FAQ's

Below are answers to some questions frequently asked by applicants. If you still have questions after reviewing these, do not hesitate to contact us.

We typically have many more candidates apply for admission than we can admit. Admissions decisions are made by a committee, which is comprised of faculty members from the Department of Psychology. The committee considers a number of things in making these decisions, including applicant GRE scores, undergraduate GPA, recommendation letters, applicant interests and goals, and research experience.

Successful candidates are those who appear to be a good "fit" or "match" with the program and with the lab of a specific faculty member who would be the applicant's research mentor during his/her tenure in the program. That is, the interests and goals of the successful candidate will match those of the program and of a potential Faculty Advisor. Similarly, academic qualifications and experiences indicate the likelihood of success in the program and in the research lab of the candidate's likely Faculty Advisor.

You will complete one application to the Ph.D. program, which is sent to the Graduate Office by December 1. In your personal statement within that application, you should identify two faculty members in the department who you perceived as a good fit for your interests and experience. There is no separate application for this "match".

Prospective applicants should read over the information found on this website. It is especially important to consider whether or not our mission statement matches your training goals and whether the research of at least one of our faculty members matches your own interests.

As indicated in our mission statement, our goal is to provide students with high-quality research and clinical training. Because of our program’s commitment to research training and the extensive research requirements, applicants with little or no interest in developing research skills or conducting research will not find our program a good fit. Similarly, because we are serious about providing students with training in scientifically-based clinical practice skills, applicants with no interest in developing such skills will not find our program a good fit.

"Fit" of interests with a specific faculty member is an important criterion when the program makes admissions decisions. Students in our program are assigned a Faculty Advisor who serves as the student’s research mentor. Many student research activities are completed with the Faculty Advisor. For example, student-directed research projects (e.g., first-year project, thesis, dissertation) are typically conducted on a topic in which the Faculty Advisor has expertise and can help guide the student. Students assist their Faculty Advisors in conducting research and typically co-author papers with their Faculty Advisor, which are presented at conferences and published in professional journals. It is extremely important for prospective applicants to make sure that there is at least one faculty member in our department conducting research in an area that she/he would also like to conduct research.

Our doctoral program in Clinical Psychology has been accredited by the American Psychological Association for a five year period, effective May 19, 2009. The next cycle for APA program review is 2020.

APA Contact Information:

American Psychological Association
Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
750 First Street, NE . Washington, DC . 20002-4242
Phone: 202-336-5979 . TDD/TTY: 202-336-6123 . Fax: 202-336-5978

We typically admit 4-6 students each year.

The program is designed to take 5-6 years to complete, with the final year being the student's clinical internship.
Yes. Students enrolled in the program receive a tuition waiver (i.e., they do not have to pay tuition). Students also receive a 12-month teaching assistantship, renewable for up to four years. The stipend will be $17,000 for the 2014-2015 academic year. Alternatively, students may receive a stipend through a grant or fellowship, either one that they apply for themselves or a grant for a specific research study that has been awarded to their Faculty Advisor.

Any tenured or tenure-track faculty member can serve as a Faculty Advisor, with the exception of Drs. Hampson and Rosenfield, who do not act as the primary research mentor for graduate students. Lecturers, Research Faculty, and Adjunct Faculty do not serve in this role to Ph.D. students at SMU.

It is important to recognize that, for a variety of reasons, not all of our tenured and tenure-track faculty advise new students (admit new students into their research labs each year). If you are interested in working with a particular SMU faculty member, it might be worthwhile to contact that faculty member before you apply and ask if she/he plans to advise an incoming Ph.D. student during the next academic year.

The application deadline is December 1 for those seeking admission in the fall of the next year. We begin reviewing applications shortly after the deadline and make decisions about which candidates we wish to interview in late January or early February. Interviews are conducted in February, and admissions decisions are made a couple weeks after all of the interviews are complete.
We strongly recommend that all candidates invited to interviews visit our campus, view our facilities, and meet with potential faculty advisors. We host an “interview weekend” in February, and we believe this is a very helpful experience for applicants in deciding whether SMU is the right place for them. If an applicant cannot visit the campus during interview weekend, we will make arrangements for a visit at another time. Phone interviews can be conducted, but campus visits are strongly recommended.
GRE scores are important, but as indicated above, many other things also are considered in admissions decisions. In general, higher GRE scores are viewed more favorably than lower GRE scores, but high GRE scores do not guarantee admission. We aim to admit classes with an average GRE score (verbal and quantitative) of at least 1300.
While we do not require an undergraduate degree in psychology, some psychology coursework is helpful. In addition, because the program has a strong research emphasis, which includes a quantitative component, college-level math and statistics courses also can be helpful.
Although three letters of recommendation are required for admission, it is not required that you obtain letters of recommendation from psychologists. However, it is highly recommended that at least one letter (if not more) is from a doctoral level psychologist who is conducting research and who can comment knowledgeably about your potential as a researcher.
Research experience is extremely important. Successful applicants typically have worked in a psychology research lab (often as a volunteer) for at least two semesters. Some of the students admitted into our program have had extensive research experience and have already co-authored research papers that have been presented at national conferences or published in professional journals. Although presenting/publishing a research paper is not a prerequisite for admission (indeed, most successful applicants have not already published a paper), some research experience is expected.
This is a difficult question to answer, because different faculty members focus on different things. In general, experience with different aspects of the research process (e.g., participant recruitment, data collection, reviewing the literature, writing up research results) is viewed positively.
We assume that most applicants to our program will not have much formal clinical experience. This is because it is often difficult for undergraduate students to obtain these experiences. It is considered a plus if a candidate has had some exposure to a clinical/help-seeking population prior to applying to graduate school (this may occur through an applicant’s research experience or through volunteer work). It is also considered a plus if a candidate has had some exposure to questionnaires or tests that are sometimes used in clinical practice (or in efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of clinical practice). However, neither of these experiences is required.
No. All admissions decisions are made during the spring semester for students beginning in the fall semester.
No. Our program is for full-time students only.
You should not apply to the SMU Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology if you want a terminal Master’s degree. You will not be qualified to sit for licensing exams for Master’s level counselors (e.g., Licensed Professional Counselor Exam) if you enroll in SMU’s Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, but terminate after the Master’s degree.
No. Students in the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology can obtain a Master's Degree en route to the Ph.D. Almost all of the candidates accepted into our program are accepted with only a bachelor's degree.
These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, and they are made after an individual has been admitted into the program. However, students entering the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology with a Master’s degree should still plan to take approximately 5-6 years to complete the program. This is because much of the time spent in the program is spent on completing the research requirements, and it is unlikely that the department will exempt a student from these.
We expect graduates from our program to seek employment in a variety of academic and applied settings including universities and colleges, research institutes, hospitals, clinics, private practice, and government organizations.
You can find a lot of useful information about specific doctoral programs in clinical psychology on the internet. It might be useful to look at the training emphases of these programs and the research interests of faculty affiliated with these programs. Talk to psychology professors at your university or college and obtain their recommendations about programs and faculty with whom to work. There are books on graduate schools in psychology that can also be helpful (the American Psychological Association publishes books on this topic). If you have focused research interests, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with the research literature in that area. This will give you an idea of who is publishing in an area that interests you and who might potentially be a good research mentor for you.