Graduate School Advice

Most careers in psychology require either a Master's or Doctoral Degree. See list of sample occupations on the psychology web site in the undergraduate section.

If you plan to attend graduate school immediately after graduation, you may need to apply as early as the fall of your senior year.

Three letters of recommendation (occasionally four) from professors are required for admission to graduate school.

The best way to earn strong letters of recommendation and prepare for graduate school is to participate in Directed Individual Study (DIS) as a research assistant in one or more of the department's research labs. Also consider conducting an Honor's Thesis. The amount and type of research experience that is recommended depends on your career goals.

Volunteer work can strengthen your application to graduate school. The type of volunteering that will best prepare you depends on your career goals. For volunteer ideas, see the undergraduate section of the psychology web site, but use your creativity to find others that are relevant to your career goals.

Most graduate schools require the GRE exam (similar to SAT). Some schools also require the Psychology GRE. Studying for the GRE is urged. We recommend that you take it 6 months prior to when applications are due in case you need to study and retake it to get a better score.

A 3.0 GPA is the minimum required for admission to graduate school in psychology while a 3.5 or above is generally required for the more competitive programs.

Begin building your application and resume well before the fall of your senior year because graduate school applications often are due almost a year before you start grad school. Thus, DIS and volunteering should start by the beginning of your junior year at the latest.

If you are uncertain about what career path you wish to pursue, we recommend taking Careers in Psychology (PSY 2023), a one-hour pass/fail course offered in the fall and spring.

Career and graduate school advisement can be obtained from the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Mike Kaschak. Many other faculty members are happy to provide advisement, particularly in their areas of expertise. When you work in a research lab, the professor and graduate students in the lab are good sources of information on graduate school and careers.

Writing a statement of purpose: Check out this link that provides some suggestions of what NOT to include in your statement of purpose. It is from a blog written by a professor, and there is some useful discussion after the initial blog post which gives some excellent advice that applies to all scientific fields, including psychology. It also applies to more applied graduate programs, such as Mental Health Counseling or Performance Management, etc. Different people will give different advice on how to write your statement, so you should seek input from different professors and grad students. As a general rule, it is recommended that the statement of purpose should only briefly indicate how you got interested in the field to which you are applying, particularly if your interest began at a young age. The primary focus of the statement should be on how you went about preparing yourself for graduate/professional school. Your statement will overlap with your vita/resume, and should provide a compelling narrative to show how you are developing into a young professional. It should not just be a list of things you did, as would be found in a vita or resume, and you should describe your research and applied experiences in more detail than you would in a vita/resume. Also, for apprenticeship programs (where students are accepted to work in the lab of a particular professor), indicate why and with whom you wish to work with at that university. It is probably just fine to indicate more than one person, as long as you don't list more than 2 or 3.