Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
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 What are the basic criteria for admission to the PhD program?

Although we do not use cutoff scores or have strict requirements, competitive applicants typically have:

  • GRE scores (V/Q/A/Psych) above the 70th percentile (the Psychology Subject Test is NOT required)
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.30 or above
  • Research experience
  • At least some exposure or experience with clinical populations

 Do I need to take the GRE Psychology Subject Test?

We strongly recommend that you take the subject test, but we do not require it for consideration of your application. The subject test is particularly helpful if you do not have an undergraduate degree in psychology.   

 Do I need to take the MCAT?

No; taking the MCAT is not necessary.

 May I take a psychology course or audit a course if I am not a current student?

Yes, as part of the Traveling Scholar Program, students from the Big Ten University Network (including University of Chicago) can take our courses. Depending on the course, you may enroll with permission of the instructor. Our courses are not open to the public.

 If I am not a psychology major, what prerequisite courses should I take?

You should take courses in basic psychological sciences (affective, biological, cognitive, developmental and social aspects of behavior), abnormal psychology, clinical psychology, experimental psychology and statistics. You should also strongly consider taking the GRE Psychology Subject Test to demonstrate your competency with basic psychological concepts.

 Will clinical and/or research experience help me as a candidate for entry into your program?

Yes. We are a scientist-practitioner program with an equal emphasis on research and clinical training. Some experience with clinical populations is required; you need to know that you want to work with a clinical population. Prior experience with research (e.g., volunteering on a research project during undergraduate, working on a research study, coordinating a research program) is also required to be a competitive applicant.

 Will I be more competitive if I get a master’s degree before applying to your PhD program?

Not necessarily. A master's degree does not necessarily make you more competitive for our PhD program. A master’s degree, especially a clinically focused degree, will not necessarily compensate for lower undergraduate grades, unless there is a clear and reasonable explanation for lower undergraduate grades. Obtaining a master’s degree may be helpful if it substantially increases your research skills and provides you with opportunities for research productivity (e.g., presentations and publications). Working as a research assistant or research coordinator in a lab of a well-known scientist is another way to gain this experience. A master's degree may also be helpful if you did not have an undergraduate degree in psychology or if you are unsure that doctoral study in clinical psychology is the right path for you. 

 Does your program accept course credit from a master's or other graduate-level program?

The PhD program will consider accepting course credits toward the PhD from other graduate-level programs within Northwestern, after review and approval by the director of graduate studies. In keeping with the policy of The Graduate School at Northwestern University, the PhD program will not accept transfer credits from other universities for required courses in the PhD program. Under certain circumstances, the director of graduate studies in consultation with the Education and Training Committee of the PhD program will allow a student to substitute a required course(s) with another course if they have had suitable previous experience or course work. In such a situation, the student must take a substitute course that is of similar and preferably more advanced content to the substituted course. A maximum of nine courses may be substituted.


 What is the ETS institution code for Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine?

The ETS code number is 1565.

 What is the ETS department code?

Department code number 2001 indicates psychology at the Feinberg School of Medicine.

 What is the financial aid code for Northwestern University?

Northestern’s financial code number is E00617.

 What is the program code for the PhD program?

Use code number C30PH when completing the Graduate School application.

 May the referees send their letters of recommendation directly to the program?

No. The three letters of recommendation must be submitted online through The Graduate School application website.

 Are there formal materials for referees to fill out?


 Is it necessary when applying to indicate a research emphasis?

Yes. Applicants are required to identify the research emphasis for which they are applying. There are four:

  • Behavioral Medicine (Health Psychology)
  • Neuropsychology & Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Policy
  • Psychopathology & Treatment

  Is it necessary when applying to indicate my choice of a research supervisor?

Yes. We are a mentor-based program, and therefore your application will be reviewed by the primary mentors of our research labs. As such, you must identify at least one mentor that has research interests similar to your interests and experiences. The application provides an opportunity for you to state your preferences and demonstrate how well you “fit” with the interests of our primary mentors. Please make certain that the primary mentor you select fits with the research emphasis that you indicated.

 Is it necessary when applying to indicate a clinical emphasis?

Yes. Please also identify the clinical emphasis(es) for which you are most interested in receiving training. We recommend identifying and discussing your interest in receiving training in a specific clinical emphasis(es) in your clinical statement. Please note that there may be some flexibility in deciding your clinical emphasis, so you may indicate more than one if you are uncertain at the time of the application.

 How many students are accepted into your program each year?

We will accept between four and eight students. We receive 200-300 applicants per year (two-three percent acceptance rate).

 Do you offer scholarships?

Yes. All entering students are now fully funded, including a minimum stipend, 100 percent tuition scholarship and health insurance for at least four years. 

Interviews & Meetings

 Are interviews conducted via telephone?

No. All interviews take place on the Chicago campus in early March. Some interviewees may also visit the Evanston campus, depending on the faculty involved in the interviews. 

 Do you offer informational interviews?

No. We do not have the resources to provide informational interviews for applicants.

 Can I schedule a time to talk with the director of the program or one of the faculty members?

Unfortunately, no. The director and other program faculty do not have the time to meet with potential applicants. We have 200-300 or more applicants a year, and we just cannot spend the time away from our other activities to meet with potential applicants. Although you are welcome to send a faculty member an email, please do not be offended if he or she does not respond; our faculty are very busy. You are always welcome to email the director of the program with any specific questions or concerns that are not already answered by our website.

 Do you conduct campus tours?

No, but you can find maps and other information about Northwestern’s Chicago campus on the university’s website.

Chicago and Evanston Clinical Psychology Programs

Our Clinical Psychology PhD Program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (in Chicago) is differentiated from the Clinical Psychology program at Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (in Evanston) in several ways. The Chicago program is a scientist-practitioner program that places an equal emphasis on research and clinical training. Our goal is to prepare students for research and clinical careers in academic medical center and similar healthcare settings (e.g., VA medical centers, research hospitals, large health systems). Read a description of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences program on the Evanston campus.


Clinical psychology doctoral students live off campus. Our campus is centrally located one mile north of the Loop on Chicago’s lakefront, just blocks from the Magnificent Mile. Chicago offers numerous residential neighborhoods within a short commute, either by walking/biking (e.g., Streeterville, Gold Coast, River North) or public transportation and University shuttle bus (e.g., Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, West Town, Boystown, Wrigleyville). More information about housing can be found on The Graduate School’s website.

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