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Psychology Phd Programs - Preparing for Psychology PhD Programs - Requirements for Entry into Psychology PhD Programs

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Pursuing a PhD graduate program is a big decision in life. It affects both personal life and professional life. In many areas of study, though, a PhD is required before a serious career in the area can be established. This is true of Psychology programs where most career choices require a doctorate at an entry level.

Since Psychology PhD programs are especially important, it is best to go in fully prepared. This includes having a specialty in mind, whether it is a PhD geared toward academia, a PhD in clinical psychology, or one of many others.

Requirements for Entry into Psychology PhD Programs

Graduate school can be extremely competitive. Of course, this depends greatly on the particular school and course track. Although acceptance into the program cannot be guaranteed, a few rules and suggestions can help in the process.

In most cases, psychology PhD programs are looking for those with a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or above. This is not always a determining factor, however, and applicants with a GPA as low as 3.0 have known to be accepted into the program. When it comes to GPA, higher is always better.

Letters of recommendation can be extremely important in getting accepted into a PhD in Psychology program. Schools weigh their importance differently, but for some, the letters are paramount. Impressive letters of recommendation can make up for deficiencies in other areas, such as having a low GPA. It is always best to obtain letters from those who are most familiar with your work and those who can cite specific personal, academic, or professional strengths.

Some PhD programs ask that you complete a Graduate Record Exam (GRE). The GRE exam is much like an SAT. It is composed of verbal, mathematical, and analytic sections. Sometimes an additional section is added to determine knowledge specific to psychology. Some institutions put so much weight on this test, that they have an absolute cutoff score. Those not meeting the cutoff are automatically denied entry.

The next most important part of the application process is the personal statement. A lot of consideration should be given to the personal statement. It should be carefully crafted and revised until it meets standards of perfection. Again, it is up to the school on how much weight it holds. Some go over the statement with a fine-tooth comb while others just give it a glance.

Past research and field work in psychology can be a very important aspect of the personal statement. Some schools require this to be a part of the personal statement and others ask for a separate resume. Strong research project collaboration or practical work experience can make a big difference in being accepted.

Considerations in Applying to PhD Psychology Programs

Several factors are important in deciding when and how to apply for a PhD program in psychology. Some students like to apply right away after they receive their undergraduate diploma. Other students wait for one or more years so that they do not burn out on academia. If taking time off, make that time off look productive. Graduate schools understand that their programs are expensive, and taking time off in order to pay for school is perfectly acceptable. Time off spent jumping from job to job and party to party is frowned upon.

If taking time off before applying to graduate school, look into costs and prepare accordingly. Complete a federal student aid package and get a ballpark figure of what financial aid or scholarships you are eligible for. Even if it appears that you do not have the funds to attend right away, talking to someone in the financial aid office may help you find the resources necessary to make ends meet.

Top Schools for PhD Psychology Programs

Depending on who you ask, Colleges and Universities are ranked differently as to their Doctorate in Psychology programs. The National Research Council (NRC) ranks the top schools as follows:

• Stanford University
• Yale University
• University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
• University of California – Los Angeles
• University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

In contrast, the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) ranks these as the top U.S. schools for a PhD in Psychology:

• University of Pennsylvania
• University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana
• University of Wisconsin – Madison
• Marquette University
• Temple University

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