Prospective Graduate Students

Applying to Clinical Psychology PhD programs is an arduous process that comes with an uneven playing field. Applicants without access to strong mentors who can provide support and guidance throughout the process may have less access to the information shared here. By creating this page, our lab hopes to help “level the playing field” for applicants applying to our lab.

We’d like to acknowledge and thank Dr. Jessica Schleider, PI of the Lab for Scalable Mental Health for her FAQs template.

Will you be accepting a new graduate student to start Fall 2023?

I will not be accepting a new student in this academic cycle.

How do I know if I am a ‘good fit’ for the lab?

  • Demonstrate commitment to the lab’s mission 
  • Want to pursue a career in child/adolescent intervention or implementation research
  • Have accrued independent research experience (e.g., by leading a senior thesis, research project, and/or first-authored posters, talks, or papers).

I’m especially interested in recruiting applicants with experiences in some or all of the following areas (however, none is required of applicants):

  • Working on randomized clinical trial(s) with children/youth/families
  • Studying racial/ethnic disparities in mental health and mental health services
  • First hand involvement in community-partnered research with historically marginalized groups
  • Dissemination and Implementation studies in community mental health or school settings

As a mentor, I feel best-prepared to support students who are interested in careers that involve applied, clinical, and/or intervention research. This includes a wide variety of career paths, including academic faculty positions, e.g. in departments of psychology, education, social work, or public health; combined clinical-research careers, e.g. in academic medical centers; and non-academic careers in applied research or health policy.

I believe that strong training in evidence-based practice is essential to becoming an effective, informed intervention scientist. “Practice-based evidence” is core to our lab’s work and mission. However, I may not be the most effective mentor for applicants who are interested entirely in clinical practice careers.

What about the GRE? How important are my scores?

Update, June 15, 2022: The University of Washington’s Clinical Psychology PhD Program will no longer require the GRE for admissions.

My undergraduate GPA is below 3.5. Will this remove me from consideration?

No. Many factors can influence one’s GPA, including competing commitments (e.g., working part-time while in school), family obligations, and health challenges. Academic achievement is very important, but context is, too. If you believe your GPA does not reflect your potential as a future scientist, please (1) ask one of your recommenders to share more about your circumstances to help me holistically assess your achievements, or (2) provide this information in your personal statement.

Should I email you before I apply to express interest in your lab?

Although I welcome emails from prospective students, your decision to email me (or not) will have no impact on your odds of receiving an interview invitation or an offer of admission. Because I cannot equitably accommodate the number of requests for meetings with potential applicants, I do not offer to meet with applicants outside our program’s formal interview process.

What should I include in my personal statement?

  • A clear statement of your general research interests and how they relate to our lab’s mission and work
  • A clear statement of why you are interested in our lab, in particular, versus other labs that study youth mental health treatment
  • A statement about your career goals (even if they are approximate/might change, it is helpful to see your thinking!)
  • Discussions of your independent research experience(s) and what you learned from them. In these discussions, I suggest emphasizing (1) the skills you developed from working on each project (e.g., data collection in Qualtrics; coding/running analyses; interviewing children/families; writing certain sections of a paper; submitting/presenting a poster), and (2) what your “takeaways” were from the project—e.g., new research ideas or questions your work inspired.

I have never had to write a CV—just a regular resume. How should I organize this document?

For guidance, check out these resources:

My own experiences with mental health problems (e.g., my own, a friend’s, or a relative’s) shaped my interest in making treatments better/more accessible. I’ve been told not to mention this in my personal statement. Is this true?

No. Lived experience undoubtedly shapes the interests and goals of all of us. There is nothing wrong with sharing how your personal experiences have informed or inspired your scientific interests and career ambitions. However, personal/lived experiences should not be the main focus of your personal statement. Your research interests, experiences, goals, and ‘fit’ with our lab are much more helpful to me when reviewing your application.

I am interested in becoming a therapist and/or incorporating clinical practice into my future career. I’ve heard that mentioning this in my application will hurt my admissions chances. Is this true?

I aim to recruit students seeking rigorous training in both clinical science and clinical practice. Both skill-sets inform each other necessarily. I am a clinical supervisor in our program’s training clinic.

Yet it is important to understand the mission of the UW clinical psychology program which has a strong clinical science orientation. Our program is designed to train clinical scientists, and thus students who are happiest in our program tend to want careers that incorporate research. Students interested in careers in clinical practice would not be best served by our program.

As a mentor, I am best prepared to support students who are interested in careers that involve applied research in mental health disparities, community-based intervention research, and implementation research. This includes a wide variety of career paths, including academic faculty positions (e.g. tenure-track positions in departments of Psychology, Education, Social work, or Public Health);  clinical-research careers (e.g. in academic medical centers); and non-academic careers in applied research, health services administration or policy.

Is it advantageous to list multiple mentors of interest (or just one) on my application?

There is no inherent advantage to naming multiple mentors of interest on your application. I review all applications on which I am listed as a top-choice mentor.  Listing two potential mentors may be appropriate if your interests and goals clearly fit with two faculty members’ research programs (as described in your personal statement).

I want to apply, but traveling to the University of Washington for an on-campus interview would be burdensome and/or exceptionally difficult for me. What should I do?

For the upcoming admissions cycle, it has not yet been determined if interviews will be in person or remote via videoconference. Please stay tuned for details about the interview process. 

I want to apply, but the application fee would create real hardship for me. What should I do?

I understand that applying to graduate school is expensive. For this reason, I suggest considering carefully whether you are able to demonstrate a good fit with each program to which you are applying. At UW, there are a few application fee waivers available for U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents. International applicants are ineligible to request an application fee waiver. If you are in need to be considered for an application fee waiver, please know that you must complete/submit your waiver request and application one week prior to our application deadline. This means, if you need an application fee waiver, you must submit your entire application with waiver request no later than November 24 (is 7 days prior to December 1), otherwise your application will automatically be rejected and no waiver given (you would then need to pay the application fee). If you receive a waiver, you will need to log back into your online application to apply it and then submit your application to completion. The Graduate School/Department of Psychology does not submit your application for you because you requested a fee waiver. More information on application fee waivers can be found here. Once you submit your application with application fee waiver request 7 days in advance of our application deadline to the Graduate School they will contact you with the decision to the email listed on your application profile. If you are waiting to hear back from your fee waiver request, please let the Psychology Graduate Program Office know.

Where else can I find information and guidance for my application process?

​​Mitch’s Uncensored Advice for Applying to Graduate School in Clinical Psychology, provided by Dr. Mitch Prinstein, UNC Chapel Hill. A staple for those considering applying to graduate school in clinical psychology, from determining your best-fit career path to deciding between offers from Clinical PhD programs!