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General Questions Regarding Graduate School in Psychology

Here are some general questions to consider. Remember that pursuit of graduate study is a means to an end. You should try to define the end, or goal-state, as clearly as possible before selecting the most appropriate means. Selecting a means will be very difficult unless you first know the goal to which it leads.

1. Why do I want to pursue graduate study in psychology? What do I want to do after I leave graduate school?

2. What do I think I would I enjoy doing most: research, clinical work, applied work, teaching, some combination of these?

3. What are my goals in the next 5-10 years besides graduate school? Examples could include traveling, living in a particular area of the country, starting a family, and so forth.

Once you have an initial idea of what you might like to do in the future, consult with the TCNJ faculty or others to find someone who has the sort of job you would eventually like to have. Ask to meet with this person, and ask him or her about the kind of education and training he or she had, what he or she liked or did not like about it, and so forth.

Talking to someone who you feel epitomizes your ideal goal (e.g., someone conducting research at a prominent university, or working as a clinician in private practice) may be useful in helping you to define your goals. You might well change your goals after you talk to different people about career possibilities.

To get into graduate school, you need to have excellent grades (3.0 GPA or higher, usually 3.5) as well as high GRE scores. The GRE is for graduate school what the SAT was (or is) for admission to undergraduate study. It has three sections: Verbal, Math, and Analytical Writing. Many programs weight scores on this exam highly because they facilitate a standardized method for comparing students’ measured aptitudes (in contrast to college GPAs). See above for more information on the GRE.

A final point to consider is when to go to graduate school. Many people elect to take time off to work, do research, or engage in other pursuits before applying to graduate school. The graduate school application process can be stressful, tedious, time-consuming, and expensive. You many want to consider if it is too much to handle in your senior year when you are busy with classes and other activities. This is not necessarily a negative. Many programs (especially research-based Ph.D. programs) tend to prefer that students work in a research or applied setting (e.g., medical school or research university) for a year or longer before applying to grad school. There are more jobs out there for bachelor’s-level people than most students realize. Talk to the faculty; we can help you find these kinds of jobs.

The department has several books and other resources to help you with your application process and decision making. Talk to the faculty, ask questions, and investigate all of your options! We are here to help you succeed and make the most of your education.