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School of Arts and Sciences | Psychology Application Process

Q. What is involved in the application process for graduate school?  

Be Responsible

  • Be proactive in your quest for a career in Psychology. Know your graduation requirements. Understand how the curriculum benefits you, and what you need to do to take full advantage of the opportunities made available to you in the department.
  • Be responsible. Investigate careers in Psychology. Learn of the requirements to earn admission to the graduate program of your choice.
  • Be realistic. Doctoral programs in psychology are very competitive. Masters programs in psychology are less competitive than doctoral programs, but still have rigorous admission requirements. Know your abilities and talents, and match those with the appropriate graduate program. Many very qualified candidates do not get into the graduate programs of choice because there are so many very qualified applicants for very limited seats in each class.
Graduate programs typically want a complete transcript of all of your undergraduate course work, including credits that you transferred to Ursuline College from other institutions. Assemble the necessary addresses to request transcripts of all of your undergraduate course work.

Preparing for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE's)
The GRE is similar to the SAT or ACT you took for entry into your undergraduate program, but geared for graduate school applicants. Your GRE scores can select you in or out of a program, so they are very important in the application process. We recommend that you spend the summer before your senior year studying for the GRE and taking practice tests to familiarize yourself with the test material and environment.

There are usually two scores of interest on the GRE General: Quantitative and Verbal. Computer based and paper administrations of the GRE can be arranged. There seems to be a tremendous lean towards computer based testing. Check the Educational Testing Service (ETS) site for more information.

There is also a separate GRE Subject Test for Psychology that many programs want you to take. The Psychology GRE is currently only offered in November, December and April with registration for the test due about two months before the actual test administration. It is currently only administered as a paper test.

You have a real interest in preparing for the GREs, and taking them as early as reasonably possible. The November test date is the last scheduled administration date for you to have your scores for your application. If you take the GREs early, you have the time and opportunity to take them again if you feel that your scores are not representative of your abilities. There are dozens of GRE test preparation books and several formal test preparation services available.

Miller's Analogies Test (MAT)
The MAT is a test of verbal abilities and reasoning.
The format is FOOT: SHOE :: HAND : ____________
The analogy reads: "FOOT is to SHOE as HAND is to ________"
Applicants select their answer from choices provided:

The obvious answer in this case is GLOVE.

Some programs require the MAT, but most require the GRE. Check with each program.

Letters of Recommendation
All graduate programs require letters of recommendation from individuals who are able to evaluate your interests and abilities to complete a graduate program. The number of letters varies, but is usually between three and five per program application.

When you consider which people to ask to write letters on your behalf, consider the following:

  • Will this person write a favorable letter of recommendation? (By definition, a letter of recommendation does not necessarily mean a good letter of recommendation.)
  • What does this letter writer know about me as a graduate school applicant?
  • Did you complete the Graduate School Track?
To make the letter of recommendation process easier for everyone, consider the following strategies:

  • Ask your letter writers early about their ability and interest in helping you. A lead time of several months is not unreasonable. This lead time will enable your letter writer to think about the letter he or she will write, and also write the letter in the best possible frame of mind. By asking early, you are being responsible, and being sensitive to the many obligations the letter writer has as a faculty member, employer, supervisor, etc. With so many people applying for graduate admission with due dates of January and February, I highly recommend that you make requests for letters of recommendation by November 1. For other admission deadlines, a lead time of three months is appropriate. Do not approach your letter writer at the last minute/during finals week hoping for a strong letter of recommendation. This is a serious career move, and last minute/short lead time requests are not perceived as coming from a serious candidate for admission. Your letter reflects that perception.
Provide your letter writers with:

  • A brief resume of relevant information that can be used in the letter. Include courses taken in your major and the corresponding grades earned. Include your major GPA and overall GPA, GRE scores, and whatever other scores are needed by your university. If you have had any special experiences (work, volunteerism, research, honors), include that as well. Don't assume that the letter writer will remember all of the reasons why you are an excellent applicant for graduate school. Remind the writer.
  • This completed template to provide a list of ALL of the graduate programs you are applying to, as well as the program names for each university, and any specific forms that need to be completed.
  • Addressed, stamped envelopes for every letter that is to go out directly from the letter writer. For letters that need to be returned to you, to later send along, still provide an envelope with the university/program name on it.
  • Signed forms that waive your right to review the letters once submitted. If you don't trust the letter writer to write you a favorable letter, then don't ask.
Give all of the materials to your writers once. Prepare a packet of stamped, addressed envelopes, program names, and all of the corresponding materials each writer needs to assist you in your application.

The Hypothetical, but Representative, Graduate School Application Questions
What is your G.P.A?
Cumulative: __________
Last two years: _______
Major G.P.A._________

What are your GRE Scores?
Verbal ____________
Quantitative ___________
Subject __________

List your psychology courses along with the grades you earned in each of them.

What research experiences have you had?
Possible answers include:

  • PS322 Research Methods I
  • PS324 Research Methods II
  • PS380L Human Memory & Cognition Laboratory
  • PS424 Research Methods III
  • PS461 Independent Research
Identify papers you have presented at conferences.
Possible answers include:

  • The Ohio Undergraduate Psychology Conference
  • Midwestern Psychological Association
What honors have you earned?
Possible answers include:

  • Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology
  • College Scholarships
  • Dean's and President's semester grade lists
List your volunteer experiences.
Possible answers include:

  • local hospitals, clinics, rest homes, research laboratories, industry, etc. (depending upon your career goals)
Personal Statement:

  • Why do you want to be a ______ psychologist?
  • What do you consider to be your strengths?
  • What do you consider to be your weaknesses?

back to Psychology Possible Careers page