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Hi everyone, I've created a list of potential clinical psych programs to apply to but am nervous because of my undergrad gpa. I am a senior now and have a gpa of 3.14 (mainly because of family-related issues my first and early second year, along with my mediocre grades in my premed classes which has tanked my gpa despite better grades the following years) from a fairly rigorous and selective private university. I work at the medical school as a research assistant in the genetics department, along with as a research assistant in a psychology lab (where my lab is about to submit my research for publication as first-author along with being collaborated on by 3 clinical psych professors across 2 universities), and as a resident advisor to first year students. I've done much in classes my later second and third year (in higher level psychology courses with a 3.88 gpa this past semester). I also recently took the GRE and got Verb. 159, Quant. 158, and analytic 5! I also have experience in Python, R, and MatLab.

So what are my chances, do I have a shot or should I make other plans for this coming year?

 

Thanks for the help!

Edited by stressed_out
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Have you looked into the average GRE score and GPA for the universities you're interested in? That may give you a better idea of your chances. Given that clinical psych is so competitive there is the possibility that you get screened out and with your GPA it may be best to retake the GRE. But it is good that you have research experience and you can talk about that in your personal statement!

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Just now, LavenderGoat said:

Have you looked into the average GRE score and GPA for the universities you're interested in? That may give you a better idea of your chances. Given that clinical psych is so competitive there is the possibility that you get screened out and with your GPA it may be best to retake the GRE. But it is good that you have research experience and you can talk about that in your personal statement!

I second looking into average scores. I actually think your GRE score is fairly competitive for most programs, but it definitely won't get you into prestigious universities, and it won't quite make up for a low GPA. However, many programs will ask you for overall GPA as well as GPA for last two years/psych specific GPA. 

It sounds like you've been very active in research in multiple labs, which will work in your favor. One thing you could do is have letter writers talk specifically to your academic ability rather than address it in your statements. A master's degree is always an option, but GPA isn't everything. Clinical psych admissions are very holistic. Have you gotten mentorship from your current supervisors/advisors? 

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Your GRE scores look great - from my application cycles most schools averages for admitted students were around 160 v 160 q. So I definitely think you are within range. Be sure to address the upward trend in your grades in your SOP. The GPA could or could not hurt you depending on what the school is looking for. I think it could be worth it to apply to a mix of PhD programs and some masters programs (try to look for funded ones). Though consider the costs of applying. I did 2 cycles and each cost me close to 1000 dollars in application fees. Not everyone has the money so if you feel that it would be better to gain more experience and not take the risk of not getting in, you could take another year off and apply next year. Research productivity looks good and being able to use programming languages is looked upon very favorably. At my institution knowing R puts you ahead of the pack. I didn't apply for grad school during a pandemic, so you may have more unforseen challenges this year.

 

And a last note, general advice, don't consider programs for their prestige, it is more about fit and resources, you want to go to a fully funded program that funds you for all years of study (typically 4 years). Be sure to apply to schools where there is a good fit for your research interests and ability to do the research you want to do. Make sure that your research interests are well defined and demonstrate that on your SOP. Good luck!

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I would really grind this last year to boost your gpa. Some schools focus on junior/senior gpa instead of total gpa which will help you. If you think you can apply to schools (it's a lot of work) and keep your gpa up, go for it. You will be more competitive in a year, assuming your submission is accepted by then and your gpa improves some. You should apply widely because there are schools that you will not meet the gpa cutoff for and they won't always say how strict they are. I interviewed for places that reported soft cutoffs even though my gpa was below.

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