How Do I Determine What The Best Program Is For Me?

Once you have made the decision to apply to graduate school for psychology how can you find the best program to suit your needs? Finding the right school is imperative to boosting your career in psychology. Each potential student must carefully consider their academic, research and overall career goals. Selecting graduate programs should come directly from that consideration.

What Personal Factors Should I Consider Before Choosing Programs?

There are several factors related to your specific goals that should be weighed when choosing the programs to apply to for graduate training. These include:

  • What type of degree do I plan to pursue? Am I seeking a Master’s or Doctoral Degree?
  • In what area of Psychology do I want to specialize? While some universities offer a wide range of specialization, others may limit it to just a few.
  • Do I want to complete all or some of my degree online?

What Questions Should I Ask About The Schools I Am Considering?

The American Psychological Association has created a list of questions that should be asked before choosing which graduate programs to pursue.  These questions mix details about the university with some personal goal questions. Some of these very important questions include:

  • What is the student profile of most recently admitted students. What are the most common academic backgrounds, what are the average standardized test scores, is research experience or work experience required and what are the demographic characteristics? If you closely match some of these details you can rest assured that you would be a good fit for the program and have a better chance of admission.
  • What is the program’s success rate in terms of the ration of students who are admitted to those who graduate from the same program? What is the average number of years required to complete the program?
  • What are the goals and objectives of the program? Are these goals in keeping with your own interests and academic experiences as a prospective graduate student?
  • For programs with an emphasis on academic and research careers, what is the overall rates of graduate success in obtaining postdoctoral research fellowships, academic appointments or applied research positions outside a college or university setting?
  • For programs that require an internship or practicum, what is the success rate of placement for students attending the program? How much guidance is offered to students when obtaining practicum and internship placements?
  • For programs with an emphasis on professional practice, what is the program’s accreditation status (only applicable to clinical, counseling and school doctoral programs), the record of its graduates’ success in obtaining licensure, its graduates’ selection rates for advanced practice residencies, and in getting jobs in after they finish training?
  • What types of financial assistance does each program offer?

There are a number of questions that must be asked when considering what program is an ideal fit. If each student weighs each one of these options, they will be able to compile a list of the best graduate programs to apply to.