I’m currently a rising junior undergrad at Northwestern University, but I’m thinking of applying to Psych PhD programs this fall because I’m graduating a year early, so I’m graduating Spring 2024. I’m interested in clinical child psych because I am intrigued by the research in the clinical field, but I’m not interested in doing practice, so I’m trying to look for some top 50 programs that will allow me to have a more research/academia focus on child clinical psychology without being a clinical psych PhD.
I just have a lot of questions about this entire process, though. I used to be a biology/psychology double major pre-med up until the end of sophomore fall quarter, so my GPA up until then is not that great because of chem and orgo. However, starting sophomore winter, my GPA increased a lot, and I went from a 3.207 to a 3.454 in three quarters. I know this still isn’t that high for a psych PhD, so that’s what I’m most nervous about. My strong suit is my research experience – in freshman year I have my name on a publication with an oncology clinical lab, and then starting sophomore fall, I started working at two different psych labs. One of them is a developmental psych lab working with infants that I’ve worked at for about 8-10 hours a week, and I won two grants for the lab, have a poster presentation coming soon, have my own independent project I’m working on, and am working on my senior thesis for said project with my PI (which unfortunately will probably not be published before the time that I am applying to programs, let alone be finished for submission). My PI is also very established in the psychology field with lots of prestigious awards for their research, so I’m confident in their LOC. My other lab is online at a big children’s hospital in Chicago for adolescent clinical/health psychology, where I work about 6-8 hours a week. This one is a bit less hands on/independent studying than the baby lab, so I don’t have any independent projects I’m working on right now, but I am getting exposure to and experience for working in a clinical setting, and I’m working with two clinical psychologist PIs, so all in all, I have 3 professors for LOCs.
I’m not sure if I should make the time investment to take the GREs or not. My quant scores are pretty high pre-studying (162), so I’m not that worried for it if I do study for 1-2 months before taking it, but my verbal score is fairly low (150). My reasoning for taking the GREs even though none of the programs I’m applying to require it is because I thought it could make up for my lower GPA.
I know that I probably don’t have that amazing of a chance of admission into top programs for clinical psych PhDs straight out of undergrad, but I was originally planning to take a gap year or two working as a research coordinator first and then apply, but then thought to myself about the very small and slight possibility of getting in this round, and just decided to take this chance to avoid falling into the trap of thinking about ‘what ifs’ later on. I’m definitely going to try really hard this round, but if i don’t get in this round, I won’t be too disappointed and will just gain more research experience the next 1-2 years and then apply again next cycle as originally planned.
I’m not sure exactly where I’m going with this, but I guess I wanted to ask four things:
- Do you think it’s worth the time and monetary investment in studying for the GREs and submitting scores?
- I’m genuinely not really sure where exactly I stand with my chances. I’m not asking for a chance-me, but I really want some harsh reality checks on how everything looks from an unbiased perspective, because when I talk about this to close friends or family or even my mentors, they say they think I have a pretty fair chance, but I cannot tell if I actually do but it’s my imposter syndrome playing with my head and making me lose motivation, or if I really don’t have a chance at all but they’re just being nice. I just want to know if people think this is worth the time and monetary investment to take this chance.
- Although I believe my research experience to be my strong suit, I’m worried that when I’m applying this round, my thesis will definitely not have been submitted, and the one publication I do have, I am practically author # 7 and it’s in a clinical oncology lab instead of anything psychology related… Will this affect things greatly?
- If I’m not interested in doing practice, but i really want to do research and teach in the future about child clinical psychology/child psychopathology, do I really have to go the clinical psych PhD route when it’s so much harder to get accepted into? Are there any other fields of psych PhDs that anyone knows of that I can do this kind of research without having to do practice, or does anyone have any recommendations or resources?