Should I apply if my sole goal is to become a therapist?
No. Our program intends to train clinical scientists who are interested in developing a range of skills to work in multiple roles such as researcher, professor, assessor, consultant, administrator, supervisor, and therapist. If your sole goal is to become a therapist, you may want to apply to the George Mason University programs in Counseling (M.A.) in the Education Department or Social Work (MSW) in the School of Social Work. In the Washington, DC area you may also want to consider the Marriage and Family Therapy master's degree program at the northern Virginia campus of Virginia Tech or the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) program at Argosy University in Arlington. You can also search nationally for programs with www.gradschools.com.
On what criteria are applications reviewed?
First, we are interested in applicants' "fit" with the clinical program. We want to attract students who will thrive in a clinical science program and who have the potential to produce published scientific research, inspired teaching, helpful clinical work, and systematic consultation and administration. Also, we are interested in whether or not an applicant's research interests match with the interests of our faculty. Potential faculty mentors review appropriate applicants' files. However, the selection of any student is made by the whole Clinical faculty and applicants are often evaluated for a research fit with more than one faculty member.
Next, we are interested in the strength of the application. An applicant's transcript and GRE scores are evaluated in terms of academic ability and potential. Qualities essential to successful graduate student careers, such as motivation, initiative, curiosity, and perseverance, are typically enumerated in letters of recommendation and personal statements.
Third, we are interested in whether or not applicants are committed to the field of psychology and have tested their interests with relevant research participation and work in mental health and related fields. Overall, we strive to admit applicants who will be satisfied and successful in their chosen field and who have the capability to become leaders in psychology.