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Profile evaluation for International Student: PhD Social or I/O


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Hi there,


I was reading through this forum and find it extremely helpful. Since I’m not from the US and don’t know the whole grad school system so well, I’m not entirely sure how competitive I am for applying for a PhD (although I think I've got lots of experience). I'm looking for either social or I/O PhDs, maybe also OB at a Business School would be suitable. I have many interests and I'm not completely sure which path would be most interesting for me.. Anyway, it would be very nice if I could get some comments on my profile.



  • BS in Psychology (3 year program) from a German university, GPA 1.3 on a scale from 1 to 5 (not sure how to convert and unfortunately they don’t give us %), studied for 1 year in Paris (so took me 4 years to complete the BS)
  • Currently in a MS I/O psych program (2 years, finished the 1st) at the same German university, I only have a few grades by now but think that my final GPA shouldn’t be too different from the undergrad GPA
  • I haven’t looked at the GRE yet, but I think I wouldn’t score too bad, I like standardized tests (took the TOEFL iBT last year and scored 114 out of 120)


Research experience:

  • 8 months research intern in Psycholinguistics and Cognitive Neuroscience Department; designed and conducted a study, analyzed the data, wrote a report and presented the results in colloquium (together with another student)
  • 1.5 years as student assistant in the Department of Marketing (at Business School of my university), although this was not soo much about research, but I also assisted in conducting some studies, entered data, reviewed papers etc.
  • my undergrad thesis was very good (my supervisor said that it was the best he had seen from the 50 he had supervised), it’s now in the second review process after revise & resubmit (I'm first author); the data was presented as a poster twice (one time won the overall poster prize of the conference, other time appeared in the proceedings) and once as a talk, but all conferences were in Germany, will submit it to an international conference in 2015
  • currently visiting student conducting research in a Psych Lab at Princeton University for 3 months

I don't know if this counts as research experience since I don't know if US colleges have the same seminars included in their curriculum:

  • 2 semester coursework where I, together with 3 fellow students, designed and conducted a study in the field of Social Psych, analyzed the data, and wrote a report
  • 1 semester coursework where I, together with 3 fellow students, designed and validated a questionnaire and wrote a report about it


Relevant work experience (I know that it's not really relevant for PhD applications though):

  • 6 weeks intern at a psychotherapy clinic
  • several months part-time intern at central course guidance of the university
  • one semester tutor for diagnostic interviewing
  • will do a 3 month internship at a consulting company with HR focus in 2015


I could get a great LOR from my undergrad supervisor, I think that the professor from Princeton would also write me one, I’m not so sure whom to ask about the 3rd, but I think of doing another research internship during my last two semesters in Germany.


It may be good to know that I’d apply for Fall 2016 and I’ll be 26 by then, don’t know if that matters.

Sorry for the long post, thanks for reading!

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You look very competitive for top programs but it's hard to know for sure until you actually apply to them and see what comes back.


One thing stands out as an American-European difference:



GPA 1.3 on a scale from 1 to 5 (not sure how to convert and unfortunately they don’t give us %),


Is 1 = highest and 5 = lowest? Note this very clearly somewhere in your application because with American GPA higher = better so at first glance your GPA looks terrible but, given the rest of your application, I'm assuming it's not.

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You do sound competitive as an applicant for I/O programs.  (I believe a 1 in Germany is the highest GPA, so a 1.3 out of a 1 - 5 scale is quite good, right?)


Yes, the research you did as assignments in coursework does count as research experience.  Designing and conducting a study is research, regardless of the motivation for doing it.  You can list them as research experience items on your CV.  (You can notate that they were assignments in courses.)


Best of luck to you!

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Thanks for the answers!


Yes, 1 is highest and 5 is lowest. I saw that there is even a table on my English Transcript of Records (my German university provided it) where they categorize the grades and 1.0 to 1.5 is "excellent".

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