image by Tim Sheerman-Chase

Photo credit: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem

Psychology is relevant to many occupations involving interactions with others. Grounded in the liberal arts tradition, psychology prepares students for employment in a variety of areas including mental health, human resources, education, research, and law enforcement. Many careers directly related to psychology require education beyond the bachelor’s degree and CWRU psychology majors are well prepared for graduate studies in psychology, medicine, law and business. Individuals find work in various psychology sub disciplines including:

  • Industrial Psychologist
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Educational Psychologist
  • Sport Psychologist
  • Human Resource Manager
  • Teacher/Professor
  • Child and Family Psychologist
  • Drug and Alcohol Counselor
  • Experimental Psychologist
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Recruitment Consultant
  • Correctional Services
  • Corporate Administration
  • Rehabilitation Specialist
  • Professional Training and Development
  • Career Counselor
  • Community Projects Leader
  • Private Practice


What are the different types of graduate degree programs in psychology?

There are many different graduate degree programs in psychology. This resource describes many and discusses finding the best program fit for you.

What do I need to do to get into a graduate program in psychology later?

For admittance into Ph.D. programs in psychology, extensive research experience is essential. This usually requires working in a lab for at least 10 hours a week for several years; however, the majority of applicants who gain admittance into Ph.D. programs do full-time research for a year or two before applying to graduate programs. These full-time research assistant positions are extremely competitive, therefore, undergraduate research experience is essential.

For clinical PhD programs, most applicants who are admitted have publications and presentations at national conferences. If you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, volunteer experience with clinical populations can be helpful in addition to research experience. Volunteer experience with clinical populations can be pursued by volunteering in many types of settings, including a hospital setting, with a hotline, or shelter.

If you are interested in pursuing a masters degree in psychology, some research experience is still recommended; however, it need not be as extensive as is required in order to gain admittance into a Ph.D. program.

Applications to most graduate programs require 3 letters of recommendation. These letters should be written by faculty who know you extremely well, such as your research advisor or your professor in several small seminars. Letter writers should be in psychology and/or closely related fields. Letters of recommendation written by professors of large lecture classes are generally not the strongest letters.

How do I ask for a letter of recommendation?

First, think about who knows you well and can write a strong letter of recommendation for you. This likely should include a professor from whom you took a class with a lot of interaction and one or two research supervisors. Additionally, if you are applying to clinical programs and have experience working or volunteering in a clinical setting, your clinical supervisor might be able to provide a strong letter of recommendation.

Second, ask these individuals if they are willing and able to write strong letters for you. Some faculty may not feel that they know you well enough to be able to provide such letters. Therefore, it is important that you ask ahead of time.

Third, give your letter writers ample time to write the letters. Ask as early as possible. Many faculty will ask for at least a month’s lead time. Some may want more time.

Fourth, give your letter writers as much information (in a well-organized manner) about you (e.g., CV, grades, your goals) and the programs (type) you are applying to. Importantly, include all deadlines.

Fifth, send polite follow up reminders. Ask your letter writers if they have a preference for this. Common reminder schedules might include a reminder one week before each deadline, three days before the deadline, and one day before the deadline, unless you receive confirmation that they have submitted it.

For most applications submitted online, you can start the application and list your letter writers’ contact information before completing the entire application. This will often send automated emails to your letter writers so that they have the correct links and deadlines.

You should always waive your right to access your letters of recommendation. Many letter writers, even when writing an extremely positive letter, will not write the letter unless it is confidential. Additionally, programs might not put as much weight on a letter if the applicant could view it. That is, they might assume that the letter writer is not being candid and that the applicant does not trust the letter writer to write a strong letter.

What is a CV and how do I create one? 

There are multiple great resources. Here are two: