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Please assist! How to work my way to a PhD in counseling psych. with a 3.45 undergrad GPA


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Hello everyone-

I am feeling a bit discouraged by browsing the admissions statistics to the various counseling psychology doctorate programs around the country. I am really hoping someone might be able to give me some sound advice on getting in to a decent program.

A bit about me-

Planning to apply for programs starting Aug. 2013

Undergrad degree in psych- 3.45 GPA, with a 3.7 in my final 60 credits

Will be taking the GRE this coming January

Experience: One semester internship in a mental health clinic, 7 months working as an advocate for at risk youth, 2 semesters as a research assistant (cognitive and social), and some other less applicable stuff as well.

My questions are these:

1. What can I do in the next year or so to improve my chances? What sorts of experience would speak the loudest to admissions people?

2. Would I be better off trying for a masters in first, then moving on to the PhD when I finish? If so, which specific types of masters programs should I be looking into? Terminal or non-terminal? General psych or counseling?

Any other advice from someone who has been or is currently in my situation would be so very much appreciated. Thank you!

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Please take all of my advice at face value- I'm only just applying to schools right now, and these are the impressions I've gotten as I've gone through the process. If anyone out there has anything to add (or, in particular, any corrections), please jump in. :)

First off, yes... PhD programs in counseling are competitive. I've noticed that a lot of them tend only to admit students who have already gotten their masters degrees. However, there are exceptions to the rule. One of the best resources on this, I've found, are books like these ones:


They're able to quickly tell you what the stats of the students admitted were, how many only had undergraduate degrees, and how many had their masters, etc. Some of the info can be off, but it's a good starting place.

Masters programs are generally unfunded and are therefore more expensive than PhD programs (which tend to be funded); they're still competitive, but tend to admit more students than the PhD programs to, and seem to be the route that a lot of people take in this degree- I'm not sure.

Depending on your career goals, there are many ways to go into the field of counseling/therapy - clinical psychology, social work, PsyD's, etc. All programs are varying in length, price, and competitiveness.

I'm also not sure if you're still in school, taking time off, etc. but it sounds like you're on the right track as far as extracurriculars. From what I understand, programs normally look for undergraduate research experience, volunteer experience, etc. If you're still in school, the best advice I can give is to find opportunities where you can really get to know your professors- this can be hard at big universities but it's worth it if they can vouch for you and write you great letters down the road.

Good luck!

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  • 2 weeks later...

3.45 GPA is fine if your GREs are good. I don't know about clinical/counseling programs but research experience and dissemination (conference posters, publications if possible) are helpful in other programs.

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