Choosing Schools and Programs
If you're not sure what you're interested in, you need to find out. Look at recent
journal issues, and note the author's affiliation for any articles that you find particularly
interesting. Attend regional or national psychology conferences. Talk with your advisor
and letter writers. Good universities don't always have good psychology programs,
so don't apply based on name alone. Get current brochures from many programs - don't
rely on old information. Most departments also have Web sites with lots of information.
Your best printed guide is Graduate Study in Psychology, published by the American
Psychological Association, which lists all the graduate programs throughout the United
States and Canada. The book provides specific information about programs, including
the average GPA and GRE scores for the previous year's class, how many students applied,
and how many were accepted. It also includes information about financial aid, tuition,
deadlines, and internships. This information will give you some sense of how competitive
you would be for getting accepted at a particular program. You can order a copy of
Graduate Study in Psychology (1999 price: $19.95 + $3.50 shipping and handling) at
most full-service bookstores, by calling the APA Order Department at 1-800-374-2721,
or via the APA's website.
Once you've identified particular programs and faculty, make contact! Write or e-mail
the faculty you would like to work with. Don't be shy about this - professors are
easily flattered, and most will be very welcoming. If possible, visit the programs
you're interested in (and announce your intentions in advance). A visit will provide
evidence of your motivation and commitment, and will set you apart from other applicants.
It will also allow you to size up the faculty - are these people you could work with
for several years? Be sue to talk to the graduate students, as well - their opinions
can be very illuminating.