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Clinical Psychology PhD - Am I competitive?

elimia46elimia46 0 replies1 threads New Member

I am hoping to apply to a PhD in clinical psychology (I am aware of how competitive it is) in Autumn 2020 (expected graduation date is spring 2021). I am a U.S. undergraduate student attending a liberal arts college in Minnesota. Is there anything I can do between now and next year to increase my chances of getting in? Below are my stats, as well as the schools to which I am applying:

Overall GPA: 3.8 (I have one C grade only, in advanced chemistry; the rest are As and Bs)
Psychology Major GPA: 4.0 (All A's)
Double major in Neuroscience and Psychology (B.A.) with minor in Biology and a certificate of Spanish fluency and a certificate in victim's advocacy/crisis counseling

(I have not taken the GRE yet, sorry!)

Research: I have been volunteering as a research assistant since May 2019, and will continue until I graduate. I have one paper with my name added to it that may be published.

Clinical experience: I have shadowed psychiatrists and psychologists two times before, and I work as a 911 dispatcher where I often deal with calls relating to the field, such as cases of suicide. I volunteer occasionally at the children's hospital on the psychiatric ward.

Outside of class involvements: I write for the school newspaper, have an off-campus (above mentioned) and an on-campus job, I am the student president of the University Honors Program, member of the pre-health club, member of Psi-Chi, and I tutor mathematics within the university as a student tutor.

University of Southern California
Boston University
Fordham University
Rutgers University
University of Denver
University of Pittsburgh
University of Vermont
University of Utah
University of Rhode Island
University of Washington
Clark University
Stony Brook University
University of British Columbia
University of Toronto-Scarborough

I should also mention that I am graduating in three years. I am on a full scholarship, but because the university continues to raise the tuition, I cannot afford to attend at the undergraduate level for an extra year, but I will have completed all requirements for my majors, minors, and certificates by 2021 spring.

Thank you so much for your help!
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Replies to: Clinical Psychology PhD - Am I competitive?

  • juilletjuillet 12708 replies162 threads Super Moderator
    Hey there. My PhD in in psychology; it is not in clinical, but I've had many colleagues and classmates go into clinical psychology. I'd say that you are a bit below average in applicants, but that is mostly because you are graduating in three years.

    Your GPA is great, especially your major GPA. As long as you get at least a 155 (160+ is better) on both sections of the GRE, you will probably be fine there.

    Where you come up a little short, though, is with research and clinical experience. Top clinical applicants usually have at least one year of research experience by time of application (so the most competitive applicants have usually started research experience by the beginning of their junior year in college at the latest). Frequently, they have 2-3 or more. Many clinical applicants these days are taking a year or two off after college to work as research assistants/associates or lab managers, so they have more experience under their belt. So most of the most competitive applicants you'll be up against will average probably around 2-4 years of research experience.

    Having a paper is good, though.

    Similarly with clinical experience; most competitive clinical applicants have an ongoing regular shadowing/volunteer experience. This is really more variable, especially since many of the programs you selected are clinical science programs which will value the research more highly. You also have the 911 operator experience, which I think will add some weight there. But those scientist-practitioner programs towards the middle of your list, especially, like to see this.

    The other really important thing is research fit - so knowing what kind of research you want to do and making sure that there are advisors in the departments doing similar kinds of research. You can be a top student and still not be admitted to a department because of your research interests.

    I'd apply with a solid Plan B - looking for lab manager or other research positions you can take after college, or perhaps getting an MA in psychology (although you don't really need it - you just need the research experience.)
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  • cypresspatcypresspat 520 replies11 threads Member
    Julliet gives great advice. A PhD in clinical psych is primarily a research degree. So those with research experience are favored. My husband is a clinical psychologist and supervises many interns. He would tell you to amp up the ‘hard science’ part of your coursework (advanced bio, chemistry, physics) and definitely take as much stats as you can. The hard core research labs are multidisciplinary. Those with broad core science backgrounds are favored for that reason. In grad school we had to figure out how to build an automated machine to feed monkeys applesauce. Computer programming and physics background helped there.
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