Clinical Psychology Acceptance Rates

In accordance with instructions from the APA Office of Accreditation, the Doctoral Program in Counseling Psychology at the University of North Texas provides the following student, education and training outcome, and financial data. Data on applicants, admitted students, internship acceptance rates, program completion times, student attrition rates, and financial costs are all provided below. Admission to our program is determined by a holistic review process rather than by a single criterion or numerical indicator of achievement. Skills in communication, research methodology, and professional/scientific writing are highly valued, as are motivation, aptitude, self-awareness, commitment, and interpersonal poise.

Its easy to apply online. Discover with us why more than 42,000 students have chosen to study with us.

Graduate Programs Are Highly Competitive

Most mid-tier to top-tier graduate programs are extremely competitive, especially those that offer funding to their graduate students. For instance, this department’s graduate program typically receives between 300 and 400 applications each year, of which admission offers are typically extended to about 20, of which approximately half accept. Successful applicants not only satisfy the eligibility requirements, but go above and beyond in important ways. These may include research experience, academic achievements, and more.

To achieve similar credentials at the baccalaureate or post-baccalaureate level and to clearly highlight their strengths in their applications, students should carefully research the traits of successful applicants.

It is crucial to emphasize that the standards used for graduate admissions differ significantly from those at the undergraduate and other levels. It’s not always true that applicants with the highest GPAs and test scores have the best chances of admission. Instead, more peculiar elements like “program fit” and similar research interests may be more important. Therefore, students who are used to evaluating their progress solely on grades need to change the way they think because the rules and playing field are different in this situation.

Basic Qualifications of Successful Applicants

Typically, applicants are expected to have a record that includes the following qualities in order to score an interview, or to be taken seriously:1,2.

Prerequisite undergraduate coursework completed

Depending on the graduate program you are applying to, different courses are required of you. Some may have very specific requirements, others do not. Some people might prefer that the applicant has a well-rounded background with a variety of challenging courses in and out of psychology.

High GPA

The average of accepted candidates for psychology PhD programs, on the 4 0 scale, is 3. 6 overall and 3. 7 in psychology courses; for Master’s programs it is 3. 4 overall and 3. 5 in psychology courses. 1 The GPA should be, at minimum, typically 3. 0 or higher.

Good GRE scores

Minimum requirements (also known as “cutoffs”) vary depending on program. Some programs, including this department’s, have dropped their minimum score requirements. GRE scores, however, can be used to distinguish between two applicants who are nearly identical. For psychology PhD programs, first-year graduate students’ mean GRE scores, using the scale introduced in late 2011, are 158 verbal and 149 quantitative; for master’s programs, they are 153 verbal and 146 quantitative. The average score on the Psychology section of the GRE is 633 for PhD programs and 577 for Master’s programs. One thing to keep in mind is that some programs, like the one in this department, do not require the subject test.

Research experience

Research experience is a must. Publications and presentations are typically the most valued forms of proof of research experience, though this can take many different forms. Visit our research opportunities page for more details on how to gain research experience as a student.

Practical or clinical experience

For those applying to programs with a clinical or public service component, this may be crucial. For instance, the number of hours you volunteered at an outpatient clinic could be useful for a graduate application in clinical psychology. However, it should be noted that research experience is typically stressed as even more important in guides to clinical psychology programs.

Extracurricular activities

Optional and varies; should be relevant to the graduate program. Membership in psychological organizations, any leadership roles you have held, science communication, or charitable work are just a few examples.

How Applicant Qualifications Are Weighted

Every one of the aforementioned requirements, along with other elements of the application materials, can make or break an applicant’s chances of getting invited for an interview and ultimately getting an admissions offer. There typically are at least two stages of review. The first step entails selecting candidates for an interview. At that point, the following criteria might be used for selection (please note that each program may weight each factor differently):1,2

  • Many programs only interview candidates who meet certain criteria for GPA and GRE scores.
  • Recommendation letters: For many programs, three letters are required. Despite being subjective, letters of recommendation often carry the same weight as GPA and GRE scores in many programs.
  • Experience in conducting research is required as proof that the applicant has the potential to succeed in the main task of graduate school.
  • The statement of purpose is considered proof of the applicant’s writing skills, as well as their own self-declared research interests and opinions regarding the program’s fit.
  • Examining the applicant’s transcripts will reveal whether they have completed the prerequisite courses for admission, whether they possess the necessary background knowledge, and whether they are capable of handling the academically demanding coursework.

Following the interviews, the following factors are frequently considered (in order of importance): It should be noted that the applicant’s performance in the interview, statement of purpose, and recommendation letters may significantly influence these standards and ultimately the decisions made regarding final selection.

  • Resulting from the applicant’s ongoing research activities, publications or paper presentations
  • As stated in the application essays and discussed in interviews, the applicant’s skills and interests align with the program.
  • Match with a professor who is interested in working with the applicant, as shown, for example, by the professor’s interview with the applicant and their shared research interests; additionally, the professor must be taking on students that year.
  • Writing skills as demonstrated in the essay; clarity and focus with which the applicant was able to write the statement of purpose
  • Prior research experience – more specifically, how much and what kind of prior research experience the applicant had

Other criteria may also be considered depending on the program. The ability to speak multiple languages, the applicant’s contribution to geographic diversity, and whether they are related to another student who has been or is currently enrolled in the program are among the least important selection criteria, it should be noted.

Acceptance rates at graduate programs in psychology range between 32-78% for Master%E2%80%99s programs and 12-48% for PhD programs (non-clinical); for clinical programs generally, acceptance rates vary from 7-50% The following information was gathered by the APA in 2010 regarding the mean acceptance rates in various branches of psychology:

Area Masters PhD
Cognitive Psychology 40% 16%
Community Psychology 61% 24%
Counseling Psychology 63% 12%
Developmental Psychology 44% 20%
Educational Psychology 57% 48%
Experimental Psychology 39% 15%
Health Psychology 41% 16%
I-O Psychology 52% 27%
Neuroscience 32% 15%
Quantitative Psychology 78% 36%
School Psychology 34% 31%
Social/Personality Psychology 39% 12%

Workshops and Downloadable Resources


  • Please consider attending this department’s “Paths to PhDs” workshop and other related events for an in-person discussion of the procedure for applying to graduate programs in psychology, neuroscience, and related fields (for dates and times, please check the undergraduate workshops calendar).


  • Tips for Psychology Graduate Programs (a succinct summary) [PDF]

How-To Videos

Recommended Reading

APA Videos on Graduate Applications

Further Resources

Prepared by S. C. Pan for UCSD Psychology

From being Rejected to EVERY Clinical Psych PhD Program to Accepted to an Ivy League in ONE YEAR!


How hard is it to get into clinical psychology?

Admission to Ph. D. programs in clinical psychology is very competitive. It’s typical to have a ratio of 300 applicants for 8 openings (though it might take 10-15 applicants to be accepted to fill the slots; some applicants who are accepted choose to go elsewhere or enroll in a different graduate or professional program).

What is a good GPA for clinical psychology?

The admissions process for clinical psychology doctoral programs is rigorous and all are extremely competitive (many are more difficult to get into than medical school).

Is clinical psychology more competitive than medical school?

Clinical psychology programs are competitive because there is a high demand for admission and a limited number of students accepted each year. Particularly at more prestigious universities, there are many more students than there are open positions. The programs choose the students they believe will perform the best.

Leave a Comment