Department of Psychology

Doctoral Program Frequently Asked Questions 

A. General Questions
  1. Is the program clinical or nonclinical?
  2. What are the different concentrations/areas within the program?
  3. Can I apply to more than one concentration?
  4. Do I have to complete research as part of my degree?
  5. When is the application deadline?
  6. Do you accept late applications?
  7. Do you accept students for the Spring semester as well as the Fall semester?
  8. Is your program online?
  9. How long is your program?
  10. Do I also complete a Master’s degree in addition to the PhD?
  11. I already have a Master’s degree in Psychology, can I apply to the PhD program?
  12. I am in my first year of a Master’s program in Psychology, can I apply to the PhD program?
  13. I already have a Master’s degree in a field other than Psychology, can I apply to the PhD program?
  14. Is your program full-time or part-time?
  15. Some of the courses sound really interesting, can I take courses without being in the doctoral program.
  16. Can I take just the BACB courses to get certified?
  17. I live in Jacksonville, NC or Raleigh, NC or somewhere else close by, can I commute and complete graduate school?
B. Application Requirements
  1. How many students will you be accepting?
  2. What are the application requirements?
  3. Are there any specific course requirements?
  4. I didn't have separate statistics and research-methods courses; I had a full-year course or two courses in "Research methods and statistics" or something like that. Do those count?
  5. My major wasn't psychology, can I still apply?
  6. Are there any GPA requirements?
  7. Do I have to take the GRE?
  8. Is there a minimum score that is required on the GRE?
  9. How many letters of recommendation do I need?
  10. Does the Graduate School really require all my transcripts, even from a school at which I took only one course?
  11. What additional materials does the psychology department require?
  12. Do I need to apply to work with a particular faculty member?
  13. Do I need research experience?
  14. Do I need practical/clinical experience?
C. Admission Timeline Process
  1. When will I hear about my application once I submit it?
  2. When will I hear about an interview?
  3. Can I complete a phone interview instead of coming to UNCW?
  4. When will I hear about an offer?
  5. If I am accepted into the program, how long do I have to make a decision?
  6. If I am accepted, can I defer my acceptance?
D. Application and Acceptance Statistics
  1. What are the acceptance rates?
  2. What are the typical GPAs and GRE scores of students accepted into the program?
  3. What if my GPA and/or GRE scores aren't great - is it still worth applying?
E. Tuition/Financial Aid/Assistantships
  1. What are the tuition rates for resident/non-resident students and other associated costs?
  2. Do you offer tuition remissions?
  3. How much are the stipends/assistantships?

A. General Questions

A1. Is the program clinical or nonclinical?

The current program is clinical. We are developing a nonclinical concentration. <back to top>

A2. What are the different concentrations/areas within the program?

We have two concentrations within our doctoral program: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Co-occurring Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders (COSUD). See more about the concentrations here. <back to top>

A3. Can I apply to more than one concentration?

No, you can apply to only one concentration. <back to top>

A4. Do I have to complete research as part of my degree?

Yes. This is a PhD program not a PsyD program. You will be required to complete an empirical thesis for your Master’s degree and a dissertation for your PhD degree. <back to top>

A5. When is the application deadline?

The application deadline for Fall 2018 is February 1, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Priority consideration will be given to complete applications submitted by December 1, 2017, thus, applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their applications by December 1, 2017. <back to top>

A6. Do you accept late applications?

Your complete application must be submitted by the deadline. Your application will not be reviewed until it is complete (see below under Admission Requirements and Admission Timeline). If your application is missing something at the time of the review, the Psychology Graduate Admissions Committee may vote to not accept your application. <back to top>

A7. Do you accept students for the Spring semester as well as the Fall semester?

We accept students only once a year, starting in the fall. Several courses must be taken in a specific order, which requires starting in the fall. <back to top>

A8. Is your program online?

Our program is an all on-campus program. <back to top>

A9. How long is your program?

It is designed to be completed in 5-6 years. The last year is a predoctoral internship at an APA-accredited internship. <back to top>

A10. Do I also complete a Master’s degree in addition to the PhD?

Yes. You will complete requirements for a Master’s degree during your first 2 years. After you successfully complete all of those requirements, including conducting and defending your Master’s thesis, you would begin doctoral-level work. <back to top>

A11. I already have a Master’s degree in Psychology, can I apply to the PhD program?

No. Because we are a new program, we cannot accept students who already have their Master’s degree in psychology. Because of APA accreditation, we are required to have a cohort of students in each year. Thus, we have to start with only students in Year 1. <back to top>

A12. I am in my first year of a Master’s program in Psychology, can I apply to the PhD program?

No. Because we are a new program, and because of APA accreditation, we are required to have a cohort of students in each year who complete the program together. If you have already completed 1 year of a Master’s program, then you wouldn’t be taking all of the same courses in the first year. <back to top>

A13. I already have a Master’s degree in a field other than Psychology, can I apply to the PhD program?

Yes, if you meet the requirements for admission (e.g., 21 hr in psychology at the undergraduate level); see admission requirements below. You would start in Year 1 and be required to take all of the course, research, and practicum experiences in the doctoral program. That is, having a Master’s degree will not speed up your degree. You would be earning another Master’s degree and a PhD in psychology. <back to top>

A14. Is your program full-time or part-time?

Our program is a full-time program. Graduate students are expected to be working "full time" on their degree year round, which includes course work, research, clinical training, teaching and research assistantships, etc. <back to top>

A15. Some of the courses sound really interesting, can I take courses without being in the doctoral program.

You must be enrolled in a graduate program at UNCW in order to register for courses. In addition, some courses are only open to Psychology graduate students. <back to top>

A16. Can I take just the BACB courses to get certified?

Currently we don't have a stand-alone BACB course sequence. That is, you must be enrolled in either our PhD or our Master's program in the ABA concentration to take the courses and obtain the requisite supervised practicum hours that allow you to sit for the certification exam. <back to top>

A17. I live in Jacksonville, NC or Raleigh, NC or somewhere else close by, can I commute and complete graduate school?

Not successfully. On some days, your classes will start at 8 a.m. and go until 8 p.m. In addition to classes, you are expected to be available in the lab and/or for your assistantship duties on campus as well as your practicum on campus and in the local community. Thus, it would be difficult to add in a 1-2 hr commute each way each day. <back to top>

B. Application Requirements

B1. How many students will you be accepting?

Last year, we accepted 5 students into the initial cohort. We are expecting to accept a minimum of five students for this next application cycle. <back to top>

B2. What are the application requirements?

See the requirements for the Graduate School here. <back to top>

B3. Are there any specific course requirements?

You should have a major in psychology with at least a 3.0 psychology GPA. All applicants must have completed a course in statistics and a course in research methods. A psychology course in statistics is preferred, but a course from a Math/Statistics department is accepted. The research methods course must be in Psychology. <back to top>

B4. I didn't have separate statistics and research-methods courses; I had a full-year course or two courses in "Research methods and statistics" or something like that. Do those count?

Yes. You should have the equivalent of two courses (3-4 hr each). We understand that at some schools these courses are combined and might be called "Research methods and statistics" or "Psychological research." What is important is that you have had a semester's worth of statistics and a semester's worth of research methods, but those can be combined, taken in the same semester, etc. In your uploaded vita/resume (see Question 10 below), make sure to include the names, as they appear on your transcript, of the courses you took to satisfy that requirement. <back to top>

B5. My major wasn't psychology, can I still apply?

Yes. If your major wasn't in psychology, then you need to have completed 21 hr of any psychology coursework with at least a B average including a research methods course in psychology, a statistics course. You also must complete the GRE Psychology subject test. <back to top>

B6. Are there any GPA requirements?

The Graduate School requires an overall GPA of at least 3.0 (B). Applicants with an overall GPA below 3.0 may be accepted provisionally if other aspects of their application warrant acceptance. Our department requires at least a 3.0 (B) GPA in your psychology courses and at least a B in both a statistics course and a research-methods course.

Last year, our incoming Master’s students had an average GPA of 3.61. We expect that our doctoral applicants will have an equally high or higher GPA. <back to top>

B7. Do I have to take the GRE?

All applicants must take the general exam and submit official scores as part of the application. Scores older than 5 years are not accepted. Nonpsychology majors also have to take the Psychology subject test. <back to top>

B8. Is there a minimum score that is required on the GRE?

We don't have a minimum requirement. Last year, the percentile scores for our incoming Master’s students were 65% for Verbal, 44% for Quantitative, and 59% for Analytical. We expect that our doctoral applicants will have equally high or higher GRE scores. <back to top>

B9. How many letters of recommendation do I need?

You need to submit 3 letters from people that can evaluate your potential for graduate school in psychology. At least 2 of those letters must be from a university professor/lecturer. One, if not both, should be from faculty in psychology as they can tell us the most about your potential in a psychology program. You also could ask someone who has supervised work related to psychology; for example, someone who has supervised you in a clinical setting or working with students. Your letters should not be from family members, friends, or friends of your family. <back to top>

B10. Does the Graduate School really require all my transcripts, even from a school at which I took only one course?

Yes they do, unless you are a current UNCW student. You must arrange to have a transcript sent from every post-secondary institution that you attended, even if for just one course or on study abroad or during high school. Please make sure to request all transcripts well before the deadline. See the policy here. <back to top>

B11. What additional materials does the psychology department require?

The departmental forms can be found here under Psychology. You need to submit your vita/resume with the required information, the research-area interest form, and the essay that answers the questions listed.  Your career center on campus can help you construct a vita if you haven't already done so.  It is strongly recommended that you have a faculty member and/or graduate student read over your essay. It is not a personal essay, but rather a statement of your academic/career history, interests, and goals. <back to top>

B12. Do I need to apply to work with a particular faculty member?

Yes. You will be completing a thesis and a dissertation in a faculty member’s lab. Therefore, your research interests need to match with that faculty member. During the application process, you will be asked to submit names of faculty with whom you would like to work. <back to top>

B13. Do I need research experience?

It is highly recommended. Most applicants have worked with a faculty member on research for at least a semester. Conducting research helps you determine what areas in which you are interested and also gives you skills for which our faculty members are looking. You also can get a better letter of recommendation from someone with whom you have worked. If you haven't participated in research, you should check out your department for opportunities, talk to faculty members, talk to Psi Chi members, etc. <back to top>

B14. Do I need practical/clinical experience?

It is highly recommended. Working in the field either in a class, on an internship, or in a job. These experiences can help you determine with which population you would like to work and gives you skills that faculty members look for. Clinical experience can also be obtained in some labs; that is, some faculty conduct clinical research, where you would obtain a lot of clinical skills. <back to top>

C. Admission Timeline Process

C1. When will I hear about my application once I submit it?

The Graduate Admissions Committee is going to start reviewing complete applications after December 1. It usually takes the Graduate School a couple of weeks to process applications. Applications will continue to be processed and reviewed up until the final deadline. <back to top>

C2. When will I hear about an interview?

We hope to let people know about first round of interviews early in January. Second round of interviews will occur after Feb. 1. <back to top>

C3. Can I complete a phone interview instead of coming to UNCW?

Yes, we conduct phone interviews for those applicants who can't make it. But, you are strongly encouraged to attend the interview weekend. <back to top>

C4. When will I hear about an offer?

Offers start to be extended following interviews. The offer will include your faculty research-mentor match and financial aid (assistantship, remission) if given. <back to top>

C5. If I am accepted into the program, how long do I have to make a decision?

You will have until April 15 to make a decision, but of course, we would like to hear from you as soon as you have made your decision. Waiting to say "yes," doesn't change how much assistantship you will be offered. <back to top>

C6. If I am accepted, can I defer my acceptance?

You can apply for a deferral for 1 year, but your request will have to be approved by your faculty match (i.e., they would have to be willing to hold a spot for you), the department's Graduate-Steering Committee, and the Graduate School. Deferring your acceptance does not defer any assistantship or tuition remission that was offered. You would be reconsidered for financial aid the following year with the incoming group of students. <back to top>

D. Application and Acceptance Statistics

D1. What are the acceptance rates?

Please see the admission data in Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data. <back to top>

D2. What are the typical GPAs and GRE scores of students accepted into the program?

Please see the admission data in Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data. <back to top>

D3. What if my GPA and/or GRE scores aren't great - is it still worth applying?

When we review applications we look at the entire package including specific courses taken, research and practicum experience, recommendations, etc. So, for example, a lower GPA could be augmented by a higher GRE score or research experience. But if your GRE scores are below the 50 percentile, you may want to give yourself enough time to retake the GRE. <back to top>

E. Tuition/Financial Aid/Assistantships

E1. What are the tuition rates for resident/non-resident students and other associated costs?

Please see the admission data in Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data. <back to top>

E2. Do you offer tuition remissions?

Tuition remissions are competitive, with the intent that doctoral students will have tuition covered (contingent on available funds). <back to top>

E3. How much are the stipends/assistantships?

A full-time (20 hr/week) Graduate Teaching Assistantship will be $20,000/yr. If you receive one of these, you will be helping with the teaching mission of the department by being a TA for a faculty member or, in later years, being an instructor of a section. If your faculty research mentor, has a grant, you could be paid as a research assistants (RA) and help conduct the research on the grant. <back to top>

What if I have additional questions?

If you have further questions, please contact the Department of Psychology psygradprogram@uncw.edu. <back to top>