Graduate Program FAQ’s

The following are a list of questions that we’ve been asked frequently.  Although the answers to some of these (e.g., whether Wake Forest is a good match for you) depends on your particular interests and abilities, we hope that providing the responses we’ve given in the past will be helpful to you.  Please keep in mind that these responses are intended to supplement the information provided in the website, so be sure to read the other sections as well.

Is Wake Forest a good choice for me for graduate school?

  • Our graduate program is a research-oriented general Master’s program. As such, it provides broad training in psychology rather than training in a particular specialized area (e.g., clinical).  Most of our students use our program to gain the preparation and qualifications to attend a high-quality doctoral program in their specific area of interest.  Our program is a good choice for students who know they want to complete doctoral work, but are not sure what area they want to specialize in.  Additionally, it is a good choice for students who have good qualifications, but want to improve their qualifications even more to make themselves better prepared for the doctoral programs of their choice.

How do you decide who will be admitted into your program?

  • Our program is very competitive, and the unfortunate reality is that we have to turn down many qualified students every year to keep our program small enough that we can provide substantial individual attention to the students who attend our program. Our decisions are based on a number of factors, none of which alone will guarantee (or preclude) admission. These include but are not limited to undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, research experience, letters of recommendation, writing ability, and match with faculty research interests. Other more idiosyncratic factors can matter as well (job experience, improvements in GPA, etc.)  Our decisions are based on an evaluation of those factors taken together, rather than using cutoffs on any one factor.

What are my chances of being accepted into your graduate program?

  • We don’t offer assessments of specific students’ prospects for admission. To provide a rough sense of a “typical” student in our program, however, we calculated the average scores for our students during the last three years.  The median GPA was 3.76, the median GRE (quantitative and verbal combined) was 315, and most students had considerable research experience. With that said, these are just averages – students with those qualifications will not always be accepted (e.g., if their interests don’t match well with faculty taking students or they are weak in some other area), and strengths in other areas can make up for a poor score on any one dimension (e.g., we have accepted students with a GPA of less than 3.0, but only rarely and when they have substantial strengths in other areas).

What can I do to improve my chances of admission?

  • There is no “magical formula” for gaining admission into our or any other graduate program. We are looking for evidence that you will be able to thrive in a challenging research-based environment. Thus anything you can do to demonstrate that ability is worthwhile. Gaining research experience particularly helps.  So does taking advanced courses, especially on research-relevant topics (e.g., statistics).  If any of your particular qualifications are poor, doing something to improve that weakness would be helpful as well (e.g., retaking the GRE if your GRE scores were poor).  Keep in mind, however, that there is no one thing you can do to guarantee (or even substantially improve) your chance of admission.  Our admission process takes into account many factors – improving your standing on one of these is helpful, but keep in mind there are many factors that go into our final decisions.

What if I come from an unusual background?

  • Most of the students in our program majored (or minored) in psychology and attended our program directly after their undergraduate work or after working for a few years. Occasionally, however, students from very different backgrounds (e.g., different majors, different career paths, etc.) are interested in whether our program can help get them caught up in psychology to prepare them for a doctoral program in psychology.  The short answer is that this can work, but we are cautious about doing this. The first concern is that our coursework is challenging, and we assume familiarity with material that would be gained in undergraduate classes. Just as importantly, you will be expected to conduct research pretty much immediately after you arrive. Thus, it is critical that you have a basic understanding of (and preferably experience in) research methodology and statistics from the time you arrive. With that said, if you can demonstrate that you can do these things (by gaining research experience in a lab, taking some undergraduate courses or the psychology GRE subject test, or just performing at a particularly high level in your previous career path), our program can provide a great way for you to gain the training in psychology that will be of use for going on to a PhD program.