Please find answers to frequently asked questions about our Graduate Program
Q. Does the Department of Psychology offer a degree in Clinical Psychology or Counseling?
No. The Department of Psychology offers a Graduate Program in Developmental Science that leads to a Ph.D. in Psychology. This degree will not train one to offer counseling services.
Q: Is your Ph.D. program American Psychological Association (APA) accredited?
Accreditation is only required for Clinical Programs. We do not have a Clinical Program, and therefore accreditation is not applicable.
Q: Does the Department of Psychology offer a part-time, on-line, or off-site program?
No. The Department of Psychology does not offer a part-time, online, or off-site Ph.D. Program. The program is full-time and on-site only.
Q: Does the Department of Psychology offer a master’s degree?
The Department does not offer a terminal master’s degree. Only students intending to complete the Ph.D. program of study should apply. Ph.D. students may, however, apply for and receive a master’s in passing upon completion of the necessary coursework and program requirements. Students enrolled in the Dual Ph.D. / MPP Degree Program will receive a MPP in addition to a Ph.D.
Q: Do students only engage in developmental research?
No, some Faculty focus on developmental questions whereas many others focus on only one period in the lifespan, e.g. adolescence.
Q: Can I apply for Spring or Summer admission?
No. The program only accepts applicants for admission in the Fall semester.
Q: What makes for a competitive applicant to your program?
Applicants are based upon a combination of factors such as research experience, match to mentors; research interests, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, GPA, and demonstration of strong writing abilities. No one criteria outweights the others; rather, we look at the applicant as a whole when making our decision. This said, then, there is no GRE / GPA cutoffs for considering applications.
Q: What are the average GRE score and GPA of past accepted students and the applicant pool overall?
Our Department does not collect or distribute statistics about applicants; scores and other statistics. As mentioned above, GRE scores and GPAs are only one part of the application, and will certainly not make or break an application — just as high scores will not guarantee admittance, neither will low scores guarantee rejection. We view the application as a whole when making our decisions, and the other components play very key roles.
Q: Are there any particular or specific courses that must be taken before applying?
No, there are no course prerequisites for our Program.
Q: What is the difference between the Psychology department’s Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience (LCN) program and the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN)?
There are notable similarities and differences across the programs. Please view this document which explains these similarities and differences in detail.
Q: Are participants accepted to work with a specific faculty mentor or mentors?
A: Yes. Like many Psychology PhD programs, students in our program are accepted to train with a particular faculty mentor or mentors as soon as they enter the program. (This is in contrast to programs in which applicants are accepted to the program by a central committee and expected to identify a specific mentor at some point after they enroll.) You should specify in your statement which member(s) of our faculty you would be most interested in working with, and why your interests and experience would make you a good fit for their labs as well as for our program more generally. You are encouraged to contact these faculty in advance to inquire if they will be seeking a new student during this cycle–not all faculty take a new student every year. The faculty member(s) you specify in your application will take part in reviewing your application.
Q: Is it possible to have a member of the Affiliated Faculty as a primary mentor?
No, Affiliated Faculty cannot serve as a primary mentor. However, you can collaborate with them and have them on your dissertation committee.
Q: What funding is guaranteed to PhD students?
All students accepted into the Department of Psychology’s Ph.D. program are guaranteed five years of funding. Stipends are distributed on a 12-month basis for incoming students, and typically are provided in exchange for students serving as Teaching Fellows in the Fall and Spring, and as Research Fellows in the Summer.
Q: Will I have the opportunity to travel to and present my work at conferences?
Yes. The academic community in the Department of Psychology is highly supportive of graduate student research, and students are encouraged to showcase their work at conferences relevant to their field. Both the Department and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences allocate a sum of money toward graduate student conference travel each year for this purpose.
Q: Will I have the opportunity to seek internships?
Yes. Washington, DC is rich with internship opportunities in both scientific and policy settings. Because the nature of this Program is highly applied, internships where students can develop and apply their skills are encouraged. For example, several students have interned in child advocacy non-profits, medical research centers, and federal law enforcement agencies
Q: Can I take classes at other universities?
Yes. Though both the HDPP and LCN coursework requirements are quite rigorous, both concentrations provide for electives that can be taken at other universities upon approval of the Directors of Graduate Studies and the student’s faculty mentor through the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area (new window).
Q: Will I have the opportunity to collaborate with other faculty/labs?
Yes. The Department fosters collaborative relationships within the Department, with other departments at Georgetown, and with researchers at other universities. Our program was founded on the very idea of interdisciplinary scholarship, as evidenced by the program’s ties to the McCourt School of Public Policy and the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience.
Q: May students seek and receive grants to fund their work?
Yes. While students do receive teaching stipends for serving as teaching assistants, all students are encouraged to seek specialized funding to support their research. Our students have been highly successful in receiving competitive grants from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the American Psychological Association.
Q: Will I gain teaching experience while at Georgetown?
Yes. Training students to become successful teachers is an integral part of the graduate program. Students serve as teaching assistants for various undergraduate psychology courses at both the introductory and seminar levels. Additionally, each student designs and teaches his or her own undergraduate upper-level seminar in his/her fourth year of the program. Our students’ seminars have been very popular and focus on a range of topics, from Adolescent Development and Law to the Aging Mind and Brain.
Q: What is the graduate community like at Georgetown?
Ours is a comparatively small program, which allows close relationships with faculty and a cohesive student community within the department. The faculty operate under the philosophy that graduate school should be a positive, productive experience, and they want students to succeed; close contact with faculty allows faculty to monitor student progress as well as provide constant support. Additionally, students gather weekly with the Co-Directors of the Graduate Program for a brown bag lunch, at which students present their research findings to their peers and discuss program-related issues.
The greater graduate student body at Georgetown is very active and energetic. Students in the department are active leaders and participants in Graduate Student Organization-sponsored clubs like the Graduate Association of Students in Psychology (GASP) and Mind the Gap, an interdisciplinary club dedicated to connecting graduate students whose research focuses on any aspect of the mind/brain. The University offers many opportunities to participate in other campus activities, connect to off-campus activities, and provides strong resources to support and encourage its graduate students.
Q: What is it like being a graduate student in Washington, DC?
It’s fun! Washington DC was recently named the best city in the country to live in by the Economist Intelligence Unit – it’s beautiful, culturally rich, and exciting. DC has everything a capital city should have, and a lot of it is free. DC is home to the Smithsonian Institute, whose collections, including the National Zoo, are all free to the public. The Kennedy Center offers concerts, theater, dance, and opera, including free nightly shows on the Millenium Stage. The dining options are endless, especially during restaurant week and at Truckeroo, the monthly food truck festival held from June through October. And, of course, sports fans can choose which of the city’s perennial underdog teams to root for, including the Washington Football Team, the Nationals (baseball), the Wizards (basketball), and the Capitals (hockey)!
Thanks to the free and convenient Georgetown University Transportation Shuttles (GUTS) and to one of the country’s best public transportation systems, students are able to live off campus in a variety of exciting neighborhoods within easy commuting distance of the University, including Dupont Circle, Columbia Heights, and Rosslyn.
Q: What do graduates of the program do after earning their Ph.D.s?
Our alumni are currently employed in a wide variety of academic, research, and policy settings. Check out the Alumni page to learn more about what our graduates are up to.