A Ph.D. in clinical psychology takes between five and seven years, and includes a research dissertation and internship. The graduate program prepares students for an array of roles in assessment and intervention of dysfunctional behavior as well as in research and academia. Once a student finishes this program, he or she is able to receive licensure and become a clinical psychologist and provide behavioral care to patients.
Students planning on entering into a clinical psychology program must possess a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. A bachelor's degree in psychology is not required to apply, although a number of courses are required or highly recommended. St. John's University requires 24 credits of undergraduate psychology coursework for admission, including courses in introductory psychology, statistics and research methods. Hofstra University highly recommends courses like psychopathy or abnormal psychology, history of psychology, physiological psychology and sensation and perception. Boston University states that successful applicants had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.6.
Applicants generally submit scores from both the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general test as well as the GRE subject test in psychology. Some schools, like St. John's University, mandate that the GRE subject test is optional for students who have already completed a bachelor's or master's degree in psychology. The clinical psychology web page at Hofstra University states that students come into its Ph.D. program with GRE general test averages of 81 percent on the verbal section and 64 percent on the quantitative section. The general subject test scores average around 70 percent.
Statement of Purpose
Most applicants compose a statement of purpose that describes and explains their personal background, achievements, work or volunteer experience that will assist the admissions board in evaluating their merits. The essay will generally be two to three pages long, and may include information about the student's research interests or any aspects of his or her personal background that may add to the program's diversity. For example, students may include fluency in other languages or cultural, societal or educational experiences or challenges.
Additional Application Requirements
Students applying to clinical psychology programs must submit additional components to their application, such as letters of recommendation and official undergraduate and graduate transcripts. In addition, many schools also require that students submit at least one paper sample from a psychology course or other relevant work. St. John's University states that students may submit a laboratory, research or term paper to fulfill this requirement. Most schools require that applications be sent in by December or January, but each program differs in application due dates.