Academics

What is the size of the graduate program? 

At any one time the program has about 25-30 active students. Incoming “classes” typically have about five students.

How many classes do students typically take? 

Students typically take three to four (3-credit) classes each semester during their first year, in addition to working on their master's thesis. In subsequent years, students take one to three courses per semester, in addition to research and clinical practicum. Generally students are able to complete required coursework by the end of their third year, although many students choose to take additional courses during their fourth or fifth years.  In the first year of our program, students take courses in cognitive and neuropsychological assessment, personality assessment, behavior disorders, diversity and social justice, cognitive behavioral theory, psychodynamic theory, quantitative research design & analysis, and psychometric theory and test construction. The psychology department does not offer summer courses for graduate students. There are some relevant courses offered by other departments during the summer. Most students take thesis, dissertation, or practicum credits during the summer.

How long does the graduate program take to complete?

The students in our program complete a curriculum that facilitates their growth as clinical scientists. The Master’s portion of the program is designed to take two years, while the doctoral program takes 4 years (including the internship).

Will I be assigned to work with a particular professor, or will I get to choose whom to work with?

Our mentorship model is one in which students choose a primary advisor within the Clinical Science Program, but they are encouraged to work with a range of faculty across clinical science and related disciplines. Although the research training is done primarily through an apprenticeship with the primary mentor, the full clinical science faculty are actively involved in the overall student training through coursework, clinical practica, evaluation of students, and intellectual activities (e.g. colloquia series; see Curriculum and Resources sections). Thus, students are exposed to the multiple perspectives, training, and expertise of the full clinical science faculty. We believe that this mentorship model facilitates flexibility in methods and theory, provides the best approach for fostering positive mentor-mentee relationships, and develops research scientists who have a breadth and depth of training in the clinical science field. 

Will I receive a teaching or research assistantship? 

All students who are admitted to MSU's clinical program receive a teaching or research assistantship or a university fellowship. During the last decade, we have been able to provide funding for students through their fifth year in the program. If you are admitted to our program, the letter of admission will specify the number of years of funding you are guaranteed. The clinical program is a full-time program. Thus, it is not feasible for students to complete the necessary graduate work and, at the same time, hold a full- or part-time job. Therefore, MSU's clinical program only admits the number of students that can be supported through departmental or university funding.

Are professors actively involved in research? How involved are the students in research? 

The faculty members in MSU’s clinical program are all actively involved in research (see Faculty webpages). All students actively collaborate on research projects with the faculty members. Students typically complete their own independent research projects with faculty and also serve in one or more role on faculty research projects, including serving as a project manager, recruitment coordinator, clinical interviewer, and/or data analyst. Students routinely co-author publications with their research mentor and present at national and international conferences.

Will I be required to do an internship? 

All students complete an APA-accredited clinical internship. The program requires that students consult with their doctoral guidance committee about what sites are appropriate. Prior to application for internship, students must have an approved dissertation proposal and they must have passed their comprehensive exams.

Where are graduates employed?

Graduates of MSU’s clinical Ph.D. program are employed at universities, colleges, hospitals, government agencies, consulting firms, industry, and private practices. 

Do students attend or present research at professional conferences?  

All students regularly attend research conferences and present their research. Students attend a range of annual conventions or conferences, including meetings of the American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, Academy for Eating Disorders, Association of Women in Psychology, Society for Research in Child Development, Society for Psychophysiological Research, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Society for Research in Psychopathology, Behavior Genetics Association, International Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, and the Eating Disorders Research Society. The Department of Psychology and College of Social Science provide funding for these conferences. The department provides each graduate student up to $600 per year for conference travel, while the College awards an additional $400 for international travel to a conference. Graduate students also can apply for a $300 conference travel grant from the MSU Council on Graduate Students (COGS). Examples of recent student conference presentations can be found here: Recent Graduate Student Publications

Do students publish research in professional and scientific journals?  

Students regularly publish research articles in top-tier scientific journals. Many of these publications result from student involvement on faculty research projects. Students also routinely author articles based on their dissertation, thesis, or class research papers. Additionally, students must submit at least one first-author publication as part of their comprehensive examination (see the Curriculum page for more information on this requirement). Student publications can be found in such journals as the International Journal of Eating Disorders, Infant Mental Health Journal, Neuropsychology, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Archives of General Psychiatry, Psychology of Women Quarterly, Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, Development and Psychopathology, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, and Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology. Examples of recent student publications can be found here: Recent Graduate Student Publications

What year does clinical work begin? 

Students begin seeing clients during their second year in the program. During the first month of practicum, and before they begin to see clients, students have an intensive pre-practicum seminar focused on clinical interviewing, diagnostic assessment, and multicultural competence (see syllabus in Appendix C, Section 1). Students are then expected to carry an average case-load of 4-5 psychotherapy clients and to conduct 2-4 assessments per year (for more information on specific practicum requirements, see the Curriculum section). Psychotherapy and assessment cases are expected to include both child and adult cases, to ensure exposure across the lifespan. In addition, cognitive, personality and diagnostic assessments are required. Students obtain group psychotherapy experiences by leading groups in our own clinic (e.g., social skills for children with ASD) or local mental health organizations (e.g., a domestic violence shelter, a Head Start school). 

The Application and Selection Process

When should I apply to MSU’s graduate clinical psychology program?  

The application deadline is December 1st. Be sure to take your General GRE test early enough that the scores will be released to MSU by the deadline. Application materials and instructions can be found here: Apply for Admission

How is my application evaluated?  

The Admissions Committee reads all applicant folders. They take into consideration:         

  • GRE scores         
  • GPA         
  • Rigor of undergraduate program of study  
  • Applicant's fit with faculty research interests and mission of program       
  • Research experience         
  • Independent research projects (e.g., honors thesis)         
  • Relevant work experience related to mental health          
  • Letters of recommendation          
  • Personal statement 

Strength in one area can help to balance a slight weakness in another area.  

How many students apply to the graduate program? How many are admitted? 

Approximately 150-200 students apply each year to MSU's clinical program. We admit 4-5 students each year. 

Is the GRE Psychology Subject Test required? 

No. We do recommend that you take the GRE Psychology Subject Test and submit the scores with your application, as scores on this test have been shown to be very good predictors of graduate school performance (see Kuncel, Hezlett, & Ones (2001), Psychological Bulletin, 127, 162-181). However, we do not require the test, i.e., you can apply to our program without having taken the GRE Psychology Subject Test.

Living

Do students live on or off MSU’s campus? What is a typical monthly rent payment in the East Lansing area?  

There is a graduate dormitory on campus (Owen Hall) and there are also university apartments. However, almost all students choose to live off-campus. There are plenty of reasonably priced apartments and townhouses in either walking or short-driving distance from campus. One-bedroom apartments (w/o utilities) cost $500-$700 (per month); two-bedroom apartments are $650-$850. 

When do students make living arrangements?  

Students generally come to the East Lansing area to look for an apartment and sign a lease during the early summer. However, some students start looking as early as April, because some apartment complexes will put you on a waiting list, and will contact you when a unit comes available within the time frame that you would like to start your lease.  

Do I need to have a car?  

While you may decide you don't want to have a car if you live very close to campus, most of the current students do have cars. There are bookstores, restaurants, athletic facilities, and a few small stores near campus, but most of the supermarkets and many other stores and restaurants are not a reasonable walking distance. A bus line runs throughout the East Lansing area to outlying shopping areas. A car is necessary to reach the Lansing City Airport. The Detroit Airport can be reached by commuter bus or by car. Amtrak stops near the MSU campus and has routes to Chicago and elsewhere. Campus parking permits are available for purchase by students who have assistantships and fellowships. These allow graduate students to park in specific areas of campus. They cost about $120 per semester. There are other low-cost or free parking options within a short walk of campus that many students choose to utilize.

What is the weather like in mid-Michigan?  

Fall is lovely. The first snowfall is usually in November, and winter weather usually lasts until mid-March. Temperatures are coldest in January and February, usually ranging from the mid-30s to the single digits. Snowfalls are not particularly heavy. We have a number of students from southern states who have successfully learned to drive in the snow! Spring can be cool and rainy, with beautiful weather in May and June, and hotter (but still beautiful) weather in July and August.

Will I need to take out student loans, or can I afford to live off the assistantship?  

The assistantship stipend is designed so that one student can afford to live modestly. Whether you need a loan will depend on your lifestyle and if you have mitigating factors, such as a spouse or dependent children, high moving expenses, etc. Some current students do have loans; however, there are also a large portion of students who are managing the process loan-free.

Do I have to pay tuition? 

In fall and spring semesters, students with assistantships receive a tuition waiver for nine credit hours; during summer session, five credit hours of tuition are waived. Students who take more than nine credits (or five credits in the summer) are required to pay for those additional credits, but this situation is quite rare.  

Do I receive any health care coverage?  

All graduate students on a 9-month assistantship or fellowship receive student medical insurance coverage for a full calendar year, free of charge. Benefits include major medical coverage and sick/injury, outpatient mental health coverage, and annual medical exam visits to the campus health clinic. Many lab tests are also covered. Prescriptions have a co-pay ($5 for generic; $10 for brand-name). Dental and vision insurance is available for an additional premium. 

What do students do for fun? 

Students often take advantage of the many clubs, bars, and restaurants on Grand River Avenue near campus and downtown. The campus and community hold concerts, theatrical performances, and sporting events throughout the year. The area is known for jazz and folk music. Students also enjoy attending Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball games during the summer. The summer also brings numerous free outdoor concerts, folk festivals, plays, and street fairs to East Lansing; these often feature nationally-known performers. Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor are nearby cities that offer seasonal events such as the North American International Auto Show, Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, ArtPrize (an open art competition), and Detroit sports team games (Redwings, Lions, and Tigers). Detroit has one of the top 5 art museums in the country. In the summer, students often take advantage of the beautiful Great Lakes surrounding the state of Michigan. The beaches of Lake Michigan are gorgeous and the closest are about a two hour drive away.