In the modern job market, students with bachelor's degrees in psychology often struggle to find employment. Obtaining a Ph.D. in clinical psychology may be an attractive option for students who are interested in working in a mental health field. Clinical psychology doctoral programs are highly competitive; many schools accept only 10 to 12 students each year. To get into a clinical psychology Ph.D. program, focus on your undergraduate academic performance and get involved in extracurricular activities that demonstrate your interest in clinical psychology.
Consult an academic adviser from your college's psychology department. Inform him of your intention to apply to clinical psychology programs. Ask for recommendations about classes, volunteer work and research experiences that will improve your ability to get into a clinical psychology Ph.D. program.
Major in psychology or a closely related science field. Take introductory psychology, social psychology, biopsychology, cognition, learning and behavior, psychopathology, statistics and psychology methods courses. Earn a grade of B or higher in all of your psychology coursework to be a competitive applicant for doctoral programs in clinical psychology.
Find research opportunities at your school. Ask a professor if she needs a research assistant for her lab. Some research assistants are paid, while others work as volunteers. Clinical psychology Ph.D. programs require all students to perform original research, making prior research experience important to an admissions committee.
Volunteer or work in a mental health setting to gain clinical experience. For example, volunteer at Veterans' Affairs hospital, a local community mental health clinic or a suicide prevention hot-line.
Join psychology organizations such as Psi Chi, the psychology honors society, or the American Psychological Association. Take leadership positions in local student chapters of these organizations.
Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Score above 600 on the both the mathematical and verbal sections to be a competitive applicant for clinical psychology doctoral programs.
Write a personal statement explaining why a clinical psychology Ph.D. program is a good fit for your abilities, experiences and career goals.
Obtain strong letters of recommendation from professors who know your academic or research work well. Provide each professor with your curriculum vitae, previous publications, transcripts and other information that will help them write a letter.
Apply to a variety of programs. Find faculty members whose research interests match yours and inquire if they are accepting new graduate students. Choose schools of varying competitiveness to improve your odds of being accepted.
Lawrence Adams' work has appeared in the "Marquette Literary Review" and "Broadview Press." He has a Bachelor of Arts from Marquette University in writing-intensity English and classical studies, with a minor in biology, and a Master of Arts in creative writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago.