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Competitiveness of Clinical Psychology Research Areas


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Hi everyone!

I'm going to be applying to clinical psychology programs in Canada this year (for Fall 2022 start) and there are a few different topics and areas of research that interest me. What I'm wondering is whether different research topics and areas within clinical psychology differ in terms of competitiveness, and if so, which seem to be more and less competitive (could be broad areas of research or specific topics/disorders)? I've heard that labs/PIs in certain areas of research tend to expect more of applicants in terms of experiences, publications, etc. than others, and that some research topics are just more popular than others and attract more applicants. Either way, I plan to pursue my research interests, but just want to know whether I should be prepared to require more experience or to face more intense competition for certain research topics relative to others. 

Thanks in advance! 

Edited by psy1234
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Honestly, the whole field of clinical psychology is so competitive in general that the differences in subfields are so minute. I would say I've heard that neuro, child, and eating disorders research tends to be a bit more niche and exclusive. However, that's in the US. I'm not sure about Canada. 

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21 hours ago, psy1234 said:

Hi everyone!

I'm going to be applying to clinical psychology programs in Canada this year (for Fall 2022 start) and there are a few different topics and areas of research that interest me. What I'm wondering is whether different research topics and areas within clinical psychology differ in terms of competitiveness, and if so, which seem to be more and less competitive (could be broad areas of research or specific topics/disorders)? I've heard that labs/PIs in certain areas of research tend to expect more of applicants in terms of experiences, publications, etc. than others, and that some research topics are just more popular than others and attract more applicants. Either way, I plan to pursue my research interests, but just want to know whether I should be prepared to require more experience or to face more intense competition for certain research topics relative to others. 

Thanks in advance! 

Hello there,

I'm going to echo PsyDuck90, as someone who went through the process twice and will go again this year: it's very program/PI specific. I'll give you an example (based on real experience, but details changed) : a program might have 3PIs that do somewhat similar research (let's say addictions). While the program is very competitive since it's clinical, one professor might get more applications because they are doing something hip/trendy (like video game addictions), while the other 2 get less. Maybe one PI is more popular with the undergrad there due to teaching and gets even more applications. 

To be honest, unless you have some way of finding out how many apps a particular lab/PI gets, it's very difficult to estimate. 

Overall, in Canada, clinical psych is the most competitive. I've noticed that in some places labs that research child mental health or neuropsych seem to be quite popular and get more applications than other areas (but just my experience). Maybe others can chime in with other experiences.

In any case, I think just making sure you have a good research match with your PI can go a long way, even in areas where there is a lot of competition. 

Best of luck!

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I just want to add that from speaking to faculty and through personal/peer experiences, the subfield of PTSD/trauma is especially competitive. Also, neuropsychology tends to be more competitive as well, specifically the physiological data collection labs. This is partially due to there being more interest in both PTSD and neuro, and there being less available PIs. I do not have data on this, but I have been told it takes a little extra to get in.

Edited by psychster
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