Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology: Revised 2014/2015 Edition

Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology: Revised 2014/2015 Edition

by John C. Norcross, Michael A. Sayette

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This perennial bestseller, now in its 2014/2015 edition, is the resource you can rely on to help you select--and get into--the graduate clinical or counseling psychology programs that meet your needs. The Insider's Guide is based on intensive research and includes information and advice not available from any other source. In-depth profiles on more than 300…  See more details below


This perennial bestseller, now in its 2014/2015 edition, is the resource you can rely on to help you select--and get into--the graduate clinical or counseling psychology programs that meet your needs. The Insider's Guide is based on intensive research and includes information and advice not available from any other source. In-depth profiles on more than 300 accredited programs in the United States and Canada provide details on specializations or tracks, admission requirements, acceptance rates, financial aid, research areas, clinical opportunities, and more. Planning and decision-making worksheets help you streamline the selection process and zero in on your top choices.

Editorial Reviews


“An invaluable resource for anyone considering a career in health service psychology. It is useful for undergraduate students, academic advisors, career counselors, and individuals looking to make a career change. Of critical importance is the first chapter of the book, which emphasizes what psychology is and why to choose it as a profession. Although books with similar missions exist, the Insider's Guide has several advantages. It is extensively researched and referenced, with its perspectives substantiated by data. Regular updates ensure that its advice reflects changing program criteria and admissions processes, making it more useful than books that are updated less frequently or that offer static advice in time….Taken as a whole, the Insider's Guide remains an important achievement for the field. It offers a wealth of information and is an unparalleled resource for doctoral hopefuls. Given the incredible competition to gain admission into a clinical or counseling program…applicants need all the information and advice they can get to ensure admissions success. The current edition, like its predecessors before it, offers the data and tools needed to help applicants make informed decisions, apply to programs with training models that are the best fit for their needs, and increase their chances for acceptance. I highly recommend it for anyone considering graduate study in psychology and for those advising others through the process. The book and the thoughtful process it recommends are memorable starting points for what promises to be a long, rewarding and exciting career journey.”

“Reading this book is like experiencing hours of in-depth discussions with two trusted mentors who have distinguished careers. Whereas typically this type of guide can be like a impersonal tome weighing down one's mind with innumerable choices, this revised edition of the Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology acts as a decision-making funnel, eliminating paths and eliminating tens of possible schools - wisely….The authors distilled over 203 articles and books into this highly readable and focused text, efficiently answering the real-life dilemmas of real people….If I were to get serious about applying to a master's or doctoral program, I would re-read this guide several times and follow its strategies to the letter….Because this guide is so excellent, it can save everyone!: - students and their advisors - a lot of time, money, and angst.”
Choice Reviews

“This is a useful resource for public and college libraries. Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers.”
From the Publisher

"A 'must read."... Like many other Directors of Clinical Training, I could continue to pull my hair out over the increased individual inquiries regarding how to get into graduate school, or simply refer each individual to the well-written, fact-based latest edition of the Insider’s Guide."--Sally H. Barlow, PhD, Director of Clinical Training, Brigham Young University

"The authors have created a valuable guide for applicants. The wealth of practical information and insights gleaned from their research and personal experiences should help applicants make the strongest possible application to the schools of their choice. This well-written, encouraging book will be a great asset for anyone applying to clinical or counseling psychology programs."--Barry A. Hong, PhD, Washington University School of Medicine
"I love your book! This book is excellent for focusing upon specific areas of interest as well as going about the process in a systematic, logical manner. Great job!"--Helen Rowan, MA, clinician returning for her doctorate 
"Your book is simply a godsend! I found it to be instructive, informative, and a great comfort."--Emily M. Douglas, psychology undergraduate

"I was lost and confused before I stumbled across this wonderful piece of literature! It answered every question I had, narrowed down my choices. The ranking system was great!"--Lisa Oldfield, clinical psychology applicant
"Your book has helped me immensely. It was fun to read and contained great suggestions and insights that I would have been clueless about. Thank you for providing this resource for students!"--Timothy G. Lock, graduate student
"Your book means so much to me. The Insider’s Guide was the most helpful piece of literature I came across during my years of research into graduate programs. It was almost like a bible to me."--Sharon Lee Hudson, doctoral student
"I bought your book at the suggestion of my undergraduate psychology advisor once I decided to go back to school after spending nearly 10 years in the nonprofit sector. Your book has been extremely helpful and I have used it as my road map in guiding my efforts to set myself up to be successful in applying to schools this year. Thank you for writing this book--I really would not have known how to navigate the process without it."--George Lewis 
"I am writing to thank you for the second time for the remarkable resource the Insider’s Guide has been. My girlfriend has just successfully utilized your most recent edition and has been accepted into a clinical PhD program. Great stuff!"--Jason Paris, graduate student
"I cannot express enough gratitude to you for the Insider’s Guide. Your book was the most important resource that I used during my applications to PhD programs in counseling psychology. It is exceptionally well written, incredibly applicable, and, most important, it is clear, concise, and pragmatic. Thank you so much for remembering how stressful and chaotic the application process can be, as well as being empathic enough to pull together a resource that I am sure has helped so many graduate students."--Kimberly Tran, doctoral student

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Guilford Publications, Inc.
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Revised Edition
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8.40(w) x 10.70(h) x 1.20(d)

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Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology

2014/2015 Edition

By John C. Norcross, Michael A. Sayette

The Guilford Press

Copyright © 2014 The Guilford Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4625-1813-5



If you are reading this book for the first time, we assume you are either considering applying to graduate programs in clinical and counseling psychology or are in the process of doing so. For even the best-prepared applicant, this can precipitate a great deal of stress and confusion. The mythology surrounding this process is foreboding, and you may have heard some "horror" stories similar to these: "It's the hardest graduate program to get into in the country"; "You need a 3.7 grade point average and outrageous GREs or they won't even look at you"; "If you haven't taken time off after your bachelor's degree and worked in a clinic or research lab, you don't have enough experience to apply."

Having endured the application process ourselves, we know how overwhelming and bewildering the task appears at first glance. However, we find that much of the anxiety is unwarranted. It does not take astronomical test scores or years of practical or research experience to get into clinical and counseling psychology programs. Although these qualifications certainly help, they are not sufficient. Equally important are a knowledge of how the admission system works and a willingness to put in extra effort during the application process. In this book, we will help you to work smarter and harder in getting into graduate school.

Clinical and Counseling Psychology

Before dealing with the question of "how to apply," we would like to address "why" to apply and what clinical and counseling psychology entail. Reading through the next section may prove useful by making you aware of other programs of study that may better suit your needs.

Let us begin with clinical psychology, the largest specialty and the fastest growing sector in psychology. Two-thirds of the doctoral-level health service providers in the American Psychological Association (APA) identify with the specialty area of clinical psychology. A census of all psychological personnel residing in the United States likewise revealed that the majority reported clinical psychology as their major field (Stapp, Tucker, & VandenBos, 1985).

A definition of clinical psychology was adopted jointly by the APA Division of Clinical Psychology and the Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology (Resnick, 1991). That definition states that the field of clinical psychology involves research, teaching, and services relevant to understanding, predicting, and alleviating intellectual, emotional, biological, psychological, social, and behavioral maladjustment, applied to a wide range of client populations. The major skill areas essential to clinical psychology are assessment, intervention, consultation, program development and evaluation, supervision, administration, conduct of research, and application of ethical standards. Perhaps the safest observation about clinical psychology is that both the field and its practitioners continue to outgrow the classic definitions.

Indeed, the discipline has exploded since World War II in numbers, activities, and knowledge. Since 1949, the year of the Boulder Conference (see below), there has been a large and significant increase in psychology doctoral graduates. Approximately 2,800 doctoral degrees are now awarded annually in clinical psychology—1,300 Ph.D. degrees and 1,500 Psy.D. degrees in the United States. All told, doctoral degrees in clinical psychology account for about half of all psychology doctorates (Norcross et al., 2005). Table 1-1 demonstrates the continuing popularity of clinical psychology and the growing number of clinical doctorates awarded annually.

These trends should continue well into the future. The percentage of psychology majors among college freshmen has increased nationally to almost 5% (CIRP, 2005). A nationwide survey of almost 2 million high school juniors, reported in the Occupational Outlook Quarterly, found that psychology was the sixth most frequent career choice. Indeed, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education, interest in psychology as a major has never been higher (Murray, 1996). So, if you are seriously considering clinical or counseling psychology for a career, you belong to a large, vibrant, and growing population.

Counseling psychology is the second largest specialty in psychology and another growing sector. As also shown in Table 1-1, counseling psychology has experienced sustained growth over the past three decades. We are referring here to counseling psychology, the doctoral-level specialization in psychology, not to the master's-level profession of counseling. This is a critical distinction: our book and research studies pertain specifically and solely to counseling psychology programs, not counseling programs.

The distinctions between clinical psychology and counseling psychology have steadily faded. Graduates of counseling psychology programs are eligible for the same professional benefits as clinical psychology graduates, such as psychology licensure, independent practice, and insurance reimbursement. The APA ceased distinguishing many years ago between clinical and counseling psychology internships: there is one list of accredited internships for both clinical and counseling psychology students. Both types of programs prepare licensed, doctoral-level psychologists who provide health care services.

At the same time, five robust differences between clinical psychology and counseling psychology are still visible (Morgan & Cohen, 2003; Norcross et al., 1998). First, clinical psychology is larger than counseling psychology: in 2013, there were 243 active APA-accredited doctoral programs in clinical psychology and 69 active APA-accredited doctoral programs in counseling psychology (APA, 2013) currently accepting students. About 50% of all doctorates (Ph.D.s and Psy.D.s) awarded each year in psychology are in clinical psychology; about 9% are in counseling psychology. Second, clinical psychology graduate programs are almost exclusively housed in departments or schools of psychology, whereas counseling psychology graduate programs are located in a variety of departments and divisions. Our research (Turkson & Norcross, 1996) shows that, in rough figures, one-quarter of doctoral programs in counseling psychology are located in psychology departments, one-quarter in departments of counseling psychology, one-quarter in departments or colleges of education, and one-quarter in assorted other departments. The historical placement of counseling psychology programs in education departments explains the occasional awarding of the Ed.D. (doctor of education) by counseling psychology programs.

A third difference is that clinical psychology graduates are more likely trained in projective and intellectual assessment, whereas counseling psychology graduates conduct more career and vocational assessment. Those applicants particularly interested in vocational and career assessment should concentrate on counseling psychology programs. Fourth, counseling psychologists more frequently endorse a humanistic or person-centered/Rogerian approach to psychotherapy, whereas clinical psychologists are more likely to embrace cognitive-behavioral or psychodynamic orientations. And fifth, both APA figures (APA Research Office, 1997) and our research (Bechtoldt, Norcross, Wyckoff, Pokrywa, & Campbell, 2001) consistently reveal that 15% more clinical psychologists are employed in full-time private practice than are counseling psychologists, whereas 10% more counseling psychologists are employed in college counseling centers than are clinical psychologists.

Studies on the functions of clinical and counseling psychologists substantiate these differences, but the similarities are far more numerous (Brems & Johnson, 1997; Goodyear et al., 2008). Thus, as you consider applying to graduate school, be aware of these differences but also remember that the two subdisciplines are similar indeed—which is why we feature both of them in this Insider's Guide!

In order to extend the previous research, we conducted a study of APA-accredited doctoral programs in counseling psychology (95% response rate) and clinical psychology (99% response rate) regarding their number of applications, characteristics of incoming students, and research areas of the faculty (Norcross, Sayette, Mayne, Karg, & Turkson, 1998). We found:

* The average acceptance rates of Ph.D. clinical (6%) and Ph.D. counseling (8%) psychology programs were quite similar despite the higher number of applications to clinical programs (270 vs. 130).

* The grade point averages (GPAs) and GRE scores for incoming doctoral students were nearly identical in Ph.D. clinical and Ph.D. counseling psychology programs (3.5 for both).

* The counseling psychology programs accepted far more master's students (67% vs. 21%) than the clinical psychology programs.

* The counseling psychology faculty were more interested than clinical psychology faculty in research pertaining to minority/multicultural issues (69% vs. 32% of programs) and vocational/ career testing (62% vs. 1% of programs).

* The clinical psychology faculty, in turn, were far more interested than the counseling psychology faculty in research pertaining to psychopathological populations (e.g., attention deficit disorders, depression, personality disorders) and activities traditionally associated with medical settings (e.g., neuropsychology, pain management, pediatric psychology).

When interpreting these findings, it is important to realize that Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology encompass an enormously diverse set of schools. Accordingly, comparisons between clinical and counseling Ph.D. programs reflect general trends. For instance, as we describe in more detail in chapter 4, several APA-accredited professional schools offering a Ph.D. in clinical psychology accept more than half of those who applied (see Sayette, Norcross, & Dimoff, 2011). In contrast, the acceptance rates among Ph.D. clinical scientist programs accredited by PCSAS (see Table 2-2 and below) are vastly different, in the 2% to 8% range. Please rely on the reports on individual doctoral programs at the back of the book, rather than on these generalizations alone.

In addition, please bear in mind that these systematic comparisons reflect broad differences in the APA-accredited Ph.D. programs; they say nothing about Psy.D. programs (which we discuss in the next chapter) or nonaccredited programs. Also bear in mind that these data can be used as a rough guide in matching your interests to clinical or counseling psychology programs. The notion of discovering the best match between you and a graduate program is a recurrent theme of this Insider's Guide.

As shown in Table 1-2, clinical and counseling psychologists devote similar percentages of their day to the same professional activities. About one-half of their time is dedicated to psychotherapy and assessment and a quarter of their time to research and administration. A stunning finding was that about half of clinical and counseling psychologists are routinely involved in all seven activities—psychotherapy, assessment, teaching, research, supervision, consultation, and administration. Flexible career indeed!

The scope of clinical and counseling psychology is continually widening, as are the employment settings. Many people mistakenly view psychologists solely as practitioners who spend most of their time seeing patients. But in truth, clinical and counseling psychology are wonderfully diverse and pluralistic professions. Consider the full-time employment settings of American clinical psychologists: 41% in private practices, 26% in universities or colleges, 8% in medical schools, 5% in Veterans Administration facilities, 4% in outpatient clinics, 3% in psychiatric hospitals, another 3% in general hospitals, and 10% in "other" placements (Norcross, Karpiak, & Santoro, 2005). This last category includes, just to name a few, child and family services, correctional facilities, rehabilitation centers, school systems, health maintenance organizations, psychoanalytic institutes, and the federal government.

Although many psychologists choose careers in private practice, hospitals, and clinics, a large number also pursue careers in research. For some, this translates into an academic position. Continuing uncertainties in the health care system increase the allure of academic positions, where salaries are less tied to client fees and insurance reimbursements. Academic psychologists teach courses and conduct research, usually with a clinical population. They hope to find a "tenure-track" position, which means they start out as an assistant professor. After a specified amount of time (typically 5 or 6 years), a university committee reviews their research, teaching, and service, and decides whether they will be hired as a permanent faculty member and promoted to associate professor. Even though the tenure process can be pressured, the atmosphere surrounding assistant professors is conducive to research activity. They are often given "seed" money to set up research labs and attract graduate students eager to share in the publication process. (For additional information on the career paths of psychology faculty, consult The Compleat Academic: A Career Guide (Darley, Zanna, & Roediger, 2003), or Career Paths in Psychology, Sternberg, 2006.)

In addition, research-focused industries (like pharmaceutical and biomedical), as well as community-based organizations, are increasingly employing psychologists to design and conduct outcomes research. The field of outcomes research combines the use of assessment, testing, program design, and cost-effectiveness analyses. Although lacking the job security of tenure, industry can offer greater monetary compensation and is a viable option for research-oriented Ph.D.s.

But even this range of employment settings does not accurately capture the opportunities in the field. Approximately half of all clinical and counseling psychologists hold more than one professional position (Norcross & Karpiak, 2012; Goodyear et al., 2008). By and large, psychologists incorporate several pursuits into their work, often simultaneously. They combine activities in ways that can change over time to accommodate their evolving interests. Of those psychologists not in full-time private practice, more than half engage in some part-time independent work. Without question, this flexibility is an asset.

As a university professor, for example, you might supervise a research group studying aspects of alcoholism, treat alcoholics and their families in private practice, and teach a course on alcohol abuse. Or, you could work for a company supervising marketing research, do private testing for a school system, and provide monthly seminars on relaxation. The possibilities are almost limitless.

This flexibility is also evident in clinical and counseling psychologists' "self-views." Approximately 60% characterize themselves primarily as clinical practitioners, 25% as academicians, 7% administrators, 5% consultants, 3% researchers, and 2% supervisors.

Also comforting is the consistent finding of relatively high and stable satisfaction with graduate training and career choice. Over two-thirds of graduate students in clinical and counseling psychology express satisfaction with their post-baccalaureate preparation. Moreover, 87 to 91% are satisfied with their career choice (Norcross & Karpiak, 2012; Tibbits-Kleber & Howell, 1987). The conclusion we draw is that clinical and counseling psychologists appreciate the diverse pursuits and revel in their professional flexibility, which figure prominently in their high level of career satisfaction.

According to Money magazine and, psychologist is one of the 10 best jobs in America. And so, too, is college professor.


Excerpted from Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology by John C. Norcross, Michael A. Sayette. Copyright © 2014 The Guilford Press. Excerpted by permission of The Guilford Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

John C. Norcross, PhD, ABPP, received his baccalaureate summa cum laude from Rutgers University, earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Rhode Island, and completed his internship at the Brown University School of Medicine. He is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Scranton, Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University, and a board-certified clinical psychologist in part-time independent practice. He edited the Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session for 10 years. Past-president of the American Psychological Association's (APA's) Division of Clinical Psychology and Division of Psychotherapy, he currently serves on APA's Board of Educational Affairs. Dr. Norcross has published more than 300 articles and has authored or edited over 20 books. Among his awards are the Pennsylvania Professor of the Year from the Carnegie Foundation, Distinguished Practitioner from the National Academies of Practice, and the Distinguished Career Contribution to Education and Training Award from APA. Dr. Norcross has conducted workshops and research on graduate study in psychology for many years.

Michael A. Sayette, PhD, received his baccalaureate cum laude from Dartmouth College. He earned his master's and doctorate in clinical psychology from Rutgers University and completed his internship at the Brown University School of Medicine. He is Professor of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, with a secondary appointment as Professor of Psychiatry at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Sayette has published primarily in the area of substance abuse. His research, which has been supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Cancer Institute, concerns the development of psychological theories of alcohol and tobacco use. Dr. Sayette is a Fellow of the APA and of the Association for Psychological Science. He has served on National Institutes of Health grant review study sections and is on the editorial boards of several journals. He also has served as an associate editor of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology and of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Dr. Sayette has directed graduate admissions for the clinical psychology program at the University of Pittsburgh, and has presented seminars on applying to graduate school at several universities in North America and Europe.

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