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Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology FAQ

 
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The doctoral program in clinical psychology is an extremely competitive program. We typically receive well more than 600 applicants from around the country and interview a small subset of the most highly qualified in order to generate an entering class of eight to 10 students. Successful applicants to our program have often gained extensive experience through working for several years in both clinical and research settings; have had prior experience disseminating research through presenting at scientific conferences of national organizations and/or publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals; and/or have taken M.A.-level courses before applying. Such experiences are not "required" but are often helpful in distinguishing your application from the many others.

 

Below are a number of questions that are frequently asked.

What Are the Minimum Requirements for GPA And GRE Scores?

We do not use any official cut-offs to identify viable applicants, but given the large number of applications we receive, we look carefully at GPA and GRE scores. Barring extenuating circumstances (e.g., exceptional research accomplishments), applicants who have scores below the 75th percentile on the GRE subtests are at considerable disadvantage, as are students with an undergraduate GPA below 3.5. We rarely consider applicants who have GRE scores below the 50th percentile and a GPA below 3.0. Most applicants will have an undergraduate major in psychology, but this is not required, provided there is a solid background in psychology (whether during undergraduate studies or through MA-level coursework). Although we consider graduate coursework in assessing the applicant’s background and preparation for doctoral study, we place little weight on graduate GPA (because of the grade inflation that is common in MA programs). Despite these general guidelines, any area deficiency can certainly be overcome by strong achievements in other areas.

What Are the Factors that Influence Interview and Acceptance Decisions?

We systematically analyze a number of factors, including the student’s personal and professional accomplishments (e.g., research and clinical experience), the quality of his or her letters of recommendation, and of course “objective” data such as GRE scores and undergraduate GPA. We seek to identify the top tier of applicants, in terms of both intellectual abilities and interpersonal strengths, as well as “fit” with our program’s model, strengths, and faculty expertise. This is done through a multi-tiered approach in which the applicant pool is gradually winnowed down to the handful who will be offered admission. Initial screening is conducted by two faculty members, who review each application and provide a numerical ranking of the student’s experience, achievements, and letters of recommendation. Ideally, we select students with a strong dedication to, and experience in, applied clinical research and a genuine interest in, and aptitude for, scientifically informed clinical work. These ratings are entered, along with background data, undergraduate GPA, and GRE scores, into a computerized selection program developed by a member of our psychometrics faculty. This program is designed to simultaneously weight multiple criteria and identify the top 15% (roughly 60 to 65) applicants, who are then invited to visit campus for an in-person interview. Applicants invited to campus for a series of in–person interviews (or, when necessary, via telephone) meet with three to four faculty members and at least one graduate student. Faculty and students rate each applicant based on their impressions during the interview, and these ratings are added to our selection program for a second round of analysis. Finally, all clinical faculty meet to discuss the applicants selected by the computer program and to identify applicants who might have been overlooked by the actuarial approach, and/or those who may overlap too heavily with one another (e.g., to avoid offering admission to multiple students who seek to work with one particular faculty member). These rankings and faculty discussions are used to identify the small group of applicants who will be offered admission, those who will be placed on the waitlist, and those who should be rejected.

I Haven't Taken the GRE's Yet – Can I Still Apply?

The GRE General exam is required for us to consider your application. We can process students who submit materials a bit late, since our formal review of applications does not typically begin until early January, but without the GRE scores, we cannot consider an applicant. Also GRE subject test is not required but strongly recommended, particularly for students who do not have a BA in psychology.

Do I Have to Specify a Particular Faculty Member With Whom to Work?

On the application form, applicants are required to specify two faculty members (a primary and secondary faculty member) that the applicant is seeking to work with. Applicants also are required to identify a Major Area of Study on the application form. We utilize these fields to ensure that the faculty members that most closely align with the applicant’s interest review the entire application. Admission decisions are made by the entire faculty and not by individual faculty members. However, faculty identified by the applicant as “primary” and “secondary” provide specific input into the final admission decision-making. It is important to note that program faculty are not allotted a particular number of students annually. Instead we do our best to balance the entering class to avoid having too many students working with too few of the faculty. It is also not uncommon for students to work with more than one faculty member within a Major Area of Study throughout their graduate careers.

Do I Have to Apply to a Major Area of Study?

Applicants are required to indicate their interest in a Major Area of Study on the application. The Major Area of Study field on the application form allows the applicant to identify their interest in one of the four Major Areas of Study (Child/Adolescent, Forensic, Health, Neuropsychology). It is important to note that applicants can indicate “Undecided” or identify interest in our General Track on the application form. As noted above, this expressed interest and identification of primary and secondary faculty members is used to guide the application review process and ensures that the application is reviewed by faculty members most closely aligned with the applicant’s interests. The applicant is not locked into the Major Area of Study listed on the application form. Once accepted, there is no requirement that a student complete a Major Area of Study. A student can alter and change a Major Area of Study based on consultation with their primary faculty mentor and the DCT.

I Already Have an MA Degree from Another University – Does that Help in Any Way?

Students who enter with an M.A. degree or graduate credits that did not result in a degree will typically be able to transfer some credits toward their Fordham degree. Decisions about which courses are equivalent, and how many can be transferred depend on several factors, such as whether the student received an M.A. and whether the M.A. involved a research-based thesis. Specific courses that overlap with Fordham requirements are evaluated by the director of clinical training on a case-by-case basis, usually after a student has been admitted to the program. For those students who completed an empirical M.A. thesis at their previous institutions, the MA thesis requirement may also be waived, provided a committee of Fordham faculty have evaluated the thesis and deemed it comparable to what would be expected of Fordham students. Students who have previously completed (or expect to compete) an MA elsewhere complete the same application as students without prior graduate school experience and comprise the same "pool" of applicants; it is not necessarily advantageous or disadvantageous to have previously enrolled in an MA program, although it may be more beneficial in some cases (e.g., students who were not undergraduate psychology majors).

How Does Financial Aid Work?

We strongly urge ALL applicants to apply for financial aid at the time of admission. Virtually all students in our doctoral program receive financial support throughout their graduate school career, whether or not it was guaranteed during the application process. Financial aid typically includes a full-tuition waiver and a work-related stipend (i.e., an assistantship). Assistantships can be research (e.g., if a faculty member has a research grant for which the student is well-suited), teaching (e.g., as a teaching assistant for undergraduate psychology labs), administrative support (e.g., assisting faculty in their own administrative responsibilities), or some combination of these. The type of award each individual receives will depend on available funds (which vary each year), the experience of the applicant, and the number of graduate students currently matriculating. Advanced students are typically funded as teaching fellows or teaching associates, where the student teaches one or more undergraduate classes independently rather than assisting a faculty member. Research fellowships and dissertation fellowships are also available (by competitive application) through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and allow the advanced student to further expand his or her research productivity. It should be noted, however, that if an applicant either declines or does not qualify for financial aid, there is always a possibility that he or she will be forced to pay tuition and expenses for one or more semesters (view tuition information).

Can I Arrange for a Visit and Informational Meeting?

During the application process, we identify a select group of students to invite to campus for interviews with students and faculty and a tour of the campus. These interviews typically occur in late January or early February and are “by invitation only.” If you are invited for an interview and have any serious interest in attending school at Fordham, you should make every effort to attend the interview. Many applicants request individual interviews (in person or phone) or campus tours, often before they have even applied to the program. Although it would be nice to be able to offer applicants this opportunity, we simply receive too many requests to accommodate them all (or even a fraction of them). Instead, we recommend emailing individual faculty any questions you might have. As a general rule, our faculty will not arrange a pre-application interview (in-person or phone) with the faculty or current students because of the volume of such requests and to avoid any creation of premature impressions about the likelihood of admission without the benefit of a careful review of the full application. Applicants are also encouraged to review Faculty listings, including research focus and courses when deciding on how to complete application.

Other questions? Feel free to email us at clinicalpsyc@fordham.edu.

Resources

As a member of the Council of University Directors of Clinical Training (CUDCP), the Clinical Psychology program at Fordham University adheres to CUDCP’s policies and guidelines for graduate school admissions, offers and acceptance. For additional information about these policies, please visit this page.

More information about clinical psychology and application tips also can be found at clinicalpsychgradschool.org, offered by CUDCP.