Welcome to our page for prospective Ph.D. applicants who are interested in the work that we do in the SOAR Lab! We hope that this page is helpful and answers many of the questions that you may have during this stressful, confusing, and exciting process. During the process of applying to graduate school, it is important to consult with faculty mentors with whom you may have studied or conducted research. They know you best and can help to ensure that you are applying to programs that are a good fit for you and where you will flourish and be happy.
Finding a graduate program that is a good fit to you is sometimes challenging and there is a lot to weigh in choosing which programs to apply to and, ultimately, which program is the one that you want to attend. The process is also extremely competitive and there are many applicants and very few slots available. Many applicants to clinical psychology Ph.D. programs need to apply more than once in order to gain admittance into a program. Further, most applicants have to do a year or two of post-baccalaureate research in order to gain admittance and it is rare for a student to be able to gain admittance straight out of undergraduate school unless they have significant research experience during undergraduate school. This is not meant to discourage you, but instead, to ensure that you go into the process with reasonable expectations. The keys to gaining admittance are:
- significant research experience,
- fit between the program and your interests in clinical work and research,
- fit between the research interests in the lab that you want to work in and your research interests,
As a first generation college student and someone who grew up impoverished, I encourage others who may be in the same situation and those who are underrepresented minorities to apply to Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology. Our field is improved by diverse ideas, perspectives, and interests and the field desperately needs therapists and researchers who are ethnic and racial minorities, sexual and gender minorities, and those who came from impoverished backgrounds. Similarly, the field needs individuals who value diversity and who are committed to reducing mental health disparities.
**Please note that all information on this page reflects only the opinions of Amy Przeworski. This may not reflect the opinions of other faculty in clinical psychology at Case Western or the opinions of the University as a whole.
Are you accepting a student for the Fall?
I will be considering applications.
- Anxiety, OCD, hoarding, stress, and related disorders
- Novel treatments and prevention interventions
- Factors that contribute to the development of the above disorders and/or are associated with the prevention of these disorders
- Minority identities, especially race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity
- Family and interpersonal factors
- Discrimination and resilience
- Discrimination as a risk factor for stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms
What personal characteristics do you look for in graduate students?
- Highly motivated, conscientious, and detail-oriented,
- Interpersonally skilled, clinical sensitive, scientifically curious
- A team player; gets along well with others
- Values diversity
- Good writing skills
How important is the GRE?
Data has shown that the GRE systematically disadvantages Black, Indigienous, and People of Color (BIPOC), as well as first generation, and low-income applicants. As a first generation college student, I am especially sensitive to this. I have had students with a variety of scores on the GRE and it has not been all that predictive of their success as a researcher, instructor, or clinician. I keep this in mind when reviewing applications and value other qualifications, such as research experience, good writing skills, scientific curiosity, and research interest match far more than the GRE.
How important is one’s GPA?
Although one’s GPA is an important consideration when reviewing applications, I examine the overall application package without overemphasizing any one component. Many students started as pre-med students or engineering majors and changed to a psychology major at a later point. Therefore, some applicants’ earlier grades in courses that are unrelated to psychology may be reducing their GPA. If you think that your GPA is not indicative of your potential, please explain this in your application or have one of your recommenders explain this. It is important to share with your recommenders your strengths and your weaknesses so recommenders can address in their letter anything that could negatively impact your likelihood of being invited for an interview for graduate school.
Is it helpful to email potential advisors to express my interests in their lab?
Prospective applicants often send an email to indicate their interest; however, this does not increase your likelihood of being invited for an interview. Every application is carefully reviewed, regardless of whether the applicant contacted any faculty member. Some applicants have asked faculty members to review their CV and indicate the likelihood of the applicant gaining admission. It is impossible for a faculty member to provide that information until they have seen all of the materials in your application, including letters of recommendation, and until the faculty member is able to review the rest of the applicant pool.
Is it helpful to email the graduate students in the lab with questions?
Some applicants have contacted the graduate students in the lab with questions about their experiences in the lab or in their training. Although it is entirely understandable that you want to learn everything possible about the training in our department and the experiences of students in the lab, graduate students are extremely busy. If you are invited for an interview, you will have time to meet with the graduate students in the lab as well as students outside of the lab and to have all of your questions answered at that time. Also, know that contacting the graduate students with questions is unlikely to increase your chances of getting an interview. Also, please look over all of the information on the website before contacting the graduate students. Most questions that applicants have are covered in material on the lab website.
What information is helpful to include in a personal statement?
Your personal statement is where you make the argument for the fit between you and the lab so think carefully about what information you want to include. Generally you should include information about your research experience, research interests, and what you hope to study in graduate school. You should also include information about what career you would like to pursue in the future–a research career, clinical career in a hospital setting, clinical career in a private practice, etc. Be sure to convey your passion and excitement for research and link your previous experience to your current interests. This does not mean that your research experience must match with what you’d like to study in the future. In fact, many times applicants’ research experience is not in the area that they hope to conduct research in the future. That’s okay. Just describe what you learned from your research experience and why you are interested in studying the topics that you would like to pursue in graduate school.
What is the most important aspect of my application?
The most important aspects of your application are your research experience and the match between your research interests and the lab that you are applying to join. Do not apply to a lab unless your interests are closely related to what is studied in the lab. I often receive applications from students who want to study something that I do not study. Many times the student is either applying with geographic limitations in mind or is applying simply because they know that our clinical psychology program has a good reputation. An advisor cannot effectively mentor a student in a topic area in which the faculty member is not an expert. This means that the match between the applicant and the faculty member is essential.
Also, having extensive research experience is essential when applying to our lab. Most successful applicants to our lab have extensive research experience, presentations at national conferences, and publications (whether in press, submitted, or in preparation).
I want to be a therapist and have little interest in research. Is your lab a good fit?
Although we value clinical practice (and our lab even researches interventions), if you have little interest in research, our program and our lab are not a good fit. Our program equally emphasizes research and clinical practice so you would be spending a significant amount of your time conducting research while you were in our program. You would not be happy doing this if you have little interest in research.
How many labs should I list on my application?
If your interests match two or more labs, please list them all in your application. Generally it is recommended that you list the lab you are most interested in first, etc. Don’t list a lab if you really are not interested in the lab. The only benefit to listing more than one lab is that the faculty advisor for each lab will consider your application if you list two labs. However, if you are not interested in being in the lab, there is no benefit to listing it.
How do I apply:
Go to this website and see the steps to apply: https://psychsciences.case.edu/graduate/clinical-psych/admissions-information/
Do you have any recommendations for how to create a CV?
“How to Write a Strong CV,” Association of Psychological Science
I want to apply, but the application fee would create real hardship for me. What should I do?
If you have a severe financial hardship, which prevents you from paying this, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Other resources to consider:
- Getting Into Psych Grad School, provided by the Council of University Directors in Clinical Psychology. A guide from Directors of Clinical Training at Clinical Psychology PhD programs across the country.
- Open Access Tips/Materials for Clinical Psych PhD Applicants, provided by Mallory Dobias, B.S. A collection of open-access pointers, timelines, and materials