Clinical Psychology Admission Process
Admission to our doctoral clinical psychology program is highly competitive (see admissions data). Most students who are admitted have a bachelor's degree in psychology, although we'll consider students with outstanding records who majored in other subjects. In addition, students who do not have previous research experiences will not be competitive. This is because we expect students entering the program to be ready to start working on their master’s thesis and/or other research projects, under faculty mentorship, in their first semester.
Each year, we receive a large pool of applicants. We invite our top-ranked applicants to attend an open house, with a goal of approximately eight new students starting the program each year. We follow the policy for graduate school offers and admissions (PDF) outlined by the Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology.
Applications are due Dec. 1. You'll be notified of our decision by April 15. If accepted, you'll begin the program in the fall. We make assistantship decisions after admission decisions. Our graduate assistantships include monthly stipends and instructional tuition waivers.
Working With Faculty Members
We admit students to work with specific faculty members. We ask that you make clear in your statement of purpose (i.e., personal statement) which faculty member(s) you are interested in working with and why. The following core clinical faculty members plan to admit students to matriculate in fall 2024:
- David Bridgett will not be considering applications this cycle (at the end of the fall 2023 semester, Dr. Bridgett will be moving to the University of Nevada, Reno)
- Michelle Lilly
- Holly Orcutt
- Laura Pittman
- Elizabeth Shelleby will not be considering applications this cycle
- David Valentiner
- Kevin Wu
You can also ask to work with other department faculty, as well as Julie Crouch, director of the Center for the Study of Family Violence and Sexual Assault.
Please note: The ability to work with individuals outside of the core clinical faculty depends on funding and faculty interest. You can choose to work with another faculty member if the initial match isn't satisfactory.
NIU Graduate School Application
You'll apply to the program through the NIU Graduate School. The online application includes a $60 fee and the following materials:
- Transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work. Unofficial transcripts are accepted, but you'll need to submit official copies if you're admitted.
- TOEFL or IELTS score, if you received a degree outside the United States. Read more about international admissions.
- Statement of purpose addressing your experience in the field, your research and clinical interests, your career goals, how you fit with our program, and which faculty member(s) you're interested in working with. While the Graduate School application page suggests these statements should be 250-750 words, the clinical faculty realize that word count may not be sufficient to convey all important information. Please use the space you need to share what you think is important for us to know. However, recognize this is also a writing sample, so sharing your story succinctly will be viewed positively.
- Names and email addresses of three people who agreed to write letters of recommendation (preferably psychology instructors or research supervisors who know your potential as a Ph.D. candidate). By listing them in the application system, an email will be sent to them, instructing them how to upload their letter to your application. Inform them of our deadline and submit your application with ample time for them to upload their letters.
The clinical faculty employs a comprehensive approach in the evaluation of applicants' admission packages, considering all materials when making decisions. Applicants who may exhibit relative weaknesses in one area may find those weaknesses compensated by strengths in other areas.
Bachelor's Degree Applicants
Applicants holding only a bachelor's degree should indicate on the application their intention to pursue a master's degree. If admitted, they will have the opportunity to work towards their master's degree and subsequently transition to the Ph.D. program without the need for reapplication.
In addition to the Graduate School application, complete the supplemental application survey indicating that you are specifically interested in the program. This is necessary for application review.
Though not required, we strongly encourage you to submit your CV and writing samples to firstname.lastname@example.org. While you can upload your CV to the admissions portal, submitting it directly to this email helps our program's review of materials.
Virtual Open House
In mid-January, after applications have been reviewed, select candidates will be invited to attend a virtual open house, which will be held synchronously on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023. This event will give applicants the opportunity to meet with faculty and students and learn more about the program, and the broader university. Interviews with specific faculty will also be scheduled from Feb. 14-17, 2023.Frequently Asked Questions