How to Increase Your Chances of Admission to the Program
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.
- APA (American Psychological Association) Applying for Graduate School Website, external link
- Helpful Links on Applying for Psychology Graduate School (from University of N. Iowa), external link
- CPA (Canadian Psychological Association) Student Resources webpages, external link
- Resources and articles from the Psi Chi (The National Honour Society in Psychology), external link
- PDF fileMitch Prinstein's Uncensored Advice for Applying to Graduate School in Clinical Psychology (Revised 2017), external link
- 11 Tips for Writing a Powerful Statement of Purpose, external link, opens in new window
- 10 Tips on How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Graduate School, external link
- The Psychology Major's Handbook, external link (fourth edition, published by Wadsworth Publishing, by Tara Kunther). Published in 2015.
- Applying to Graduate School in Psychology: Advice From Successful Students and Prominent Psychologists, external link (published by the American Psychological Association). This book provides insider knowledge and practical advice about how to apply for graduate studies in psychology. Published in 2008.
- Career Paths in Psychology: Where Your Degree Can Take You, external link, third Edition (published by the American Psychological Association, edited by Robert J. Sternberg). Discusses 30 different graduate level careers in psychology. Published in 2016.
- Getting In: A Step-By-Step Plan for Gaining Admission to Graduate School in Psychology, external link, Second Edition (published by the American Psychological Association). This handy, readable book simplifies the process for applicants and may even increase their chances of being accepted. Published in 2007.
- Graduate Study in Psychology, external link (published by the American Psychological Association). Lists almost all graduate programs in North America and can be referenced by province/state and subject area. This is published each year.
- Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology, external link (published by Guilford Press, by John C. Norcross and Michael A. Sayette). Specifically highlights information about clinical and counselling programs. A new edition is published every two years.