Graduate School Advice

Psychology Graduate School Advice

First, be aware that strong performance in PSYC 3005 and PSYC 3006 is a basic expectation for students hoping to be competitive for psychology graduate school admission.  This link will lead you to some other good,  general advice on graduate school in psychology. And here is some specific advice for those interested in graduate school in the following areas:



  • Personality and Abnormal Psychology, along with a course in development  (clinically focused or typical development).
  • A senior seminar related to a clinical topic is also helpful for gaining background in the methodologies of more advanced clinical science.
  • Do research in a lab for at least one year
  • Do a Distinguished Major thesis
  • Some volunteer experience/doing an internship that will provide more applied clinical experience (e.g., working at a distress line or with children with emotional or behavioral difficulties) is helpful to determine whether being trained as a clinician is likely to be a good fit.
  • This web site has lots of really good info for students considering applying for clinical psych grad school, including listings for available RA positions post-graduation:
  • Great advice from a distinguished UNC professor on the nature of clinical psychology and the application process. Mitch Prinstein is a Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professor in the Clinical Psychology Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has held many national leadership positions in clinical science and has a longstanding record of service to promoting professional development.  Here's a bio:



  • Math and stats courses other than PSYC 3005/6 (e.g., discrete math, abstract algebra, probability, not only calculus sequence)
  • Philosophy: philosophy of science, philosophy of mind;
  • Computer science: acquire as many programming skills as possible; artificial intelligence.
  • Work in one of the Cognitive Labs, but be active.
  • Do a Distinguished Major thesis with a Cognitive advisor.



  • Involve yourself in research on a regular basis
  • Get field experience in the community, e.g., the Undergraduate Internship sequence
  • Do a Distinguished Major thesis
  • Take at least a few courses that provide going beyond the introductory 2000 level courses, e.g., Adolescence; Social Development; Children, Families & the Law
  • Diversity and Minority Issues; advanced seminars taught by social, developmental, community and clinical faculty
  • Think about not going on to graduate school directly from undergraduate training consider getting a job, Teaching America, going into the Peace Corps or other similar ventures          



  • Child Development, Infancy, Adolescence, seminars in development
  • Cognitive or Social Psychology (or both)
  • At least a year of research experience in a Developmental lab
  • Experience with children in other settings
  • Do a Distinguished Major thesis
  • Presentation of research at conferences, journal submission
  • Courses in neuroscience, biology, and genetics will also be helpful


Neuroscience & Behavior

  • PSYC 2200 – Introduction to Psychobiology
  • PSYC 4200 – Neural Mechanisms of Behavior
  • PSYC 4250 – Brain Systems in Memory
  • PSYC 4500 – Biological Models of Cognition
  • Upper-­­level (5000) seminars in N&B courses
  • Laboratory work in a neuroscience research lab
  • Strongly Recommended Courses in Other Departments
  • BIOL 2010 & 2020
  • CHEM 1410 & 1420



  • Do a Distinguished Major thesis
  • Get research experience
  • The quantitative area looks closely at both psychology and mathematics preparation when considering applicants to the quantitative program. An ideal student is either
    • a psychology major with a minor in math, a math major with a minor in psychology, or a dual major in psychology and math.
  • Math courses that are considered to be especially helpful are: Calculus, Ordinary
    • Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, Probability, and Statistics.
  • A broad range of psychology courses are considered to be helpful, any area of specialization is fine. Some quantitative programs tend to favor one area in particular. For instance, UVa tends to favor developmental students while Arizona State University tends to favor social psychology and Ohio State tends to favor cognitive.



  • At least one year of research in a social psych lab, or a related lab.
  • Do a Distinguished Major thesis