Graduate Admissions FAQ
Please review the entire list of frequently asked questions and answers below, prior to contacting for psychology graduate admissions. Our program receives numerous inquiries each day and we are not able to respond to questions that are already addressed in the FAQ below.
This FAQ is divided into 2 general sections; I) PREPARING TO APPLY; and, II) AFTER YOU HAVE SUBMITTED YOUR APPLICATION
Section I ‐ PREPARING TO APPLY
What graduate programs in Psychology are offered at the Okanagan campus?
The Psychology Department at UBC Okanagan has two separate and distinct graduate streams; Clinical Psychology and Psychological Science. The application process is separate for each stream. Any applicants who wish to be considered for both streams must apply (and pay the corresponding application fee) for each stream. Information regarding each stream may be found here.
Can I set up a meeting with a graduate program advisor to discuss my qualifications/ inquire prior to applying to either of the UBCO Psychology graduate program streams?
Unfortunately, due to the extraordinarily high volume of applications to our Psychology graduate program, we are simply not able to provide individual advising services to the general public. All admissions-related information can be found on our website here and applicants are expected to review the information in detail. Additional applications and admissions information is also posted on the College of Graduate Studies website.
Generally speaking, all prospective applicants should consult with their current/recent professors, as well as with postdoctoral students, and/or senior graduate students who have provided research supervision and mentorship during the applicant’s undergraduate or graduate studies where applicable. Such individuals will typically be able to provide informed guidance regarding the applicant’s preparedness for Psychology graduate studies.
For prospective Clinical Psychology applicants, another highly recommended resource is Applying to Graduate Programs in Clinical Psychology: A Guide for Prospective Students, Advisors, and Faculty linked here.
Does my degree meet the Psychology graduate program admission requirements? Can I send in my transcripts for you to review before I apply to your program?
Please do not send your transcripts or curriculum vitae (CV) to our Psychology Department, as we cannot pre-assess nor pre-qualify applicants. Admissions requirements are outlined on our website here.
The College of Graduate Studies at our campus governs the admission and application requirements. All application materials must be submitted directly to the College of Graduate Studies, via the online application system. See more here.
Completed applications will be reviewed by our Psychology admissions committee following the published application deadline of December 1 for the next (September start) intake. Each application is reviewed against our stated admissions criteria.
How should I decide which faculty member to select as my potential research supervisor? Can I contact the potential supervisor directly?
All prospective applicants to the Okanagan campus are expected to review the “Our People” section of the Psychology department’s website to learn more about Psychology faculty members and their research areas here.
Prior to applying, all applicants are encouraged to make inquiries with 2-3 prospective research faculty supervisors in our Psychology Department to determine alignment of research interests, mentor/ mentee fit, and to confirm the supervisor(s)’ availability and interest to potentially supervise an incoming student.
Can I apply for the Clinical program but work with a faculty member who is not in the clinical area
Applicants may request to have a Psychology faculty research supervisor who is not in the clinical area, provided that the given faculty member is available to supervise a graduate student’s research. Again, applicants are recommended to list 2-3 prospective faculty research supervisors on their graduate applications.
Should I apply for the MA or PhD program? Can I complete only the MA program?
We do not admit students who intend to complete only the MA degree. Our MA and PhD curriculums have been designed intentionally to be completed as a continuous program. However, on rare occasions, students may exit after the MA, or may not be recommended to continue to the PhD.
If you have an undergraduate degree (BA or BSc) in psychology and are interested in completing a PhD, then you should apply to the MA program — provided you meet the stated admissions requirements. If you already have a research-based master’s degree (MA or MSc) in psychology that is similar to ours in terms of written thesis requirements, graduate-level statistics & research methods, and relevant coursework, with a first class standing (80% or better, using UBC grade scales), then you should apply directly to our PhD program.
Some students with other master’s level education may be required to complete our MA program, with certain requirements exempted, if deemed appropriate by the respective Psychology graduate program stream, and by the College of Graduate Studies.
How can I best prepare myself to apply?
Our Psychology graduate programs are rigorous. In addition, admission to both of our graduate program streams (Psychological Science and Clinical Psychology) is very competitive. The admissions review process is comprehensive, and several factors are considered by the Psychology graduate admissions committee when reviewing and ranking completed applications. A number of criteria will lead to an applicant package being top-ranked, including if an applicant has:
- an eligible undergraduate (honours recommended) degree in Psychology, or a related area, from a recognized institution
- strong general GRE scores (the GRE general scores are required, with a minimum 50th percentile for GRE Verbal or “V” score, and the Psychology subject scores are recommended)• a GPA of first-class standing (80% or better, using UBC grade scales) over all of the third and fourth-year level undergrad courses (including strong grades in research/methodology coursework)• 3 strong, verifiable reference letters (at least 2 of which are academic);
- clear evidence of scholarly work (i.e., posters/presentations/publications);
- a thorough but concise letter of intent/personal statement, with clearly articulated research plans
- relevant research-related and/or mental health-related work and/or volunteer experience;
- awards/ scholarships/ scholarly recognition;
- a curriculum vitae (CV);
- demonstrated proficiency in English (where required).
All applicants should also have made contact with 2-3 prospective research faculty supervisors in our Psychology department (prior to applying) to determine alignment of research interests, mentor/mentee fit, and to confirm the supervisor(s)’ availability to potentially supervise an incoming student.
Only a small number of strong candidates, as selected from the applicant pool by the admissions committee, will be invited to undergo a comprehensive full-day interview process at our campus, prior to any admission offer being extended.
Due to the volume of applications we receive, many qualified applicants are unavoidably not granted an interview.
I did not study psychology as an undergraduate student, but I’m serious about doing graduate studies in psychology. What do I need to do to become a competitive applicant?
If your undergraduate degree is in another field, or if you had a minor in psychology, there may be some options to consider that can increase the strength of your application. For example, if you have little to no Psychology coursework in your undergraduate degree, it is recommended that you complete additional university courses to achieve the equivalency of a psychology major, prior to applying to either of our graduate streams. However, if you do have a Psychology minor as part of your undergraduate degree, you may be well advised to enhance your competitiveness by completing a thesis-based Master’s degree in general psychology at a recognized university elsewhere, prior to applying to either of our graduate program streams.
Applicants to our programs should have completed university-level psychology coursework (with strong grades) in the areas of: biological bases of behaviour; cognitive/ affective bases of behaviour; social-cultural aspects of behaviour; human development; history and systems of psychology; psychometrics; statistics and research methods (third-year level of course recommended); personality; psychopathology/ abnormal psychology.
As indicated in #7 above, several factors in addition to Psychology coursework will lead to an applicant being competitive for admissions consideration. Information on becoming an unclassified student can be found here.
What if I have a 3-year undergraduate degree in psychology from an International (non-Canadian) institution? Are international credentials acceptable for admission?
Possibly. If your degree is a three-year Bologna-compliant degree from a research-intensive European university, it may be acceptable as a basis for admission to graduate studies at UBC. Check the Minimum Academic Requirements for International Credentials Guide to locate your institution’s information here.
If your international credential does not meet the accepted standards in the guide above, then you should complete the equivalent of ten courses per one year of full-time study (the equivalent of 30 course credits at UBC) in Psychology as an unclassified student at an eligible university. Courses should mostly be at an upper level, and include research/ laboratory experience. Recommended content areas include: biological bases of behaviour; cognitive/ affective bases of behaviour; social-cultural aspects of behaviour; human development; history and systems of psychology; psychometrics; statistics and research methods (third-year level of course recommended); personality; psychopathology/ abnormal psychology.
Your GPA over the last two years of full-time upper level coursework, 300 level and higher (corresponding to the equivalent of 60 course credits at UBC) of the international credential must be equivalent to a first-class standing (80% or better, using UBC grade scales). Applicants must supply the given international institutions’ grading scales/ explanations along with their transcripts as part of their completed application package, for comparison against UBC standards. Our College of Graduate Studies has final ruling on GPA calculations and their equivalency to UBC scales.
Are the BA and BSc both acceptable for admission consideration? Do I require an Honours degree?
Both the BA and BSc degree in psychology will be accepted, and an Honours degree is not required provided you have clearly demonstrated scholarly research experience in the form of lab courses/experience and/or directed studies as well as publications, posters, and/or presentations.
Do I have to take the GRE General test? What about the GRE Psychology subject test instead?
Without exception, all MA and PhD Psychology applicants are required to submit valid GRE General test scores. GRE General scores must be valid – meaning they must be no more than 5 years old at the time they are submitted to the College of Graduate Studies — as part of your application.The GRE Psychology Subject test is optional; it cannot be used as a substitute for the GRE General test.
What are the minimum GRE scores for admissions consideration? What is your institution code for GREs?
It is generally agreed that GRE scores are an objective indicator of an applicant’s academic aptitude for success in graduate studies. Generally speaking, candidates under consideration for admission to our Psychology program streams would not have a GRE score below the 50th percentile. Top-ranked candidates typically have GRE scores in the 70th percentile or better. However, simply meeting or exceeding the 70th percentile does not guarantee acceptance; multiple factors are considered in the admissions process, including GPA, reference letters, relevant education, research experience, and personal suitability, etc. The College of Graduate Studies is the receiving point for all application materials, including the GRE scores; the institution code at UBC Okanagan campus is 0965.
Why are reference letters required?
Reference letters help to provide insight into your potential to succeed as a graduate student, beyond the academic information supplied by your transcripts. Three references are required, and at least two references must be of an academic nature. Personal references are not accepted.
References must meet the requirements set by the College of Graduate Studies, as to what is considered an academic reference versus a professional reference. These details can be found here.
Referees are required to use their institutional email addresses in to complete the online reference form. It is advised that applicants do not enter personal email addresses for their referees. Submitted references will be subject to verification for authenticity.
I have exceptional personal circumstances that have impacted my past academic performance. Can my application still be considered for admission?
In recent years, we have seen a significant increase in students reporting exceptional circumstances.Rest assured that applicants can and should fully detail any such exceptional circumstances within their applications, such as within their personal statement/letter of intent. Such factors would be considered carefully and reviewed by the admissions committee within the context of an applicant’s entire application package, provided it is complete (i.e. contains required transcripts, valid GRE test scores, letters of references, etc). Incomplete packages will not be considered.
Section II – AFTER YOU HAVE SUBMITTED YOUR APPLICATION
Will you let me know if my application is incomplete? Can I submit my documents past the application deadline?
The application deadline is December 1 each year, for the following September intake. Applicants are expected to begin their application process several weeks in advance, in order to provide them with the ability to submit a thorough and complete application with all required supporting documentation from third parties (i.e. official transcripts, test scores, reference letters) well before the deadline.
Once applicants have submitted their application and paid the application fee through the College of Graduate Studies application portal, they will receive an automated notification regarding their application, in terms of being Complete or Incomplete, and/or if other information or documentation is required, from the electronic application system. Applicants are responsible for checking their email regularly to determine if any further information is required for their application.
The Psychology Department cannot accept any application documents directly; all application materials must be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies as directed via the online application system’s instructions.
Will I receive updates from the Psychology graduate program regarding my application status? How will I be contacted if I am under consideration for admission?
Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applications we receive each year, the Psychology Department is not able to follow up with applicants individually with application status updates.
It is each applicant’s responsibility to ensure that his/her application is complete and submitted prior to the December 1 deadline. The Psychology graduate admissions committee reserves the right to begin review of completed applications immediately following the application deadline. Documents that are submitted or updated after the application deadline, may not be accepted. Incomplete applications cannot be reviewed.
Only those candidates who have been shortlisted and invited by the Psychology graduate admissions committee to attend on-campus interviews, will be contacted directly by email invitation by the Psychology Department as part of the selections process.
The campus-based interviews are typically completed by the end of February.
How do applicants receive an offer of admission?
Following the comprehensive, full-day, on-campus interview process in the Psychology Department, the shortlisted candidates are ranked for selection by the Psychology graduate admissions committee. The selected candidates are then recommended by the committee for admission to the College of Graduate Studies (CoGS). CoGS then verifies that the recommended candidates have met the admission offer requirements, and subsequently extends the formal offer letter of admission to eligible candidates via the online application system.
Admission offer letters almost always contain certain conditions, such as requirements for receipt of official documents (i.e. official transcripts, English test scores) where applicable. Further, students accepted to the Clinical Psychology program will be required to submit to, and clear, a vulnerable sector Criminal Record Check process in British Columbia, prior to being permitted to register in the program.
I met all of the minimum application criteria. Why was my application declined for admission?
Common reasons for an application to be declined for admission from the College of Graduate Studies include: unavailability of appropriate faculty research supervisor(s); and/or unavailability funding for the applicant; an applicant’s less competitive academic record; and simply the limited number of spots available in our Psychology graduate programs.
In addition, another valid reason for decline may be that the applicant pool of any given year was extraordinarily competitive, such that the declined student may have easily met the minimum standards but was considered less strong compared to other applicants for that particular year.
Applications not completed by the application deadline will also be declined.
When will I know for certain that my application is no longer under consideration?
Psychology graduate admissions officially close April 15 each year for domestic students and on March 15 each year for international students. The College of Graduate Studies will provide all official decline notices via the online application portal to all applicants who were not selected for admission for the following September.
Is it possible to complete the degree part-time or by distance education?
Full-time, campus-based study is required. We do not offer part-time or distance education for our graduate programs in Psychology.
How long does it take to complete the graduate MA and PhD programs?
For Psychological Science students, the MA takes two years and the PhD takes four additional years. Students in the Clinical program take an additional year in the PhD program for completion of their required pre-doctoral CPA- or APA-accredited clinical internship.
Can I practice psychology with an MA from your Clinical Psychology program?
Licensing requirements for Psychologists across Canada vary, since the practice is provincially/ territorially regulated. Students should check with the governing body in the region in which they wish to practice to determine specific requirements. We do not admit students who intend to complete only a MA in Psychology, and the MA in the Clinical Psychology program curriculum is not designed to adequately prepare students for independent practice as Psychologists.
I’m an International Student; what are my application requirements?
The College of Graduate Studies governs the application and admission requirements for all applicants, domestic and international.
Information for International Student minimum academic requirements can be found here.
The required Grades and Credential Guide for International Students/ Credentials may be found here.
What funding is available for graduate students? How do I apply for awards/ scholarships?
Support for Psychology graduate students typically comes from three primary sources:
- External awards such as CGS, SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR. Prospective students must apply for these awards directly. Students are expected to continue to apply for external funding throughout their graduate studies.
- Internal funds; these include the Graduate Dean’s Entrance Scholarship (for newly-admitted students in MA and PhD) and University Graduate Fellowships (for continuing students), as well as the International Doctoral Fellowship and the International Four-Year Doctoral Partial Tuition Award. Students are deemed eligible for these awards by the College of Graduate Studies, based on academic excellence.
- On-campus employment; this includes Graduate Teaching Assistantships from September-April each year, from the Psychology Department (up to 2 years for MA students, and up to 4 years for PhD students). Some research supervisors are also able to offer their students Graduate Research Assistantships, based on a supervisor’s available funding (not guaranteed).
Information regarding graduate student awards and scholarships, and how to apply, may be found here.
What are the tuition fees?
Tuition fees information for domestic and international graduate students may be found in the Academic Calendar here.
I’m interested in Counselling Psychology, which program stream should I apply to?
Graduate studies in Counselling Psychology is not offered at UBC Okanagan. Persons interested in Counselling Psychology programs are encouraged to explore the Canadian Psychological Association’s website here for a listing of accredited Counselling Psychology programs in Canada.
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