The following information are suggestions based on the experience and knowledge of psychology students at IUP who have completed the process of gaining admission into graduate school.

Fall Freshman Year

  • Think about what kind of career in psychology you may want to have. General Psychology offers a good overview of the many different disciplines in psychology. APA's Career Paths in Psychology is also a good book to reference. This book can be signed out in the psychology office.
  • Determine whether your career objectives require graduate school. If they do not, you may want to examine the Applied Psychology Track (See Applied Psychology reference).
    Look through class listings in psychology and pick out courses that interest you. Try to schedule some if possible for next semester.

Spring Freshman Year

  • Schedule psychology courses for next year that interest you. Continue exploring your career interests.

Fall Sophomore Year

  • Build solid relationships with your professors and ask lots of questions about the field.
  • Inquire about research opportunities within the psychology department.
  • Further define your interests in psychology.

Spring Sophomore Year

  • Purchase a Graduate Record Exam (GRE) study aid or you can borrow one from Psi Chi. Because the test is computerized, a CD ROM program is an ideal tool. Start familiarizing yourself with the GRE. Scores for this test are an important factor for admission into most graduate programs (See GRE reference).
  • Start working with psychology professors to gain research experience.
  • Consider participating in the Psychology Honors Program if you qualify. This is a great thing to put on a graduate school application. It will also allow you to gain research experience.
  • If you have not already picked a minor, do so now. Choose one that will complement the area of psychology that you desire to work in.
  • Join Psi Chithe National Psychology Honors Society-- if you meet the requirements (See Psi Chi reference).


  • Seriously start studying for the GRE. You may not have much time to do so during the school year.

Fall Junior Year

  • Examine practicum (internship) opportunities. Dr. Marquette runs this program. A practicum betters your chances to gain admission into a graduate school program and helps you evaluate your career interests. A field practicum is great if you are interested in counseling or an application of clinical psychology. If your future career will be research based, you can also do a research practicum, which involves working with a professor on his or her research.
  • Continue research with professors.
  • Study for GRE.
  • Start thinking about where you want to attend graduate school. The office of Career services (located in Pratt) has software that helps you to define your search. Also look at APA's Guide to Graduate School, which is available in the psychology office.

Spring Junior Year

  • Continue research experience.
  • Complete a practicum or set one up for the summer time.
  • Study for GRE. You may want to take the general test at the end of the school year.
  • Request information from graduate school programs that you may want to attend.
  • Begin studying for the GRE Subject Test if required by the programs in which you are interested. A general psychology textbook is a good study aid for this exam.


  • Take GRE General Test if you have not already done so.
  • Choose the schools to which you want to apply. If you are applying to PhD programs, choose 15-20 programs. If you are applying to master's programs, choose 8-10. It is not necessary to visit all these schools before you apply. Most programs require interviews at which time you can get to know the campus and area.
  • Start your graduate school applications, do a rough version of the essays, etc. This is a very time-consuming process, so it is better to start early.

Fall Senior Year

  • Take the GRE General Exam again if necessary.
  • Take the GRE Subject Test if required by your programs.
  • Complete your graduate school applications. Get a professor's input on your essays.
  • Compile curriculum vitae to include in your applications (see Curriculum Vitae reference).
  • Ask professors for letters of reference. Give them plenty of notice. When asking for letters of reference, it is a good idea to ask the professor if he or she would be able to write you a positive letter that helps yours to stand out among other applications. Most professors will tell you the truth. It is better to be sure if you are getting a good reference or not because you usually waive your right to read the letters of recommendation.

Spring Senior Year

  • Wait for responses from graduate school programs to which you have applied.
  • Interview at the schools that invite you.
  • Make your decision of where to continue your education.

Some General Points

  • Plan on doing your best from the very beginning. Gaining admission to graduate school is very competitive.
  • Develop good relationships with all your professors. Ask questions and get involved!
  • Graduate schools like to see students who are well rounded. Join an outside activity where you can obtain leadership experience. Volunteer for an agency related to your interest.
  • Psi Chi is a great way to get involved at IUP and learn more about the psychology field.
  • If you choose to get involved in research, make sure you are someone who a professor can rely on. Also, do not over commit yourself to time you do not have.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to do something. Your path to graduate school will be very busy.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions. If you do not ask, you may lack important information.
  • Register for your GRE exams well in advance (i.e. one month or more). Spaces fill up very quickly.
  • The ideal way to do well on your General GRE exam would be to take a refresher course in math and logic, and to read challenging materials to improve your vocabulary.
  • The Office of Career Services is a great resource to psychology majors. You can do a computerized search of graduate schools. They can help you refine your interests, build your resume, and prepare for interviews, among many other things. It is a great-untapped resource! Just remember, displaying many other strengths such as having a high GPA, holding leadership positions, doing departmental research, and an internship can make up for weaknesses on your applications such as low GRE scores.