Loyola University Chicago

Department of Psychology

Preparing for Graduate School


Attending graduate or professional school is a huge commitment of time and in some cases money.  The only universal thing that can be said about graduate school is that it is very different from undergraduate school! You are there to focus on a much narrower area than you learned about during undergraduate school. In some cases you will be the world expert on a topic when you finish. Thus, understanding what you want to do for a career is essential before even thinking about whether you will go to graduate school or not. 
Begin by reviewing the information in the Psychology Career Finder and the associated links (e.g., gaining post-baccalaureate experiences, finding a Research Assistant position, APA's resource for getting involved in research and internship opportunities).  Discuss this information with your advisors including your Psychology Faculty Advisor.  Search out several people in each line of work that interests you (the Career Services can help) and find out what it is really like to do that job.  Ask them about their training.  What would they have done differently if they could do it again?  Good luck on your journey.  When you find the right place for you, graduate school can be some of the best years of your life!

Graduate Record Exam

Many graduate programs from different disciplines require students to submit GRE scores including the General Test and sometimes the Subject Test. You should plan to study for the General GRE for 3-4 months spending a minimum of 4-6 hours a week.  You may also want to consider taking a test-prep course.  Make sure to take multiple practice tests which are also available online. If you need to take the Psychology Subject Test for programs that you are applying to plan to double that study time.  Pull out your Introduction to Psychology textbook and course notes.  Make sure to review the entire textbook, not just the chapters that your professor may have covered. Pay particular attention to the biological/neuroscience chapter. Add to that textbooks/resources and course notes from statistics and research methods.  The questions on the subject GRE do not usually require knowledge beyond these courses if you do a comprehensive job of reviewing the information in those course.  There are also test-prep materials for this test as well.  Once again make sure to take multiple practice tests.

Guidance for Mentoring Junior Scholars

  • Having a good mentor early in a scholarly career can mean the difference between success and failure. Ultimately, what you are looking for in a graduate school experience is a strong mentorship relationship, but establishing good mentorship relationships during undergraduate school is also essential. The guide addresses four themes: (1) building and maintaining mentoring relationships, (2) mentoring across difference, (3) supporting career development, and (4) managing conflict within mentoring relationships.

On applying to graduate school in psychology

  • Hayes, L.J., & Hayes, S.C. (1989). On applying to graduate school in psychology. APS Observer, 2, 17-19.

Getting into Graduate School for Psychology (during the time of COVID)

7 Tips for Applying to a Psychology PhD Program:  The unwritten rules I wish I knew

APA Graduate School Resources

Mitch’s Uncensored Advice for Applying to Graduate School in Clinical Psychology in Clinical Psychology

  • This brief guide is designed to provide an overview of different types of possible career options in the mental health industry, as well as specific information about the application process for a common option: the clinical psychology doctoral (Ph.D.) program.

Doctoral degrees in psychology: How are they different, or not so different? Clarifying key distinctions between the PhD and PsyD degrees

  • Doctoral degrees in psychology offer individuals preparation to conduct scientific research, professional practice or both. Most individuals receive either the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree. Although each of these degrees is designed to engage students in deep knowledge and skills within a subfield of psychology, there are substantial differences in the type of training and career plans of individuals with these degrees. Finding the best-fitting program for an individual student begins with understanding these differences.

Psychology or Social Work:  Which Graduate Program is Right for You!


Volunteer Match

  • Volunteering can be an essential part of working in the human services field and preparing for graduate school. You can search volunteer sites in your community based on your interests. Interests include: advocacy and human rights; arts and culture; children and youth; community; crisis support; education and literacy; health and medicine; homeless and housing; immigrants and refugees; justice and legal; LGBT; international; people with disabilities; race and ethnicity; seniors; and veterans and military families. 

Funding and Scholarship Opportunties

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

  • The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. Awards are highly competitive and take into account undergraduate GPA and GRE scores.  Students apply before or during the first or second year of graduate school and receive three years of funding.

Undergraduate and Graduate Students Psychology Internship Program

  • The purpose of the Psychology Internship with the Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs is to offer applied experience to enhance the knowledge of undergraduate and graduate students with a major or minor in psychology.

Minority Fellowship Program

  • MFP is a highly successful federally funded training program for ethnic and racial minority researchers and service providers. Offers fellowships for Master’s students, predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships, and the Psychology Summer Institute.

Ford Foundation Fellowship Programs

  • Through its Fellowship Programs, the Ford Foundation seeks to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, to maximize the educational benefits of diversity, and to increase the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association offers a variety of funding opportunities for underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students or students interested in diversity issues. Here are some example awards offered by the American Psychological Association.