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Ph.D. FAQ

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When is the application deadline?

The application deadline is December 10th for all PhD admissions.  We must receive all materials prior to the deadline to guarantee all materials will be reviewed. 

Do you accept students for spring semester admission?

No, we only accept applications once per year, to begin in the following fall semester. 

What are the admission/application requirements?

Please visit our Admissions Criteria page for details about application requirements.  Essentially, our criteria for admission include reporting your undergraduate grade-point average (3.0 GPA is the required minimum on a 4.0 scale), test scores on the Graduate Record Examinations (GREs), quality of recommendations contained in 3 required letters of reference, your background in mathematics and research, your personal statement of goals and interests, submission of your CV/resume, and unofficial transcripts from your program of undergraduate studies (and any other institution from which you received a degree). You should also note your performance in special parts of those programs; such as your success in particularly demanding courses, independent work, projects, papers, posters, etc.

Is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) required?

Yes, the GRE general exam is required, and the psychology subject exam is recommended. We have no minimum score requirement. The GRE Institution Code for the University of Illinois is 1836; the Psychology Department Code is 2016.  An official score report must be forwarded from ETS by the application deadline. 

May I use an expired Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score to apply?

Examination scores are valid for up to 5 years.  Applicants with expired scores must retake the exam.

What are the guidelines for the personal statement?

Your personal statement should address your plans for graduate school and your personal career goals.  The only limitation is that it should not exceed 3 double-spaced pages in length.  Your statement may include your tentative research or career plans, as well as your interest in working with specific faculty members here at the university. 

Does the Psychology Department require any program specific questions on the Graduate College application?

Applicants to our psychology programs are not responsible for any program specific questions/essays or writing samples.  However, if you feel strongly about attaching writing samples to your application, you may do so at your discretion.

May I apply to the program if I do not have a bachelor’s degree in psychology?

Students of high ability transferring to psychology from other disciplines may be accepted even though they lack a background in psychology.  We recommend approximately 15 hours of previous coursework in psychology (including a lab-based course) and a previous statistics course, though these experiences are not required in order to apply.

Do I need to have a master’s degree prior to applying for the PhD program?

No.  Applicants must have earned at least a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college in the United States or a comparable degree from a recognized institution of higher learning abroad. Students finishing their bachelor's degree program are eligible to apply as long as the degree will be awarded before studies in the graduate program begin.

Do I need to have a 4-year undergraduate degree prior to applying for the PhD program?

Yes. International students should check the bachelor’s degree equivalents from their countries. Please note: our Graduate College Office does not accept outside WES evaluations of undergraduate transcripts.

Furthermore, as long as you plan to graduate (and complete your 4th year) in the spring or summer prior to the fall semester for which you hope to be admitted to our program, you may apply now and submit your in-process transcripts along with your other application materials. For example, if you plan to graduate with your bachelor’s degree in the spring of 2018, you may apply for the fall of 2018 by submitting your current, incomplete transcripts now. If admitted, we will ask for the official, complete transcripts as soon as they become available to you.

Do you offer a master’s degree program?

Yes, we offer a Master of Science in Psychological Science.  Separately, in our PhD program, we offer an optional master of science as an intermediate degree on the way to the doctorate.

Do you have a counseling psychology program?

No.  We offer a Clinical/Community PhD program (but we do not offer/provide licensure). The College of Education offers a program in Counseling Psychology

I’m having trouble converting my undergraduate GPA.  May I submit my application without filling in this field?

In cases where a direct conversion to our scale is not available, we will have the transcript analyzed by our admissions unit for determination of bachelor’s degree equivalency and admission eligibility. 

What are the requirements for English proficiency?

All applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit the results of an English language proficiency test. The university will accept the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to determine admission eligibility.

  • The minimum total iBT score for admission (including all four sections): 79
  • The minimum total iBT score for exemption from the English as a Second Language Placement Test (EPT) for admission (including all four sections): 103

The minimum IELTS (academic test) score used to determine admission eligibility:

  • Minimum total score for admission: 6.5, including a minimum subscore of 6 on all four modules. Students receiving scores below 7 will be required to take the EPT for placement in English as Second Language courses.

The University of Illinois is required by state law and university policy to give teaching appointments only to international graduate students who have passed an English language proficiency test. Applicants have the following options to satisfy this requirement:

  • Minimum score of 24 on the speaking section of the TOEFL – iBT
  • Minimum score of 8 on the speaking section of the IELTS
  • Continuation of minimum TSE score of 50 or a minimum SPEAK score of 50

It is very beneficial to establish teaching eligibility prior to admission.  As we offer a support guarantee, this becomes important if no research funding is available in the first semester.  

Does the department provide financial aid?

Please see the Financial Aid page of our website. 

Do international students have any extra financial obligations?

Yes. Even with the financial support offered by the department, it has been determined insufficient to cover what is needed per INS regulations.  At current rates, the department support guarantee is approximately $3,500 short of the funds required to issue visa documents.  International applicants are, therefore, required to provide evidence of financial resources before an offer of admission can be made.  

When will admission decisions be made?

We make every effort to get the decision to the applicant as soon as possible, but due to variability of review times, we cannot guarantee a specific time.  You will be notified of the decision regarding your application via e-mail as soon as we are given the final decisions from the admissions committee. 

May I schedule a tour of your campus?

We do not provide campus tours for prospective graduate students. However, some of our program area coordinators invite students to visit during interviews. Others admit students first and then invite students for a recruitment weekend, later. If you would like to take a virtual or photo tour of the campus right now, you may visit illinois.edu/about/tours.html. 

Do you offer online courses?

Our graduate programs do not offer online or distant learning courses. 

How long does it take to complete the PhD program areas?

Our programs and funding package are structured for students to complete in up to 6 years.  However, there is fluctuation in the time to completion, commonly related to research progression.  Also, students in the Clinical/Community program area typically complete in 6-7 years, as there is a 1 year internship requirement for those doctoral candidates. 

If I applied last year, must I resubmit all of my materials?

We may use supplemental information from your application file: transcripts, recommendation letters, etc.  However, you must complete a new application and submit another application processing fee.  International students must also provide new financial certification documentation (when asked). 

May I transfer coursework from another institution?

A maximum of 12 semester hours of course work completed outside the University of Illinois may be transferred and used toward a graduate degree in our program.  Course work must be at the graduate level, and cannot have been used toward another degree or certificate program.  Also, a student must have successfully completed at least 8 semester hours of graded, graduate course work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before submitting a request for transfer of credit. 

May I submit application materials after the deadline?

We will accept certain materials after the deadline (i.e. letters of recommendation are submitted by the recommenders, and are not within the power of the applicant to submit by the deadline; though you are encouraged to request them early to ensure timely submission).  But, if the committee reviews your application before all materials are received, we cannot guarantee those late materials will be reviewed. 

May I wait until the review process is complete before submitting my “Proof of Funding” documentation?

Yes. In fact, you are not required (or encouraged) to submit the funding documentation at the time of application.  When needed, we will request the forms and allow plenty of time for submission. 

Section 2

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Graduate Spotlight

Katherine WoodKatherine Wood

Congratulations to Katherine Wood! She's been awarded an NSF fellowship for her research she describes below. Katherine is a Graduate Student in the VCHP program area working with Dan Simons. Research Summary: We don't perceive everything that passes before our eyes. Often this means that irrelevant information doesn't occupy limited cognitive resources, but sometimes these failures of awareness blind us to important aspects of our environment. My research focuses on these failures of awareness, particularly on the information that gets filtered out. What kinds of objects are we most likely to miss? When are we most vulnerable to these failures of awareness? How do changes to the task or environment affect this filtering? Better understanding of how we filter information from our environment can potentially help us understand demanding real-world tasks, such as driving.

Graduate Information

New E-mail Address

The Graduate Studies Office e-mail address is now psych-gradstdy@illinois.edu. Please note: messages sent to our previous address - gradstdy@cyrus.psych.illinois.edu may not have been received. We apologize for the inconvenience.