Is It Hard to Get Into a Clinical Psychology Program?


Diego Sanchez

Are you considering pursuing a career in clinical psychology? One question that may come to mind is whether it’s hard to get into a clinical psychology program. The answer, as with many things in life, is: it depends.

Factors That Affect Admission to Clinical Psychology Programs

There are several factors that can affect your chances of being admitted to a clinical psychology program. Here are some of the most important ones:

1. Academic Record: Like any graduate program, clinical psychology programs typically require a strong academic record. This includes not only your undergraduate GPA but also your performance in relevant courses such as psychology and statistics.

2. Research Experience: Clinical psychology is a research-oriented field, so having research experience can be a big plus when applying to programs. This might include working as a research assistant or conducting your own independent research.

3. Letters of Recommendation: Strong letters of recommendation from faculty members who know you well can also help bolster your application.

4. Relevant Experience: Relevant experience working in mental health or related fields can also be an asset when applying to clinical psychology programs.

The Role of Admissions Committees

Ultimately, admission to clinical psychology programs is decided by admissions committees made up of faculty members and administrators within the department. These committees review applications holistically, taking into account all aspects of the applicant’s profile.

Selectivity of Clinical Psychology Programs

Some clinical psychology programs are more selective than others, with acceptance rates ranging from less than 5% to over 50%. Generally speaking, the most selective programs tend to be those at top-ranked universities and institutions.

  • Ivy League: Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Yale have some of the most competitive clinical psychology programs in the country.
  • Larger Public Universities: Large public universities such as the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Michigan tend to be highly selective as well.
  • Smaller Private Colleges: Smaller private colleges such as Williams College and Amherst College may have less competitive programs but still offer high-quality training in clinical psychology.


In summary, getting into a clinical psychology program can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. By focusing on building a strong academic record, gaining research experience, securing strong letters of recommendation, and accumulating relevant experience in mental health or related fields, you can increase your chances of being admitted to a top program. Keep in mind that admissions committees review applications holistically and take into account all aspects of your profile when making their decisions.