Most people don’t know what to focus on when they apply to Clinical Psychology Graduate programs. I am listing seven things to focus on when choosing what program to apply to.
1. Research Match
Graduate school is an apprenticeship and your mentor can make or break your graduate experience. You must work with someone who will allow you to work on a topic you are passionate about. In other words, there must be a research match. Once you figure out what you want to research, buy this book and start looking for names.
If you don’t know what interests you, try to figure it out in the next two months by reading as many journal articles as you can.
2. Your Mentor’s Working Style
You also want to work with who has a compatible working style with yours. Although this may be hard to tell through emails, there are always hints. One of the potential mentors that I contacted had her graduate students reply to her emails for her. I later found out that she was very hands off and generally unavailable. When you email your professor, ask if you can talk to a graduate student. You cant then ask graduate students about your potential mentor’s working style.
3. Student Productivity Track Record
If you are interested in a research career, check your mentor’s students productivity track record. Examine the CV of your potential graduate mentor, as many have a * by graduate students names in their publications. If you can’t find the CV of your mentor online, search Pubmed/PsychINFO/Google Scholar for your mentor’s graduate student names and check out their productivity.
4. Internship Match Rates
The APA internship match rate needs to be higher than the national average, and the higher it is the better. It is crucial to match at an APA accredited site after graduation. You will not be able to work at some of the best paying psychology jobs (veteran affairs hospitals, medical schools) unless you have done an APA accredited internship.
5. Graduate Funding
I only recommend applying to fully funded programs. You do not want to take out debt for your Clinical Psychology PhD, as it will likely not pay off. You absolutely do not want your total debt level (over the 5 years or so that you are in the program) to be more than your starting salary. Make sure the programs you apply to are fully funded. Check out funding levels here.
6. Accreditation Status
This should go without saying, but absolutely do not apply to unaccredited programs. Going to an unaccredited program will severely limit your career.
Location is important on many different levels. You want to go somewhere where you will be happy. If you are married, you only want to apply to places where it will be easy for your spouse to get a job. You also want to avoid expensive cities if possible ($20,000 is NOT enough to survive in NYC). If you want to be a clinician, you want to apply to cities where you will have good practicum opportunities.