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How to Increase Your Chances of Admission to the Program

Many qualified applicants are not admitted to the program each year, simply because we receive many more applications than we have spots available.  Here are some suggestions for increasing your chances of acceptance.

Students with a high likelihood of obtaining a fellowship for graduate studies from agencies such as the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) program, SSHRC, NSERC, or CIHR, greatly increase their chances of admission to the program.  We will automatically consider your application for OGS funding.  In addition, we strongly recommend applying for funding either SSHRC, NSERC, or CIHR, depending on which agency most closely match your research interests.  Some deadlines are early in the Fall, so check into these opportunities sooner rather than later.  Be sure to indicate on your application whether you have applied for funding (and where), and let us know as soon as you hear that your funding was approved.

Applicants who already have an MA in Psychology are not eligible to receive University funding for a second MA degree in Psychology. Therefore, applicants with a previous MA in Psychology will not be admitted to the MA program. These applicants are encouraged to seek admission to the PhD program, but they should note that few if any positions become available for direct entry into the PhD each year.

Although all decisions are made by the Psychology Department’s Graduate Admissions Committee, individual faculty members review applications, interview applicants, and make recommendations to the committee.  Applicants have a higher chance of being admitted if their interests are a match for one or more of their preferred supervisors.  We recommend highlighting potential matches (with up to 4 or 5 faculty) in your Statement of Interest.

Many applicants make contact with their top choices for faculty supervisors in advance of the application deadline.  These contacts are usually made by e-mail.  If you choose to contact potential supervisors, feel free to include your statement of interest, CV, grades, GRE scores, and any other relevant information with your e-mail.  This will alert the potential supervisor to the specific details of your application.  However, note that the program will review all applications, and will make sure that relevant faculty members are aware of your interest in working with them.  So, it is not required that you make contact with potential supervisors in advance.  If you choose to contact individual faculty members, note that some professors receive hundreds of queries from potential applicants and may not be able to respond to every e-mail.

Many different factors go into admission decisions.  Some of the features of a strong application include:

  • Potential for external funding.
    Students with external scholarships (and/or a high likelihood of being competitive for such funding) have a higher likelihood of being accepted.  By external funding, we are referring to grants from OGS, SSHRC, CIHR, NSERC, and similar agencies, rather than simply an ability to support themselves through other means (though having other personal sources of funding is certainly helpful once students start the program).
  • High grades.
    Generally, a minimum of an A- average in the last 2 years is required to one's application reviewed, and most successful applicants have a minimum of an A average.
  • High GRE Scores.
    The higher the scores on the GRE, the higher the individual’s chances of being admitted.  Scores on the required General test are generally weighted more heavily than scores on the psychology Subject test, which is optional but strongly recommended.
  • Strong psychology background.
    Students with an undergraduate degree in psychology and/or courses in a wide variety of core psychology areas (e.g., abnormal psychology, biological psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, history of psychology, personality, perception, social psychology, etc.) are generally preferred.
  • Strong research skills.
    Our program is generally seeking applicants who have strong research skills, as demonstrated by good grades in statistics, successful completion of an honours thesis, and additional research experience.  Experience working in a research lab and familiarity with basic day-to-day aspects of research (e.g., recruiting participants, working on an ethics proposal, principles of research ethics, scheduling participants, running participants through a study, analyzing data, scientific writing, preparing manuscripts according to APA format, submitting manuscripts, applying for funding, etc.) are an asset.  A genuine interest or passion for conducting independent research is also important, for applicants to both the psychological science and clinical psychology fields.
  • Strong recommendation letters. 
    It is important for applicants to have positive letters of recommendation.  Furthermore, the more details and examples provided in the letter, the better.  Therefore, it is usually best to ask for letters from professors and research supervisors who know you well.
  • Good writing skills.
    Being able to write is an important skill for success in graduate school.  Make sure that your Statement of Interest and CV have been carefully proofread!
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
    Generally, we are looking for candidates who have excellent interpersonal skills.  This is assessed through comments made in letters of recommendation, behavior during the interview, and other contacts between department members and applicants during the application process.  In the case of applicants to the Clinical Psychology Field, we will attempt to judge the likelihood of applicants succeeding in their practical training as well.