Here's What You Need to Consider Before Applying to a Clinical Psychology PsyD program

Photo:  Adobe Stock

Photo: Adobe Stock


1. Ask yourself WHY you want to go into Clinical psychology.  

I feel it is very important to know your passions before going into clinical psychology.  Do you have a passion for mental health advocacy and clinical research? Do you want to make a difference in the lives of people? Do you want to add to the body of clinical psychology research/therapy out there? These are some of the questions to ask yourself.


2. Make sure you know the difference between a Clinical PsyD and Clinical PhD in psychology.  

Yes, the two are both doctoral degrees in psychology but have very different focuses. The clinical PhD is the most popular between the two and very is researched focused.  Clinical training is included within the program, but the ultimate goal is to specialize in a specific area of research. The PsyD program is more clinically focused with more clinical training than research as opposed to the clinical PhD program.


3. Have you fulfilled coursework in Psychology?

Some people may change their interests during or after they graduate from college.  A basic understanding of introductory level psychology is very important. Taking coursework will also give you the foundation you need when you decide to go in the field.  PsyD programs want to see that you understand the basics.


4. Have a basic understanding of research and statistics.  

Even though PsyD programs are more clinically focused, some programs want to know that you have an understanding of research methods.


5. Even though this goes without saying, get good grades!!

PsyD Programs are highly competitive want to know that you are ready for their vigorous program.  This includes good scores in the GRE.


6. Do you have experience in the field?

It is very important to know how it is to work in the field under professionals before you walk into it.  Working with a population of individuals who have mental health or developmental problems gives you a feel of how it is.  It will also confirm or your passion to stay in the field and pursue the PsyD degree.


Working as a psych tech, ABA therapist, or residential assistant are examples of jobs that will give you such experience.  You can also intern with a psychologist/psychiatrist if you can. Some psychologists/psychiatrists are pretty open to having mentees under their wings.


7. Make sure your personal statement encompasses who you are.

PsyD programs want their applicants to express their passions, goals, and accomplishments in their statements.  Have your professors or anyone you know with a Clinical PsyD or PhD look over your statement, as they know exactly what the schools look for when accepting applicants.


8. Lastly, believe in yourself.  

Making the decision to pursue a clinical PsyD is a big step.  You can achieve a lot if you work hard and stay passionate towards it.  Believe in your skills and keep your focus.



Richard Miller is a 2nd year Psychology Masters student at Southern Connecticut State University. He was recently accepted as Clinical Psychology PsyD candidate at Nova Southeastern University.  He is an advocate for mental health and clinical psychology research.  Richard's goal is to become a Clinical Forensic Psychologist as well as influence research, policy and law that benefits individuals with mental health disorders.