Admissions Procedures and Criteria

The Clinical Science area at Notre Dame seeks applicants with strong academic backgrounds, demonstrated commitment to scientific research, and emotional maturity. We have recruited many top clinical-science faculty to the program and received APA accreditation in April 2011.  We receive many applications from highly qualified individuals and must make challenging decisions about admissions. The following explains more specifically the criteria we use for admission to the program, as well as the process involved.

Each year, all applications to the Clinical area are reviewed initially by at least one member of the clinical-area faculty. In addition to the typical emphasis on quantitative criteria (e.g., undergraduate GPA, GRE scores; please see “Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data” information for recent data), particular attention is paid to research background as evidenced by experience in research laboratories and experience with publication practices, and also to research fit with faculty members of the clinical area or, more rarely, with faculty members in other areas of the Department of Psychology. There are no initial specific criteria or cut-off scores; rather, the applications are judged based upon indicators of general quantitative excellence and perception of research suitability.

Following this initial evaluation, each clinical-area or other-area departmental faculty member is provided with a roster of applicants who have matching research interests, with the applicants who appear most promising noted. Individual faculty members then undertake an in-depth evaluation, focusing more specifically on their respective research programs. Personal statements and letters of recommendation feature prominently in this second stage, particularly with regard to evaluating emotional maturity for working with others and for evaluating applicants who may be a good fit for the program but may not have a typical academic background.  Specific attention is given to applicants who would increase the diversity of the clinical area's student body.

Subsequently, there is a full clinical-area faculty meeting during which individual faculty put forth their top applicants, faculty priorities are addressed, and a rank-ordered list is developed. This rank-ordered list is submitted to the Graduate Studies Committee of the Department via the clinical area's representative, which in turn determines the number of applicants that the area can invite for the Graduate Student Recruitment/Interview weekend. If invitees cannot attend this important event, other methods of interviewing and informing them about the program are made available, such as alternative times to visit or phone/video-chat interviews. After this event, the clinical-area faculty again convene to discuss the applicants and to provide a final rank-ordered list for the Graduate Studies Committee. The Graduate Studies Committee then renders final decisions about graduate admissions to each area across the Department as a whole. The process and procedures are intended to provide a thorough and fair review within a highly competitive context. Overall, we aspire to maximize both student and area success based on the fit between applicant aspirations and abilities with clinical-area emphases and philosophy.