Department of Psychology at Illinois State University

Considering Graduate School

In graduate school, students focus on one specific area of psychology that interests them (e.g., clinical, cognitive, developmental, industrial-organizational, school, social, etc.). Students receive specialized training in research and/or practice in the chosen area and, depending on the graduate program, students may be qualified to practice, teach, or conduct research.

Department Admission Statistics

This link provides statistical data for applicants who were admitted to our graduate programs. The information is based on grade point averages and GRE General Test scores.

Master's vs. Doctoral Programs

The choice of graduate programs depends on many factors including students' area of interest, grades, amount of research experience, and career goals. The admission requirements for most graduate programs require a background in research methods and statistics. Students should consider applying to graduate schools of varying competitiveness to give themselves a range of possibilities for acceptance into either a master's or doctoral program.

Master's programs typically require two years to complete and may not focus on a specific area of psychology. Master's programs usually require students to write and defend a thesis or pass a comprehensives exam. Some master's programs may also help raise a grade point average or provide more research experience if students do not have the minimum requirements for admission to a doctoral program. There are many careers in practice or industry that require only a master's degree in psychology. Counseling psychology master's programs allow students to become licensed after graduation usually by passing an examination or after completing a certain number of practice hours.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs can require five or six years to complete. Doctoral programs usually focused on a specific area or psychology and require a research project for a dissertation. Becoming an instructor in psychology at a college or university generally requires a doctoral degree.

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) programs are often available in a professional school of psychology, and lead to a career as a licensed, practicing psychologist.

Graduate Study in Psychology

The following links provide more information about graduate study in different areas of psychology:

Clinical-Counseling Psychology
Cognitive and Behavioral Psychology
Developmental Psychology
Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Quantitative Psychology
School Psychology

Not Attending Graduate School

It is generally not a good idea for students to pursue graduate school simply because they have nothing else to do after completing their undergraduate degree or to avoid employment. Graduate school requires a strong commitment. Most successful graduate students work on their degree for more than 40 hours per week. Graduate school involves intensive study of a specific area of psychology. Therefore, having only a vague interest in psychology is usually not enough motivation for students to complete a graduate degree.