Graduate School (PhD) Application Timeline

May (prior to application)

When you're on the cusp of senior year, you may start to think about applying for Clinical Psychology programs. This is a good time to start looking at GRE dates in the summer, when the GRE may be feasible for you and if you should take a class or get a prep book to prepare for it. There's no pressure to rush at this point in the application process, but I would suggest taking a practice GRE and seeing how well you could fit GRE prep into your summer. I always advise people to take the GRE over the summer because taking it during the year can be thoroughly excruciating since applications themselves will already take up so much of your time. Most people say applying is essentially like having a full time job... while being a student (and doing research and actually having a job if you're like me). So, the summer's a good time to consider studying and taking the GRE! 
 
The GRE Subject test for Psychology IS required be SOME programs, though not all. I know several people that did take the subject test and several that did not. Generally, I'd say more prestigious and higher ranked programs will require the subject test but a good way to see if the schools you're interested in do would be to check the program website. It will generally indicate what tests are required. 
 
The amount of preparation you need will differ from student to student. I know some people that took courses, some that just took practice tests and others that read prep books. Your advisor, tutors, or other academic resources may be useful in helping find a good GRE preparation method for you. 
 

June/July (prior to application)

During June, I would say studying for the GRE and deciding when you'll be taking it are the most important things you should focus on. Beyond this, it may be time to buy the Insider's Guide book which outlines different programs you can apply to, or start independently looking at programs if you do not want to purchase the guide. More info on this is in the following document: +A guide to applying for a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Below are links to the GRE sign-up pages for more information on GRE dates:
 
 
Also, as you start to look at schools you're interested in, look at their average GRE scores of previous years and perhaps set your goal score around that average or a little higher. This will give you a baseline of how much you need to study and improve by! 
 
*Contact faculty members you are interested in working with. Now is the time to start establishing contact (in my opinion), some say this can also be done later in the semester (August or September). More information on this can be found in +A guide to applying for a PhD in Clinical Psychology.
 

August (application season)

In August, you may start drafting your application. Now's a good time to meet with your adviser, narrow your schools list, and have a gameplan for when you'll be writing your statements. I would schedule time on weekends or evenings to work on your applications over the next few months!
 
Additionally, now is the time to select your letter writers for your letters of recommendation. One way to ask someone professionally to write your letter may be to draft a professional email, or meet them in person. Templates for these emails can be found online, but I believe scheduling a meeting in person generally may seem more mature (just an opinion!). If emailing, it may be useful to attach your resume and a rough statement of purpose to your potential letter-writer so they can get a sense of what you want to do and if they can speak well to your strengths in reference to your goals. 
 

September (application season)

  • Statement writing. I would have your first statement of purpose written by this point. Something useful may be to get it checked by your adviser, mentors, any professionals you have a good relationship with as well as your undergraduate institution's Career or Professional centers that generally offer reviews or critiques for such documents.
  • Asking for letters of recommendation
  • Taking GRE/GRE Subject exams
 
1st GRE Subject (if applicable) *This is a good time to take the first subject exam instead of banking on the October one, but you by no means have to follow my timeline. Keep in mind that after the October exam, it may be hard to get your scores in on time for your application. Taking this one may give you room for a re-take in October if you end up needing it!
 

October (application season)

October may be your last month to have scores for your GRE exams that will make it into your applications by the deadlines. In some cases, November exams may work for your deadlines. October for me was largely spent studying for the GRE(s) and ensuring I had letter-writers confirmed for my application. I also was having my statement professionally reviewed at this time. Given that some applicants want all of their applications done FAR before the deadline (like a month beforehand), this may be the time you apply to all of your programs. Others have applied on the deadlines, or closer in November. This decision is entirely up to you. Your adviser may have input on when is best to apply to these programs. 
 
Retaking GRE Subject (if applicable)
Retaking GRE General
 

November (application season)

Application time! If you have not already applied, you will most likely be applying in November and December (some deadlines run into January). An important thing to remember during this time is to periodically remind your letter-writers that the deadline is upcoming, and continue giving them anything they may need to finish your letter on time. Often, you will have to send them letter requests from your application account. So it would be wise to have these accounts opened and links sent out to your letter-writers FAR before the deadline. 
 
Apply! Apply to all of your programs by the deadlines, and earlier if you prefer. 
 

December (application season)

Apply! Apply to all of your programs by the deadlines, and earlier if you prefer. 
 

January (interview season)

You will likely hear about your interviews in late January through the end of February. During this time, it is important to check your phone, make sure you have voicemail set-up and set aside funds for travel as you will have to often pay for flights and such out of pocket. 
 

February (interview season)

You will likely hear about your interviews in late January through the end of February. During this time, it is important to check your phone, make sure you have voicemail set-up and set aside funds for travel as you will have to often pay for flights and such out of pocket.