Questions to Consider When Applying to Graduate School

Preliminary questions to consider

  • Geography:
    • Are you willing to relocate?
  • Financial:
    • Are strictly applying to fully-funded programs?
    • If not, are you willing to take on loans?
  • Degrees:
    • Are your career interests better suited for a Ph.D. or Psy.D. program?
  • Time to completion:
    • How long are you willing to devote to graduate training?
    • What is the average time to completion in various programs?
  • Curriculum vitae
    • How does your undergraduate grade point average compare to the mean of accepted students in programs of interest?
    • How do your GRE scores compare to the mean of accepted students in programs of interest?
    • Have you demonstrated clinical/research experience (e.g., volunteering in mental health settings, participation in a lab, poster presentations, publications)?
  • Recommendations
    • Who might be willing to write recommendations on your behalf?

The process timeline

Preparing (Winter-Spring)

  1. Identify doctoral programs in clinical psychology with a focus in neuropsychology.
    • Track application requirements and due dates for programs of interest in a spreadsheet (e.g., GRE requirements [psychology GRE?], prerequisite coursework, letters of recommendations, date applications are due)
  2. Identify mentors with similar research/clinical interests (e.g., aging/dementias, movement disorders, traumatic brain injury, etc.).
    • Potentially reach out to mentors via e-mail to determine whether they will be accepting students in the upcoming year.

Applying (Summer-Fall)

  1. Applications are generally due in late November / early December.
  2. Register and complete the GRE and ensure scores are sent to programs of interest.
  3. Identify and contact 2-3 individuals willing to write recommendations and provide them with information on completing the task.
  4. Begin writing and revising personal statements and updating your C.V.
    • Contact prior undergraduate and graduate institutions to ensure official transcripts are sent to programs of interest.

Deciding (Winter-Spring)

  1. Programs generally invite select applicants to interview and inform them in January/February.
    • Interviewing is a multi-step process at some programs (i.e., phone interview à in-person interview).
    • Prepare a budget for costs associated with interviewing (e.g., travel, lodging, business dress, etc.).
    • Maintain a calendar with interview dates to avoid conflicts.
  2. Following interviews, check with the program director to learn when acceptances will be shared with applicants.
    • Rank your preferences for various programs.
  3. Often, programs create rank-order lists for applicants and the applicant at the top of the list is offered acceptance first.
    • As such, if you receive an acceptance from a program, it is advisable to accept it in a timely manner if it is your first choice.
    • Alternatively, if you receive an acceptance from a program that is not your first choice, you may want to contact your first-choice program to inquire as to the likelihood you will be offered acceptance, or if you will likely be waitlisted.
  4. In the event you do not receive any offers of acceptance, it may be worthwhile to contact programs to inquire as to areas of your application that you can improve prior to subsequent applications. Check out the "Now What?" FAQ with input from NAN professional members on this topic.