College of Arts & Sciences Clinical Psychology

Application Review

The application review process typically begins immediately after the application deadline (December 15) and ends when all completed applications have been reviewed.

Preliminary Review

Upon receipt of the complete application packets, the Director of Clinical Training (DCT), or her designee, conducts a preliminary review of all applicants and removes those from further consideration who clearly do not meet minimum admissions standards. While the clinical program does not employ set "cut-offs" with regard to any of the quantitative application elements (e.g., there are no formal cut-off for GRE scores or cumulative GPAs), applicants' overall credentials (GRE, GPA, letters of recommendation, research and applied experiences, match with our program) are considered in comparison to characteristics of past and currently enrolled students. Applicants interested in information on the qualifications of admitted students should consult the Student Admissions, Outcomes, and Other Data page.

All material included in the admissions procedure is accorded professional confidentiality by the committee. The fact that potential students submit their applications with this knowledge constitutes permission to have these materials read by both faculty and student members of the committee.

Composition of Admissions Committee 

The Clinical Admissions Committee will consist of three faculty from among those accepting new students, one senior graduate student representative, and one additional faculty member who is not accepting students.

The DCT or her designee will serve as chair of the Admissions Committee.

Review of Pre-Reviewed Files

The Admissions Committee reviews all available files to help narrow the list down to the top 30-40 applicants in the pool. Each member of the admissions committee reviews the completed applications and assigns an overall rating to them based on his or her judgment of the applicants' qualifications. Although there are some quantitative elements involved in this rating process (e.g., GRE scores, undergraduate GPA), many of the elements of the applications are qualitative in nature (e.g., response to questions on the supplemental application, letters of recommendation) and are, therefore, evaluated on more subjective grounds. Also included in the admission committee members' evaluations are their subjective appraisals of the "goodness of fit" between the applicant's expressed interests and the particular strengths and offerings of our program.

The Committee Chair will review the full committee's choices and delete those who are not endorsed by at least a simple majority of committee members.

Review of Consensus Applicant Files 

All faculty accepting new students will receive an electronic copy of a spreadsheet with relevant data (e.g., GRE scores, grades, possible diversity, etc.) for those applicants who ranked that faculty member as a possible mentor. This spreadsheet will also include the names and rankings of other faculty who the applicant ranked. 

Faculty mentors then review these students' admissions files and create a ranked list of up to seven (7) students they would like to invite for an interview.

Interview Invitations

The faculty mentor-ranked lists are forwarded to the Committee Chair. 

  • S/he will review the lists, consider overlapping choices, and develop a list of 4-5 applicants per faculty mentor to invite for interviews. 
  • The chair, in consultation with the faculty member on the committee not accepting students during the admissions cycle, may identify an additional 3-5 applicants to invite who may not have been ranked high by the faculty mentors but for whom faculty have expressed interest. 
  • This process will result in a maximum of 25-30 applicants invited for interviews. The final list of potential interviewees will be presented, discussed, and finalized by the Admissions Committee. 
  • Faculty mentors will be responsible for contacting their selected applicants to invite them to interview during our annual visit days. The Committee chair or her designee will contact the additional applicants (described above). 

Note: Applicants are welcome to visit campus or talk with faculty and students at any time prior to January 5.  Applicants should not initiate/request campus visits after the application deadline and instead should wait to be notified of the Admissions Committee's decision regarding the review of their application.

Interview ("Visit") Days  

Two applicant interview (visit) days are held February 13 and 27. The purpose of the interview is twofold:

  1. We want the applicants to experience the atmosphere of the program first-hand and to become familiar with the program, place, and people.
  2. Our faculty and students want to assess the likely scholarly, research, and clinical promise of the applicants so that the best admission decisions can be made.

All applicants invited to interview are strongly encouraged to attend in person. Applicants accepting the invitation to interview will work with the program secretary for scheduling and travel arrangements. Applicants who are not invited to interview will receive notification by mid- February that they are no longer under consideration.

During the interview day, each applicant will have individual interviews with the clinical faculty who invited issued the invitation to visit and at least three other clinical faculty. Students identified as "extra" will meet with the faculty who expressed possible interest in these applicants. The interview day will also include small group interviews with current students and with additional faculty as well as a luncheon and potluck with clinical faculty and students. 

At the end of each visit day, applicants invited to submit a final ranked list of faculty they wish to consider as potential faculty mentors.  (This may be the same or differ from their origin faculty mentor list.) Likewise, faculty mentors are invited to submit their final ranking of potential mentees.    

Post Interviews/Final Decisions

The Chair of the Admissions Committee will tabulate the final rankings of applicants and faculty mentors. The Admissions Committee and all faculty mentors will meet to discuss the final rankings. 

  1. Applicants who received low rankings or for whom concerns were raised during the interview process will be discussed and potentially removed from consideration. 
  2. The remaining applicants will be ranked utilizing the post-interview ranked preferences of the applicants and potential mentors. 
  3. When more than one mentor expresses interest in the same applicant, these mentors will discuss this student in the context of other choices and a negotiated resolution will be reached. In these situations, preference will be to assign new students to newer faculty members (in process of building research program), those with grant funding to support RAs, or those who have not accepted students in previous year. 
  4. In the situation where an applicant is found to be acceptable and either his/her top ranked mentor is not available (if match doesn't work out; faculty leaves the program; etc.), another mentor match will be considered.

Consideration will be given to the demographic composition of the applicants on the final list (gender, ethnicity, geographical, etc.) and adjustments discussed/negotiated as needed.

A final list of applicants, in rank order, will be submitted to the DCT for her final review.

Admission Offers

Based on the final list of applicants, the top applicants will be offered admission (one per mentor). The remaining will be notified of their waiting list status.

  1. If an applicant in the top pool declines an offer of admission, the next highest ranked applicant that has the same mentor match as the person who declined our offer will be considered for the next offer.
  2. The goal is to admit students who are matched to a mentor that 1) was one of the applicant's top four choices following interviews and 2) was in the mentor's top four choices following interviews.

All material included in the admissions procedure is accorded professional confidentiality by the committee. The fact that students submit their applications with this knowledge constitutes permission to have these materials read by both faculty and student members of the committee.  

The Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology (CUDCP) and the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology (COGDOP) have adopted a set of guidelines designed to facilitate the Graduate Admissions process by outlining expectations of both applicants and programs. Our program adheres to both of these sets of guidelines.

  • Council of University Directors Clinical Psychology (CUDCP) Guidelines for Graduate School Offers and Acceptances
    CUDCP has adopted procedures to facilitate the graduate admissions process. These principles are designed to spell out the expectations of both parties during this stressful and often difficult time.
  • Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology (COGDOP) Guidelines Regarding Acceptance of Offers of Admission with Financial Offers
    The Department of Psychology at the University of South Dakota subscribes COGDOPs guidelines regarding admission decisions involving financial offers. An applicant who violates these regulations may risk any financial aid.