Psi Chi Honor Society
Department of Psychological
& Brain Sciences:
Graduate School Preparation: Overview and 4-Year Timeline
Should you go to graduate school? Graduate programs prepare students for a specific career such as psychotherapist, scientist, lawyer, doctor, entrepreneur, teacher, or social worker. So, the only really good reason to go to graduate school is because you have a true interest and commitment to a specific career and you must to go to graduate school to be employed in that field.
- Lay the Foundation. If you think you want to go to graduate school, you can get off to a good start by consulting with academic advisors to carefully plan your undergraduate degree, enroll in challenging courses and earn the best grades you can. It's a good idea to participate in student organizations and take on leadership roles. Investigate research opportunities, consider other co-curricular activities, and read about the entire graduate school preparation and application process so you can set goals for yourself.
Decisions: Career & Degree. To make well-informed decisions about a potential career you'll need to network, assess yourself, and explore careers by reading and by interviewing professionals. Enroll in P199 or P299 during your sophomore year. Research all of the degrees and licenses that could prepare you for a career in the field of interest to you.
Career-Focused Preparation. Graduate schools prefer applicants who have career-relevant internship experiences - what kinds of experiences would be best for your intended career? How much research experience should you get? How much do GPA and entrance exam scores matter for admissions? The answers to these questions depend on the career and graduate degree you want to work toward.
Select Graduate Programs. Identify programs by consulting directories and guidebooks. Narrow your list to reduce the total amount of application fees you'll have to pay and to make the time-consuming application process feasible.
Entrance Exams. If your goal is to attend a graduate program to become a psychologist you may need to take both the GRE General and Subject Tests - although some programs do not require any exams.
Prepare Applications. Your application packets will likely include application forms, a personal statement, 2-4 letters of recommendation, a transcript, a resume, financial aid forms, and possibly a curriculum vitae. Preparing and polishing this material is time consuming and important - you'll want to seek help!
Frequently asked questions about the psychology major and graduate school:
Do psychology majors have to go to graduate school to have a good career?
Do you have to go to graduate school to become a psychologist?
Are psychology majors limited to graduate degrees in psychology?