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Department of Psychology
University of Mississippi

Preparing for Graduate School

How to prepare for a graduate school

              As a freshman 

             As a sophomore

             As a junior 

            As a senior

Across your time here

While you are at the University of Mississippi, we recommend taking advantage of professional development opportunities here and elsewhere.

If you qualify for the Ronald E. McNair program it is an excellent experience and highly recommended to help you in your preparation for graduate school.


In addition to completing the 30 hours of Psychology courses required for the major in Psychology (see Requirements), preparation for graduate school requires:
Breadth within Psychology. Students should insure that they have studied in the different sub-areas of psychology. There are many combinations of courses the student may take which would fulfill this breadth preparation. Work with your advisor on this point.
Research and/or Internship Experiences. There are three courses that are not typically listed in the course schedule each semester which are important preparation for graduate school:

  • Psy 401 (Internship)
  • Psy 405 (Minor Research Problems)
  • Psy 420 (Special Topics)

All three of these courses are arranged between individual students and faculty supervisors. In order to enroll in these courses, the student must first approach a faculty member and discuss whether placement in their laboratory/field position is appropriate. For example, you may have found one of your psychology courses to be particularly interesting. Talk to the instructor of this class and see if they would sponsor you for either Psy 401, 405, or 420. Your advisor may also have some recommendations for you. You can take each of these courses up to 2 times for credit.

Freshman year:
General Psychology
Sophomore year:
Psychology Statistics, Psychology Laboratory, Psychology Electives
Junior year:

  • Psy 401, 405 or 420, and additional Psych electives. If you take 401, 405, or 420, faculty members often ask you to sign up for 2 semesters. You may choose to sign up for these courses for both semesters of your Junior year, or you may decide to take 405 in the second semester of your Junior year, and 420 in the first semester of you senior year. It is important that you obtain research/internship experience before you begin to apply to graduate schools in your senior year.
  • After thinking about the area of Psychology you are most interested in, search the web for graduate school programs (see below). Write away for catalogs and application forms. Some schools may have all their information on-line. If they do not, this is the time to obtain materials.
  • Prepare for your GREs (see below).
  • Write your autobiographical statement. Graduate schools require that you write a statement about yourself as part of the application process. This often includes your career goals, and the reasons for choosing a particular career path. It also includes a description of experiences that led you to this choice. Begin thinking about this statement before your senior year begins.

Senior Year:

      • Additional Psych electives; Psy 401, 405, 420.
      • Take your GREs the summer before your senior year or early fall semester and contact faculty members about writing letters of recommendation for graduate school.
      • Apply to chosen programs.


Video series on preparing for graduate school: This is a free 12 module video program with PowerPoint slides and handouts accompanying it by Drs. John Norcross and Tom Hogan provided by the APA that provides step-by-step information about each step of the process to prepare for and apply to graduate school in psychology and related professions.


Information on how to get into a Clinical Ph.D. program

Your Guide to Getting In from the Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology

Advice from Mitch Prinstein

 Getting in, Getting out, and Getting on with Your Life: The Complete Cynics’ Series to and through Graduate Education in Clinical Psychology Book 1 – Getting In (Volume 1) by Dr. John Young

Information on Programs

Not quite ready for graduate school?

If you are still interested in attending graduate school but are wanting to work first, consider seeking a research assistant position after you graduate. This website provides a wealth of resources to help you obtain one of these positions.

Preparing for your Application