PhD applicants (FAQs)

Are you accepting PhD applications this year?

Dr. King typically mentors a new clinical psychology PhD student each year.

Dr. King will be considering applications for the 2020-2021 application season (for a PhD mentee to begin in fall 2021).


Should I contact you about my interest in MSU's PhD Program in Clinical Psychology?

While prospective PhD applicants are welcome to contact Dr. King to ask questions that are not answered on this website or in the PhD Program Handbook, doing so will not impact one's chances of selection for an interview or admission. Dr. King will review all applications that indicate him as a potential mentor, without any consideration of whether a student had previously contacted him about their interest.


Where do you see your research going over the next few years?

Dr. King's current primary active areas of research are

  • forensic mental health assessment (including general criminogenic and violence risk assessment);
  • correctional rehabilitation (including technological solutions);
  • mental health law (including legal research concerning forensic mental health practice); and
  • police and public safety psychology (including preemployment psychological screening and multicultural issues).

There are typically numerous research and other writing projects going on in Dr. King's lab at any given time.

Dr. King's publications can be viewed using Google Scholar.

You can also review Dr. King's CV and MSU faculty profile page for more information about some of his current research projects.


Do you have any suggestions for how I can increase my competitiveness?

Admission to a PhD program in clinical psychology is undoubtedly highly competitive (e.g., many faculty in clinical psychology PhD programs receive many, many applications each year).

The ways to increase one's competitiveness are fairly rote, and because they take several years to accomplish, often extend beyond the undergraduate years.

  1. Developing very strong writing, analytical, and critical thinking skills.
  2. Obtaining a high GPA as both an undergraduate student (very typically majoring in psychology) and, potentially, as a master's student.
  3. Obtaining a high score on the GRE.
  4. Amassing significant research experience (e.g., serving as an RA in several research labs, completing an undergraduate or master's thesis, co-authoring presentations and publications).
  5. Amassing relevant field experience (e.g., completing part-time externships or working part-time in the field).
  6. Having prior research and field experience that reflect a good fit with Dr. King's research and practice interests.
  7. Potentially completing a relevant master's degree to enhance #s 1-6.
  8. Submitting strong letters of recommendation from writers who know you very well and, ideally, roughly share some of Dr. King's professional interests (e.g., research mentors, clinical supervisors).
  9. Submitting a well-edited CV that clearly reflects all of the above.
  10. Submitting a well-written personal statement that narrates all of the above; demonstrates a mature appreciation of the different training routes in human services generally and applied psychology specifically; presents a compelling case for why a clinical psychology program and a PhD program are the best fit for one's professional goals; and is well tailored to the PhD Program in Clinical Psychology at MSU and Dr. King.

Multicultural diversity is also important in the selection of clinical psychology PhD students.

Geographically limiting oneself, rather than applying to "good fit" programs/mentors wherever located, is generally not advisable (though it is sometimes unavoidable due to personal circumstances, rather than preferences).

Because of the complexities involved in the competitiveness for admission to a PhD program in clinical psychology, prospective applicants are encouraged to work closely with their current academic, research, and clinical mentors for further advising about increasing one's competitiveness.


I'm disappointed that I didn't receive an interview or admission offer. Do you have any advice for me?

The funding offerings common to PhD programs in clinical psychology are appealing, but also notably increase competitiveness for admission.

Students who may not be competitive for, or succeed at, admission to a PhD program in clinical psychology should not give up on their human services aspirations.

In addition to potentially trying to increase their competitiveness for future admissions cycles, they might also seriously consider alternative training routes and allied disciplines. For example:

  • PsyD programs in clinical psychology
  • Counseling psychology programs
  • School psychology programs
  • Licensed clinical social work programs
  • Licensed professional or mental health counseling programs
  • Licensed marital and family therapy programs
  • Certified drug and alcohol counseling programs
  • Public safety employment (e.g., as a probation/parole officer)
  • Law school