Admissions Standards and Guidelines

Guidelines for Graduate School Offers and Acceptances

The Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology have established the following guidelines in order to facilitate the Graduate Admissions process.

  1. A student can expect to receive offers of admission to programs over a considerable period of time. The timing of offers to students is largely determined by the University's review schedule, which is a strictly internal matter. Regardless of when the offer is made, students are not required to respond to the offer before the decision date of April 15 (or the first Monday after April 15, if April 15 falls on a weekend), except as specified in Section 6 below.
    1. Offers are usually made in writing prior to April 1st. Between April 1st and the decision date, universities may choose to facilitate the process by making new offers to students over the phone when a position opens up. These verbal offers are official, but should be followed up by a written confirmation within 48 hours.
    2. Offers, once made, cannot be withdrawn by the university until after the decision date and then can be withdrawn only if the student fails to respond to the offer by the decision date.
    3. A program may make an offer after the April 15th decision date if it still has one or more open slots. Offers made after the decision date should clearly state how long the student has to decide on the offer. The student should be given sufficient time (at least a week) to visit a program before making a decision.
  2. Offers with funding are treated like any other offer. There should be no stipulation by the University that the offer carries funding only if the student accepts by a specific date that precedes the decision date described above.
  3. The Director of Clinical Training or the designated person in charge of graduate admissions should make every effort to inform students on the alternate list of their status as soon as possible.
    1. The procedure of designating all students who have not been offered immediate admission as alternates is inappropriate. The University Training Program should have a procedure for identifying those students who clearly will not be offered admission.
    2. A reasonable designation of the student's position on the alternate list is encouraged.
    3. Once the class has been filled, students on the alternate list should be informed that they are no longer under consideration for admission. Students who were designated "high on the alternate list" should be informed by phone.
  4. A student should not hold more offers than they are seriously considering. Holding multiple offers ties up slots, preventing programs from making offers to other students. This is a complex principle operationalized in the points below.
    1. It is legitimate for students to want to visit a program, if they have not done so already, before making decisions among top offers. Such visits should be scheduled as soon as practical after the offer of admission is received. If, after a visit to a program, the student decides that the program is rated lower than a program the student has already been offered admission to, the student should quickly inform the lower ranked program that they will be declining their offer.
    2. Whenever possible, the student applicant should inform training programs by phone of a decision, following up within 24 hours with a written confirmation of that decision.
    3. Once a student has accepted an offer of admission to a Graduate Training Program, the student should inform all programs in which they are currently under consideration that they are either declining outstanding offers of admission or no longer wish to be considered for admission. Students should contact by phone those programs that have offered admission or have the student high on the alternate list. These phone calls should be followed up within 24 hours by a written confirmation. For programs for which the student is on the alternate list but not high on the alternate list, a letter withdrawing their application mailed within 48 hours is sufficient notification.
  5. It is the responsibility of the Director of Clinical training or the designated person in charge of graduate admissions to keep students informed of changes in their status. Ideally, the student should be informed immediately by phone and with a follow-up letter. Offers of admission or offers of funding for students already offered admission should be made over the phone with a follow-up letter mailed within 24 hours.
  6. The current policy statement of the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology allows students to resign offers they previously accepted up to the April 15th decision date by submitting the resignation in writing. The purpose of this policy is to avoid pressure on students to accept offers before they have heard from other schools. Although withdrawing an acceptance is legitimate, it is not good form. A much better approach is to accept a position only if you intend to follow through on your commitment. Students have the right to hold offers as described above if a preferable offer is still possible.
    1. As stated in 5(c), once a student has accepted an offer, the student should notify other Universities immediately that he or she has accepted another offer.
    2. Except in very unusual situations (e.g., serious illness or major personal problems), a student who accepts an offer of admission is expected to start the graduate program the following fall unless other arrangements have been made with the Director of Clinical Training. Training lines are severely limited and failing to use one after it has been offered prevents other qualified students from obtaining training.