Five Tips for Applying to Psychology Graduate Schools

Read about psychology graduate schools acceptance rates, and learn how you can stand out from the crowd.


So, you’ve decided to attend psychology graduate school. Where does the application process begin? How can you make yourself stand out among the competition?

With acceptance rates ranging between one and five percent, the energy and excellence you put into your application are crucial. To increase your chances of acceptance, be prepared to dedicate a significant amount of time to the application process, and consider these five tips.

1. Plan ahead for the application process

Give yourself an edge over the competition by familiarizing yourself with the psychology graduate schools application process well in advance. In addition to the forms, transcripts and test scores required to apply, you will need:

  • A strong undergraduate GPA
  • Letters of recommendation from professors
  • A statement of purpose
  • Relevant research or work experience

2. Narrow your search for psychology graduate schools

Identify the psychology graduate schools you want to attend using your own personal criteria for the

  • Costs and tuition
  • Location
  • Time to completion
  • Programs in your chosen specialty area

Different experts recommend applying to at least six graduate psychology schools and to as many as 20. Application fees get expensive, so setting a budget is one way to help narrow the search.

Next, request applications from the schools you want to attend. Pay close attention to their application deadlines. Many deadlines represent the date when all application materials must be in the office, not just a postmark date.

3. Register for the GRE and the Psychology Subject Exam

Most psychology graduate schools require GRE scores with your application. Plan to take this computer-based test well in advance of application deadlines so that your scores can be processed in time or so you can take it again if necessary.

Many psychology graduate schools require the results of your Psychology Subject Exam along with your GRE scores. The subject test is only offered three times per year. Plan accordingly if you determine that you need to take this test as part of your application process.

4. Write a strong statement of purpose

The statement of purpose gives you the opportunity to personalize your application and set yourself apart from the other candidates. Use it to describe your specific interests in psychology, your strengths and skills, and your career goals and aspirations. Also provide the reasons why you are applying to a particular program.

5. Use your past experience

Having research and practical experience in psychology will significantly bolster your application. Emphasize your research experience to demonstrate how you would make a smooth transition into graduate level work. Describe your work or volunteer activities in psychology to indicate your passion and dedication to the field.


Tell us a little about yourself and we’ll connect you with schools that offer psychology degree programs.