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Counseling Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742

Last Updated: September 2015

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Department of  Psychology                                                                                                                   


What follows are many of the most common questions applicants have about admissions in our program, along with our answers. Please contact one of the co-directors if you have any questions that are not answered on our website. For instructions on applying to our program, please click here or select the Application Instructions link on the menu bar.

What are the admission requirements? What makes an applicant competitive?

A bachelor’s degree in psychology or a closely related field is desirable but not required. Students should have completed a minimum of 15 credits in psychology, including introductory or general psychology, statistics, and three additional courses (in areas such as theories of personality, developmental psychology, social psychology, or cognitive-behavioral psychology). A strong background in math and statistics is helpful.

The typical applicant who is competitive has (a) GRE scores over the 50th percentile, (b) a GPA of 3.5 or above for the last 60 hours of the baccalaureate degree, and (c) a graduate GPA of 3.75 (if a previous master's degree has been earned). We look for experience in both research and counseling, and we are committed to training a culturally diverse group of students. Mean GRE score percentiles for students admitted in recent years typically fall between 75-90.

How many students are admitted each year?

All students are admitted for the fall semester only, and we admit approximately 6-8 students per year.

Are students admitted on a part-time basis?

No. Only persons who are willing and able to carry a full schedule of courses (e.g., 10 credit hours per semester) will be admitted.

How does one determine whether to apply through the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education (CHSE) or the Psychology Department (PSYC)? If I am accepted to the program, are there any implications of which side I apply to?

All applicants may apply to the program via CHSE or PSYC. Typically, applicants apply to that side of the program where they would most like to work with a specific faculty advisor. Regardless of the side to which an applicant applies, the admission offer usually will come from the same side of the program as the faculty advisor with whom the applicant is initially paired. Admissions are determined by the faculty as a whole, and students are considered to be part of the joint program once they begin their studies. Our joint program is viewed by the American Psychological Association as a single program. Please note that an advisor must be a full-time or core faculty member affiliated with the Counseling Psychology Program. Also, students can switch advisors during the program to advisors on either side of the program, although most students stay with the advisor initially assigned to them.

In most respects, students have the same experience regardless of departmental affiliation. Students take virtually all of their courses together, and receive the same high quality training in research and practice. However, some facets of the program differ for students housed in the two sides of the program. For example, CHSE and PSYC are located in different buildings, and students tend to spend more time in the department with which they are affiliated. Students’ work space is usually assigned by their department, and students’ paperwork and bureaucratic processes are typically handled in their department. Also, the details of funding arrangements differ by department, as explained on our financial information webpage. Also, there are a few differences in coursework based on the department in which students are housed (e.g., statistics courses). Despite these differences, we believe students develop a strong sense of connectedness across departmental lines because of the cohort model on which our joint training program is based.

What is the process for admissions decisions?

Our faculty members review applications in January and select a pool of applicants for phone interview. Applicants who are not contacted by late January to schedule a phone interview are no longer being considered for admission. These interviews are typically conducted in late January or early February. Based on these interviews, we select a smaller pool of applicants for in-person interviews.  This year our interview day will be held on February 2, 2018. Please keep the date open in case you are invited for an interview. Past applicants who have attended our interview day have reported that it provided an excellent opportunity to get to know current students and faculty, and get a feel for the program.

Notifications of admission and waitlist status are made by phone or email soon after these in-person interviews, usually by mid-February to early March. Students who are not admitted to the program will be notified by mail or online through the application system during this same period.

Do course credits or theses from previous graduate work apply to the requirements for the doctoral degree?

Students who begin the program having completed graduate-level courses at other universities may petition to have courses count in lieu of program-required courses, except for some counseling psychology courses that must be taken at UMD. The courses that must be taken at UMD are listed in the "Required Courses" section in the Program Handbook, which can be downloaded from this program website through the menu option for "Our Training Program."

Course waivers are considered when previously taken courses clearly replicate program-required courses and students have earned satisfactory grades in those courses. Petitions for course waiver are submitted to the student's advisor by September 15th of the first year in the program; faculty review petitions in a closed faculty meeting by October 15th of each year. We cannot evaluate previous coursework of individual applicants before they are admitted to the program.

A previously completed master’s thesis must be reviewed by a committee of three faculty from the Counseling Psychology Program to be approved for research competence. Over half of the empirical master’s theses completed elsewhere have been approved in the past.

Which faculty members plan to accept applications in the coming year?

Depending on the funding available to our program, the following professors may accept new students in the coming year: Bob Lent, Dennis Kivlighan, Jon Mohr, Matt Miller, Richard Shin, Derek Iwamoto, Karen O’Brien and Clara Hill.

Dr. Charles Gelso is a professor emeritus and will no longer be taking students. Also, no other program faculty—core or affiliate—will be taking new students in the coming year.

All applicants will be considered for admission, even if their preferred faculty advisor is not taking new students in the coming year.

Is it important for applicants to contact the faculty members with whom they most want to work? Can applicants arrange campus visits to meet faculty members?

We do not give preference to students who contact us. We wish we could arrange for applicants to visit faculty members, but, unfortunately, we cannot do this due to the large number of applications we receive each year. The only exception to this is when we invite a small group of applicants for interviews (see “What is the process for admission decisions?”)

What should applicants do if they have questions that are not answered on our website?

We ask that you check to make sure your questions are not answered on our website since it is a comprehensive source of information about our program. Additional information about faculty members is on their individual websites, which can be accessed using the Faculty Research Links sidebar on the left side of this page. If questions remain after using these online resources, then please feel free to contact one of our program training directors (using the “Contact Us” link in the menu bar above).