA: Minimum of at least approximately 3.0 (Gelso & Fretz, 2001). Average undergraduate GPA of students in Master s programs (APA, 2010b): Overall GPA: 3.4; Psychology GPA: 3.48 Academic Transcripts (cont.) Visit registrar s office of your undergraduate school to have official transcripts sent to each graduate program to which you are applying Prepare to pay a fee for each transcript sent
18 Research Experience Research Experience Important for admission to many Ph.D. programs Some programs value research experience more than others Get involved with professors on their research as early as you can Work on your own research projects, if possible Try to present at national, regional, and local conferences Any publications are very helpful
19 Curriculum Vitae (CV) Detailed, autobiographical summary Like a résumé, but typically much longer Commonly used when applying for academic or research positions Very important, as this is where your qualifications are conveyed Typical sections for a psychology CV may include Educational history Clinical experience Teaching experience Research experience Publications/presentations Awards, honors, and memberships
20 Curriculum Vitae (CV) Want your CV to be neat and well-organized, but not flashy Be sure to proofread your CV many times over Spelling or grammatical mistakes create a bad impression Can take on many different forms People have differing opinions as to what makes a good CV Be sure to be truthful and not to pad your CV Search the web for resources on constructing a CV Have faculty members help you as well Helpful Guides: Landrum, The Curriculum Vita: A Student s Guide to Preparation D. Gard, Writing Your CV
21 Letters of Recommendation Doctoral programs will typically require 3-4 letters of recommendation Usually written by your professors (preferred by many programs) May also be able to include a letter from a supervisor in a clinical setting Check the application requirements for each program to which you are applying in order to ensure that you are requesting letters of recommendation from appropriate individuals One of the most important aspects of your application! Graduate programs typically place a greater emphasis on letters of recommendation than any other part of your application (Norcross, Kohout, & Wicherski, 2006).
22 Letters of Recommendation The best way to earn a good letter of recommendation is to be a good student Try to form relationships with faculty members e.g., work with professors on research, show an investment in your training Be sure to ask for the letters of recommendation weeks (or even months) in advance Asking for a letter at the last minute may result in a poorlywritten letter Do not be afraid to ask professors if they believe they can write you a good letter of recommendation!
23 Letters of Recommendation Make the process as easy as possible for the letter writers Otherwise, your letter writers may decline to write the letter, or the quality of the letter may be compromised Keep in mind that professors are not required to write you a letter of recommendation Be sure you are courteous and thankful Provide information such as relevant classes taken, career goals, clinical and research experience, etc. Can be helpful to provide the writers with a copy of your CV Waive your right to see the letter Graduate programs will hold these letters in higher regard
24 Letters of Recommendation Be organized and provide explicit written instructions for each letter of recommendation e.g., How is each letter to be submitted? Should they be mailed or is electronic submission used? Should the letters be directly mailed to the school or returned to you? What is the name of each school and program to which you are applying? By when does each letter need to be completed? Be sure to provide the name, title, and mailing address of the person to whom each letter should be addressed If letters need to be mailed, you may want to provide a self-addressed stamped envelope for each letter. Check with each letter writer to learn his/her preferences Check with each school to be sure your letters of recommendation have been received
25 Personal Statement Personal Statement Also known as the admissions essay or statement of purpose One of the most important aspects of your application (Norcross, Kohout, & Wicherski, 2006). May cover your background information, reasons for applying to graduate school in psychology, why you are applying to a particular program, your career goals Relatively short: typically 1-3 pages maximum (check admission requirements for each school to see if there is a required length)
26 Personal Statement The following information is derived from: Sleigh (2009): Organizing your personal statement: An outline to get you started. ichi09.pdf Visit this site for an excellent guide on preparing your personal statement Your personal statement should include: Academic Accomplishments Research Experience Employment/Volunteer Work/Clinical Experience Future Plans/Goodness of Fit
27 Personal Statement There are many good resources on the web providing advice and guidance on preparing personal statements General Guidelines: Go through several drafts continually work to improve your personal statement Proofread! Avoid cliché statements Your interests and goals should relate to those of the program Cater each essay to the particular program to which you are applying May also want to cater essay to the faculty member with whom you would like to work
28 Personal Statement General Guidelines (cont.): Be sure to explain why the field is a good fit for you, as well as why the particular program is a good fit For more guidelines on writing personal statements, visit the OWL at Purdue s Website Section on Writing Personal Statements Advice from SUNY Plattsburgh on writing personal statements: Personal Statements
29 Clinical Experience and Extracurricular Activities Work Experience or Clinically-related Experience Importance depends on the program For doctoral programs, other application components may be more important Extracurricular and Leadership Activities These can help build your vitae, but are usually not as important as other factors in gaining acceptance to a program (Norcross, Kohout, & Wicherski, 2006). GPA, Personal Statement, Letters of Recommendation, GRE scores, and Research Experience (for a Ph.D. program) should be more of a focus
30 Other Considerations Complete graduate school application for each program Can expect to pay at least $35-75 per application Hidden Requirements and Recommendations Search the websites for each program Be sure to set aside funds for travel costs for interviews Better to interview in-person if possible, as opposed to phone interviews Be prepared for the interviews!
31 Additional Tips Apply to as many programs as possible Personally, I would recommend programs Have a back-up plan If you are applying to Ph.D. programs, and do not gain admission, then what? May want to apply to Master s programs as well The application process can be grueling Try not to overload yourself during your senior year, as you will be busy applying and interviewing
32 Additional Tips Do not forget to schedule in self-care Still need to have fun! Make sure programs are APA-accredited! Due to the internship crisis, it is essential to consider a program s internship match rate before deciding to attend!
33 Additional Tips Consider: What do you do if you are not accepted? What do you do if you get an interview? Take the time to decide which programs truly match your interests and goals Educate yourself Enjoy the journey
34 Additional Resources Books: Graduate Study in Psychology, by the APA Getting In: A Step-by-Step Plan for Gaining Admission to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology, by the APA. Insider s Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology, by Sayette, Mayne, and Norcross.
35 Additional Resources Articles: Graduate Admissions in Psychology: I. The Application Process, by Norcross, Kohout, & Wicherski Graduate Admissions in Psychology: II. Acceptance Rates and Financial Considerations, by Norcross, Kohout, & Wicherski APA s 2009 Doctorate Employment Survey Has average salaries, level of debt upon graduation, and a plethora of other great information. Search for other articles in Eye on Psi Chi or elsewhere on the web
36 References American Psychological Association (2010a) Graduate Study in Psychology Snapshot: Applications, Acceptances, Enrollments, and Degrees Awarded to Master s- and Doctoral-Level Students in U.S. and Canadian Graduate Departments of Psychology: Retrieved October 20, 2011 from American Psychological Asssociation (2010b). Test Scores and Requirements for Master s and Doctoral Students in U.S. and Canadian Graduate Departments of Psychology: Retrieved November 16, 2011 from
37 References Gelso, C., & Fretz, B. (2001). Counseling psychology (2 nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Norcross, J. C. (2000, Fall). Clinical psychology vs. counseling psychology: What s the diff? Eye on Psi Chi, 5(1), Norcross J. C., Kohout, J. L., & Wicherski, M. (2006, Winter). Graduate admissions in psychology: I. The admissions process. Eye on Psi Chi, 10(2), 28-29, Sleigh, M. (2009). Organizing your personal statement: An outline to get you started. Eye on Psi Chi, 13(4), 17-19
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