Graduate School Process


Many graduate programs require a minimum GPA for applicants. If there is a minimum GPA listed, programs are expecting applicants to meet this qualification. Many other programs may list an average GPA. You will need to research the programs you are interested in applying to in order to see their GPA averages and how your GPA measures up to their applicant averages. You should strive to meet this GPA (or surpass it) as it is always a recommended to meet or exceed these averages, but not required in order to apply as compared to those programs that list a minimum GPA requirement.

GRE Exams (general and psychology subject)

Most psychology graduate schools, and many other graduate programs, require applicants to take the General Test and some may also require the Psychology Subject Test of the GRE. Read more about the exam and how to prepare:

While most graduate schools do not require a minimum score, many will have an average score expectation for their given program. You will need to research the programs you are interested in applying to in order to see their GRE score averages and how your scores measure up to their applicant averages.

Many students find that by taking a practice test, it is a helpful tool in assessing exam strengths and potential areas for improvement. Kaplan offers practice exams and other free events.

Psychology Subject Test

The Subject Tests are given at paper-based test centers worldwide three times a year:

  • October
  • November
  • April

Read more about the the exam, how to prepare and download a free practice booklet.

Letters of Recommendation

Most graduate schools require three letters of recommendation. These should be from psychology professors who know you well. The most valuable letters come from professors whom you have worked with on a research project.

Read these helpful steps for requesting a letter of recommendation.

Personal Statement: including research mentor (if appropriate)

Personal statements allow you to explain why it is you have chosen your field of interest, and why a certain program is a fit for you. It is important to show that you have throughly researched a program, including specific faculty member's research that you would like to pursue in graduate study. Do not make the mistake of writing one personal statement for a list of schools. If you do not put the time and energy into researching schools, it will be apparent, and make admissions committees less likely to consider you a potential candidate for their program.

Please read these helpful tips. In addition, make sure to proofread, edit, proofread, edit, repeat. The Writing Center is a great resource as well.

Resume/CV (curriculum vitae)

There are several differences between a curriculum vitae and a resume. A curriculum vitae is a longer (up to two or more pages), more detailed synopsis of your background and skills. A CV includes a summary of your educational and academic backgrounds as well as teaching and research experience, publications, presentations, awards, honors, affiliations and other details. As with a resume, you may need different versions of a CV for different types of positions.

Like a resume, a curriculum vitae should include your name, contact information, education, skills and experience. In addition to the basics, a CV includes research and teaching experience, publications, grants and fellowships, professional associations and licenses, awards and other information relevant to the position you are applying for. Start by making a list of all your background information, then organize it into categories. Make sure you include dates on all the listed publications.

The Career Development Office at Pitt has resources and services to help you develop, or perfect your resume.