Search within:

Timeline for Graduate School: How to Begin Preparing Early

Freshman and Sophomore Years

Determine Interests

  • Investigate career choices
  • Explore volunteer opportunities in clinical settings


  • Take core courses in psychology (i.e., introduction, statistics, research methods, personality, psychopathology, etc.)
  • Take courses helpful for graduate school (i.e., biological sciences, math, etc.)
  • Learn to use library and electronic resources, such as PsycInfo
  • Consider participating in honors program


  • Find out about faculty interests and research
  • Make preliminary contact with faculty members whose research interests you
  • Join psychology organizations and become an active member
  • Attend departmental colloquia and social gatherings

Junior Year


  • Take more advanced psychology courses (300 and 400 level), especially classes tailored to your specific area of interest

Clinical & Research Experience

  • Begin volunteer clinical or other applied work
  • Volunteer for research with faculty and begin researching potential honors thesis or independent research project
  • Ask faculty and graduate students to become involved in conference presentations
  • Try to focus your specific interests in a particular research area, theoretical orientation, and clinical population


  • Continue contact with faculty
  • Become student affiliates of professional organizations, like Ohio Psychological Association the American Psychological Association, or the American Psychological Society
  • Apply for membership in your Psi Chi Chapter (psychology honor society), if not already done so
  • Consider serving as an officer in one of the student organizations on campus
  • Attend state or regional psychology convention

Preparing to Apply

  • Draft a curriculum vitae
  • Begin a new file for your curriculum vitae and place reminders of your activities and accomplishments in it
  • Peruse graduate school bulletins to acquaint yourself with typical requirements, offerings, and policies
  • Surf the web — become comfortable with websites on graduate school

Senior Year/Application Year

June through August

  • Gather information from program websites
  • Begin to narrow down potential schools
  • Prepare for the GREs — STUDY!!!
  • Set aside money for cost of the GREs and applications

August through September

  • Continue to refine list of potential schools
  • Request information packets and applications from programs
  • Consults advisers regarding graduate programs, faculty of interest, etc.
  • Investigate financial aid opportunities

September through October

  • Take or retake the GRE General Test (if necessary) and request ETS forward your scores to the appropriate institutions
  • Choose a faculty member at each school that most interest you, especially if applying to doctoral programs
  • Write to graduate faculty expressing interest in their work, especially if applying to doctoral programs
  • Begin first draft of your personal statement
  • Contact potential letter writers

October through November

  • Take the GRE Psychology Subject Test and request that ETS forward your scores t other appropriate institutions
  • Update your curriculum vitae
  • Prepare your letter of recommendation packets
  • Request letters of recommendation
  • Arrange for Registrar to send transcripts
  • Finalize personal statement

November through December

  • Complete applications to programs
  • Complete financial aid to applications
  • Submit applications
  • Verify with letter writers that all letters of recommendation have been sent
  • Verify with the various programs that applications and all necessary materials have been received

January through March

  • Send thank you notes to faculty who wrote letters of recommendation
  • Wait patiently — be proud of yourself for all of the hard work you put into the application process!
  • Travel to interviews as invited
  • Develop a contingency plan if not accepted into any program

April through May

  • If other programs make early offers, call your top programs to determine the current status of your application
  • Promptly turn down less preferred offers, but make sure you always have at least one offer on the table while waiting to hear from other schools
  • Send official transcript with spring term grades to the program you plan to attend