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Undergraduate Program - Graduate School Preparation

After Applying

What do you do if you are not admitted to any of the graduate programs that you apply to?

If you do not get admitted to any graduate program the first time you apply, you could be admitted to a program the following year, especially if you take steps in between to enhance your likelihood of being successful. If your GRE scores are average, consider preparing for and retaking the GRE. Graduate programs usually accept the highest scores when an applicant has taken the GRE more than once. If you lacked research experience the first time that you applied, arrange to acquire that experience before you reapply. If you applied only to a few highly competitive Ph.D. programs, consider applying to more programs, applying to good Ph.D. programs that are less competitive, or applying to master's degree programs.

If you applied unsuccessfully to a number of graduate programs, one possible strategy for evaluating your chances of success if you reapply is to call and ask someone on the admission committee to give you a candid evaluation of the strength of your application. Be courteous in making such calls. Do not argue with the person you talk to or attempt to convince him or her that you should have been admitted. Be prepared to hear some information that may be upsetting. For example, the person may tell you that your personal statement sounded arrogant, or that your letters of reference were neutral about your personal and academic qualities. Remember that such candid information can help you have stronger applications the following year.

If you receive offers from several graduate programs in psychology, how much time will you have to decide which one to accept?

The Council on Graduate Departments of Psychology has adopted April 15 as the standard deadline for making decisions about accepting offers of admission and offers of financial aid for graduate programs in psychology. If a graduate program offers you admission, that program will expect to hear your decision by April 15, and that program should not pressure you to make a decision before April 15.

Visiting Graduate Programs

It is a good idea to visit the programs that you wish to apply to. Although the expense of this may limit the number of schools you visit, it will be helpful in deciding which program to attend. Also, call the program and ask to talk to faculty and students. Do some research on the faculty and see what research interests they have. E-mailing the faculty is another good way of finding out about schools. The more you find out about different schools the better you will be able to make an appropriate choice in a graduate program for yourself.