Applying for the Ph.D. - Picking Programs to Apply to

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

Applying for the Ph.D. - Blog 2

So you made the well-thought out decision to apply for a Ph.D? Congrats on getting this far! Your next step is cultivating a list of programs to apply to. This is a difficult and time-consuming decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. After all, this is the first step in finding out where you'll be spending the next five years of your life!

The first thing you need to ask yourself is how many schools will you apply to?

I applied to Ph.D. programs twice - once as a senior in college and once as a full time researcher. My first time I was only hoping to get experience with the process so I applied to four schools. My second time my goal was to apply to 12 and I applied to 8 instead. For psychology Ph.D. programs the average is 10-12 schools. However, it's important to note that the application process can be very expensive! Evaluate your goals and how many schools you can afford to apply to and then finalize that number. Having a final number can help you narrow down your list to the top schools you're passionate about.

Once you have that number, you're ready to evaluate programs and find the ones you fit with. When investigating programs, here are some questions you might want to ask:

  • How much do they emphasize research vs. practical experience?

  • Does the program provide a stipend? If so, for how much and for how many years?

  • What was the average GPA of their most recent incoming class?

  • What were the average GRE scores of their most recent incoming class?

  • What kind of research is happening within the program and are there any professors that could be a strong mentor fit for you?

  • Could you see yourself living happily in that city/state? How many miles is it from home?

If you've asked yourself all these questions and feel like you are a good fit for the program and the program is a good fit for you, it's time to add it to your list! Jot down the answers to all the above questions as well as the following information:

  • Application Deadline

  • Application Costs

  • Is the GRE required?

  • Is the GRE Subject test required?

  • Is an official transcript required?

  • What is the Personal Statement Prompt?

  • Do they require anything else with your application?

To help you guys out during the process of cultivating your list I've created a downloadable template to track which programs you're applying to. Check it out here!

If you are applying to a Ph.D. stay tuned for Blog 3 of the Applying to the Ph.D. Series: Acing the GRE.

Until next time...


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