A number of psychology majors continue their education at the graduate level. Students can pursue either a master's level degree (usually a two-year program) or a doctorate (usually a minimum of four years beyond the bachelor's degree). Students can apply for admission to the doctoral program during their senior year of college; they do not need to receive a master's degree before applying to such a program.
Because admission to graduate programs is highly competitive, especially at the Ph.D. level, undergraduate students need to be aware of and work to meet requirements for admission. The overall G.P.A. (especially for the last two years of work) is important. Although specific requirements may vary from program to program, suggested G.P.A.'s are 3.5 for Ph.D. programs and 3.0 for master's programs.
Students wishing to be admitted to doctoral programs should consider minoring in a science, for example, biology, math, or computer science if they can do well in these classes. High grades in these fields make one's application more competitive. Other good minors to consider would be philosophy and writing. Students wishing to pursue clinical or counseling master's level programs may want to consider a minor in social work. Business may be an appropriate minor for those wishing to pursue graduate work in industrial psychology.
To be admitted to graduate programs students also need to take the Graduate Record Exam (similar to the SAT but for graduate school). For Ph.D. programs this should be done no later than the fall of the senior year. Additional information regarding the GRE is available from SLAC and the Testing Center.
Letters of recommendation from faculty members are also factors that are considered in graduate school applications. Doing well in classes and working with faculty members will probably enhance the letters written for you.
For students interested in admission to Ph.D. programs, enrolling in Psy 4395 Individual Study (after completing PSY 3401 Experimental & Research Methods) may be useful. Ph.D. programs emphasize research, and this course provides some relevant research experience with the student's name possibly appearing as a coauthor on a convention presentation or journal article.
Students interested in admission to more applied programs such as a MSW program may want to gain relevant part-time volunteer or job experience to enhance their application.
Students applying for admission to doctoral programs often need to have all of their materials to the university by late January or early February. These universities usually admit students only in the fall semester.
Later application deadlines often apply for master's programs. These programs are more likely to accept students several times during a year.
The APA guide to graduate schools, Graduate Study in Psychology and Associated Fields, is available from the Psychology Office. This book contains application deadlines, minimum requirements for admission, addresses to which to write for more information, and other useful information. Because of the great demand for this book, students may only use it in the psychology office.
The psychology faculty members are additional sources of information. The more people you talk with, the more information you are likely to receive about different programs that may be right for you.