Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to take the GRE?
The GRE general test (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical Writing) is required of all applicants. The Advanced test in Psychology or a related field is recommended but not required. TOEFL scores are required for international applicants only. Official scores for the GRE and TOEFL are required; but, unofficial copies are sufficient until the official scores arrive.
Do I need to take specific courses before applying to the doctoral program?
We do not require applicants to have taken specific courses or to have pursued particular majors before applying. However, part of the evaluation of readiness for graduate school is whether the applicant has the undergraduate background appropriate for their intended area of study. While many of our graduate students have an undergraduate major in psychology, many others have undergraduate majors in cognitive science, neuroscience, biological science, or computer science.
Do you offer a Masters Degree?
The Department of Psychology and Human Development offers a Masters of Education in Child Studies. The doctoral program in Psychological Sciences admits students who intend to earn a Ph.D. Some students in the program do attain a Masters Degree on the way to earning the Ph.D. However, students who are only interested in a Masters Degree should not apply to Psychological Sciences.
Do you have a Counseling Psychology program?
Psychological Sciences has a doctoral program in Clinical Science only. The Department of Human and Organizational Development at Peabody College has a Masters program in Human Development Counseling with specialization in community counseling and school counseling (http://peabody.vanderbilt.edu/x3676.xml).
Do you have Educational Psychology?
Students interested in Educational Psychology should apply to the Psychological Sciences program, or another department within Peabody college, and in their application materials make clear their interest in the Interdisciplinary Program in Educational Psychology. Once they have been admitted to a Ph.D. program, students can receive support from the IPEP program, and, depending on their department, earn a minor or concentration in Educational Psychology in addition to their primary degree.
I see that Psychological Sciences is a joint program between two departments, the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Science and the Department of Psychology and Human Development in Peabody College. Do I need to apply to a specific department?
Students apply to the joint doctoral program in Psychological Sciences.
Am I admitted to work with a specific professor?
Officially, students are admitted into the doctoral program in Psychological Sciences and by a specific department. However, we weigh heavily the match between applicant interests and those of members of the faculty. Applicants should discuss their areas of research interest in their statement of purpose. Applicants are encouraged to identify particular faculty they might be interested in working with.
What factors determine whether I will be admitted?
Several factors weigh heavily into admissions decisions: (1) undergraduate GPA, (2) GRE scores, (3) the undergraduate institution, (4) letters of recommendation, (5) prior relevant research experience, (5) match between interests of the student and members of the faculty, and (6) whether those faculty are currently admitting new students into their laboratories.
Will I have an opportunity to visit?
After our initial review of applications, we typically invite in for visits those applicants whom we have decided to admit or are strongly considering for admission. Such visits give the applicant time to meet with faculty and graduate students, view the research facilities, and see the Vanderbilt campus and the city of Nashville. Visits typically take place between early February and early March. We recognize that international applicants may not be able to visit, in which case we have numerous email and telephone exchanges with the applicant. With the exception of international students, it is unlikely that we would admit someone who had not been invited for a visit.
Why might good students not be admitted?
Unfortunately, each year many good applicants are not admitted to our program for a variety of reasons. We often have more qualified applicants than we have admission slots. Sometimes the research interests of the applicant do not match those of our faculty. Other times, faculty who might have matching research interests are not currently taking new graduate students.
Do you offer financial aid?
Every student is admitted with funding that includes a 9 month stipend, tuition remission, and health insurance. Funding sources include fellowships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, training grants, and individual predoctoral fellowships. Students are often funded from a variety of sources during their graduate careers. Students who remain in good standing are guaranteed funding for five years. While summer support is not guaranteed, most graduate students receive some kind of support during the summer months. We also strongly encourage all graduate students to apply for their own external support from NSF, NIH, NSRC, and other agencies.