Psi Chi Honor Society
Department of Psychological
& Brain Sciences:
Career-Focused Preparation for Graduate School
Graduate schools prefer applicants who have career-focused preparation over those who do not.
What you'll need to do to prepare for graduate school will depend on your career field, subfield, and degree goals. For example, the answers to the questions below depend on the specific career and graduate degree you want to work toward:
- What courses should you take as an undergraduate?
- How much do GPA and entrance exam scores matter for graduate school admissions?
- How much research experience should you get?
- What kinds of career-relevant internship experiences would be best for your intended career?
The strongest graduate school applications will come from students who began to explore their career, subfield, and degree goals relatively early in their undergraduate years.
If you begin exploring these goals early on then you are more likely to be able to enroll in courses and complete research and internship experiences that are a great match for your career interests. The students pictured above completed a field experience in which they assisted therapists with a social skills training program for children.
Click to read examples of two students who accomplished a lot because they started exploring their career goals early.
Resources for information about career-focused preparation for graduate school:
- Once you've begun to narrow down your career field and subfield goals, you can search for specific, helpful advice about how to prepare for the types of graduate programs in which you are interested.
- The Advising Resource Library includes guidebooks such as "Getting In: A Step-by-Step Plan for Gaining Admission to Graduate School in Psychology" and the "Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology".
- Psi Chi has articles about preparing for psychology graduate programs, including articles that are specific to clinical psychology and developmental psychology.
- Interview professionals who are working in the particular specialty in which you are interested. If you are considering a career in psychology you'll need to investigate subfields and think about whether a career in research or practice will be best for you before you'll be able to locate professionals who can give you the best advice about how to prepare for graduate school.
- 100+ Professional Societies of Interest to Psychology & Neuroscience Majors. Professional associations and their publications are often the best sources of information about the current state of any field, possible career paths and qualifications. They are also a terrific way to find professionals who are working in the specialty of interest to you.
- Graduate Schools. Once you've determined the degree(s) that will prepare you for your career of interest, you can read about admission requirements of potential graduate programs and talk to their admissions personnel, faculty, and current graduate students.