How to apply to clinical psychology graduate school

June 7, 2019
apply to psychology phd programs

How to apply to clinical psychology graduate school ~

You are wondering how to apply to clinical psychology graduate school. That is, you’d like to earn a Ph.D. However, before undertaking this step, consider these questions: What about psychology interests you? Working with people? Studying and researching human behavior? Teaching? A mix?

Your answers will inform your decision as to whether to apply to clinical psychology graduate school for a Ph.D. Moreover, if you do decide to apply, it will help you to identify what sorts of graduate programs you should consider.

Are you interested in a particular theory of psychotherapy? Are you interested in psychodynamic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis?  Or, cognitive behavior therapy? Or, family systems theory? Or, something else? These are important considerations in identifying to which sort of clinical programs you should apply.

In an article published in the Washington Post, I described the myriad of options available to those considering these professions. These include a career in: clinical psychology, psychiatry, (which must be preceded by getting into Medical School) or, for those interested in a two year degree, social work, counseling, nursing and pastoral care. Alternatively, those whose interests lie in the study of human behavior might consider a career in Clinical Research.

Students who plan to apply to graduate school in clinical psychology, or related disciplines, are encouraged to take the following steps:

Although it is not required, for those interested in a career as a psychotherapist, it’s important to seek clinical experience. If you don’t like clinical work, there are many other areas in psychology that you might pursue. However, prior to undertaking the rigorous demands of a clinical psychology program, it’s important to find out whether you enjoy clinical work.

Add icing on the cake by obtaining experience as an undergraduate teaching assistant. Finally, if you are interested in a clinically-oriented, program. Seek out your own personal psychotherapy. Not only will this help to deepen your self-awareness, it is the best preparation and training experience for working as a clinician.

The faculty at psychology graduate schools like to know that psychology graduate students are well-suited to the profession and that they will work hard to complete their degrees and to contribute to the field. If you take these steps, you’ll be providing compelling evidence that you are up to the test. More importantly, you will be laying the groundwork for doing well in graduate school as well as testing out your interest in the field before making such a weighty commitment.

Washington DC Psychologist and Career Counselor

If you live in the Washington DC area and you have come to this page because you are seeking psychological evaluation, psychotherapy or career counseling, feel free to call me at: 301.656.9650. Please streamline this process by making it easy for me to reach you. Leave your day and evening numbers and the time that it’s best to reach you. I welcome your call.


Lynn Friedman, Ph.D. (c) 2015

This material is copyrighted. However, Psychology Departments, Psi Chi Chapters, Psychology Clubs and University and College Career Centers may republish this column, free-of-charge as long as it is reprinted in its entirety and without alteration. Also, along with this column, copyright and the following byline must be attached: Dr. Lynn Friedman is a clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst and executive coach in Chevy Chase, Maryland, 1/2 block from the Washington DC border.  She is on the associate faculty at Johns Hopkins University. Web site: She can be reached at: (301) 656-9650.

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