Open Access Tips/Materials for Clinical Psych PhD Applications

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  • General resources for applying
  • GRE preparation
  • Creating a graduate school spreadsheet (plus free template!)
  • Requesting letters of recommendation (plus free email/organization templates!)
  • Reaching out to faculty you’d like to work with (plus free email templates!)
  • Writing a statement of purpose (plus free examples!)
  • Developing your CV (plus free template!)
  • Requesting transcripts
  • Submitting online applications
  • Preparing for interviews (plus free example questions!)
  • Writing thank you emails (plus free email templates!)

General Resources

- I highly recommend this resource: Insider’s Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology


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Grad School Spreadsheet

- Timeline: spring — fall of the year you apply

Letters of Recommendation

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Interest Emails to Faculty

- Timeline: late September — early October of the year you apply

Statement of Purpose

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  • Bonus Tip: Doing a good job with your personal statement = setting yourself up really well for the rest of the application process. Thinking ahead of time about 1) how your interests fit within the lab you’re applying to 2) what sorts of projects you might be interested in pursuing 3) how work history has set you up to be a good researcher, will improve your statement AND your interview skills. When faculty ask these questions, you will have already thought about them a good deal and fleshed them out. It is a lot less daunting to face the question “How do your interests intersect with this lab?” on interviews if you’ve been mulling this from the beginning of the application process
  • Disclosure of lived experience with mental illness in personal statements (updated July 2021): While applying to psychology PhD programs, I received advice from multiple mentors to avoid referencing my desire to be a clinician, my broader desire to “help people”, or any personal or family history of mental illness as part of my rationale for pursuing a career as a clinical scientist. This “focus on the research only” perspective is deeply flawed, stigmatizing, and dehumanizing to the >80% of clinical, counseling, and school psychology faculty and trainees who have experienced mental health difficulties within their lifetime (Victor, Devendorf, Lewis, Rottenburg, Muehlenkamp, Stage, & Miller, 2021). As someone who has lived experience of mental illness myself (who had plenty of very personal reasons for wanting to pursue this particular career path), I followed this advice — and I am not proud to admit that I’ve repeated it to others. Rather than continue to perpetuate this cycle of harm, I’d like to do better; there are many faculty and trainees out there who are actively fighting for a shift in how our field hears and values lived experience with mental illness among psychologists (see Victor, Schleider, Ammerman, Bradford, Devendorf, Gunaydin, Hallion, Kaufman, Lewis, & Stage, 2021 for an overview of considerations related to the disclosure of lived experience). I say all of this to let you know that — if you or someone close to you does have lived experience with mental illness, and this informed your decision to apply to clinical PhD programs — you are not alone. Your experiences matter, and personal connections to this work can be considerable strength. Please don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.


- Timeline: summer — fall the year you apply


- Timeline: early fall (September/October) the year you apply

Online Applications

- Timeline: fall (October — December) the year you apply


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Thank You Emails

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