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Planning for Graduate School

If you think that going to graduate school in psychology is something you might want to do, start planning for it well before your senior year. Graduate programs expect to see high-level course work as part of your undergraduate portfolio, so you will want to make sure you get your prerequisites out of the way as soon as you can. While you're early in your undergraduate career, you can make the most of W&M's has resources to help you find internships or other hands-on experience that will strengthen your application.

Sophomore Year
  • Make a schedule for completing the basic psychology requirements. Try to finish the introductory psychology, statistics and, experimental methods courses by the end of your sophomore year. Fit in a few of the standard psychology courses such as social, abnormal, or learning and memory.
  • Take research and seminar courses to become more familiar with different professors and their research.
  • Attend departmental colloquia and take notes. Again, the goal is to become familar with different types of research.
  • Join the Psychology Club.
Junior Year
  • Complete the departmental course requirements.
  • Get research experience. Take research courses, independent research, or offer to help with a faculty member's research.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to do fieldwork if you are interested in clinical or counseling psychology.
  • Think about sources for future letters of recommendation (for example, research and fieldwork supervisors, professors of small classes).
  • Write a preliminary resume. The Career Center can help.
  • Attend a conference. If you can, present a poster of your research.
  • Consider Honors or an independent research course for the senior year.
  • At the end of your junior year, you may be invited to apply for membership to Psi Chi (Psychology honor society) if you have an overall GPA of 3.0 and a psychology GPA of 3.2 or higher.
  • Discuss your professional goals and graduate school plans with faculty.
  • Get a copy of the APA book Getting In: A Step-by-Step Plan for Gaining Admission to Graduate School in Psychology which is also available at the Psychological Sciences Office.
Summer Between Junior and Senior Years
Senior Year

Try to complete all degree requirements, research, and fieldwork by December.

  • September
    • Contact faculty whose research interests you about the possibility working with them.
    • Register in September to take the October GRE.
    • Begin requesting letters of recommendation.
  • October
    • Take the GRE. If necessary, take the general test in October and put off the psychology test to December. If the GRE is not taken, register for the December test.
  • November
    • Make the 6 or more final school selections after the GRE scores arrive.
    • Decide if you should retake the GRE in December (if your October scores are weak).
    • Have a faculty member review your final application list.
    • Arrange for letters of recommendation and make sure faculty writing letters of recommendation have ample time before the Christmas break.
    • Prepare a draft copy of a personal statement to go with your application.
  • December
    • Take the GRE if you missed the October date.
    • Finish applications with January deadlines.
    • Check and double check that along with the application you have: a personal statement, application fee, and request for financial aid.
  • January - April
    • Complete the remaining (or new) applications.
    • Check that all letters of recommendation have been done.
    • Call schools if necessary to confirm that they have received the complete application.
  • April
    • Upon receiving word of acceptances, make your final decision.