FAQs by PhD applicants

Are you accepting PhD applications this year?

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

Dr. King next plans to review applications for the 2024–2025 application season, for a mentee to begin fall 2025. He is not considering fall 2024 applicants.

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 nor in the PhD Program Handbook, doing so will not impact one's chances of selection for an interview nor 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 is currently pursuing the following directions within his research themes.

Forensic psychology and mental health law:

  1. Law and practice concerning forensic psychological testing.
  2. Law and practice concerning hybrid psychological–legal concepts for evaluation.

Correctional psychology:

  1. The clinical utility of incorporating the self-perceptions of justice-involved persons and digital technologies into correctional human services, including the development of the latter.
  2. The interpretability of measures of developmental maturity and criminal sophistication, as used in evaluations of justice-involved juveniles, by examining the comparative performance of justice-involved young adults on these measures.
  3. Validation of theories underlying correctional human service principles.

Police and public safety psychology:

  1. Multicultural sensitivity in conducting pre-employment psychological screenings for police officer candidates.
  2. The utility of structured professional judgment in conducting pre-employment psychological screenings for police officer candidates.

There are typically numerous research and other writing projects going on in Dr. King's lab at any given time. Mentees are also encouraged to pursue master's theses and doctoral dissertations in line with Dr. King's current directions.

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

You can also review Dr. King's CV and MSU faculty profile page for additional information.

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

Dr. King does not advise non-MSU students about their doctoral aspirations, beyond the below. Such students are encouraged to avail themselves of advisors at their current institutions, and resources such as the American Psychology–Law Society Student Committee.

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 (*recently, many doctoral programs in health service psychology have discarded or made the GRE optional, in light of concerns about diversity, equity, and inclusion)
  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. Amassing experience demonstrating a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  7. Having prior research and field experience that reflect a good fit with Dr. King's research (i.e., current directions) and practice interests.
  8. Potentially completing a relevant master's degree to enhance #s 1-6.
  9. 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).
  10. Submitting a well-edited CV that clearly reflects all of the above.
  11. 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, and an applicant's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, 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. However, the below selection of resources is worth review by all prospective applicants.

American Psychological Association Commission on Accreditation. (2016). 5-Year summary report, 2011–2015. Author.

Council of University Directors of Clinical Training [CUDCP]. (n.d.). Clinical psych grad school. https://clinicalpsychgradschool.org/

Council of University Directors of Clinical Training [CUDCP]. (n.d.). Resources for protective PhD students. https://cudcp.org/Prospective-PhD-Students

Getting into Grad School. (n.d.). Applying to Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology. https://www.clinicalpsychphd.com/home

Golding, J. M., McGavran, M. B., Susman, D., & Wright, R. (2020). Demystifying one’s chances of acceptance into clinical PhD psychology programs. Teaching of Psychology, 47(1), 97–101. https://doi.org/10.1177/0098628319889537

Michalski D. S., Cope C., Fowler G. A. (2017). Graduate study in psychology summary report: Admissions, applications and acceptances. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/education-career/grad/survey-data/2019-admissions-applications.pdf

Norcross, J. C., & Sayette, M. A. (2023). Insider’s guide to graduate programs in clinical and counseling psychology (2023-2024 ed.). The Guilford Press. [Or whatever the most current edition is.]

Prinstein, M. (2017). Mitch’s uncensored advice for applying to graduate school in clinical psychology. Retrieved from http://mitch.web.unc.edu/files/2017/02/MitchGradSchoolAdvice.pdf

The Hamilton Lab at Rutgers University and Science Simplified Network. (n.d.). What are the steps to a clinical psychology PhD? https://cudcp.org/resources/Documents/Overall%20Guide%20for%20Clinical%20Psychology%20PhD.pdf

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

Dr. King does not advise non-MSU students about their doctoral applications, beyond the below. Such students are encouraged to avail themselves of advisors at their current institutions, and resources such as the American Psychology–Law Society Student Committee, and the references cited above.

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 (leading toward licensure as a psychologist)
  • Counseling psychology programs (leading toward licensure as a psychologist)
  • School psychology programs (leading toward certification as a school psychologist or licensure as a psychologist)
  • Clinical social work programs (leading toward licensure as a clinical social worker [LCSW])
  • Professional or mental health counseling programs (leading toward licensure as a professional counselor [LPC] or, in some states, an mental health counselor [LMHC])
  • Marital and family therapy programs (leading toward licensure as a martial and family therapist [LMFT])
  • Drug and alcohol counseling programs (leading toward certification as a drug and alcohol [aka alcohol and drug] counselor [CDAC or CADC]
  • Public safety employment (e.g., as a probation or parole officer)
  • Law school (leading toward a career as a licensed attorney [and/or possibly as an administrator] with relevant practice foci/areas of expertise)