2012 Graduate Study in Psychology

2010-11: First-Year Students in U.S. and Canadian Graduate Departments of Psychology

Brittany M. Hart, Marlene Wicherski, & Jessica L. Kohout
APA Center for Workforce Studies
June 2011

Report text

Introduction and Methodology

In January of each year the APA's Education Directorate notifies chairs of graduate departments of psychology of the annual Graduate Study in Psychology effort. The following month, the chairs are sent a link to the survey. The initial email is followed by three subsequent contacts requesting participation in the study. APA receives a notification email when a program has completed the survey and graduate departments are dropped from the database when they have not updated their data for two consecutive years. The information is provided voluntarily by graduate departments and schools of psychology.

The objective of Graduate Study in Psychology is to provide information about more than 500 graduate departments, programs, and schools of psychology in the United States and Canada that award a degree in psychology or related fields on the topics of student costs and support, faculty, enrollment and attrition rates, and requirements for admission. These data are then made available in an online searchable database where users can location information on specific departments using this tool.

Graduate Study in Psychology has been an ongoing effort for more than 20 years. Previous reports included demographic characteristics of faculty and first-year psychology graduate students, as well as application, acceptance, and enrollment characteristics of U.S. and Canadian graduate departments of psychology. The report also includes admission and graduation requirements, tuition information, and information on financial support available to U.S. and Canadian graduate students in psychology. More data from previous Graduate Study in Psychology efforts can be found online.


When using the information in this report, readers should be aware of the possible sources of error. Analyses are based on the subset of departments that participated in the survey, not the population at large. Further, all data were collected at the department level, and others at the program level. This is an important distinction because master’s programs can reside either in doctoral-level departments or in departments where the master’s is the highest degree granted. Therefore, information on some master’s degree programs would be presented in tables reporting doctoral department data.

First-Year Full-Time Students

Data from Table 9 indicate that 476 U.S. graduate departments of psychology reported a total of 11,563 first-year full-time students in 2010-2011. Sixteen Canadian departments reported 296 first-year full-time students. Overall, in the U.S., Whites were 72% of the first-year full-time students, Blacks or African Americans comprised 8%, Hispanic students were at 9%, and Asians were at 7%. Under 1% of first-year full-time students were Native American, and 2% were multi-ethnic.

In doctoral departments in the U.S., White first-year full-time students were 71% of the total, Black and Hispanic students were 9% respectively. Asian students were at 8%, Native American students were at 1%, and multi-ethnic students were at 2%. As in the past, students in master’s departments were less diverse. Eighty percent of first-year full-time students in master’s departments were White. Six percent were Black, 8% Hispanic, 4% were Asian, less than 1% Native American, and 2% were multi- ethnic.

At the doctoral level, the student body of first-year full-time students in private institutions was slightly more diverse than in public settings (32% versus 25% minority). At the Master’s level, there was less difference in the minority representation between public and private institutions.

Canadian departments reported 90% nonminority first-year full-time students. Asian students represented 6% of the total minority students reported by Canadian departments, while the remaining percentages were distributed across the other ethnic groups.

First-Year Part-Time Students

One-hundred fifty-six U.S. departments of psychology reported a total of 2,395 first-year part-time graduate students (Table 10). Seventy-eight percent of the U.S. departments were White, 17% were Black, 12% were Hispanic, 7% Asian, 1% Native American, and 3% multi-ethnic. Too few Canadian departments responded to report results.

As was true with full-time students, part-time students in doctoral departments were more diverse than students in master’s departments (36% versus 23% minority).  When looking at diversity among institution type, we see that minority representation in private institutions was greater than that in public institutions (38% versus 27%).  However, at the master’s level, there was less difference in diversity at public and private institutions.

First-Year Students in Doctoral-Level Departments by Setting of Department – Full Time

Three hundred seventy departments reported 9,647 first-year full-time doctoral students in 2010-2011. Seventy-three percent of first-year full-time doctoral students in traditional academic settings were White compared to 68% in professional schools. In traditional settings, Black students comprised 8% of the population, and 10% in professional settings, and Hispanic students were 7% in traditional settings and 12% in professional schools. Multi-ethnic students made up 1% of the population in traditional school, and 3% in professional settings and American Indian students made up 1% of student population in both traditional settings and in professional schools. Asian, students on the other hand, were a smaller proportion of minority students in professional settings than in traditional at 6% and 9% respectively (See Table 9a).

First-Year Students in Doctoral-Level Departments by Setting of Department – Part Time

One hundred nine departments reported a total of 2,342 first-year part-time doctoral students. Overall, the patterns exhibited by part-time students resemble those of the full-time students addressed above. There was greater minority representation in professional school settings than in traditional academic settings (37% versus 33%). (Table 10a).