Grad Student Checklist:
THE DEADLINE FOR ALL APPLICATIONS WAS JANUARY 15, 2021 (for the Fall 2021 start date)
Information regarding the online application can be found on the College of Postdoctoral and Graduate Studies website here: https://grad.usask.ca/programs/psychology.php
MA Program: BA or BSc Honours degree majoring in Psychology with an average of at least 75%
PhD Program: completed MA degree in Psychology
Before you start, you will need to have ready:
- Statement of Interest: 2 -3 page document stating your research and academic interests, related experience, program you are interested in and particular faculty member(s) as your potential supervisor(s).
- 3 References - names and email addresses of your referees *Please ensure to enter the correct email address on the application.
- Upload copy of official transcripts from all institutions attended, including the "grading scale" on the back of the transcript. Only upload each transcript once. The department will contact you if they require official transcripts. Please note that the Undergrad Degree Preliminary (Code: DGUP) is your Degree Certificate - if you do not have one from your University, leave it blank.
- Name of potential supervisor(s).
- Visa or Mastercard for online payment of $120 application fee. This is non-refundable and your application will not be processed until your payment is received. *The secure online payment screen will only appear once so make sure you are ready with your Visa or Mastercard. Only complete and apid applications will be considered.
- Clinical Stream only:
- GRE - (school code: 0980; department code: 2016).
- only General scores are required
- GRE Study Guide
- TOEFL (if English is your second language; see language requirements here)
If you have any questions you may contact email@example.com.
The online application system is generalized system and since our programs have different requirements, some of your sections will be blank. Do not upload anything in these. They will show that they are outstanding; however, the search committee will know that your application is complete.
Here is a helpful link to uploading documents if you are experiencing trouble: https://grad.usask.ca/admissions/uploading-documents.php#Requireddocuments
Here is the link for tuition and fees: https://students.usask.ca/money/tuition-fees/graduate-tuition.php
Getting Ready to Apply
Graduate Record Examination (GRE):
Check the GRE website for registration and test writing dates and locations. Register online, by phone, or by mail.
A free guide that you may want to reference: https://www.mastersdegree.net/how-to-study-for-the-gre/
Graduate Record Examinations
PO Box 6000
Princeton NJ 08541-6000
A published guide written by Prof. Dennis Masino and Jackie Giuliano, Ph.D, titled “How to Study for the GRE: Example Questions, Resources, and Study Hacks” may be helpful for you to review. You can find it here: http://www.discoverbusiness.us/education/online-mba/resources/gre/
Letters of Reference:
Letters of reference are completed online. When you fill out your application, you will be prompted to include your referee's information. Your referees will receive an email which contains a link they 'click' on to fill out the form and 'submit.' The letter will automatically be sent to the Department of Psychology electronically for your file. It is important that you enter the correct information. If changes need to made after you have submitted your application, this will cause a delay in your complete application.
Don't ask for letters two days before the deadline - professors are busy and need advance notice. You want a strong letter from a referree who is willing to write one for you. It's okay to ask for a supportive letter. Ask, "do you think I would make a good graduate student?" The best people to write your letters of reference generally include thesis supervisors, third year lab instructors, and/or people in the department for whom you have worked. It may be helpful to provide your referees with a copy of your curriculum vitae (resume) so that they have organized and efficient access to information that might otherwise not be included in their letter about you.
The U of S Psychology Graduate Programs
A. Clinical Psychology (Accredited by the Canadian Psychological Association and the American Psychological Association)
- has 7 core faculty and 25 associated faculty in community agencies (adjunct professors are active researchers who supervise theses and may also supervise clinical work; professional affiliates are clinicians who provide clinical supervision)
- program nominally takes 5 years post B.A. (Honours), and several students have completed the program in that time, but the average for our graduates is 7 years to complete doctorate
- program comprises (a) coursework in foundations of psychology, ethics, assessment, intervention (psychotherapy), statistics and research design, personality and psychopathology; (b) clinical practicum placements and a full-year internship; (c) research leading to a PhD dissertation
- students normally complete 1 year in MA program and then transfer to the PhD program
- curriculum revisions and improvements in financial support have recently been approved in an effort to reduce the average duration of the program
- all students are offered funding through Graduate Teaching Fellowships if they do not hold external awards - currently at least $16,000 per year for 4 years (1 year at MA level, 3 years at PhD level, followed by funded internship in year 5)
- our graduates score well (75th percentile) on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, required for professional registration or licensure following the Ph.D.
- approximately 60 applications per year; accept only 4-6 students per year because of limited funding and a need to maintain a reasonable student:faculty ratio for high quality of supervision
- admission decisions are made by the faculty collectively; the criteria used (not listed in order of importance):
- undergraduate marks (applicants are unlikely to be considered with an average less than 80%)
- letters of reference
- GRE scores (no GRE cutoff in our program) - GRE scores are just one factor among the set for the overall decision
- it is advantageous to have presented/submitted your honours thesis or other undergraduate research either for publication or presentation at a professional conference
- related experience and volunteer work
- match of research interests with faculty members
- it is extremely helpful to have a faculty member who wants to work with you, so potential students should try getting a relationship started with a faculty member in hopes of that person wanting to take you on as a graduate student. (Having a faculty member on-side may be especially advantageous for applicants with undergraduate marks in 82-86% range).
- 6-9 admission offers made per year to obtain 5 acceptances (see section on multiple acceptances)
- the program, almost 25 years old, was the first such in Canada and is still one of only four
- 5 core faculty
- it is an applied program utilizing a scientist-practitioner model. Emphasizing theory, research and practice directed toward understanding social problems, and addressing social problems through program and policy development
- wide range of jobs for graduates, which focus on social psychological research in "real world" settings, for example:
- training agents of change at a group or organizational level
- working in private and public sectors (e.g.,Stats Canada, Corrections, Health Services)
- program development and needs assessment
- program evaluation
- consulting with organizations regarding labour issues
- M.A. program (2-3 years)
- focus on survey research, needs assessment, field research, program evaluation
- basic and applied social theory
- organizational psychology and community psychology
- practicum experience - in depth
- Ph.D. program (additional 3-4 years)
- higher level consultation
- more program planning
- organizational development
- internship and dissertation
- getting into program - 25-35 applications each year
- M.A. admit 3 students, Ph.D. admit 2 students each year
- decisions made collectively by all applied social faculty
- look carefully at statement of interest (how well do you convey interest, how well thought out, how well matched with faculty interests, statement shouldn't be too vague or too general; if you do not look sincerely interested in applied social, application is rejected)
- you'll want to demonstrate a broad range of interests but don't be too vague
- don't be too specific because your research interests may not fit with anyone in the program
- provide a reason why you want to pursue applied social (be genuine)
- grades are important; generally accept averages low to mid 80's (83 to 87 good chance)
- applicants with marks in mid to low 70's may want to consider delaying and trying to raise your marks and/or consider other programs
- have you had any relevant work experience? If so, include this in your application.
- community organizations
- work with various agencies or organizations (involved in research or evaluation)
- nice to have contact with student ahead of time - discuss interests - figure out whether there are compatible interests
Here at the U of S several areas are grouped together under the umbrella of Cognition and Neuroscience (CGNS). At other universities you might generally expect to see several separate programs.
Many of our faculty have external funding. We are always looking for graduate students. Successful applicants are able to demonstrate that they have some research experience and that they are highly motivated to pursue research.
We train researchers primarily for academic jobs, but there are also jobs in industry and government (e.g., NASA Research Centre, Bell Northern Telecom, Defense and Civil Institute for Environmental Medicine, Statistics Canada, Drug Companies)
- there are two main streams (neuroscience and cognitive science)
- human information processing
- language, reasoning, perception, mathematical cognition
- program involves a lower course load; the expectation is that you will spend more time in the lab doing hands-on research
- the program runs on a mentorship model - develop skills for good research
- receive approximately 15-20 applications per year in CGNS- typically accept 1 or 2
- criteria - fit between your interests and those of a faculty member
- good idea to make prior contact with a potential supervisor
- do your homework and find people who share similar interests with you
- e-mail/phone - "are you taking on new graduate students?"
- ask what you should be reading - what are the potential supervisor's interests?
- start exchange of ideas
- letters of reference are very important
- if person writing your letter is known to the person you are applying to - the letter can carry more weight
- ask your undergraduate supervisor for suggestions about who you might apply to work with - find out who your supervisor is connected to in the field
- you need to establish good relationships with people who will write you good letters
- word of mouth is important and faculty will often fight for people who come highly recommended by a colleague
- grades are important for securing internal funding
- external funding is both important and prestigious
- in the last year of your undergraduate degree you can and should apply for NSERC funding (to be used at the M.A. level) - if you are successful in obtaining NSERC funding this will make you a very attractive candidate for graduate school in CGNS
- it would be unwise to include a statement of interests that suggests your research interests are inflexible
D. Culture, Health and Human Development Program: application requirements
This is an interdisciplinary program that combines the expertise in social and developmental psychology, medical, psychological, and cultural anthropology.
- It has 5 core faculty members and several affiliates from other programs and other departments.
- The program offers Master, Master/PhD Transfer and PhD degrees in psychology and provides students with the skills and knowledge to conduct social scientific research in cultural contexts: locally, nationally, or internationally.
- The research interests of the members of the program include but are not limited to culture, health, human development, Aboriginal/Indigenous health, disability, and cancer, mindfulness, education, and immigrant adaptation. Faculty and students engage in local, national and international research, employing qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods approaches.
- The Program receives 40 to 50 applications every year and 2 to 3 students are typically accepted. One of the important documents for students' admission is their statement of interest where they need to articulate very clearly why they want to enter this program and their goals for further studies.
- Experience of conducting independent empirical studies in psychology or in any other social sciences together with good academic standing is another factor considered for admission. Letters of reference are also important in our evaluation of students' potential for academic research;
- For the international students, proficiency in English is very important, so the scores for ESL test should be high.
- The academic courses in this program emphasize and value intellectual flexibility and openness to diverse approaches and philosophical thinking; we respect students' independent critical thinking, agency, and dedication.
- It is a good idea for applicants to contact several program members to enquire about the compatibility of their interests and research plans. Some of the professors may not be available for graduate supervision. In some cases, the supervisor may be assigned by the program. During the course of their program, students may change their supervisors if warranted.
Advice from Graduate Students
The Application process
- you've worked hard as an undergraduate - give the same strong effort to your application to graduate school - spend time getting it together - it will be worth it in the end
- know what you are getting into - find out about the programs you are applying to
- it is important that you not put all your eggs in one basket; however, you must also avoid sending haphazard applications everywhere
- have a clear reason for applying to specific programs
- everything takes longer than you think it will (e.g., letter of interest: write it early and really think about it - take the time to do a good job because it shows if you throw it together at the last minute)
- get faculty (e.g., your thesis supervisor) to review your application, especially the interest statement
- in applying, sit down with your honours thesis supervisor and ask for his/her assessment of various programs
- make sure to find out whether the research interests of the person you wish to work with have changed drastically
- find out if the person you wish to work with hold an external grant ($) - this may facilitate your own training
- you want a supervisor who will spend time and talk to you (e.g., someone who responds to your e-mails when you try to make contact)
- when you think about where to apply - strike a balance between here's a person I want to work with and here's the only person I am willing to work with (don't insist you will work with someone)
- in considering each program, is there work available in the area once you graduate?
- if it's an applied program, is there good practical experience?
- make visits to programs you have applied to when you can
- before you show up make sure people are available and graciously accept whatever time they are willing to offer you
- try to create a relationship with a potential supervisor
- talk to graduate students and get their advice
- if necessary, make comments in the application materials to address any transcript anomalies
- keep in mind that the application experience is not overly pleasant - it is typically tough, stressful, and expensive
- in your application, make yourself look like a shining star
- make sure to PROOFREAD your application materials
- prepare for interview - bring yourself up to speed and get a sense of the person who will be phoning you (or meeting with you), even though you may not be working with that person
- have your application materials for each school close by the phone - you may not be given any warning that someone will be calling your for an interview so be prepared
Writing the GREs
- review a high level encyclopedic introductory text (like Gleitman); check with 110 instructors
- practice doing sample tests - get used to the format - get used to doing the questions - know the instructions so that you don't have to waste time
- try to relax; don't become overly anxious
- get a good night's sleep
- avoid writing both the general and the subject-specific tests in one day
What to do if you are accepted
- in deciding whether to accept an offer of admission it is important to consider more than the particular program one is applying to consider the university - often funding is administered at that level - the department might be great but might have no control over dollars the reputation of the university is important
- consider the community
- if you get offers from more than one place - don't look at dollars (amount of money being offered to you) in an absolute sense
- consider cost of living in that city for a salary calculator
- find out what tuition is
- find out what your expenses are going to be
- what about housing, schools, cultural programs
What to do if you are not accepted
- if you get rejected the first time, stick with it
- try to publish your honours thesis or perhaps present your thesis work at a conference (check with your honours supervisor about these possibilities)
Questions from 3rd and 4th year studentsQ. How long should the statement of research interests be?
A. 2-3 pages
o put your best forward without blowing your own trumpet
o don't be too grandiose
Q. What Should I include in my statement of interest?
A. Consider including some of the following points:
o any past research
o where you'd like to be heading in your career
o why you are interested in the field and the particular program
o if information is available (e.g. marks) on your transcript don't repeat this information unless there is a good reason to do so: your entire file is reviewed as a matter of course
Q. Should I only be trying to get into applied/professional programs that are not APA or CPA accredited?
A. In clinical psychology you must be from an accredited program or the equivalent in order to get into an accredited internship, and you must have an accredited internship or equivalent to get the better jobs
o accredited programs are better generally because they meet guidelines and criteria for training that are well established
o accreditation has little implication for licensing - registration is not affected in Canada
o so, acreditation is highly desirable, but not absolutely crucial
o you should also be aware that issues of accreditation may affect other applied/professional programs in the areas of neuropsychology, industrial/organizational psychology, school psychology, counseling psychology
Q. Can clinical graduate students get outside employment?
A. Most clinical students work outside the program after 3rd and 4th year, especially after the internship
o there are part-time employment opportunities
Q. Will it affect my career if I do all of my graduate studies at the same university as I do my undergraduate work?
A. There is some desirability to moving around but it is not a big problem to go straight through with all of your studies at the same institution
Q. If there is a high demand for clinical graduates, why is the acceptance so low?
A. Funding is simply not available
o some programs accept students without funding, banking on student loans etc., but we want all our students to be funded
o in addition, we believe it is essential to maintain a reasonable student:faculty ratio to protect the quality of supervision that is available
Q. Is 4-5 acceptances per year to a clinical program typical of other universities?
A. 4-7 spots are very typical
o 110 Ph.D. graduates from clinical psychology programs per year across Canada
Q. Who should I ask to write my letters of reference?
A. For Applied Social students, current or previous employers are sometimes relevant
o in general, the higher the status of the letter writer, the better off you are
o letters from profs in other disciplines are not very helpful
o you wnat your letters written by someone who knows your work
Q. Do you make a point of taking in at least some U of S students each year?
A. We have no specific policy; the mix of students varies from year to year. The acceptance decisions are based entirely on merit.
Q. What marks count? Is it primarily psychology course or do all course count?
A. Psychology marks are definitely important; a lower overall average can be compensated for by very high psychology marks
Q. If you carry a full load and get 80%, is that better than 3 courses per year with an average of 80%
A. If you are concerned about grades, take another year
o a full-time versus part-time load doesn't typically make a difference when your application is being reviewed
o one or two course withdrawals won't matter, many might send a messange that you have difficulty preservering
Q. What if you have taken science classes and received slightly lower marks?
A. We expect somewhat lover averages in the sciences
o we look separately at the overall average and the psychology average
o science classes are a good background
o it is good to have breadth even if your marks aren't up in the 80's
Q. What about having one bad grade?
A. In your application, you can briefly explain anthing that doesn't look so good
Q. Is it helpful for me to do volunteer work?
A. If you volunteer to work with a faculty member conducting research, this will help you to get to get to know someone. They will also get to know your work. There may be an opportunity to participate in a publication. Volunteering at a social agency may also be useful for your future pursuits (e.g., Crisis Lines, Sexual Assault phone lines/centres, child care programs) Volunteering may also help you to test you your interest in a helping profession.
Q. Does it matter if I spread my degree out over multiple years (more than 4)?
A. This does not appear to be a problem in applications to the U of S.
Q. If I don't get in to graduate school on my first attempt, what should I do?
A. Check the U of S Psychology web page for suggestions
o get involved in conducting research with a faculty member
o work on submitting your honours thesis for publication
Q. Do you do a lot of research in a clinical career or is it more practical work?
A. Here at the U of S our model is one of scientist/practitioner
o consumers and producers of research plus providers of service
o our graduates are equipped to use research in practice
o 10-20% of our clinical graduates publish research after they finish their degree
Q. Will I lose out if I do my Clinical Psychology graduate work at in a program that is not accredited?
A. In order to get an accredited internship you should be in an accredited program
o accredited programs are better (as are accredited interships
Q. Should all my letters of reference be from academics? (faculty members)
A. It depends on the program you are applying to
o experimental programs (all three should be from academic references)
o applied social and clinical programs - one applied letter might be appropriate