Frequently Asked Questions:
Clinical Psychology Graduate Program
Most Common Questions:
Do I have to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
No, you do not need to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormon”) to be admitted into our program at BYU. In fact, each year we have several incoming graduate students of other faiths, and we see that diversity as an asset. However, although people of all faiths are welcome, all applicants must agree to the University Honor Code and receive an Ecclesiastical Endorsement annually. (Link to Honor Code)
What's it like living in Utah?
Utah has world-class outdoor activities. You can look into some of them here. In addition, Provo is consistently named one of the best places to live:
Provo City has a good website with events and community resources: Provo City. You are also welcome to ask current graduate students how their experiences have been. If you need help getting in touch with someone who can answer your questions, just ask! Our phone number is (801)-422-4287, and our Graduate Student Directory can be found under the Graduate tab on our Department website.
What degree programs does the Psychology Department offer?
The Psychology department offers Clinical Psychology and Psychology Ph.D. programs, with an MS embedded within the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. The Clinical program is the only degree this department offers that prepares you for licensure and clinical work (therapy, psychological assessment, etc.) in addition to research and academic work in a university setting. The Psychology degree (non-clinical) prepares you to work in academic and research settings. You may also have opportunities to work in applied settings, such as consulting, evaluation, or program development. But, you will not have any specific licensures. (For more information about the Psychology program, click here.)
Is your program APA accredited?
Our clinical program has been continuously accredited by APA since 1971 (Commission on Accreditation). Our most recent re-accreditation process resulted in accreditation for another 10 years, the longest period of time allowed.
Questions about the program itself:
What do students do after earning their PhDs?
The Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program adheres to the scientist-practitioner training philosophy, so those students are prepared with the knowledge and skills to be excellent psychologists. They are equipped to pursue university-level academic and research careers, or clinical careers in mental health centers, community agencies, hospitals, university counseling centers, private practices, VA medical centers, and so forth.
Do the graduate students form collegial relationships with other students in the program and faculty members in addition to their primary mentor?
We hope so! We have social events, seminars, and internal conferences to encourage graduate students to get to know the personalities and research of other graduate students. In addition, the faculty wants you to feel welcome and comfortable in the department and at the university. Graduate students will work as research assistants to faculty mentors and will have several faculty members get to know their research. As part of a research lab, they will also work closely with other graduate students who are also being mentored by their research adviser. We hope you take advantage of these opportunities to develop long-lasting relationships that will serve you in your future careers.
What space/research resources are available to students?
Students in the Clinical Psychology program are housed in the Comprehensive Clinic, a unique interdisciplinary training and research facility that provides the university and the broader community with mental health services offered by graduate students in Clinical Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy, Social Work, and Communication Disorders.
The clinical program provides each student with a study carrel in the research lab of the mentor, located in either the Comprehensive Clinic or the Annex. Your faculty mentor(s) may also provide you with other resources such as technology and funding. A number of faculty conduct research using BYU's Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research Facility.
Students have access to all of the resources at the Harold B. Lee Library, which includes online databases and interlibrary loan services. The university and college also provide extensive access to computers and software.
Do students have to opportunity to travel to present at conferences, and does the department pay for this?
Graduate students are strongly encouraged to present their work often. Some internal presentations are a required part of the program. Other conferences may be local, regional, or national. Clinical Psychology funding, along with Psychology Department funds, grants through the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences, and Graduate Student Society awards allow students to present their research at conferences. Graduate students are also encouraged to apply for external funding opportunities after consulting with their mentors.
Is there grad student housing?
While there is no housing designated for graduate students only, the BYU Housing Office does provide resources for locating suitable housing. To find out more about on-campus housing, please click here. To learn about BYU-approved off-campus housing, please click here. Note that graduate students are not required to live in BYU-approved housing. Some prefer to live close to campus, but others prefer to live as far away as Salt Lake City (45mi or 70km).
What are Program Emphasis Areas?
The Clinical Psychology program offers optional emphases in neuropsychology; child, adolescent, and family psychology; clinical research; and clinical health psychology. Many faculty are members of (and willing to supervise) graduate student work in more than one area.
Will I have the opportunity to participate in community placements?
Clinical practica are a part of the Clinical Psychology program: Paid clinical externships in the community are provided during the third and fourth years of the clinical program, and an APA-accredited full-time internship is required during the fifth year. In addition, students participate in unpaid clerkships in order to add breadth to their training.
Will I get teaching experience?
You certainly can get teaching experience if you wish to do so. Some students serve as teaching assistants. In addition, students who have completed the department teaching course may serve as the instructor of record for undergraduate courses, depending on department needs. These are paid opportunities.
How can I learn more about the research that faculty members are involved with?
You can find out more about faculty research interests by going to the Faculty Directory here and clicking on a faculty member's name. That should take you to a page with their research interests, recent publications, and other pertinent information. You can also click here to go directly to a webpage that groups faculty by their research-area emphasis. Please note that under each faculty name, the primary research emphasis is listed first. Once you have identified a few faculty members whose research interests match your own, you may contact them directly to see if they have openings. Just be aware that no guarantees for admission can be made based on this contact.
What if there is no faculty member who studies what I want to study?
One of your first priorities in selecting a graduate program is to find a mentor with whom you can work collaboratively. Some faculty members are willing to consider research that is similar to the research that they usually do. However, a faculty member cannot mentor you in acquiring mastery of a body of research that they are not familiar with. Sometimes two mentors work together, but you must work this out with the potential mentors. You should seek mentors who are able to prepare you for the work you plan to engage in.
Can I obtain a PsyD degree at BYU?
No. The Psychology Department does not offer the PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) degree.
How long does it take to complete your program?
The Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program takes five years to complete, including an APA-accredited full-year internship during the fifth year. We work very hard to keep you on track and make sure it only takes longer in extenuating circumstances. It is not possible to finish our program any faster. Doing so will not allow you the necessary experience you need for successful employment.
Is there financial aid? (Click here to visit Tuition and Financial Support Page)
Yes, we offer all students a partial tuition waiver (1/2 of the LDS tuition amount) for four years and an assistantship with a stipend during the first two years in the program. In the third and fourth years, students participate in paid community externships. Students may contract to teach classes if they elect to do so after completing the teaching class. Additionally, there are a limited number of competitive fellowships, and grants that may be available through Graduate Studies and the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences.
Questions about the admissions process:
Do I need to have an earlier degree in psychology (bachelor's and/or master's)?
No. While a psychology major would generally be best, a related field might be appropriate. For example, an applicant interested in the neuropsychology emphasis area for the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. might have a major in neuroscience. Regardless of your prior educational focus, we still prefer that you have completed all prerequisites by the time you enroll.
What should be GPA be to be competitive?
Close to a 4.0 is ideal, above a 3.5 is good, and above a 3.0 might be acceptable. It all depends on the other aspects of your application.
What should my GRE scores be to be competitive?
For the Verbal Reasoning section, in the top 10% (90th percentile) is ideal; in the top 20% is good, but scores in the top 40% (60th percentile) might be acceptable.
For the Quantitative Reasoning section, in the top 20% (80th percentile) is ideal; in the top 40% is good, but in the top 60% (40th percentile) might be acceptable.
For the Analytical Writing section, a 5 is ideal, a 4 is good, and a 3 might be acceptable.
These are all just rough guidelines, and whether or not a particular set of scores is "good enough" for admission all depends on how your scores fit in with the rest of your application and an identified mentor. There are no concrete rules for admission based on scores.
Do I need prior research experience to be admitted?
Although not required, it is quite difficult to get into a graduate program in psychology (here at BYU or anywhere else) without prior research experience in psychology or a related field (e.g., neuroscience, sociology, education, human development, and family studies, etc.).
Do I need to have experience presenting posters or papers at professional conferences or have publications in journals to be admitted?
No. However, such products of your prior education and training look very good on your application and will improve your odds of receiving admission.
Can I meet with someone to discuss my application before I submit it?
We cannot review your application or GRE scores before you correctly submit a completed application online, including an Ecclesiastical Endorsement. However, you may want to talk about your research interests with a faculty member who does research that interests you. This helps you make sure you understand the type of research you might end up doing.
Can I apply to more than one program?
If you are applying to both the Psychology Ph.D. and the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. programs, you will need to submit two separate applications.
How many students do you admit each year? What percent of applicants are admitted?
The number of students admitted each year depends on the number of faculty members who are accepting graduate students, the quality of the applications received, and available space and funding. Generally, we accept about 8 students per year in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program.
Can I get a master's degree while I'm earning a Ph.D.?
At present we do not offer a terminal master's degree. However, a master's degree is embedded within the Clinical program which allows students to apply for internships that require a master's degree.
Do I have to take the GRE?
Yes, all applicants must provide us with their scores from the GRE General Test which has been taken within the last five years.
Do you require the GRE subject test for psychology?
While the Psychology Subject Test is not required at the present time, it is highly recommended that you take it while the core subjects are fresh in your mind. Depending upon decisions being made at an accreditation level, it is possible you will need to take the Subject Test in the future in order to waive certain core graduate courses. Assuming you had already taken the Subject Test as part of your application to graduate school, you wouldn’t need to retake it.
What institution code do I use to send my GRE scores?
The Educational Testing Services (ETS) administers the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) and before you take the test you may indicate that you want your scores to go to BYU by using the code R-4019. If you have already taken the GRE then please see the ETS website for information on ordering additional score reports.
How do I submit letters of recommendation? Transcripts? A letter of intent?
All instructions related to the application go through Graduate Studies.
What should I say in my statement of intent?
A statement of intent (or personal statement) is an essay describing such things as: why you are interested in pursuing a degree in clinical psychology, the research and professional interests you want to develop at BYU, how your background qualifies you to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, the reasons you are a good fit for our program. Exactly what you say is up to you. It is expected that applicants will designate a faculty member or two with whom they would like to do research. Some applicants provide context for how the department admissions committee should view other elements of the application (such as GPA, GRE scores, or a gap in work/school history). Without being too informal, you can also use the statement to let the admissions committee get to know you a little better. Your undergraduate university may have resources to help you determine what to include in your statement of intent and there are numerous good online articles addressing the topic.
Do you arrange for a campus visit?
If your application passes all approvals at the university level (including an Ecclesiastical Endorsement) and you are selected by the department admissions committees and faculty as someone who is qualified and a good fit for the available openings, then you will receive an invitation to visit the campus. We strongly encourage you to come if you are able to. The campus visit is like an interview where you decide if you really want to study here and we decide if we are able to commit to your education for the next five years in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. If you are invited and a visit is not possible, we can arrange for a telephone or online interview. We will be your hosts while you are here; however, we regret that we are not able to pay your transportation to the Provo area. Typically 15-16 applicants are invited for these interviews which take place between the last week in January and the middle of February. (See Admissions timeline for the specific date each year.)
When is the deadline for my application?
Applications are due December 1st of each year (Or the Monday after December 1st if it falls on a weekend).
How do I confirm that all of my materials were received?
First, you can confirm that Graduate Studies has received your materials. If they have, then the Clinical Psychology Admissions Committee will be able to review your application packet a few days after it is complete. If there is some reason for doubt, then you may call the Clinical Psychology Secretary (801)-422-4050 during normal business hours to verify.
When will I hear back on my application?
We hold interviews for program finalists toward the end of January or early-to-mid February each year. Offers of acceptance are made by April 15th, in compliance with APA guidelines, though most often students hear within a week or two of the interviews. If you are not accepted, then you may want to improve your application (e.g., gain research experience or retake the GRE) and re-apply the next year. It may also be wise to apply to several additional programs and institutions.
Can I call or email questions to get further information?
We welcome questions that may remain after you have read through the Psychology Department webpages and the Graduate Studies webpages: Clinical Psychology (801)-422-4050 or email@example.com. If you would like to explore our programs more thoroughly, you could refer to the Graduate Student Handbook which applies to both the Psychology Ph.D. and the Clinical Psychology PhD. The Clinical Practicum Handbook provides further information about clinical training in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. Both of these handbooks are geared toward current students.
Questions about special circumstances:
Can I work while going to school?
Graduate school is a full-time endeavor, and thus it is difficult to succeed if you have outside employment. Internal sources of financial support are available such as research assistantships, teaching opportunities, scholarships, fellowships, and grants. In the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, students have the opportunity to work as research assistants the first two years and to be involved in paid externships and teaching opportunities after the first year. As a result, clinical students are not permitted to be employed outside the program. (In rare circumstances a student is given permission to continue very limited part-time work that is relevant. The Director of Clinical Training and research mentor must approve this work, and a letter of permission must be placed in the student’s file.)
What if I already have a master's degree?
While a master's degree may provide you with a solid foundation for your doctoral studies, it does not necessarily increase your odds of admission or decrease the number of years you will be in our doctoral program. Occasionally general core courses may be waived if it is determined that the prior courses are equivalent to the BYU offerings.
Are there special instructions for international students?
Yes, see here.
What are your English Language requirements?
Please click here for information.
Can I earn the degree part-time?
No. The Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program requires a full-time commitment that involves coursework, a significant amount of research, and clinical work within the Comprehensive Clinic and the community. To spend less than your full time would require you to forego opportunities while in graduate school that are often vital to a successful career.
Can I be admitted for other than a Fall Semester start?
No. If you are ready to apply before the next application cycle, then please spend time preparing for graduate school as you wait for the next application cycle. This might involve gaining research experience.
Can I get my application fee waived or wait to pay it after I am admitted?
The application fee pays for staff and resources involved in processing your application and is not a fee associated with your acceptance. We are not able to waive the fee. There may be a program at your undergraduate institution that assists students with application fees.
Can I take graduate courses in your program without being admitted to BYU?
No. We have a responsibility to dedicate our available time and resources to our current graduate students. Thus, university policy does not permit it.