If you want to work as a Psychologist in some capacity, you should plan on continuing study in graduate school. Many universities offer graduate degrees in clinical, counseling, developmental, educational, and industrial psychology. A smaller number provide degrees in such specialties as sports psychology and forensic psychology. You will encounter plenty of tips as you review advice on getting into graduate
Here is a sample:
Seek out opportunities for research
experience. Talk to the professors about ways you might help with their
Get involved in extracurricular
activities that are related to psychology such as psychology club.
Get to know your professors and do
well in their classes. You will need 2 or 3 of them to write letters of
recommendation for you dealing with your chances of success in graduate study.
Purchase one of the books on
preparation of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE ). Also, pick up a copy of
a book on the Advanced Test in Psychology. Use the summer before your senior
year to prepare for these tests (which you will take the next fall).
When you select your classes
each semester, keep in mind that a strong foundation in methodology
(statistics, measurement, research methods) will give you an advantage during
For information on specific
graduate programs, start with the APA book, Graduate Study in Psychology. The
subject index at the back lists programs by specialty.
APPLYING TO GRADUATE SCHOOL: STRATEGIES AND TIME-LINE
The following schedule is directed to students who plan to begin graduate school in September. If you are seeking admission in January, you will need to adjust the schedule.
- Students at TCS should complete Introduction to Psychology (PSY 101), which is required of all psychology majors. Begin inquiring about doing research with a professor and join psychology club.
- Complete required courses and begin working on your psychology electives. Choose your electives wisely- you want to find electives that will fit with your future educational and occupational plans. Graduate schools will look especially closely at your grades in Statistics and Experimental Psychology, so you will want to do very well in these courses. You can also enhance your application by completing a research project. You will do one in Experimental Psychology; however, doing some independent research with a professor leading to presentation of the work at a conference is extremely valuable. This opportunity will be offered by our department.
Since Statistics and Experimental Psychology are sequenced, TCS students should make sure to take Statistics in the fall of the junior year so Experimental Psychology can be taken in the spring of the junior year. These courses will help you improve your analytical reasoning abilities. Remember that graduate schools will be evaluating your transcript in January and February of your senior year so they won't know about your work in the fall and spring semesters of your senior year.
- Plan to take one or more courses with professors from whom you will want recommendation by the fall term of your senior year. Also, take time to talk with them outside of class so they can get to know you. This will ensure that they will be familiar with you and your work before they write letters (typically during the fall of your senior year). You will usually need letters of recommendation from three faculty members.
- Make sure that by now you are working on some research with a professor and you are part of psychology club so that you can list this on your application materials.
- Read about selected occupations in the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) published every two years by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. This book is a comprehensive guide to occupations. It includes job descriptions, education and training requirements, salaries, advancement possibilities, and employment outlooks for 250 occupations. Go to the index at the back of the OOH and look up the page references for the occupations you are interested in--e.g., psychologist, social worker, counselor. Note the titles of related jobs listed at the end of each occupational description, find these job titles in the index, and then read about them. Reading the OOH can give you easy access to a great deal of information about a wide range of jobs in a short period of time. This experience will help you clarify your career interests and inform you about the graduate educational requirements necessary for specific careers.
- Begin to seriously reflect on the areas in psychology that most interest you. When you apply to graduate school, you must apply to programs in specific areas (clinical, developmental, experimental, social, etc.) so you will need to be clear about your focus.
- Begin researching graduate schools you might consider attending. Review all the possible programs in which you might be interested. Include schools that represent a range of (1) selectivity and (2) level of degree (doctoral/master's). When you narrow your list down to about 20, write to these schools to get their catalogs and the latest detailed information about their programs and deadlines. The summer is a good time to begin collecting this information.
- Don't hesitate to talk with your faculty advisor about specific questions that arise.
SUMMER BETWEEN JUNIOR AND SENIOR YEAR
- Early in the summer, write to the 20 schools you are interested in to request catalogs and application materials. Be sure to request information about and an application for financial aid, if these are not sent with the application materials.
- When the materials arrive, use the rest of the summer to review the information. Among other things, look at the research interests of faculty members to see if there are some matches with yours. Reduce your list of prospective programs to 10.
Of the 10 schools on your list, 2 should be programs that are "long shots" (schools whose entrance requirements--GRE and GPA--you don't meet); 2-3 should be "borderline" programs (you meet the GRE requirement, but not the GPA or vice- versa); 3-5 should be "good match" programs (those whose average scores match yours); and 1-2 should be "almost sure bets" (programs whose requirements you clearly exceed).
- Once you know the schools to which you will apply, prepare a set of index cards or a chart with information on all the schools, the application materials required (application form, GRE scores, autobiographical statement if required, letters of recommendation, etc.), financial aid application information, and all relevant deadlines. Use the cards/chart to help you gather these materials in time to meet your deadlines.
- Use the summer months to prepare for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). More than anything else, your admission to a graduate program in psychology will depend on your scores on the GRE General Test (verbal and quantitative sections), not the Subject Test in Psychology, so it is advisable to do your best on these exams.
- Use the summer months to prepare a draft of your personal/autobiographical statement. Most schools require such a statement as a way to find out about your personal and educational background, your interests in psychology, the reasons you want a graduate degree in psychology, and your career goals. Be honest, as objective as possible, and brief (2-3 pages).
- Send in your registration materials and fees for the GRE by late August. Since the registration deadline for the October test will probably be prior to your arrival on campus for the Fall Semester, you will need to obtain a copy of the GRE Information and Registration Bulletin (which contains the registration form) by writing to: Graduate Record Examinations, Educational Testing Service, P.O Box 6000, Princeton, NJ 08541-6000. Your scores will automatically be sent to you and to those schools you list on the registration form about six weeks after you take the exam.
Note: Not all schools require applicants to take the Subject Test in Psychology, but if you need to take it, you might consider registering for the General Test in October (administered in both computer-based and paper-based formats) and registering for the Subject Test in November. Splitting the testing will lessen your fatigue. Remember that it takes about six weeks after you have taken the GRE for the scores to be reported to institutions. So if you take any part of the GRE in December your application will be incomplete at the time departments are reviewing applications. For a list of test dates and sites, consult the Educational Testing Service.
- Contact faculty members to write recommendations for you.
- Work on your autobiographical statement.
- Take the GRE General Test.
- Ask faculty members to review the draft of your autobiographical statement. Make revisions as necessary.
- Request that transcripts be sent to programs from all colleges attended--it will take TCS Registrar's Office about a month to send these.
- Give recommendation forms to the faculty who will be writing recommendations for you. Provide a pre-addressed, stamped envelope for each recommendation.
- If you registered to take the GRE Psychology Subject Test, take it now.
- Complete applications with January deadlines and mail them with several weeks to spare. Make and use a check sheet to be sure that you have included all necessary information in your envelope: application form, autobiographical statement (if required), application fee, request for financial aid, and a SELF-ADDRESSED POSTCARD FOR VERIFICATION OF RECEIPT OF YOUR MATERIALS. Be sure to: (1) TYPE all application materials, (2) PROOFREAD all materials for grammatical errors and misspellings, and (3) PHOTOCOPY all materials before you send them.
- Call the departments to which you have applied to be sure that they have received your GRE scores and all letters of recommendation. Most schools will not consider incomplete applications.
- If there are any outstanding letters of recommendation, check with faculty to be sure that they have been sent.
- Mail any remaining applications.
- Most schools will notify you of your status (regular acceptance, provisional acceptance, on waiting list, application denied) on or around April 15.
- Upon receiving notification of acceptance(s), consult with faculty in making your final decision. Once you have notified this school, be sure to tell other schools you will not be coming so they can offer your place to another student.
- If all of your applications are rejected, consult with faculty about your options. You might: (1) work for a year, prepare for the GRE, and re-apply to psychology programs, (2) enter a Master's Program in Psychology, re-take the GRE, and reapply to doctoral programs, or (3) think about applying to degree programs in fields similar to psychology such as social work (M.S.W.) or education (M.Ed. or Ed.D.) if you have not already explored these options.
ADAPTED FROM: APPLYING TO GRADUATE SCHOOL -- STRATEGIES AND TIME-LINE. HTTP://WWW.PSYWWW.COM/CAREERS/TIME-GRD.HTM
WHAT IS THE GRE?
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) consists of two separate tests: the General Test and the Subject Test in Psychology. The General Test is composed of three parts--verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing. The verbal and the quantitative tests each yield a separate score between 200-800. Scores on the analytical writing test are reported in ˝-point increments along a scale of 0 to 6. The Subject Test, required by only some programs, measures knowledge of psychological concepts that are essential to graduate study; it also yields a score of from 200-800. Materials from your prospective schools will tell you whether schools require the GRE as well as the minimum scores they require for admission.
More than anything else, your admission to graduate school will depend on your scores on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE (not the Subject Test). It is essential that you do well--at least 500 on each test (600+ is even better)--to get into most doctoral programs. Master's programs are less competitive, so lower scores (450-500 on each of the tests) are less of a problem. You will probably have trouble being admitted into any program with scores less than 400 on one of the tests.
To ensure that you score as high as you can, it is essential to prepare for the GRE. Buy one of the review books and develop a systematic plan that will enable you to brush up on your skills in vocabulary, reading comprehension, analogies, algebra, and geometry. Don't think that you can "cram" in these areas the week before the test--you will simply need more time (months) if you are serious about doing well. (When you register for the GRE General Test, you will receive free software to help you study for the test, but it is likely that you will need to begin studying before you register.)
Plan to take the General Test in October. This will ensure that your scores will be available to meet any admissions deadline. Also, if you do poorly on your first try, you should have enough time to re-take the test in November to try to improve your scores. Remember, though, that you have a 50-50 chance of doing worse on the next try, and that both sets of scores will be reported to the schools to which you apply, unless you cancel your scores, an option you have after taking the computerized General Test (you must cancel without knowing your scores). You will receive your unofficial test scores on the General Test--taken on computer--as soon as you complete the test; official scores will be sent to you and to the institutions to which you will be applying within 10 to 15 days after the test. Scores for the Subject Test are usually reported about six weeks after you take the test.
You must register to take any GRE. It is given at specific testing sites in each state. For the General Test, it is important to register early to get your choice of test dates in the busy testing months of November, December, and January. For the Subject Test, you need to register at least six weeks in advance. In any event, you will need to have taken it by December 1 of your senior year to meet the admissions deadlines for most masters/doctoral programs. You can register online (as well as take sample tests and order review books) at www.ets.org. You can also register by mail by completing the registration form in the GRE Information and Registration Bulletin. You can obtain the latter by downloading it from GRE- Online or by writing to: GRE, CN 6000, Princeton, NJ 08541-6000.
Taking the General Test (Verbal, Quantitative, Analytical Writing)
Note that the General Test now includes an analytical writing test, in which you type or write by hand your answers to two questions (one on an “issue” topic for 45 minutes and one on an “argument” topic for 30 minutes). The writing test is always taken first. (You can go GRE-Online and review examples of both types of questions.) You are permitted to re-take the General Test only 1 time per calendar month and only 5 times in a 12-month period. You will receive unofficial scores as soon as you complete the test; official scores will be sent to you and to the institutions to which you will be applying within 10 to 15 days after the test. You can register on-line (www.gre.org) or by calling the 800 number given in the Information and Registration Bulletin.
Taking the Subject Test
The Subject Test is only given in the paper-and-pencil version. If you plan to take it, you should do so in November (remember that you must register for it approximately six weeks before it is given). Taking the test in November will ensure that your scores will be available to meet any admissions deadline--it usually takes about six weeks from the time you take the test for the scores to be reported to you and to schools. Also, if you do poorly on your first try, you should have enough time to re-take the test in December to try to improve your scores. If you do poorly on either the November or December test, you can re-take it the following April—if the score-reporting dates are not past your admissions deadlines.
Finally, if you are not planning to attend graduate school immediately upon graduation, you should still take the GRE sometime during your senior year. Scores are good for five years, and you will never be as prepared for it as you are now. (It's easy to forget the details of grammar and math and for your reading speed to drop when you're not in school.)
The most effective way to work on your future objectives is to visit our Department and talk to the Department Chair. Making this effort will help in maximizing your educational experience while you are a student at Touro College South.
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